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Over 250 Anthropologists Join the Call for a Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions

Today’s guest blog post is by AAA member, Lisa Rofel. Please direct your questions and/or inquiries to her via email: lrofel@ucsc.edu.

More than 250 anthropologists have signed a statement endorsing the burgeoning movement to boycott Israeli academic institutions in protest of Israel’s systematic human rights violations against the Palestinian people. These violations, in which many Israeli educational institutions are complicit, include denying Palestinians their right to education and academic freedom.

The full statement and signatory list are at http://anthroboycott.wordpress.com As scholars who specialize in how power, oppression, and structural violence affect social life, and as witnesses to the State of Israel’s multiple and egregious violations of international law that constitute an assault on Palestinian culture and society, they pledge to abide by their discipline’s stated commitment to “the promotion and protection of the right of people and people’s everywhere to the full realization of their
humanity.”

These anthropologists have determined that the policies, actions, and programs of Israeli academic institutions are complicit in the occupation and oppression of Palestinians in Israel and in the Occupied Territories in multiple ways. In calling for this institutional boycott, they pledge not to collaborate on projects and events hosted or funded by Israeli academic institutions, not to teach at or attend conferences or other events at such institutions, and not to publish in academic journals based in Israel. They remain open to collaboration with individual scholars based in the Israeli academy.

The signatories of the statement call on their anthropologist colleagues to join them, along with thousands of members of a growing number of US academic associations (including the American Studies Association, the Association for Asian American Studies, and the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association), in answering the call from Palestinian civil society as well as from a number of Israeli anthropologists, to cease legitimizing Israeli academic institutions and thereby condoning their role in the continued suppression of the basic rights of the Palestinian people.

Anthropologists interested in signing this statement should visit: http://anthroboycott.wordpress.com, or email their name and affiliation to: anthroboycott@gmail.com

Anthropologists Announce New Task Force on AAA Engagement with Israel/Palestine

The Executive Board of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) announces the creation of the Task Force on AAA Engagement with Israel/Palestine, part of a broad association effort to respond to members’ interest in dialogue about the ongoing Israel/Palestine conflict. The Task Force is charged with helping the Executive Board consider the nature and extent to which AAA might contribute to addressing the issues that the Israel/Palestine conflict raises. It will report to the Executive Board by October 1st, 2015.

Task Force members were appointed by AAA President Monica Heller based on criteria including: significant expertise in relevant subject areas (e.g. conflict; historical memory); a representation of the main sub-fields of archeology, linguistics, biological, and cultural anthropology; understanding of the association; no two members from the same organization or university; no one with publicly identified positions on the issue.

The members of the group are Chair Don Brenneis (UC-Santa Cruz; AAA past president), Niko Besnier (University of Amsterdam), Patrick Clarkin (University of Massachusetts-Boston), Hugh Gusterson (George Washington University), John Jackson (University of Pennsylvania), and Kate Spielmann (Arizona State University).

The Executive Board has asked the Task Force to: 1) enumerate the issues embedded in the conflict between Israel and Palestine that directly affect the Association. These issues may include, but are not limited to, the uses of anthropological research to support or challenge claims of territory and historicity; restrictions placed by government policy or practice on anthropologists’ academic freedom; or commissioning anthropological research whose methods and/or aims may be inconsistent with the AAA statement of professional responsibilities; 2) develop principles to be used to assess whether the AAA has an interest in taking a stand on these issues; 3) provide such an assessment.

This may include providing a comprehensive and neutral overview of arguments for and against a range of specific possible stands on these issues, as well as on any broader but relevant issues that are raised in the context. The Task Force will also recommend whether or not the Association should take any action, and if so, will recommend what form it should take. To read the full Task Force charge, please visit http://bit.ly/1t9ELse.

“The ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine is of great relevance to the AAA, and it is worth the investment of time and careful thought that the Task Force is being asked to make,” Task Force Chair Don Brenneis said today. “The Association’s engagement in the relevant issues may take several forms. We want to be sure that we have the facts straight, and a clear understanding of the impacts associated with our choices before we recommend to the Executive Board a course of action.”

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Annual Meeting Dialogue on Israel-Palestine

Today’s blog post is by AAA Executive Director Dr. Edward Liebow.

Because violence begets violence, I have recently been looking for a better way (without bullets) to say ‘there’s no silver bullet’ to acknowledge the palpable absence of any simple remedy to the intractable latest episode in a decades-long Israeli/ Palestinian conflict. Indeed, in recent days, hopeful glimmers of an extended cease-fire are clouded by escalating negotiation demands with toweringly high stakes. This concerns me as an individual, and also as AAA Executive Director at a moment when we are opening up dialogue on Israel/Palestine inside the association.

