Member Dues, What Are They Good For?

Absolutely everything! As AAA leadership reviews the membership dues structure, this is the perfect opportunity to take a closer look at how dues support the Association. Member dues offset Annual Meeting costs, provide member-only access to AnthroSource, and publish our member magazine Anthropology News—but they also do a lot more. Your dues help the Association to work on behalf of the discipline to engage the public, build networks, review and implement new initiatives, provide career development opportunities, and advocate for the field of anthropology.

Engaging the public
With your help AAA raises public awareness of anthropology through community events and festivals, a partnership with the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, book readings, film screenings, and our newest public education initiative, World on the Move: 100,000 Years of Human Migration™.

Anthropology Day every February encourages anthropologists and anthropology students to celebrate the discipline with their communities and inspire the next generation of anthropologists. This year more than 250 departments, museums, businesses, community colleges, and high schools from 12 countries took part.

Building networks
Member dues help us to build bridges between AAA members and provide anthropologists with access to new opportunities through well-established networks. We have representation in interdisciplinary collaborations with the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Science Foundation, the American Historical Association, and the National Academies of Science Engineering and Medicine. These external collaborations provide an essential platform for anthropological research to reach a broad and influential audience.

AAA’s strong collaborations with the Consortium of Social Science Associations (COSSA), the National Humanities Alliance (NHA), and the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) help us serve our mission of advancing understanding of the human condition and tackling some of the world’s most pressing problems.

International partnerships with the World Anthropological Union, the Canadian Anthropological Society, the Royal Anthropological Institute, and La Sociedad Mexicana de Antropología, among others, provide perspective on how the Association can be more present on issues impacting members outside the United States.

As the AAA works to expand as a home for applied and practicing anthropologists, we support the annual Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference and the Business Anthropology summit, working closely with these groups to discover fresh ideas.

Implementing new initiatives
Behind the scenes, we continuously review our current offerings and look for opportunities to provide members with more benefits and services. This summer, we are piloting a Department Leaders Summer Institute, which will bring department chairs and directors of graduate/undergraduate studies together to discuss challenges that department leaders face in administering their departments and to share successful practices.

Advocating for anthropology
Through membership dues, we are well-positioned to serve as a voice for anthropology in the policy arena. Partnerships with COSSA, the NHA, the ACLS, the Coalition on National Science Funding, the Coalition on the Academic Workforce, the Cultural Heritage Partners Coalition, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science Coalition on Science and Human Rights provide us with the platform and resources to insert anthropological voices into critical national policy discussions. We are able to keep our members in the loop when important calls to action are issued and share opportunities for members to get involved in advocacy efforts on Capitol Hill.

We maintain observer status credentials that are available to members who wish to participate in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and the UNESCO Economic and Social Council.

Developing careers
Member dues assist in developing professional opportunities, including mentoring, community building, and advising. The annual AAA Leadership Fellows Program invites three early career members to pair with mentors within the current AAA leadership. We also host the Careers Expo at the Annual Meeting, have an incredibly popular Summer Internship Program (funded entirely by member donations), and are working toward developing a student leadership group.

Researching the discipline
Member dues are helping to build Anthropology Information Central, a storehouse of data, reports, and graphic summaries about the workforce and job market for anthropologists; funding and research opportunities; the status of anthropology in K–12 curricula; organizations and associations; and publication services. It gives AAA and its members greater capacity to monitor trends; to develop and test hypotheses about the state of the field; and to educate and advise policymakers, administrators, and the public on issues related to the state of anthropology.

Your dues enable the AAA and our 40 sections to support the field of anthropology and give us the tools to assist you and future anthropologists—in the foreground and behind the scenes. Email [email protected] to learn more about any of these activities and initiatives.

Cite as: Burton, Haleema M. 2018. “Member Dues, What Are They Good For?.” Anthropology News website, May 24, 2018. DOI: 10.1111/AN.878


I am appalled by this self-serving advertisement for high dues and poor choices about how to allocate them. Two years ago I went to the business meeting and heard the treasurer, proudly say that the AAA had about 11 million dollars in reserve, invested with Wells Fargo. I protested putting our money with banks that steal mortgages from poor people, including lots of African Americans — a fact that was known for years before the AAA seems to have put our money elsewhere. Much beyond t his I am appalled that some of t his money is not used to give $25 dollar memberships to students, to subsidize substantially their attendance at conferences, etc. Nor does our association, when they negotiate with conference sites, insist that publishers not be gouged. Several smaller ones told me they can not longer afford to attend.

I have been a member of the AAA since 1961, and have gone to most annual meetings. I nave watched my dear association go very far downhill since the meeting rules were changed, a couple of decades ago (in response to effective popular protests about gender discrimination in major departments) to make the association less democratic. This self-serving announcement about dues is the culmination of that situation

Some excellent points here. Where is the AAA response? Why are conference hotel rooms so expensive? The “conference discount” for a double room seems like nonsense, no better than what you can get on Expedia.

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Want to comment? Please be aware that only comments from current AAA members will be approve. AN is supported by member dues, so discussions on are moderated to ensure that current members are commenting. As with all AN content, comments reflect the views of the person who submitted the comment only. The approval of a comment to go live does not signify endorsement by AN or the AAA.