Thursday, April 16, 2009

AAA Debuts New Blog Design

AAA is pleased to announce the debut of our new, unified association blog, available at We have created this blog as a service to our members and the general public. It is a forum to discuss topics of debate in anthropology and a space for public commentary on association policies, publications and advocacy issues. We will post select items that we think are of interest to our members and that readers have voiced an interest in. We invite all anthropologists to use this domain to stimulate intellectual discussion, and would be delighted to host guest bloggers who are active in any of anthropology’s four fields.

The new AAA blog, available through Wordpress, combines our previous Anthropology News, Public Affairs and Human Rights blogs, with all archived content and comments migrated from Blogger to Wordpress. The updated format enables visitors to easily post comments, link to our Flickr photostream, search content, browse posts by category, find other anthropology blogs, and more. This is a living forum, and we welcome your feedback! Use the “Contact Us” bar at the top of the screen to tell us what you think of this new design and to offer content suggestions.

AAA thanks staff members Brian Estes, Lisa Myers and Dinah Winnick, and intern Leo Napper, for their work in developing this online forum. Visit the new blog today!

Note: New posts will no longer be added to the original AAA Public Affairs blog.

Monday, April 06, 2009

AAA Attends Humanities Advocacy Day

AAA Executive Director Bill Davis and Director of Public Affairs Damon Dozier joined over 120 representatives and advocates from humanities-related associations to lobby and educate federal legislators on the importance of increased funding for the humanities.

Advocates distributed issue briefs, discussed humanities projects in their states and districts, and asked that members of Congress support increased funding, including an increase of $75 million for the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), two agencies that provide crucial support to scholars and educators.

Davis met with staff from the offices of Senators Christopher “Kit” Bond (R-MO) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO), while Dozier met with representatives from the offices of Senators Carl Levin (D-MI) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). Dozier also had an opportunity to meet with staff from the office of Representative John Dingell (D-MI) as well.

As in the past, the AAA was a co-sponsor of the event, coordinated by the National Humanities Alliance, a non-profit coalition founded in 1981 to advance humanities policy.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Pulse of the Planet #9

CounterPunch's "Pulse of the Planet" series kicks off 2009 with Barbara Rose Johnston's article, "Water Culture Wars." The series was initially derived from conference papers delivered at the "Pulse of the Planet" panel during AAA's 2008 annual meeting in San Francisco.

Johnston describes the controversial events that transpired at the 5th World Water Forum in Istanbul, Turkey and the recommendations that were drawn from the "water and cultural diversity" sessions. In these sessions, Johnston and other presenters stressed that "Water is a fundamental human right and a core element that sustains cultural ways of life and the environments on which we all depend." She also sheds light on how water development projects often violate human rights and lead to the displacement and impoverishment of millions, particularly ethnic minorities and indigenous peoples.

Prior Pulse of the Planet Articles:
"Ecological Crisis and Eco-Villages in China" ~ Shannon May
"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

Friends of the CoE Launched

The Friends of the Committee on Ethics was formally launched this month. This newly established ad hoc consultative body will provide expertise and informal consultation to the membership of the AAA about ethical quandaries they may have encountered in both research and applied settings. Comprised of former chairs of the Committee on Ethics, the Friends will bring their experience and multiple perspectives to issues that merit ethical consideration. Questions for the Friends should be submitted to the Chair of the Committee on Ethics. Additional information is available on our website.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Blow to Employee Free Choice Act

The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) of 2009 (H.R. 1409 / S. 560) suffered a critical blow this week. On Tuesday, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) announced that he would not support the bill. As the only Republican to vote for the bill in 2007, Specter's vote could have been the deciding factor should the bill reach the Senate floor this year. Specter has been under enormous pressure from Republicans after voting in favor of President Obama's $800 million economic stimulus bill, but his opposition to the EFCA is likely to lose him his AFL-CIO endorsement for the midterm elections.

Politico reported that Specter's opposition has given Democrats concerned about making an enemy of Big Business an excuse to oppose the bill unless modifications are made. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is not giving up hope and said that other Republicans may be willing to support the bill. The situation looks grim at the moment, and the EFCA may not move forward until after the 2010 midterm elections.

The EFCA is such a highly-contested piece of legislation because of its impact on the way workers can organize. The bill amends the National Labor Relations Act in the following ways:

Streamlines Union Certification
Employees will choose how to organize through “majority sign-up” procedure. Workers may now bypass the union election process if the majority of employees sign union authorization cards (i.e. card check). Workers will, however, still have the option to hold elections and secret ballots should 30% opt for this route.

