Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Task Force Named for Comprehensive Ethics Review

As the membership is aware, there have been recent revisions to the AAA's Code of Ethics, in response to a motion put forward at the business meeting of the AAA in 2007. The revisions, on which the membership is now being asked to vote, were specific to only a few sections of the code, and consisted of a very few sentences. In light of the specificity of those revisions, the Executive Board has determined that a more comprehensive review of the entire Code of Ethics is warranted. The EB has convened a task force to undertake such a review over the next two years. The official charge is:

"The Executive Board recommends the formation of a Task Force to review and propose revisions to the AAA Code of Ethics, which: (a) will consist of three (3) members of the Committee on Ethics and five (5) additional members to be chosen by the President in consultation with the Executive Board and the Task Force Chair; (b) be authorized to review the Code of Ethics for a period of no longer than 18 months, and (c) consult extensively over a period of no less than six months with relevant AAA committees and commissions, the Section Assembly, the membership at large and others through presentations and panel discussions at the 2009 annual meeting and articles and reports in Anthropology News. The new code is subject to approval by the Executive Board before being submitted for approval to the AAA membership by email ballot. This Task Force will issue its final report to the Executive Board by Nov. 15, 2010."

Task Force members have been selected and can be viewed here.

Minerva Moves Forward

According to Inside Higher Ed, the first seven Minerva grants were announced this week. Minerva is a Pentagon-funded program that seeks contributions from social scientists on a number of topics of use to the military: religion, terrorism, the Chinese military, etc. The stated goals of the program are “1) to develop the DoD’s social and human science intellectual capital in order to enhance its ability to address future challenges; 2) to enhance the DoD’s engagement with the social science community; and 3) to deepen the understanding of the social and behavioral dimensions of national security issues.”

Hugh Gusterson and Catherine Lutz of the Network of Concerned Anthropologists are featured in the article, and detail some of the implications the program might pose to the social sciences.

Have thoughts about the Minerva program? If so, leave us a comment below.

NSF/DoD Minerva Joint Solicitation

AAA letter regarding Minerva [pdf]

"Military's Social Science Grants Raise Alarm" ~ Washington Post

"When Professors Go to War" ~ Hugh Gusterson

"Pentagon Shift on 'Minerva'" ~ Inside Higher Ed

"Anthropology Association Urges Government to Tread Cautiously With 'Minerva' Project" ~ The Chronicle of Higher Education

"Academics Target Pentagon's Social Science Project" ~ Wired's Danger Room,

"AAA Issues Statement on Minerva" ~ Savage Minds

DoD Defense Bloggers Roundtable Regarding Minerva [pdf]

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Obama Names Science & Technology Advisers

President-elect Obama named four top science and technology advisers over the weekend, while highlighting the importance of restoring science as one of America's top priorities. In his weekly radio broadcast, Obama said, “promoting science isn’t just about providing resources, it’s about protecting free and open inquiry. It’s about ensuring that facts and evidence are never twisted or obscured by politics or ideology. It’s about listening to what our scientists have to say, even when it’s inconvenient—-especially when it’s inconvenient--because the highest purpose of science is the search for knowledge, truth, and greater understanding of the world around us. That will be my goal as President of the United States, and I could not have a better team to guide me in this work.” These are encouraging words, and we sincerely hope that his team will act quickly to change policies governing important environmental and medical issues.

As part of Obama’s new advisory team, John Holdren, a physicist and environmental policy professor at Harvard, will direct the White House Office of Science and Technology. Jane Lubchenco, a marine biologist at Oregon State University, will lead the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Nobel Prize-winning cancer researcher Harold Varmus and genomic researcher Eric Lander will also join Obama's team of science advisers.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Chicago's Arne Duncan Nominated as Education Secretary

Arne Duncan is President-elect Obama's choice for Secretary of Education. Duncan has administered Chicago's public-school system for the past seven years and is credited with increasing enrollment opportunities, raising test scores, and replacing ineffective teachers. According to the NY Times, "He argued that the nation's schools needed to be held accountable for student progress, but also needed major new investments, new talent and new teacher-training efforts." Duncan's position straddles the two major camps of American educators, and he often strives for compromise between opposing parties. He also helped draft Obama's education platform which emphasizes investments in early childhood education, teacher recruitment, performance-based teacher pay initiatives, training of principals, and the importance of science and math.

Are you satisfied with Obama's choice? How do you think Duncan could address the problems facing higher education? Your comments are welcome.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Steven Chu Nominated as Energy Secretary

President-elect Barack Obama recently nominated Nobel-Prize winning physicist Steven Chu to be Secretary of Energy. Chu has a firm understanding of science policy, climate change, research and energy issues, and we are hopeful that he will revitalize scientific funding and research. Please visit Chu's brief interview with Science Debate 2008 for his thoughts on the role that science has to play in US prosperity.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Pulse of the Planet #8

The next op-ed in CounterPunch's ongoing "Pulse of the Planet" series is Shannon May's "Ecological Crisis and Eco-Villages in China." The series is derived from conference papers that were delivered at the "Pulse of the Planet" panel during AAA's 2008 annual meeting in San Francisco.

In her article, May evaluates an initiative to construct a carbon-neutral sustainable housing development in rural China while bridging the urban-rural economic divide. Her research highlights how government leaders and designers failed to consider the ways in which local rural populations subsist. As a result, income generated from aquaculture and cashmere fiber suffered under the project. A substantial portion of income was also wasted on heating homes during winter, a season when local families have time to provide heating for themselves. May writes, "There is no environmental policy that is not at the same time an economic policy." Global sustainability and development goals can be reached without reinforcing the urban-rural divide, but, in order to do so, eco-friendly projects must first take into account the needs, values, and livelihoods of local populations.

Prior Pulse of the Planet Articles:
"How Dow Chemical Defies Homeland Security and Risks Another 9/11" ~ Brian McKenna
"The Inequities of Climate Change and the Small Island Experience" ~ Holly Barker
"What the Next President Must Do to Save FEMA" ~ Gregory V. Button
"The Clean, Green Nuclear Machine?" ~ Barbara Rose Johnston
"Carbon Offsets: More Harm Than Good?" ~ Melissa Checker
"The Human Right to Eat" ~ Joan P. Mencher
"Dam Legacies, Damned Futures" ~ Barbara Rose Johnston

Monday, December 01, 2008

Pulse of the Planet #7

CounterPunch's Pulse of the Planet Series Returns with Brian McKenna's article, "How Dow Chemical Defies Homeland Security and Risks Another 9/11." The series is derived from the "Pulse of the Planet" panel that was recently held at the 2008 AAA annual meeting in San Francisco.

McKenna details how Dow Chemical has manipulated U.S. politics to its own advantage and the impact that this has had upon the health and security of our nation. He also describes the role of Dow Chemical in two international events that parallel the destruction wrought on 9/11. McKenna urges President-elect Obama to revive the "Chemical Security and Safety Act" (S.2486) of 2006 and join with labor and environmental groups in calling for: "safer and more secure chemicals and processes..., allow states to set more protective security standards if they so wish, require collaboration between the Department of Homeland Security, the EPA and other agencies to circumvent regulatory redundancy, and dramatically protect the rights of industry whistleblowers."

