MPAAC Tackles Sexual Harassment and Border Walls

Since its formal initiation after the 2017 AAA Annual Meeting in Washington, DC, the Members’ Programmatic Advisory and Advocacy Committee (MPAAC) has made significant progress in its priority areas. Led by the gender equity seats, Gabriela Torres and Dianna Shady, MPAAC convened the Sexual Harassment Working Group in February 2018. This team drafted the AAA Policy on Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault and engaged in a two-stage review with MPAAC and the Sexual Harassment Working Group. The document was then reviewed by AAA counsel in April, approved via an MPAAC vote later that month, and approved by the Executive Board during the spring board meeting in May.

The Border Walls Working Group was formed in response to a proposed resolution brought to the AAA Executive Board at last year’s Annual Business Meeting in Washington, DC, in which it was recommended that a task force be established to look into the proliferation of border and security walls. The Working Group identified five themes that bring into focus the anthropological scholarship that overwhelmingly supports the central observations that walls impact human populations in negative ways.

  • Destruction of heritage sites.The construction of border walls has led to the destruction of heritage sites.
  • Human rights. Human rights are central to any consideration of borders and walls.
  • Indigenous groups. Border walls have lasting impacts on indigenous groups’ language, culture, and family.
  • Migration and refugee populations. Border walls impact migration routes and are rarely effective in controlling population movement or in defending territory.
  • Environment. Border walls have lasting impacts on the local ecosystems/habitats in which they are placed.

The Working Group recommended the formation of a task force. The Executive Board is currently developing a charge for the task force.

Finally, the MPAAC human rights seats, Michael Vicente Perez and Jaymelee Kim, are actively engaged in a number of rights-related concerns, including pressing issues of police brutality/state violence and immigration/displacement. Additionally, human rights material will continue to be published in the AAA blog and on the AAA Anthropology and Human Rights Facebook page. Three significant responsibilities that have carried over from the former AAA committee framework include reviewing the AAA Statement on Human Rights, developing processes for issuing rights-related statements, and continuing the Israel/Palestine reporting.

As of May, MPAAC made a recommendation to review the 1999 Statement on Human Rights and develop a third statement that incorporates human rights development over the last 20 years. Ideally, the third statement will ground anthropological research and practice in both foundational themes (e.g., inquiry, evidence, advocacy) and cross-cutting themes (e.g., moving “beyond statism,” challenging power, informing public debate). MPAAC intends to produce a draft third statement to be circulated in advance of, discussed in, and presented at the 2019 AAA Annual Meeting in Vancouver.

The Israel/Palestine Working Group will continue to monitor news reports of threats to human rights and infringements on anthropologists’ academic freedom. This monitoring effort will also follow news reports on the development of anti-BDS legislation in the United States and its implications for scholars working on Israel-Palestine studies.

Please feel free to reach out to MPAAC for updates related to these activities.

Leila Rodriguez ([email protected]) is editor of the MPAAC column in AN.

Cite as: Rodriguez, Leila. 2018. “MPAAC Tackles Sexual Harassment and Border Walls.” Anthropology News website, July 13, 2018, DOI: 10.1111/AN.910

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