Facilitates Collective Bargaining Agreements
Parties will meet within 10 days of receiving a written request to establish a union, and will have 90 days to sign a collective bargaining agreement. A federal arbitrator will help mediate the agreement should the parties fail to establish a contract after 90 days. If federal mediation does not result in an agreement then a federal arbitration panel shall create a two-year contract that both sides must accept.

Strengthens Enforcement
An employer that discriminates against an employee while (s)he is seeking union representation shall be subject to a fine of up to $20,000 per violation. The employee will also receive three times in back pay should they be illegally dismissed in relation to union activity.

In 2007, the AAA's Committee on Public Policy (CoPP) produced a policy brief [pdf] highlighting anthropological research on labor issues relevant to the EFCA. CoPP wrote, "Anthropology provides sound evidence for the premises of The Employee Free Choice Act, namely that current organizing processes do not allow employees to express their desire to join unions because: 1) there are insufficient disincentives to managerial lawbreaking in its resistance to unions; and 2) management uses tactics of intimidation and fear to coerce workers to vote against unions."

Thursday, March 26, 2009

NEH Action Alert

The Co-Chairs of the Congressional Humanities Caucus, Rep. David Price (D-NC) and Rep. Thomas Petri (R-WI), have prepared a Dear Colleague letter in support of $230 million for the National Endowment for the Humanities in fiscal year 2010. The letter is currently circulating in the House of Representatives to garner additional co-signers. Please call your member of Congress and ask him/her to show their support for the humanities by signing the letter before it is submitted on April 1, 2009 to Chairman Norm Dicks (D-WA) and Ranking Member Michael Simpson (R-ID) of the Interior, Environment, & Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee. A list of members who have already agreed to sign the letter is provided below.

Please contact your Representative today by calling the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121. Visit to use your zip code to identify your Member of Congress.

A copy of the Price/Petri letter is online at [pdf].

I am calling to ask that Representative X sign on to a Dear Colleague letter currently circulating in the House of Representatives by the Co-Chairs of the Congressional Humanities Caucus, Rep. David Price (D-NC) and Rep. Thomas Petri (R-WI). The letter requests $230 million for the National Endowment for the Humanities in fiscal year 2010, an increase of approximately $75 million over the fiscal year 2009 enacted level. This increase is necessary to address essential unmet needs in humanities education and research. Support is needed to introduce or expand programs in areas such as international education and global society perspectives, digital humanities projects, graduate education, and data collection and dissemination on the state of the humanities.

For more information or to sign-on to the letter, House staff should contact Kate Roetzer with Rep. David Price at 202-225-1784 (Democrats) or Lindsay Punzenberger with Rep. Thomas Petri at 202-225-5406 (Republicans). The deadline to sign the letter is one week from today, Wednesday, April 1.

Shelley Berkley (D-NV/1), Howard Berman (D-CA/28), Mike Capuano (D-MA/8), John Conyers (D-MI/14), Bill Delahunt (D-MA/10), John Dingell (D-MI/15), Jim Gerlach (R-PA/6), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ/7), Rush Holt (D-NJ/12), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX/30), Jim Langevin (D-RI/2), John Lewis (D-GA/5), Dave Loebsack (D-ID/2), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY/14), Jim McDermott (D-WA/7), Jim McGovern (D-MA/3), Jerry McNerney (D-CA/11), Michael Michaud (D-ME/2), Dennis Moore (D-KS/3), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY/8), Nick Rahall (D-WV/3), Bobby Rush (D-IL/1), Mike Thompson (D-CA/1), Robert Wexler (D-FL/19), David Wu (D-OR/1), John Yarmouth (D-KY/3)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

AAA Joins Call to End “Ideological Exclusion”

AAA is one of several academic, free-speech, and civil-rights organizations to sign a letter to top officials in the Obama administration urging them to end the federal government’s practice of denying visas to foreign intellectuals based on ideology.
The letter–addressed to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano–argues that the State and Homeland Security Departments have compromised U.S. interests by barring dozens of prominent scholars, artists, writers, and activists over the past eight years based on their ideas, political views, and associations. The full text of the letter to Attorney General Holder and Secretaries Clinton and Napolitano is available online at: [pdf]

A petition for individuals to sign has also been made available at Please circulate the petition to anyone you think might be interested.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Employing Anthropologists

Genevieve Bell, Director of User Experience in Intel's Digital Home Group, helps Intel account for the cultural nuances in countries they provide services to, CNN reported. She is one of a rising number of anthropologists who are developing marketing strategies, studying consumer practices, and researching workplace environments for technology companies. Bell has been working for Intel since 1998, proving that anthropologists, and social scientists in general, have been instrumental in developing marketing strategies for many fortune 500 companies. Anthropologists are likely to be enlisted by a growing number of corporations as digital networks and cultures become increasingly prominent and influential in business and politics. How do you think this will affect the discipline and conduct of fieldwork?

