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Humanities at the Forefront of Congressional Vote on National Budget

The Annual Meeting for the National Humanities Alliance took place on March 7, 2011 at George Washington University, followed by Humanities Advocacy Day on March 8 at Capitol Hill. The Annual Meeting was an opportunity to provide concrete ways to exemplify and frame arguments to support the humanities, skills meeting participants would need for the following Advocacy day.

AAA’s Director of Public Affairs, Damon Dozier was featured in a three member panel that exemplified the field of humanities. Dozier emphasized the importance of education through the biological sciences and cultural perceptions o f race. Through the RACE: Are We So Different? public education program, AAA has spurred dialogue across the nation to embrace cultural differences and rethink preconceived notions of race and racism in the United States.

Bill Davis, AAA’s Executive Director, joined NHA’s national delegation that met with congressional members that hold stature within congressional committees. Damon Dozier and Joslyn Osten, Marketing & Communications Manager, joined first-time constituent lobbyist, Hollis Clayson of Northwestern University in meeting with the representatives of Illinois. While all meetings with congressional staffers were fruitful, feedback led to the conclusion that the representatives who have a history of supporting humanities will work out the best possible solution to minimize the financial impact of the national budget on humanities funding.

Although NHA’s Advocacy Day was a success, lobbying for humanities funding cannot be completed in just one day. Congress will be voting this week and in the coming weeks on bills and revisions to settle the national budget. NHA and AAA need your help in communicating the critical need for funding the research and grant-related programming offered in your communities today. Contact your congressional representative now to demonstrate your support for humanities and visit NHA’s website to stay tuned in to the latest budgetary developments.

A Response to the Recent Attacks on Professor Frances Fox Piven

AAA was one of 23 academic organizations that released a joint statement of response to the recent attacks on Professor Frances Fox Piven, renown professor of the University of New York Graduate Center. The statement condemns Glenn Beck, radio and television personality, for his attacks on Piven and calls for public officials and political commentators to help in discouraging the rhetoric of hate and violence.

The joint statement was featured in a NewsWise article. The article describes the how Beck’s coverage of Piven’s research has escalated in the past few months:
Although Beck has not directly called for violence against Piven, his attacks have created an opening for threats of violence to emerge. During the past few months, Piven has received a flood of hate mail and been the subject of menacing Internet postings, which include a series of death threats. Much of the violent vitriol has appeared on Beck’s own website.

The joint statement looks to the First Amendment rights for protection of academic research on controversial issues and urges open debate:
We vigorously support serious, honest, and passionate public debate…We support serious engagement on the research of Professor Piven and of others who study controversial issues such as unemployment, the economic crisis, the rights of welfare recipients, and the place of government intervention. We also support the right of political commentators to participate in such debates. At the same time, we insist that all parties recognize the rights of academic researchers not only to gather and analyze evidence related to controversial questions, but also to arrive at their own conclusions and to expect those conclusions to be reported accurately in public debates.

AAA sections, The American Ethnological Society (AES) and The Society for Urban, National, and Transnational/Global Anthropology (SUNTA) are honored that Francis Fox Piven will be the keynote speaker at their upcoming joint conference. The conference will be held April 14-17 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. For conference registration and additional details, click here.

To view the joint statement and to read the complete NewsWise article, click here. The Chronicle blog also weighs in on the topic, check it out.

Sacrifice and the Ripple Effect of Tunisian Self-immolation

We welcome a guest column by AAA member Sami Hermez (PhD, Princeton University). Sami is a Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Lebanese Studies at St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford.

I was in Lebanon when the Tunisian revolt began.  I attended an event with activists that made me feel hopeful because it was the first time that a large group of people came to rally behind a cause that was not Palestinian or Lebanese.  Soon after, I was in Oxford when Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was deposed, and when the Egyptian revolts broke out days later on January 25, 2011.  Tens of thousands of people took to the streets that day, in what was seen as an unprecedented act in Egypt.  Since then, people in Egypt have inspired me, and I have been left in awe and disbelief that President Hosni Mubarak has been toppled and his regime left in decay.  The revolts in Egypt and Tunisia left over 500 dead and thousands injured.  It is these people’s sacrifices that I want to reflect on, and on their ability to sacrifice themselves for change, a powerful phenomenon that no regime could ever take away from its people.

Few deny the inspiration of the Tunisian revolts on the Egyptian scene.  By most accounts, the Tunisian revolution was triggered on December 17, 2010 when Muhammad Bouazizi, a fruit seller from the town of Sidi Salah, set fire to himself after being banned by police from selling his vegetables and then being humiliated.  Reports of his humiliation claim that a female police officer cursed and slapped him, and that after his complaints to the local Governor were dismissed, and within an hour of his humiliation, he lit himself on fire.  These details may prove to be a lie, but they have already taken on the value of myth, and become the subject of songs, as this self-immolation is said to have sparked protests in the Tunisian city of Sidi Bouzid that grew, day-by-day, and culminated in the eventual overthrow of the Tunisian president on January 14, 2011

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Budget Announced – Write to Your Congress Representative Today!