Indeed, here at the AAA office, summer is almost over, and our planning machine is already at full speed in advance of December’s Annual Meeting in Washington. The program is available online. Judging by recent blog posts and social media exchanges, this year’s Meeting is among the more eagerly anticipated in recent memory, in no small part due to the opportunities that have been created for a scholarly consideration of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – although of course there are possibilities for discussion both before and after. Anthropologists will be tackling many of the world’s challenges at this year’s Meeting, so let me take this opportunity to provide you with more information about the events surrounding the Israel/Palestine conflict.113th AAA Annual Meeting

Paper presentations, roundtable discussions, and an open forum discussion will allow participants to unpack this conflict’s historical, cultural, and political-economic contexts, and also examine the advocacy role of scholarly societies like the AAA.

Thanks to the hard work of AAA members, the program chairs, the Executive Program Committee, and the AAA meetings and conference staff, we have aimed to make sure a wide range of perspectives will be represented in these events, which include:

For more information and session abstracts, log in to the meetings site. We invite healthy, respectful debate, and look forward to a deliberate, considered, and educational dialogue.

Haven’t registered for the 113th Annual Meeting yet? Register today! Will you be traveling from out of town? Save money by booking your hotel now at a discounted rate.

Taking Action to Preserve Heritage Sites in Mosul

The American Anthropological Association’s  Cultural Heritage Task Force writes to U.S. Secretary of State encouraging the United States to take action in preserving the cultural heritage sites in Mosul, Iraq. Below is a preview, read the entire letter (PDF).Secretary Kerry RE.Mosul

SciCast – Crowdsourcing future development in science and technology

Today’s guest blog post is written by Alan I. Leshner, CEO, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

If crowdsourcing can raise money for research worldwide, why can’t it raise questions and predict probabilities of future developments in science and technology?

We think that’s an interesting proposition. That’s why AAAS has asked us to share information about SciCast, a research project run by George Mason University and funded by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), to develop the largest crowdsourced prediction platform for science and technology, ever. The purpose of this project is to determine whether crowdsourcing can be used to accurately predict the future of science and technology. Questions vary by discipline and focus area, and range from the more applied science and engineering advancements to the highly technical, basic science achievements.

We invite you to explore SciCast, register, answer questions, and join the SciCast community. Approximately 7000 people have already signed up and are answering questions.

If you are interested in learning more about the project or would like to join the select pool of experts who submit questions and review unpublished questions, please contact scicast@aaas.org.

 

Anthropologists Uncover Harrowing Statistics On Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

A majority of researchers have knowledge of, been victimized by, or have observed sexual harassment while conducting fieldwork, based on an online survey sample of 666 respondents just published in PLOS One by Kathryn B.H. Clancy (U Illinois-Urbana-Champaign), Robin G. Nelson (Skidmore College), Julienne N. Rutherford (U Illinois-Chicago), Katie Hinde (Harvard U) (Survey of Academic Field Experiences (SAFE): Trainees Report Harassment and Assault).

The study revealed that the majority of those targeted for harassment and assault were undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers. In fact, “women trainees were disproportionately targeted for abuse, with women more often targeted by someone superior to them in the field site hierarchy. We worry this is at least one mechanism driving women from science,” said Dr. Clancy. Dr. Rutherford points out that “previous work by other researchers has shown that being targeted by one’s superior in the workplace has a more severe impact on psychological well-being and job performance than when the perpetrator is a peer, suggesting that women may be even more burdened than men by the phenomenon of workplace sexual aggression.”

In response to the team’s preliminary report at the April 2013 meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists, the American Anthropological Association (AAA) issued a statement declaring zero tolerance for sexual harassment in academic, professional, fieldwork or any other settings where our members work. While the AAA does not have adjudicatory authority over these matters, our Statement of Ethics: Code of Professional Responsibility sets out our clear expectation that anthropologists “…have a responsibility to maintain respectful relationships with others. In mentoring students, interacting with colleagues, working with clients, acting as a reviewer or evaluator, or supervising staff, anthropologists should comport themselves in ways that promote an equitable, supportive and sustainable workplace environment.” Dr. Nelson added, “In many instances, our participants reported a lack of knowledge regarding institutional policies or appropriate reporting channels when misconduct occurs. These results suggested that, in effect, many researchers were ill-equipped to advocate for themselves or others in cases of harassment or assault.”

The AAA has a long-term commitment to improving the status of women in anthropology, and maintains a standing Committee on Gender Equity in Anthropology. The Committee is currently developing an educational initiative to better serve members, “Addressing Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment in Anthropology.” Committee Chair, Dr. Jennifer Wies, Associate Professor at Eastern Kentucky University, is leading this initiative. “Anthropologists have been researching and responding to sexual violence and sexual harassment in the field and at home for decades. The continued emphasis on this issue reminds us of the importance of proactive and effective prevention efforts and intervention strategies,” said Wies in an interview earlier today. Dr. Hinde concludes, “The discussion that emerges from the results published in PLOS One today provides an opportunity for our professional communities to come together and effect solutions to improve the experiences of our trainees and colleagues.”

 

 

 

 

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