American Anthropological Association Establishes Network to Protect Academic Freedom

The American Anthropological Association (AAA) has established a Rapid Response Network to address threats to academic freedom, and has also partnered with the group Scholars at Risk, a non-profit that works to protect academic freedom internationally.

According to AAA President Alisse Waterston, “The pattern of events in the US and around the world in 2016 indicates a gathering storm that threatens the academic freedom of anthropologists and other academics,” adding, “Historically, these threats have been most effectively mitigated when scholarly and professional associations like ours have investigated and spoken out against attacks on academic freedom.”
The AAA reiterated its commitment to the American Association of University Professors’ (AAUP) 1940 Statement of Principles, while adding,

Since the AAUP principles were first articulated eight decades ago, the vocabulary for talking about academic freedom has been elaborated. New legal protections from hate speech and hostile work climates have been instituted, and colleges and universities are newly sensitive to calls for “civility,” “trigger warnings,” and the creation of “safe spaces” on campus. Meanwhile, the digital age affords new forms of and channels for scholarly communication, as well as outright threats of censorship.

Within this context the AAA vows to “oppose threats to the academic freedom of anthropologists wherever in the world they may be engaged in conducting research, teaching, learning, and other professional activities.”

The Rapid Response Network on Academic Freedom will be chaired by anthropologist Marc Edelman, Hunter College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York.

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