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.