Yesterday, the Obama Administration released its budget for fiscal year 2012, a plan that includes bold proposals to reduce government spending and address a budget deficit that is expected to reach over $1.6 trillion dollars by the end of this fiscal year.

Among the agencies subject to proposed budget cuts include the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts (both agencies subject to a reduction of 13.1% to $146 million), and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (a reduction of 13.8% to 243 million).

While the budget includes modest increases for the Smithsonian Institution (6.9% to 1.05 billion), the National Institutes of Health (2.4% to 31.8 billion) and the National Science Foundation (13% to 7.8 billion), Republicans have introduced, cuts to CURRENT funding for the NIH ($1.6 billion) and the NSF ($360 million). These actions, introduced in the latest version of the House continuing resolution (CR) funding bill for the remainder of this year, may be a portent of cuts to come for the 2012 budget bill.

Please contact your local Representatives and ask:
 1: the current CR NOT to include cuts to NSF and NIH
2: the final FY 2012 budget eliminate the proposed cuts to NEH, NEA, and IMLS.

Don’t delay, write to your congressmen today!

NEH Needs Your Support

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) announced plans for a Continuing Resolution that would reduce spending by $74 billion below President Obama’s 2011 budget request for the remainder of the year.  This proposal would cut over $12 million from the National Endowment for Humanities (NEH)!

As one of the largest funders of humanities programs in the US, NEH provides critical support for research, education, preservation, and public programs in the humanities through grants to a wide range of educational institutions, non-profit organizations, and scholars nationwide.

Write to your representative today to let members of Congress know WHY the humanities and NEH are important to you, their constituent.

NHA deadline extended – Register Today!

The NHA extened their deadline to register for Humanities Advocacy Day until Friday! Our offer still stands for the FIRST person to register, AAA will waive the registration fee. For all the details and to register, check out our earlier post.

National Humanities Alliance’s Annual Meeting & Humanities Advocacy Day – Register Today

Each year, the American Anthropological Association partners with the National Humanities Alliance to sponsor Humanities Advocacy Day, a chance for anthropologists and other who work in humanities-related fields to meet their Congressional representatives and advocate for much-needed additional funding for the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities and other Federal agencies. Details and registration information about the event are below.

AAA is proud to announce that the first registrant for this event will have their registration fee waived. We urge you to participate in this event, and if you have any questions, comments or concerns, please contact AAA Director of Public Affairs Damon Dozier at (703) 528-1902 ext. 1163.

Register for the National Humanities Alliance’s 2011 Annual Meeting & Humanities Advocacy Day.  With a new Congress, and increasing budgetary pressures on federal spending, your help is needed now more than ever to defend critical humanities programs.  Online registration is available for the March 7-8 events taking place in Washington, DC at The George Washington University’s Marvin Center and on Capitol Hill.  Strong participation in Humanities Advocacy Day events is essential to increasing public support for, and understanding of, the humanities.

Join the NHA for this national gathering of the humanities community.  Make plans to attend this important event and connect with a growing number of participants who are actively engaged in humanities policy and advocacy. 

The 2011 preliminary program includes:
•New advocate training (pre-meeting event)
•Opening keynote address with David J. Skorton, President, Cornell University
•Presentations of current and compelling work in the humanities
•Luncheon
•Commentary and briefings on the post-election landscape and humanities funding priorities
•Capitol Hill reception sponsored by HISTORY
•Congressional visits

Confirmed meeting and reception speakers include:
•Jim Leach, Chairman, National Endowment for the Humanities (Hill reception)
•Rep. Thomas Petri (R-WI- 6), Co-Chair Congressional Humanities Caucus (Hill reception)
•Damon Dozier, Director of Public Affairs, American Anthropological Association- RACE Project
•Ashley Marshall, Johns Hopkins University Postdoctoral Fellow- American Council of Learned Societies New Faculty Fellows Program
•Tara McPherson, Associate Professor, University of Southern California- Vectors Institute
•Debra Hess Norris, Henry Francis DuPont Chair of Fine Arts & Chair & Director, Art Conservation Department, University of Delaware
•David J. Skorton, President, Cornell University

The participant registration fee is $75.  The deadline to register for the meeting is February 6, 2011.  A block of rooms at the One Washington Circle Hotel (located near GWU) is currently reserved for participants at the discounted rate of $179 on Sunday, March 6 and $229 on Monday, March 7 and Tuesday, March 8. Please call the hotel directly at (202) 872-1680 to make a reservation for the “National Humanities Alliance” rate before February 6, 2011.

Please register today and make sure your voice is heard in Washington, DC this March.  Additional information is available on the Alliance’s website.

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