Photo: Juliana Braz Dias. Title: Resilience

From the Executive Director

Dear Colleagues,

Ed Liebow, Executive DirectorThe AAA has been exceptionally active in 2016, as seen in President Alisse Waterston’s annual recap. I think you will agree that AAA has been especially effective in promoting the growth and exchange of anthropological knowledge through our publishing and meetings programs, calling public attention to the field through our communications, public affairs, and public education initiative, and serving our members in a variety of ways.

For all of these accomplishments, we are forever indebted to the large army of volunteers who commit their professional service on behalf of the Association. We also are extremely grateful for all of you who took part in the 2016 Annual Fund-Raising Campaign, which increased in member participation as well as contributions from the previous year. It is thanks to contributions to the Annual Fund that we are able to continue to try new ways of serving our members and the field of anthropology. Contributors’ generous gifts make a big difference.

I’d like to take a moment to thank our staff, who makes it a pleasure to come to the Association’s office every day because they work their hardest to serve our members and the Association. And I’d also like to thank our Executive Board for their dedicated service, with a special appreciation for our inspiring officers, President Alisse Waterston, President-Elect Alex Barker, Secretary Susana Narotzsky, and Treasurer Ted Hamann.

Our commitment to heightened public visibility for the field of anthropology has never been greater. Our annual Anthropology Day continues to be a resounding success. The February 2016 celebration involved more than 140 participating groups (including 15 from outside the US), doubling the participant list from the previous year. The first half of 2016 bore witness to an unprecedented level of member participation in a transparent, informed, and democratic process by which we considered ways in which we might engage, as an Association, with the political situation in Israel/Palestine. We have also been actively involved with the Consortium of Social Science Associations and the National Humanities Alliance in efforts to make key Congressional committee members aware of the importance of public funding for social science and humanities research. We have established agreements with several podcasts to amplify the fascinating array of interviews and features being produced across the discipline, and our social media followers continue to increase at a rapid rate. Programming for the “World on the Move: 100,000 Years of Human Migration” picked up its pace in 2016. AAA began a series of book readings at a Washington, DC independent bookstore, Politics and Prose. We co-sponsored public events at the Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum and worked with the Smithsonian’s Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage to make “On the Move” a featured theme of the summer Folklife Festival on the National Mall.

What has been especially gratifying over the course of the last year is the breadth and depth of news coverage that has been earned for the work of our members. We reserve a spot on our website to acknowledge this coverage, but it is worth pausing to appreciate the growing interest shown by journalists in how anthropological findings can help advance understanding of our everyday lived experience. Our members have been featured in major print media like the New York Times, the Financial Times, the Guardian, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, and Time Magazine; and online channels that reach a diverse audience, like The Huffington Post, the Christian Science Monitor, and Forbes. Our members’ work has been broadcast regularly on National Public Radio and its local affiliates, as well as the BBC. We are encouraged to see the welcome reception that Sapiens has enjoyed as the new kid on the block aiming to broadcast anthropologists’ work for a wide audience.

Whether it is through a reflection on contemporary geopolitical developments, the richness of local heritage, the complexities of teaching a car about the rules of the road, or homesick pandas, our members are expert at demonstrating how, by taking the long and comparative view, we are able to  help people make sense of the world around them. What better tools could one possibly hope for in advancing  understanding of the human condition and civic engagement to tackle the world’s most pressing problems!