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

2008 Annual Meeting Press Coverage

We'd like to thank all those who made the trek out to San Francisco for our 2008 annual meeting. The following stories detail some of the panels and meetings to occur during the meeting:

Inside Higher Ed
Raised Eyebrows over Keynote Choice (Nov. 26) [tangential to AAA meeting]
Fieldwork with Three Children (Nov. 25)
Anthropological Engagement, for Good and for Bad? (Nov. 24)
Ethics and Militarization Dominate Anthropology Meeting (Nov. 21)
Anthropologists Consider Notions of 'Community' in Education (Nov. 20)

The Chronicle of Higher Education [subscription required]
Anthropologists to Vote on New Ethical Rules on Work With Military (Nov. 24)
Anthropology Association Moves Toward Adopting Rules on Military Engagement (Nov. 21)

San Francisco Unzipped
SF Style Philes: The American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting

Science & Religion Today [blog]
Dispatch from the AAA Annual Meeting (Nov. 24)

Savage Minds [blog]
AAAs 2008 Wrap Up (Nov. 24)

What Happened at the AAA Meeting in San Francisco (Nov. 27)

Readers are encouraged to share their thoughts about the annual meeting, including any areas that could use improvement, in our comment section.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Pulse of the Planet #6

Holly Barker's "The Inequities of Climate Change and the Small Island Experience" was recently published by CounterPunch as part of their ongoing "Pulse of the Planet" series. We encourage our readers to attend the Invited Session, "Pulse of the Planet - Human Rights, Environment and Social Justice in the 21st Century," at the AAA annual meeting. The session will be held on Saturday, Nov. 22, 2008.

In her article, Barker highlights the vulnerability of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to the effects of climate change, especially rising sea-levels and the increase in violent storms and hurricanes. SIDS are vulnerable because of their "small size, isolation, limited fresh water and other natural resources, fragile economies, often dense populations, poorly developed infrastructures, limited financial and human resources and exposure to extreme weather events." Nations most responsible for climate change, particularly the US, are sheltered from its effects and need to increase their efforts to preserve SIDS, reduce carbon emissions, and invest in alternative energies.

Prior Pulse of the Planet Articles:
"What the Next President Must Do to Save FEMA" ~ Gregory V. Button
"The Clean, Green Nuclear Machine?" ~ Barbara Rose Johnston
"Carbon Offsets: More Harm Than Good?" ~ Melissa Checker
"The Human Right to Eat" ~ Joan P. Mencher
"Dam Legacies, Damned Futures" ~ Barbara Rose Johnston

Monday, November 03, 2008

Pulse of the Planet #5

Gregory V. Button's "What the Next President Must Do to Save FEMA" is the next installment of CounterPunch's "Pulse of the Planet" series. The series is derived from conference papers that will be delivered at the "Pulse of the Planet" panel during AAA's 2008 annual meeting in San Francisco.
Button details the history of the Federal Emergency Agency and the circumstances that led to its inability to prepare for and respond to catastrophic events. He writes, "We need a policy that would require significant increased funding for FEMA's dual approach and we need to insure that funding earmarked for disasters is not secretly funneled into fighting terrorism as has been the case under the current administration."

Prior Pulse of the Planet Articles:
"The Clean, Green Nuclear Machine?" ~ Barbara Rose Johnston
"Carbon Offsets: More Harm Than Good?" ~ Melissa Checker
"The Human Right to Eat" ~ Joan P. Mencher
"Dam Legacies, Damned Futures" ~ Barbara Rose Johnston

Pulse of the Planet #4

Barbara Rose Johnston was featured in CounterPunch once again as part of its ongoing "Pulse of the Planet" series. The series is derived from conference papers that will be delivered at the "Pulse of the Planet" panel during AAA's 2008 annual meeting. In her op-ed, "The Clean, Green Nuclear Machine?" Johnston questions the ability of nuclear energy to solve our energy, economic, and environmental problems by highlighting the unexpected health, stewardship, ecological, and development costs of nuclear plants and waste.

Prior Pulse of the Planet Articles:
"Carbon Offsets: More Harm Than Good?" ~ Melissa Checker
"The Human Right to Eat" ~ Joan P. Mencher
"Dam Legacies, Damned Futures" ~ Barbara Rose Johnston

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

US & Iraq to Step Up Cultural Preservation Efforts

The NY Times reported that the US and Iraq have launched a $14 million program to help preserve Iraq's cultural heritage. Funds will be used to "create a conservation and historic preservation institute in Erbil, help refurbish the Iraqi National Museum and train museum employees." This is a significant step forward in efforts to cultivate and preserve Iraq's cultural heritage. The US will also continue its efforts to recover thousands of artifacts that were looted from Iraq's National Museum in 2003.

US Senate Ratifies Agreement to Protect Cultural Resources

On September 25, 2008, the US Senate voted to become party to the 1954 Hague Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict. The 1954 Hague Convention was drafted by a host of nations, including the United States, following the rampant cultural destruction that occurred in Europe during World War II. The indiscriminate destruction wrought by German forces demonstrated the need for a new instrument to protect cultural property during military conflict and occupation. As a result of the affirmative vote of the Senate, the US will join 121 other nations in stressing the importance of protecting our world’s cultural heritage.

The Convention establishes terms meant to ensure the continued preservation of archaeological sites, historical structures, works of art, scientific collections and other forms of cultural property. These terms compel nations to curtail the theft and vandalism of artifacts, help preserve cultural property when occupying foreign territory, and avoid the targeting and use of cultural sites for military purposes.

The AAA was invited to sign onto written testimony in support of the ratification. The testimony—originally submitted by the Lawyer’s Committee for Cultural Heritage Preservation, the Archaeological Institute of America, and the US Committee for the Blue Shield in July, 2008 before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee—reinforces AAA’s commitment to the preservation and protection of items of cultural and historical importance. The AAA has been engaged in cultural property issues over the years, and recently issued statements regarding the Iraq Cultural Heritage Protection Act and the National Historic Preservation Act.

Although the US is already party to the 1907 Hague Convention (IV) respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land and its Annex, ratification of the 1954 Convention further delimits the responsibilities of the US military, reinforces our nation’s commitment to cultural preservation, encourages the identification of cultural property, and improves our foreign relations. Such steps are crucial given the current military climate in the Middle East and the looting of the Iraq National Museum.

The written statement presented to the Senate may be downloaded here.

Readers may also view the text of the 1954 Hague Convention here.

AAA Statement on 1954 Hague Convention

Monday, October 20, 2008

AAA Supports Call for Hearings on the Protection of Native American Sacred Sites

AAA wrote to the Committee on Indian Affairs requesting that hearings be held on the protection of Native American sacred sites. Hearings about the efforts of federal agencies to cooperate and consult with Tribes would help alleviate concerns expressed by Native Americans that their voices are falling upon deaf ears. We hope that federal agencies, tribal nations, and native rights organizations will receive equal representation should any hearings occur.

AAA Supports Travelers' Privacy Legislation

In addition to a letter sent to Representative Zoe Lofgren in support of her ‘electronic device privacy act of 2008,’ association President Setha Low sent letters to the House Committee on the Judiciary and the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs to express support for Lofgren’s legislation, as well as similar legislation by Representative Adam Smith of Washington and Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin.

Back in April of this year, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that federal officials—-namely, Custom and Border agents—-can “randomly” search and seize electronic information stored on laptop computers, cameras, cell phones, MP3 players, and other devices without “reasonable suspicion.” This poses obvious risks to anthropologists and their research participants.

We are hoping to get bills that will prevent such border searches on the legislative calendar for 2009, and encourage our readers to contact their Congressperson to express concern about this issue. In the meantime, we advise anthropologists to code all identifiable information, delete electronic information that could be used to identify or harm participants, encrypt any sensitive data, store research in a secure online database, and/or send data electronically instead of carrying it across borders.

