MPAAC Gains Momentum in Its Second Year

Since transitioning from the small multiple committee model to the large integrated 23-member body, the Members’ Programmatic Advisory and Advocacy Committee (MPAAC) is gaining momentum in its second year, focusing on regular/ongoing activities and special, priority initiatives. Details of these activities are listed below.

Regular and ongoing activities

MPAAC published articles in Anthropology News (AN); proposed events for annual meetings; and maintained an active presence online via AAA social media, in order to establish visibility and maintain communication with the membership.

Since May 2018, three MPAAC-specific AN columns have been published:

  • Torres, M. Gabriela, and Dianna Shandy. 2018. “Taking Leadership and Remaking Academic Communities.” Anthropology News website, May 10, 2018. DOI: 10.1111/AN.864 (and May/June print magazine)
  • Rodriguez, Leila. 2018. “MPAAC Tackles Sexual Harassment and Border Walls.” Anthropology News website, July 13, 2018. DOI: 10.1111/AN.910
  • Morris, Chad and Lise Dobrin. 2018. “AAA Resources on Ethics and Professional Responsibility.” Anthropology News website, October 19, 2018. DOI: 10.1111/AN.1007

In addition to organizing meeting events and a social gathering with the Association for Feminist Anthropology, MPAAC has put together several roundtables and panels for the 2019 AAA Annual Meeting:

  • MPAAC Practitioner Roundtable: How Anthropological Practice Can Help Promote the Discipline.
  • Precarious Policies: Migrant Health in Times of Crisis and Rising Xenophobia
  • Anthropology and Human Rights—A New Statement     
  • Cite Black Women: Race, Gender, Justice and Citational Politics in Anthropology

Special and Priority Activities

MPAAC worked on activities based on the committee charge and AAA Strategic Implementation Plan; interests and issues conveyed by membership that represent matters of critical concern to the Association, discipline, and public; and, projects maintained from the previous committee structure deemed important to continue under MPAAC.

  • In addition to the 2018 AAA Policy on Sexual Harassment and Assault, MPAAC and AAA leadership released a document in April 2019 to elaborate on the role of the ombudsperson and procedures to address safety concerns at the Annual Meeting.
  • MPAAC developed a working group to update AAA’s Human Rights Statement. A draft statement will be presented at the 2019 Annual Meeting in advance of wider vetting by the membership and Executive Board, and ultimately a membership vote.
  • MPAAC is continuing to look into the context of racialized police brutality and extrajudicial violence and has determined that the most productive action is to advance teaching resources on the topic and to expand on the existing AAA resources related to race and racism. This will be a priority project in the next year.
  • MPAAC, as well as a wider working group of specialists, continued to examine the Israel-Palestine monitoring process, submitting a report to the Executive Board in January 2019. The focus remains on academic freedom limitations in Israel-Palestine and the United States, and general patterns of abuse in Israel-Palestine.
  • MPAAC has decided to establish a dedicated working group, whose primary responsibilities will be
    • to maintain the AAA Ethics Forum, which provides case materials as a discussion-generating resource
    • to provide advice to individuals who reach out to AAA for help negotiating ethical dilemmas they are facing
    • to support MPAAC and the Executive Board with ethics-related expertise
    • to promote ethics-related discussion at the AAA Annual Meeting and in Anthropology News
    • to ensure that the AAA Principles of Professional Responsibility remain representative of emerging challenges and opportunities in our field
  • MPAAC members formed a working group to draft criteria for the new AAA Engaged Anthropology Award, which honors individual anthropologists, multi-disciplinary groups or organizations, and projects which have demonstrated a deep commitment to social justice and community engagement by applying anthropology to effectively address a pressing issue facing people and the planet.
  • MPAAC initiated the process of devising a joint project with the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (IUAES) through its Commission on Human Rights and Commission on Marginalization and Global Apartheid to monitor the status of indigenous people across the globe.
  • MPAAC is currently working on making the AAA Annual Meeting more accessible and to bring ideas and findings to the AAA Executive Board.
  • MPAAC members reviewed and discussed best practices for collecting demographic data from the membership, paying attention to issues of gender, race, ethnicity, and nationality/citizenship status. Recommendations were passed on to AAA Staff.

MPAAC has established crosscutting work plans and goals, and accomplished visible outcomes in most every area. We look forward to continued engagement and communication with AAA members.

Leila Rodriguez is associate professor of anthropology at the University of Cincinnati, and serves as MPAAC’s world anthropologies liaison.

Thurka Sangaramoorthy is associate professor of anthropology at the University of Maryland, and serves as MPAAC’s public policy liason.

Cite as: Rodriguez, Leila, and Thurka Sangaramoorthy. 2019. “MPAAC Gains Momentum in Its Second Year.” Anthropology News website, June 12, 2019. DOI: 10.1111/AN.1187

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