~Author: Leo Napper, AAA intern

Fighting for Academic Freedom

The Chronicle recently reported on the limits of academic freedom for public university professors. Kevin J. Renken, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Wisconsin, found this out the hard way. He believed that administrators at the university were mishandling a National Science Foundation grant awarded to him and many of his colleagues. Upon bringing this to light, the university reduced his pay and returned the grant. Outraged at the university’s actions, he sued them alleging illegal retaliation.

Believing that his complaints fell under free speech, he was floored when the three-judge panel of the Seventh Circuit Court ruled that he was not speaking in a capacity that protected him from such retaliatory action. The court ruled that "In order for a public employee to raise a successful First Amendment claim, he must have spoken in his capacity as a private citizen and not as an employee."

In response to this news, the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) has established a panel of First Amendment scholars to find new avenues to protect academic freedoms at public institutions. The AAUP has also issued a 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freddom and Tenure to which the AAA, and over 200 other scholarly and education organizations, has endorsed. However, some people agree with the court’s ruling. Ada Meloy of the American Council on Education says “the cases, to date, have not created any apparent injustices. ... Public-college employees do enjoy First Amendment rights, but that should not turn every case of employee discipline or discharge into a retaliation lawsuit."

Academic freedoms are enjoyed by academics nationwide, but threats arise every year that endanger these freedoms. Was the University of Wisconsin right to take such action against Professor Renken? Did the courts have the right idea with their ruling on the case? What precautions have you taken to avoid such situations when critiquing university policies or actions?

~Author: Leo Napper, AAA intern

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Immigration Listening Tour

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) is renewing its efforts to bring about immigration reform, the Hill reported earlier this month. The CHC will launch a 17 city listening tour where attendees can hear first-hand accounts of individual experiences within the American immigration system. Supporters of reform legislation believe the Democratic majority in Congress and broad support of reform among voters will help them pass legislation. Republican opposition to immigration reform is also reported to have undermined their party’s support among Hispanics, and Republicans may be pressured to vote in favor of reform, particularly in swing districts.

There are, of course, serious obstacles to passing such legislation. The opposition of some labor groups and increasing intolerance for the estimated 7 million illegal workers in the US as unemployment rates reach their highest in years may stifle reform efforts.

Listening Tour Schedule:
February 27, Providence, RI
February 28, Atlanta, GA
March 1, Albuquerque, NM
March 7, Ontario, CA
March 7, San Francisco, CA
March 8, Phoenix, AZ
March 13 El Paso, TX
March 13, Los Angeles, CA*
March 14, Dallas, TX
March 15, Mission, TX
March 21, Chicago, IL
March 21, Joliet, IL
March 22, Milwaukee, WI
March 27, Las Vegas, NV
March 28, Orlando, FL
March 29, Miami, FL
April 4, Philadelphia, PA

Thursday, February 12, 2009

US to Provide Family Planning Assistance

President Barack Obama has taken quick action to reverse many of Bush’s policies. The Nation reported that Obama has lifted the “global gag rule,” which prevented the US government from providing aid to any organizations that fostered, provided or advised women about abortion. The gag rule, once rescinded by Bill Clinton, was reinstated by George Bush, who also decreased assistance to the United Nations Population Fund, the largest global provider of family planning assistance.

Task Force Assembled for the Comprehensive Ethics Review

In light of the specificity of the proposed changes to Triple A’s Code of Ethics, the Executive Board (EB) has determined that a more comprehensive review of the entire code is warranted. The EB has convened a task force to undertake such a review over the next two years. The task force, composed of members of the Committee on Ethics and members chosen by the EB, includes Alec Barker, Charles Briggs, Katie MacKinnon, Catherine Panter-Brink, Laura McNamara, Deborah Nichols, David Price, Dhooleka Raj, Niel Tashima, and the chair Dena Plemmons. The task force will issue its final report to the EB by November 15, 2010.

Monday, January 05, 2009

IAF Fellowships for Dissertation Research

The Inter-American Foundation (IAF) is accepting applications for its 2009-10 fellowship cycle.

Deadline: Jan. 16, 2009

IAF fellowships support dissertation research in Latin America and the Caribbean by students who have achieved PhD candidacy in the US.

Topics of interest to the IAF include the following:
- Organizations promoting grassroots development among poor and disadvantaged people
- Financial sustainability and independence of development organizations
- Trends affecting historically excluded groups
- Transnational development
- The role of corporate responsibility in grassroots development
- The impact of globalization on grassroots development
- The impact of grassroots development activities on the quality of life of the poor

The fellowship includes:
- Round-trip travel to the research site
- Research allowance of $3,000
- $1,500 monthly stipend for 12 months
- Health insurance
- Mid-year conference expenses