Members should contact the AAA if they have been subject to a search without cause for reasonable suspicion.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Statement of Concerned Scholars about Islamophobia in the 2008 U. S. Election Campaign

Over 75 scholars of Islam and Muslim societies have released a bipartisan statement concerning the unfortunate level of Islamophobia in the current U.S. election campaign, including the false claim that Senator Obama is a stealth Muslim and the widespread distribution in key swing states of a propagandic film which equates Islam with Nazism.

Those hoping to sign onto the statement should contact Dr. Daniel Varisco, Chair and Professor of Anthropology at Hofstra University, through the blog Tabsir, www.tabsir.net

Monday, October 06, 2008

"Open Access" to American Anthropologist & Anthropology News

In a groundbreaking move aimed at facilitating greater access for the global social science and anthropological communities to 86 years of classic, historic research articles, the Executive Board of the American Anthropological Association announced today that it will provide, free of charge, unrestricted content previously published in two if its flagship publications – American Anthropologist and Anthropology News.

The initiative, among the first of its kind in the humanities- and social science-based publishing environment and made in coordination with publishing partner Wiley-Blackwell, will provide access to these materials for the purposes of personal, educational and other non-commercial uses after a thirty-five year period.

Starting in 2009, content published from 1888 to 1973, will be available through AnthroSource, the premier online resource serving the research, teaching, and professional needs of anthropologists. Previously, this information was only available via AAA association membership, subscription or on a so-called “pay per view” basis.

“This historic move, initiated by the needs and desires of our worldwide constituency, is our association’s pointed answer to the call for open access to our publications. This program, I believe, is an important first step in answering the call to un-gating anthropological knowledge,” AAA Executive Director Bill Davis said in a statement issued today.

The initiative, which will be re-evaluated by internal AAA committees in the next year (the Committee on Scientific Publication as advised by the Committee for the Future of Electronic Publishing), may be expanded in the future.

“Our Association is committed to the widespread dissemination of anthropological knowledge,” notes Oona Schmid, AAA Director of Publishing “and our Executive Board is acting to support this goal in two ways: supporting the sustainability of our publishing program and facilitating access to more than eight decades of studies and content in the discipline.”

The official press release is available here [pdf].

Call for Papers: Imagined Communities, Real Conflicts, and National Identities

"Imagined Communities, Real Conflicts, and National Identities"
14th Annual World Convention of the Association for the Study of Nationalities (ASN)
April 23-25, 2009
Columbia University, NY

The ASN Convention, the most attended international and inter- disciplinary scholarly gathering of its kind, welcomes proposals on a wide range of topics related to national identity, nationalism, ethnic conflict, state-building and the study of empires in Central/Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, the Balkans, Eurasia, and adjacent areas.

Submissions are due by November 5, 2008.

The official call is available here [pdf].

Call for Papers: Frontiers of Canadian Migration

Frontiers of Canadian Migration
March 19-22, 2009
Calgary, Alberta, Canada

New trends in migration call for renewed thinking about local, regional and national policies for immigration and integration. The conference will bring together researchers, policy-makers and community practitioners to explore the frontiers of research and practice in six policy priority areas:
1) Citizenship and Social, Cultural and Civic Integration;
2) Economic and Labour Market Integration;
3) Family, Children and Youth;
4) Housing and Neighbourhoods;
5) Justice, Policing and Security ; and
6) Welcoming Communities: The Role of the Host Communities in Attracting, Integrating and Retaining Newcomers and Minorities.

Submissions are due by Nov. 15, 2008.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Minerva in the News

Times Higher Education picked up an article featured in Anthropology Today. The article details some of the major concerns about the Minerva Research Initiative and the effects it could have upon the discipline as a whole. As always, we welcome your comments and thoughts on this issue.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Proposed Changes to the AAA Code of Ethics

Dear AAA Member:

After a nine-month long process of review, consultation and outreach to a number of AAA members, groups, commissions and committees, the Executive Board recently voted to adopt changes to the association’s Code of Ethics and to forward these revisions to the membership at large for a vote. This complex process began a month after the AAA Business Meeting and was concluded last Friday during the third teleconference held by the Executive Board for this purpose.

I thought it was important to send you the details of this lengthy and complicated process; therefore, the full text of the original motions from the November 30, 2007 AAA Business Meeting that initiated this revision of the ethics code, a summary of the consultation process including the committees, subcommittees, commissions and appointed individuals who worked on various drafts and the text of the proposed revision finally passed by the Executive Board are attached. The next step is to circulate this proposed revision widely and provide adequate time for the Section Assembly, Sections, and all AAA members to discuss and debate the proposed new wording. I expect that this discussion will occupy much of the AAA website blog, the Business Meeting and panels and meetings in San Francisco. After the annual meeting and the aforementioned period of discussion and debate, an email ballot will be sent out asking you to vote yea or nay on this proposal.

As part of this process, the Executive Board became increasingly aware that trying to reword only one part of the Code of Ethics was difficult in terms of the whole document. Further, during the consultation process many people and groups suggested that a broad review and revision is necessary. The Executive Board, therefore, is currently working on a motion to establish a process to revise the entire Code of Ethics over a two year period to be completed by November 2010. I will share this motion with you as soon as it is complete.

As your President, I am pleased to have the opportunity to serve you and am also proud of the thoughtful, deliberate and profound input the Executive Board received during the course of this process. I very much look forward to serving you over the next year, and eagerly await seeing you in San Francisco this November.


Setha Low


American Anthropological Association



At the most recent AAA Annual Business Meeting, held in November of 2007, a resolution introduced by Terry Turner was passed by the membership. The resolution directed the AAA Executive Board to restore certain sections of the 1971 version of the code of ethics in order to, in the words of the sponsor, “[affirm] the importance of transparency and openness in anthropological research and the need for anthropological knowledge to circulate freely.” The full text of the resolution appears below:

WHEREAS the 1971 AAA Code of Ethics (“Principles of Professional Responsibility”) contained clear language affirming the importance of transparency and openness in anthropological research and the need for anthropological knowledge to circulate freely (including to those studied); and

WHEREAS this language was weakened in the 1998 AAA Code of Ethics; and

WHEREAS the heightened involvement of anthropologists with U.S. military and intelligence institutions increases the danger that anthropological knowledge will be used to harm those we study and to impede the free circulation of anthropological knowledge; and

WHEREAS the final report of the AAA Commission on the Engagement of U.S. Anthropology with the U.S. Security and Intelligence communities recommends that “the Ethics Committee or general membership should consider reinstating former language from the 1971 CoE (sections 1.g, 2.a, 3.a and 6)” (p.25);

Be it moved that the AAA restore sections 1.g, 2.a, 3.a and 6 from the 1971 ethics code, to wit:

1.g “In accordance with the Association's general position on clandestine and secret research, no reports should be provided to sponsors that are not also available to the general public and, where practicable, to the population studied.”

2.a “He should not communicate findings secretly to some and withhold them from others.”

3.a “He should undertake no secret research or any research whose results cannot be freely derived and publicly reported.”

6 “In relation with his own government and with host governments, the research anthropologists should be honest and candid. He should demand assurance that he will not be required to compromise his professional responsibilities and ethics as a condition of their permission to pursue research. Specifically, no secret research, no secret reports or debriefings of any kind should be agreed to or given. If these matters are clearly understood in advance, serious complications and misunderstandings can generally be avoided.”

A related motion, introduced by John Kelly, directed the Executive Board to report to the membership if a decision was not made to restore, in total, the language proposed in the Turner motion. The full text of that motion appears below:

Whereas we understand that the by-laws of our association do not require the Board of the AAA to respect our declared will in the matter of restoring the anti-secrecy clauses to our ethics code, as in other prior cases of motions without notice,

be it resolved first, that we resent and resist any and all efforts to transform the call into a mere invitation to discuss the secrecy clauses,

and second, that if the Executive Committee chooses any alterative to reinstating the 1971 secrecy language, we ask them to explain their anti-democratic decisions to us very carefully.

On January 20, 2008, the AAA Executive Board passed a resolution asking the Committee on Ethics to draft a revised version of the ethics code that “incorporates the principles of the Turner motion while stipulating principles…that identify when the ethical conduct of anthropology does and does not require specific forms of the public circulation of knowledge.” The relevant portions of the EB ballot appear below:

That the Committee on Ethics draft, for the consideration of the EB, a revised version of the Ethics Code that (I) incorporates the principle of the Turner motion while (ii) stipulating principles--themselves compatible with and/or following from the principles in Sections II and III in the existing Code of Ethics--that identify when the ethical conduct of anthropology does and does not require specific forms of the public circulation of knowledge.

The Executive Board further requests that the Committee on Ethics, in preparing these draft revisions, give due attention to the discussion of these issues in the report of the Ad Hoc Commission on Engagement of Anthropology in US Security and Intelligence Communities. The Executive Board further requests that the Committee on Ethics advise the EB on the effects of adopting such a proposal, with special focus on identifying for anthropologists what sorts of research and reporting practices would be considered unethical conduct if its draft proposal were incorporated into a revised Ethics Code. Finally, the Executive Board requests that the Ethics Committee prepare its response to this directive by April 1.

The Executive Board also passed a motion to add four invited guests to the Committee on Ethics to assist in the development of a revised version of the Code of Ethics; these four guests are Jeffrey Altschul, Agustin Fuentes, Merrill Singer, and David Price. Another three guests were invited after the first conference call, Inga Treitler, Nathaniel Tashima, and Noel Chrisman.

On March 7, the Committee on Ethics held its first teleconference to discuss how best to proceed on the Turner resolution and the subsequent charge from the Executive Board. Those participating from the Committee on Ethics included Alec Barker, Katie MacKinnon, Dena Plemmons, Dhooleka Raj, and those from the “ad hoc” advisory group of four included Jeff Altschul, Agustín Fuentes, Merrill Singer and David Price. A discussion of the process they agreed to follow in revising the Ethics Code was submitted to the Executive Board on May 3.

Subsequently, the group met by teleconference on two occasions after May 3, 2008 and extensively discussed, debated and revised the proposed language through a series of emails. The group then submitted June 16 proposed changes to the code, making several unanimous recommendations and offering majority and minority opinions surrounding issues around the dissemination of certain types of materials and findings.

On June 16 the Committee on Ethics issued its report to a newly formed subcommittee of the Executive Board created to deal with potential code revisions. The subcommittee (consisting of TJ Ferguson, Monica Heller, Tom Leatherman, Deborah Nichols, Gwen Mikell and Ed Liebow) examined the Committee on Ethics report and solicited the input of the Committee on Ethics; the Commission of the Engagement of Anthropology with the US Security and Intelligence Communities; the Committee on Practicing, Applied and Public Interest Anthropology; and the Network of Concerned Anthropologists, asking these groups to advise before making its own recommendations to the larger Executive Board. After examining the input of these groups, the EB subcommittee forwarded its recommendations to the entire Executive Board August 8.

Subsequent to these activities, AAA President Setha Low reached out to a number of stakeholders to solicit their input. The Executive Board met by telephone conference twice and after further consultation approved a final version of the Code of Ethics on September 19, 2008.


Due to the formatting limitations of blogspot.com, new language appears in bracketed italics; removed language appears in bold text.

Code of Ethics
of the American Anthropological Association
Approved June 1998

I. Preamble

Anthropological researchers, teachers and practitioners are members of many different communities, each with its own moral rules or codes of ethics. Anthropologists have moral obligations as members of other groups, such as the family, religion, and community, as well as the profession. They also have obligations to the scholarly discipline, to the wider society and culture, and to the human species, other species, and the environment. Furthermore, fieldworkers may develop close relationships with persons or animals with whom they work, generating an additional level of ethical considerations.

In a field of such complex involvements and obligations, it is inevitable that misunderstandings, conflicts, and the need to make choices among apparently incompatible values will arise. Anthropologists are responsible for grappling with such difficulties and struggling to resolve them in ways compatible with the principles stated here. The purpose of this Code is to foster discussion and education. The American Anthropological Association (AAA) does not adjudicate claims for unethical behavior.

The principles and guidelines in this Code provide the anthropologist with tools to engage in developing and maintaining an ethical framework for all anthropological work.

II. Introduction

Anthropology is a multidisciplinary field of science and scholarship, which includes the study of all aspects of humankind--archaeological, biological, linguistic and sociocultural. Anthropology has roots in the natural and social sciences and in the humanities, ranging in approach from basic to applied research and to scholarly interpretation.

As the principal organization representing the breadth of anthropology, the American Anthropological Association (AAA) starts from the position that generating and appropriately utilizing knowledge (i.e., publishing, teaching, developing programs, and informing policy) of the peoples of the world, past and present, is a worthy goal; that the generation of anthropological knowledge is a dynamic process using many different and ever-evolving approaches; and that for moral and practical reasons, the generation and utilization of knowledge should be achieved in an ethical manner.

The mission of American Anthropological Association is to advance all aspects of anthropological research and to foster dissemination of anthropological knowledge through publications, teaching, public education, and application. An important part of that mission is to help educate AAA members about ethical obligations and challenges involved in the generation, dissemination, and utilization of anthropological knowledge.

The purpose of this Code is to provide AAA members and other interested persons with guidelines for making ethical choices in the conduct of their anthropological work. Because anthropologists can find themselves in complex situations and subject to more than one code of ethics, the AAA Code of Ethics provides a framework, not an ironclad formula, for making decisions. Persons using the Code as a guideline for making ethical choices or for teaching are encouraged to seek out illustrative examples and appropriate case studies to enrich their knowledge base.

Anthropologists have a duty to be informed about ethical codes relating to their work, and ought periodically to receive training on current research activities and ethical issues. In addition, departments offering anthropology degrees should include and require ethical training in their curriculums.

No code or set of guidelines can anticipate unique circumstances or direct actions in specific situations. The individual anthropologist must be willing to make carefully considered ethical choices and be prepared to make clear the assumptions, facts and issues on which those choices are based. These guidelines therefore address general contexts, priorities and relationships which should be considered in ethical decision making in anthropological work.

III. Research

In both proposing and carrying out research, anthropological researchers must be open about the purpose(s), potential impacts, and source(s) of support for research projects with funders, colleagues, persons studied or providing information, and with relevant parties affected by the research. Researchers must expect to utilize the results of their work in an appropriate fashion and disseminate the results through appropriate and timely activities. Research fulfilling these expectations is ethical, regardless of the source of funding (public or private) or purpose (i.e., "applied," "basic," "pure," or "proprietary").

Anthropological researchers should be alert to the danger of compromising anthropological ethics as a condition to engage in research, yet also be alert to proper demands of good citizenship or host-guest relations. Active contribution and leadership in seeking to shape public or private sector actions and policies may be as ethically justifiable as inaction, detachment, or noncooperation, depending on circumstances. Similar principles hold for anthropological researchers employed or otherwise affiliated with nonanthropological institutions, public institutions, or private enterprises.

A. Responsibility to people and animals with whom anthropological researchers work and whose lives and cultures they study.

1. Anthropological researchers have primary ethical obligations to the people, species, and materials they study and to the people with whom they work. These obligations can supersede the goal of seeking new knowledge, and can lead to decisions not to undertake or to discontinue a research project when the primary obligation conflicts with other responsibilities, such as those owed to sponsors or clients. These ethical obligations include:
* To avoid harm or wrong, understanding that the development of knowledge can lead to change which may be positive or negative for the people or animals worked with or studied
* To respect the well-being of humans and nonhuman primates
* To work for the long-term conservation of the archaeological, fossil, and historical records
* To consult actively with the affected individuals or group(s), with the goal of establishing a working relationship that can be beneficial to all parties involved

2. [In conducting and publishing their research, or otherwise disseminating their research results], anthropological researchers must do everything in their power to ensure that [ensure that they do not] harm the safety, dignity, or privacy of the people with whom they work, conduct research, or perform other professional activities, [or who might reasonably be thought to be affected by their research]. Anthropological researchers working with animals must do everything in their power to ensure that the research does not harm the safety, psychological well-being or survival of the animals or species with which they work.

3. Anthropological researchers must determine in advance whether their hosts/providers of information wish to remain anonymous or receive recognition, and make every effort to comply with those wishes. Researchers must present to their research participants the possible impacts of the choices, and make clear that despite their best efforts, anonymity may be compromised or recognition fail to materialize.

4. Anthropological researchers should obtain in advance the informed consent of persons being studied, providing information, owning or controlling access to material being studied, or otherwise identified as having interests which might be impacted by the research. It is understood that the degree and breadth of informed consent required will depend on the nature of the project and may be affected by requirements of other codes, laws, and ethics of the country or community in which the research is pursued. Further, it is understood that the informed consent process is dynamic and continuous; the process should be initiated in the project design and continue through implementation by way of dialogue and negotiation with those studied. Researchers are responsible for identifying and complying with the various informed consent codes, laws and regulations affecting their projects. Informed consent, for the purposes of this code, does not necessarily imply or require a particular written or signed form. It is the quality of the consent, not the format, that is relevant.

5. Anthropological researchers who have developed close and enduring relationships (i.e., covenantal relationships) with either individual persons providing information or with hosts must adhere to the obligations of openness and informed consent, while carefully and respectfully negotiating the limits of the relationship.

6. While anthropologists may gain personally from their work, they must not exploit individuals, groups, animals, or cultural or biological materials. They should recognize their debt to the societies in which they work and their obligation to reciprocate with people studied in appropriate ways.

B. Responsibility to scholarship and science

1. Anthropological researchers must expect to encounter ethical dilemmas at every stage of their work, and must make good-faith efforts to identify potential ethical claims and conflicts in advance when preparing proposals and as projects proceed. A section raising and responding to potential ethical issues should be part of every research proposal.

2. Anthropological researchers bear responsibility for the integrity and reputation of their discipline, of scholarship, and of science. Thus, anthropological researchers are subject to the general moral rules of scientific and scholarly conduct: they should not deceive or knowingly misrepresent (i.e., fabricate evidence, falsify, and plagiarize), or attempt to prevent reporting of misconduct, or obstruct the scientific/scholarly research of others.

3. Anthropological researchers should do all they can to preserve opportunities for future fieldworkers to follow them to the field.

4. [Anthropologists have a responsibility to be both honest and transparent with all stakeholders about the nature and intent of their research. They must not misrepresent their research goals, funding sources, activities, or findings. Anthropologists should never deceive the people they are studying regarding the sponsorship, goals, methods, products, or expected impacts of their work. Deliberately misrepresenting one’s research goals and impact to research subjects is a clear violation of research ethics, as is conducting clandestine research.]

5. Anthropological researchers should utilize the results of their work in an appropriate fashion, and whenever possible disseminate their findings to the scientific and scholarly community.

6. Anthropological researchers should seriously consider all reasonable requests for access to their data and other research materials for purposes of research. They should also make every effort to insure preservation of their fieldwork data for use by posterity.

C. Responsibility to the public

1. Anthropological researchers should make the results of their research appropriately available to sponsors, students, decision makers, and other nonanthropologists. In so doing, they must be truthful; they are not only responsible for the factual content of their statements but also must consider carefully the social and political implications of the information they disseminate. They must do everything in their power to insure that such information is well understood, properly contextualized, and responsibly utilized. They should make clear the empirical bases upon which their reports stand, be candid about their qualifications and philosophical or political biases, and recognize and make clear the limits of anthropological expertise. At the same time, they must be alert to possible harm their information may cause people with whom they work or colleagues.

2. [In relation with his or her own government, host governments, or sponsors of research, an anthropologist should be honest and candid. Anthropologists must not compromise their professional responsibilities and ethics and should not agree to conditions which inappropriately change the purpose, focus or intended outcomes of their research.]

3. Anthropologists may choose to move beyond disseminating research results to a position of advocacy. This is an individual decision, but not an ethical responsibility.

IV. Teaching

Responsibility to students and trainees

While adhering to ethical and legal codes governing relations between teachers/mentors and students/trainees at their educational institutions or as members of wider organizations, anthropological teachers should be particularly sensitive to the ways such codes apply in their discipline (for example, when teaching involves close contact with students/trainees in field situations). Among the widely recognized precepts which anthropological teachers, like other teachers/mentors, should follow are:

1. Teachers/mentors should conduct their programs in ways that preclude discrimination on the basis of sex, marital status, "race," social class, political convictions, disability, religion, ethnic background, national origin, sexual orientation, age, or other criteria irrelevant to academic performance.

2. Teachers'/mentors' duties include continually striving to improve their teaching/training techniques; being available and responsive to student/trainee interests; counseling students/ trainees realistically regarding career opportunities; conscientiously supervising, encouraging, and supporting students'/trainees' studies; being fair, prompt, and reliable in communicating evaluations; assisting students/trainees in securing research support; and helping students/trainees when they seek professional placement.

3. Teachers/mentors should impress upon students/trainees the ethical challenges involved in every phase of anthropological work; encourage them to reflect upon this and other codes; encourage dialogue with colleagues on ethical issues; and discourage participation in ethically questionable projects.

4. Teachers/mentors should publicly acknowledge student/trainee assistance in research and preparation of their work; give appropriate credit for coauthorship to students/trainees; encourage publication of worthy student/trainee papers; and compensate students/trainees justly for their participation in all professional activities.

5. Teachers/mentors should beware of the exploitation and serious conflicts of interest which may result if they engage in sexual relations with students/trainees. They must avoid sexual liaisons with students/trainees for whose education and professional training they are in any way responsible.

V. Application

1. The same ethical guidelines apply to all anthropological work. That is, in both proposing and carrying out research, anthropologists must be open with funders, colleagues, persons studied or providing information, and relevant parties affected by the work about the purpose(s), potential impacts, and source(s) of support for the work. Applied anthropologists must intend and expect to utilize the results of their work appropriately (i.e., publication, teaching, program and policy development) within a reasonable time. In situations in which anthropological knowledge is applied, anthropologists bear the same responsibility to be open and candid about their skills and intentions, and monitor the effects of their work on all persons affected. Anthropologists may be involved in many types of work, frequently affecting individuals and groups with diverse and sometimes conflicting interests. The individual anthropologist must make carefully considered ethical choices and be prepared to make clear the assumptions, facts and issues on which those choices are based.

2. In all dealings with employers, persons hired to pursue anthropological research or apply anthropological knowledge should be honest about their qualifications, capabilities, and aims. Prior to making any professional commitments, they must review the purposes of prospective employers, taking into consideration the employer's past activities and future goals. In working for governmental agencies or private businesses, they should be especially careful not to promise or imply acceptance of conditions contrary to professional ethics or competing commitments.

3. Applied anthropologists, as any anthropologist, should be alert to the danger of compromising anthropological ethics as a condition for engaging in research or practice. They should also be alert to proper demands of hospitality, good citizenship and guest status. Proactive contribution and leadership in shaping public or private sector actions and policies may be as ethically justifiable as inaction, detachment, or noncooperation, depending on circumstances.

[VI. Dissemination of Results

1. The results of anthropological research are complex, subject to multiple interpretations and susceptible to differing and unintended uses. Anthropologists have an ethical obligation to consider the potential impact of both their research and the communication or dissemination of the results of their research on all directly or indirectly involved.

2. Anthropologists should not withhold research results from research participants when those results are shared with others. There are specific and limited circumstances however, where disclosure restrictions are appropriate and ethical, particularly where those restrictions serve to protect the safety, dignity or privacy of participants, protect cultural heritage or tangible or intangible cultural or intellectual property.

3. Anthropologists must weigh the intended and potential uses of their work and the impact of its distribution in determining whether limited availability of results is warranted and ethical in any given instance.

VII. Epilogue

Anthropological research, teaching, and application, like any human actions, pose choices for which anthropologists individually and collectively bear ethical responsibility. Since anthropologists are members of a variety of groups and subject to a variety of ethical codes, choices must sometimes be made not only between the varied obligations presented in this code but also between those of this code and those incurred in other statuses or roles. This statement does not dictate choice or propose sanctions. Rather, it is designed to promote discussion and provide general guidelines for ethically responsible decisions.

VIII. Acknowledgments

This Code was drafted by the Commission to Review the AAA Statements on Ethics during the period January 1995-March 1997. The Commission members were James Peacock (Chair), Carolyn Fluehr-Lobban, Barbara Frankel, Kathleen Gibson, Janet Levy, and Murray Wax. In addition, the following individuals participated in the Commission meetings: philosopher Bernard Gert, anthropologists Cathleen Crain, Shirley Fiske, David Freyer, Felix Moos, Yolanda Moses, and Niel Tashima; and members of the American Sociological Association Committee on Ethics. Open hearings on the Code were held at the 1995 and 1996 annual meetings of the American Anthropological Association. The Commission solicited comments from all AAA Sections. The first draft of the AAA Code of Ethics was discussed at the May 1995 AAA Section Assembly meeting; the second draft was briefly discussed at the November 1996 meeting of the AAA Section Assembly.

The Final Report of the Commission was published in the September 1995 edition of the Anthropology Newsletter and on the AAA web site (http://www.aaanet.org). Drafts of the Code were published in the April 1996 and 1996 annual meeting edition of the Anthropology Newsletter and the AAA web site, and comments were solicited from the membership. The Commission considered all comments from the membership in formulating the final draft in February 1997. The Commission gratefully acknowledges the use of some language from the codes of ethics of the National Association for the Practice of Anthropology and the Society for American Archaeology.

[Subsequent revisions to this Code were initiated by the passing of a resolution, offered by Terry Turner at the AAA Business Meeting held in November of 2007, directing the AAA Executive Board to restore certain sections of the 1971 version of the Code of Ethics. A related motion, introduced by John Kelly, directed the Executive Board to report to the membership a justification of its reasoning if a decision was made to not restore, in total, the language proposed in the Turner motion.

On January 20, 2008, the Executive Board tasked the Committee on Ethics, whose membership included Dena Plemmons (acting chair), Alec Barker, Katherine MacKinnon, Dhooleka Raj, K. Sivaramakrishnan and Steve Striffler, with drafting a revised ethics code that “incorporates the principles of the Turner motion while stipulating principles that identify when the ethical conduct of anthropology does and does not require specific forms of the circulation of knowledge.” Six individuals (Jeffrey Altshul, Agustin Fuentes, Merrill Singer, David Price, Inga Treitler and Niel Tashima) were invited to advise the Committee in its deliberations.

On June 16, 2008, the Committee on Ethics issued its report to a newly formed subcommittee of the Executive Board created to deal with potential code revisions. The subcommittee (consisting of TJ Ferguson, Monica Heller, Tom Leatherman, Setha Low, Deborah Nichols, Gwen Mikell and Ed Liebow) examined the Committee on Ethics report and solicited the input of the Committee on Ethics; the Commission of the Engagement of Anthropology with the US Security and Intelligence Communities; the Committee on Practicing, Applied and Public Interest Anthropology; and the Network of Concerned Anthropologists, asking these groups to advise before making its own recommendations to the larger Executive Board. After examining the input of these groups, the EB subcommittee forwarded its recommendations to the entire Executive Board August 8.

Subsequent to these activities, AAA President Setha Low reached out to a number of stakeholders to solicit their input. On September 19, 2008, the Executive Board approved a final version of the Code of the Ethics.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

WFU Creates Digital Artifact Database

Wake Forest University's Museum of Anthropology recently unveiled an online database of its entire collection, consisting of over 26,000 artifacts. You can search the collection by country to find objects from a particular region or culture. The database also allows users to search for a specific type of artifact across cultures. The project was made possible by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and another recently awarded IMLS grant will allow the museum to expand the database to include archival records, such as photographs and maps.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Call for Papers: Surveillance Societies Conference

Surveillance Societies: What Price Security?
April 24-26, 2009
Macaulay Honors College at the City University of New York

Papers and roundtable discussions are being accepted for a conference focusing on the tensions between systems of security within and between societies and systems of surveillance over members of those societies.

"Possible panel topics: historical considerations, zones of surveillance, scopic economies, religious and juridical apparatuses, networked societies, reconsiderations of Orwell and Foucault, surveillance, security, and emotion, nationalism and security, militarization, literature and film"

Fellowship for Doctoral Students

Doctoral students in the humanities and social sciences may be interested in applying for the American Council of Learned Societies and Social Science Research Council's International Dissertation Research Fellowship program. The IDRF program will provide support for 75 students conducting dissertation research outside the United States.

"The IDRF program is committed to empirical and site-specific research that advances knowledge about non-U.S. cultures and societies (involving fieldwork, research in archival or manuscript collections, or quantitative data collection). The program promotes research that is situated in a specific discipline and geographical region and is engaged with interdisciplinary and cross-regional perspectives.

Fellowships will provide support for nine to twelve months of dissertation research. Individual awards will be approximately $20,000. No awards will be made for proposals requiring less than nine months of on-site research. The 2009 IDRF fellowship must be held for a single continuous period within the eighteen months between July 2009 and December 2010."

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Medical Anthropologist Addresses Crisis in Haiti

Dr. Paul Farmer, professor of medical anthropology at Harvard Medical School and co-founder of Partners in Health, was featured on Democracy Now! The War and Peace Report. In his interview, Farmer discusses the current situation in Haiti following four major storms and hurricanes over the past month. He also elaborates on a number of current and historical factors (unstable government, weak infrastructure, lack of resources, poverty, deforestation, US destabilization of Haiti, etc.) that have contributed to the current crisis. With over one million refugees out of an approximate population of 9 million people, Haiti, its international partners, and aid agencies have significant hurdles to overcome.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Call for Papers: Thinking Gender 2009 (UCLA)

THINKING GENDER, Annual Graduate Student Research Conference
Friday, Feb. 6, 2009
UCLA Faculty Center

Thinking Gender
is a public conference highlighting graduate student research on women, sexuality and gender across all disciplines and historical periods. Submission for individual papers and panels are being accepted until Oct. 22, 2008. Topics are encouraged on the following:

  • women and media
  • local feminist issues and concerns in Southern California
  • women and the environment (e.g., ecofeminism, the built environment, urban planning, architecture)
  • women and political activism (e.g., women in government, women and war/peace)
  • embodiment (e.g., disability, genetics)
  • women in sports
Additional information can be found here.

Call for Papers: AAUP Conference

American Association of University Professors (AAUP)
Globalization, Shared Governance and Academic Freedom: An International Conference
June 12-13, 2009
Washington, DC

Among the questions the conference intends to explore are:

  • What is the state of academic freedom around the world and what challenges does it currently face in the United States?
  • Can scholarship survive in an era of secrecy and censorship?
  • Who is making decisions in the corporate university? What ever happened to shared governance?
  • What are the implications of the excessive use of contingent faculty and how do we address the issue?
  • How are public policy decisions at the national and state levels affecting higher education?
  • What are the personal, professional and institutional responsibilities of faculty and how can conflicting responsibilities be resolved?
  • How can faculty communicate the intricacies and subtleties of their disciplines to a broad, non-specialist audience?

Conference strands are not limited to the above topics. Presenters are invited to propose a wide range of issues related to academic freedom, governance, faculty work life, rights and responsibilities. The goal of the conference is to provide a faculty perspective on critical issues in higher education presented in a format accessible to the general public.

For more information, please click here.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Call for Papers: AIDS in Culture IV

Aids in Culture IV: Explorations in the Cultural History of AIDS
México City
December 9-13, 2008
Abstract Submission Deadline: September 25, 2008 (deadline extended)

AIDS is not simply an illness or a biomedical phenomenon. The conference cycle "AIDS in Culture" organised by Enkidu Magazine in Mexico City and the International Society for Cultural History and Cultural Studies (CHiCS) in cooperation with CNDH (The National Human Rights Commission in Mexico) seeks to examine cultural responses to AIDS in different cultures and societies across a wide range of perspectives.

The conference will explore the processes by which AIDS is constructed as a cultural phenomenon and how different societies in their encounters with AIDS attempt to create meaning in health, illness and disease. The conference aims at bringing together academics working in all relevant disciplines as well as activists, artists and other professionals, and promoting innovative multidisciplinary and multicultural exchange and dialogue.

Among the themes of interest are the following:

  • AIDS and Cultural Texts: Power and Representation.
  • Representations of AIDS in art, movies, music, poetry, religion and literature from the 1980s until today.
  • Silences and taboos in discourses on HIV/AIDS.
  • Aesthetic responses to the challenge. Rituals, customs, and fetishism.
  • Cultural practices that influence the spread of HIV/AIDS
  • AIDS and collective and individual identities: Race, Class, Gender etc
  • AIDS and Politics, Lobbying and Activism: Power, Representation and Activism.
  • Constructions and reconstructions of AIDS in political, faith and ideology based discourse, legal issues and policy making throughout the world: Who has the authority to speak and who is silenced?
  • AIDS and theory: Cultural Studies, Queer Studies, Religious Studies, History, Anthropology, Sociology, Literary Studies and all related disciplines. How do we theorize and analyse experiences and the meaning of illness?
  • The ,significance' of AIDS for individuals and communities; the cultural factors influencing our perceptions of health and illness experiences.
  • AIDS and psychosocial affects and effects. Cultures of silence.
  • Indigenous knowledge and responses to AIDS
  • Stories and Histories about AIDS
  • AIDS and Oral History
Papers will be considered on related themes and topics from a wide range of perspectives. Interdisciplinary perspectives are especially welcome since all these topics in themselves stretch across several disciplines: history, literary studies, linguistics, psychology, political sciences, pedagogy, ethnology, anthropology, sociology...

Graduate and postgraduate students are encouraged to attend and present papers. Selected papers from the conference will also this year be published in book form.

Submission guidelines can be found here.

Friday, September 05, 2008

CEAUSSIC's Ethics Casebook: Call for Abstracts (Update)

As previously mentioned, the Ad Hoc Commission on the Engagement of Anthropology with the US Security and Intelligence Communities (CEAUSSIC) has issued a call for abstracts for its forthcoming ethics casebook. Please go here for a sample abstract or here for a sample narrative.

All submissions may be emailed to CEAUSSIC@aaanet.org

Questions and concerns about the casebook may be directed to the Ad Hoc Commission's chair, Dr. Rob Albro, at albro@american.edu or 202-885-1546.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Obama Addresses Science

In an effort to inject science back into the political dialogue, Science Debate 2008 has provided a list of 14 questions to be answered by Presidential nominees. John McCain has yet to respond, but Barack Obama's responses can be found here.

A teaser on scientific integrity:
"Scientific and technological information is of growing importance to a range of issues. I [Barack Obama] believe such information must be expert and uncolored by ideology.

I will restore the basic principle that government decisions should be based on the best- available, scientifically-valid evidence and not on the ideological predispositions of agency officials or political appointees. More broadly, I am committed to creating a transparent and connected democracy, using cutting-edge technologies to provide a new level of transparency, accountability, and participation for America’s citizens. Policies must be determined using a process that builds on the long tradition of open debate that has characterized progress in science, including review by individuals who might bring new information or contrasting views. I have already established an impressive team of science advisors, including several Nobel Laureates, who are helping me to shape a robust science agenda for my administration."

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Gender Equity in the Social Sciences

As reported by Inside Higher Ed, a report [pdf] detailing the status of women within the social sciences was released by the University of Washington's Center for Innovation and Research in Graduate Education. The report draws upon surveys of faculty members in anthropology, communications, geography, history, political science, and sociology. The authors found that despite women having a relatively equal start in academia as their male counterparts, gaps remain in the awarding of tenure and the balance of work-family life.

A survey [pdf] conducted by the Committee on the Status of Women in Anthropology (COSWA) during the month of May displayed similar findings. COSWA found that female anthropologists have a less positive experience of their work environment and bear a greater burden of familial responsibilities. For additional information, visit the COSWA webpage and see the May AN article "Gender Disparities Remain: COSWA's Academic Climate Report" (49[5]:22).

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Pulse of the Planet #3

Melissa Checker's "Carbon Offsets: More Harm Than Good?" is the next installment of CounterPunch's "Pulse of the Planet" series. The series is derived from conference papers delivered at the "Pulse of the Planet" panel during AAA's 2008 annual meeting. In her op-ed, Checker describes the flaws of the carbon offset industry, ranging from its funding to implementation. She also suggests a number of alternatives: changing consumptive behavior, improving government regulation and policing of industrial emissions, preparing vulnerable populations for climate change, and using renewable energy and "green" goods and services.

Prior Pulse of the Planet Articles:
"The Human Right to Eat" ~ Joan P. Mencher
"Dam Legacies, Damned Futures" ~ Barbara Rose Johnston

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Six Research Positions Open in Portugal

The Center for Social Studies at the University of Coimbra, Portugal is offering six research positions for those holding a PhD in the social and human sciences for over three years. The positions aim to develop the following research areas:

1) Architecture and urbanism
2) Cities and urban cultures
3) Citizenship and social policies
4) Migration studies
5) Labor relations, social inequalities and trade unionism
6) Peace studies
7) Cultural and religious diversity in Southern Europe

The application deadline is Sept. 30, 2008. For more information, please click here [pdf].

Race & Medicine

Alan Goodman, former AAA President and professor of biological anthropology at Hampshire College, was featured in Newsweek's Lab Notes blog last week. The blog post emphasizes the ways that race influences medical practice and treatment, and the implications this can have for a patient's health.

Racial Paranoia: The Unintended Consequences of Political Correctness

Savage Minds linked to an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer featuring UPenn anthropologist John L. Jackson Jr. He describes his first non-academic book, Racial Paranoia: The Unintended Consequences of Political Correctness, and how racial fears underlie many of our everyday (inter)actions.

It is refreshing to see Jackson and several other anthropologists stepping into the public sphere. For more of Jackson, visit his AnthroMan blog and the Chronicle's Brainstorm blog.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Annual Meeting Registration

Registration is now open for AAA's 2008 Annual Meeting in San Francisco, California. The meetings will be held from Wednesday, November 19 until Sunday, November 23 at the San Francisco Hilton and Towers. Click here for additional information and to register. A preliminary program(pdf) is also available for download.

Call for Abstracts: Suburban Diversity

The National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University is hosting a conference on the phenomenon of suburban diversity. They have issued a call for abstracts, which should be submitted prior to Jan. 31, 2009.

Topics might include, but are not limited to:
* Racial and ethnic suburban enclaves, past and present
* International migration to the suburbs
* White supremacy, structural/institutional racism, and white privilege in the suburbs
* Changing patterns of suburban class segregation
* Environmental justice movements in the suburbs
* Women's leadership in suburban social movements
* New forms of suburban social and political organization
* Affordable housing and suburban gentrification
* Inequality and suburban schools
* Control of public space and a 'right to the suburb'
* Age and inclusion in the suburbs
* Sexuality, queer identity, and suburban politics
* Representations of diverse suburbs in the visual and performing arts
* International/comparative analyses of suburban diversity
* New suburban populations and suburban religious life

Click here for additional details.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Ethics Casebook - Call for Abstracts

The Ad Hoc Commission on the Engagement of Anthropology with the US Security and Intelligence Communities (CEAUSSIC) has issued a call for abstracts. Please go here for a sample abstract or here for a sample narrative. An online submission portal is forthcoming.

CEAUSSIC is asking our colleagues in anthropology and related disciplines for summaries of illustrative cases that explore intersections among the ethical, methodological, and theoretical aspects of work in, around, and for the national security state, including public and private institutions, in and outside academia. We seek narrative cases from all of anthropology’s fields, including archaeology, biological/physical anthropology, ethnology, and linguistic anthropology; from emerging and established areas of practice and research within these fields.

Process. The casebook submission process will occur in two phases: submission of a short summary abstract for CEAUSSIC review, due by December 31, 2008; followed by submission of a longer case narrative for selected cases, due by May 15, 2009. A more detailed timetable is included below.

In the first round of submissions, CEAUSSIC will review abstracts and select a subset that meets the following criteria:

1. The potential for exploring complex and emerging intersections among methodology, practice, ethics, and theory in anthropology, across all fields and forms of practice;

2. The case’s relevance to present-day issues in anthropology’s intersection with national security problems, across all four fields of the discipline and all forms of practice;

3. The potential for provoking educational and productive debate and discussion among anthropologists;

4. The potential for provoking debate about social science research ethics in a wider community beyond anthropology, including other disciplines and institutions;

5. The quality of the narrative, as demonstrated in a well-written abstract

Content. Case abstracts should briefly describe the context, the individuals and institutions involved, type of activity, the time period during which the situation is occurring or took place, and the ethical problems, themes, and issues that the case raises. Rather than offering opinions, solutions, or analysis, we would like a descriptive narrative that richly evokes the context and complexities of a moment of engagement in which moral, political, methodological, and/or ethical issues become salient.

We strongly encourage our colleagues to submit cases referring to real-life situations encountered in the course of work, but we are willing to consider realistic hypothetical cases that raise provocative questions about ethics, politics, morality, theory and methods, and that have practical implications for anthropologists engaged in all forms of practice, across all fields of the discipline. Cases do not have to originate in national security problems, but should have some relevance to current debates about anthropological ethics and practice vis-à-vis public and private institutions of power, including national security institutions. Cases that bring an international perspective to these problems are encouraged, particularly from anthropologists outside the United States. Cases that originate outside anthropology are welcome as well, as long as they provoke issues that are relevant to current anthropological discussions and debates.

Please note that CEAUSSIC is primarily a review and research panel and does not engage in ethics investigations. Therefore, this is not a place to raise specific allegations of misconduct or to accuse other researchers of illegal or unethical behavior. Allegations of significant ethics violations should be raised with your home institution, funding agencies, and/or AAA leadership, as you feel appropriate.

Format. Each preliminary submission should include the case title, the author’s name and contact information, and a 200-250 word abstract that summarizes the key points of the case, and explicitly states how the case pertains to questions of anthropological ethics. An example of a preliminary submission is included at the end of this call.

CEAUSSIC will contact authors whose case abstracts meet the initial criteria, and ask them to provide a longer submission for panel discussion and eventual publication in the casebook. If your abstract is chosen for further consideration, we will ask you to submit a more elaborated case narrative of between 1500 and 3000 words in length. A sample second-round narrative is attached at the end of this call.

Submission process. You may submit your case abstract electronically by emailing it to CEAUSSIC@aaanet.org . Alternatively, you may mail a paper copy of your abstract to the following address:

ATTN: Dr. Robert Albro
School of International Service
American University
4400 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20016

Privacy and Confidentiality. CEAUSSIC is extremely concerned about maintaining the privacy and confidentiality of all individuals involved in the cases. As they are being reviewed, all cases will be held in strictest confidence for consideration and discussion of CEAUSSIC and its guests only. However, we ask that you indicate if the story is hypothetical or fictional (or some combination thereof), and indicate where you have used real names, events and places in your story, so that we can take appropriate safeguards to maintain confidentiality and anonymity. We also ask that you also respect the confidentiality and anonymity of your colleagues and informants: for example, please not disclose sensitive information unless such information is germane to your case. If your case is selected for publication, CEAUSSIC will contact you to anonymize any identifying elements in the story, to protect privacy and confidentiality of the individuals and institutions involved in the event.

Review. CEAUSSIC will select a subset of the case submissions for discussion and review. Cases will be chosen for quality of their narrative, the case’s relevance to present-day issues in anthropological research and practice, and the complexity and nuance of the ethical issues that the case raises. CEAUSSIC will recruit appropriate subfield representatives and a professional research ethicist to assist in the review of the cases. The selected cases will be annotated with a set of discussion questions and a summary of the review committee’s comments; these annotated cases will provide the basis for a final casebook manuscript.

Important Dates.

  • Case abstracts final submission due to CEAUSSIC by 31 December 2008.
  • We will review all submissions, select the discussion cases, and notify authors of the status of their case submission by 15 February 2009.
  • The full case review will take place during May 2009.
  • Once the review is complete, we will select and post a subset of these cases on the CEAUSSSIC website. In addition, CEAUSSIC will maintain updates on its AAA webpage as the project progresses.
  • We expect to have a final manuscript for publication submission by December 2009.
Contact. Question and concerns may be directed to the Ad Hoc Commission's Chair, Dr. Rob Albro, at albro@american.edu or (202)885-1546.