AAA new Long-Range Plan drops reference to science

AAA new proposed Long Range Plan drops reference to science. I find this a little troubling.

This is the mission statement:


Section 1. The purposes of the Association shall be to advance anthropology as the science that
studies humankind in all its aspects, through archeological,
biological, ethnological, and linguistic research; and to further the
professional interests of American anthropologists, including the
dissemination of anthropological knowledge and its use to solve human
problems.

Section 2. To advance the science of anthropology, the Association shall: Foster and support the development of special
anthropological societies organized on a regional or functional basis;
Publish and promote the publication of anthropological monographs and
journals; Encourage anthropological research, act to coordinate
activities of members of the Association with those of other
organizations concerned with anthropology, and maintain effective
liaison with related sciences and their organizations.

Section 3. To further the professional interests of anthropologists, the
Association shall, in addition to those activities described under
Section 2: Take action on behalf of the entire profession and integrate
the professional activities of anthropologists in the special aspects
of the science; and Promote the widespread recognition and constant
improvement of professional standards in anthropology.

Taken from the Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws as amended and restated in October 1, 1983 of the American Anthropological Association.

The revised statement for the long range plan.

Section 1. The purposes of the Association shall be to advance public
understanding of humankind in all its aspects. This includes, but is
not limited to, archeological, biological, social, cultural, economic,
political, historical, medical, visual, and linguistic anthropological
research; The Association also commits itself and to further the
professional interests of anthropologists, including the dissemination
of anthropological knowledge, expertise, and interpretation.

Section 2. To advance the public understanding of humankind, the Association
shall: Publish and promote the publication of anthropological
monographs and journals; Encourage anthropological teaching, research,
and practice; and maintain effective liaison with related knowledge
disciplines and their organizations.

Section 3. To further the professional interests of anthropologists, the Association shall
promote the widespread recognition and constant improvement of
professional standards in anthropology.

(Source: Peter Peregrine, President Society for Anthropological Sciences)

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Comment by Richard Irvine on December 7, 2010 at 3:07am
As I am not an American and not in the AAA, I find this topic interesting, but I am unsure whether I am entitled to make a comment - I have never claimed that the AAA represents me, my interests, or the discipline I work within. I suspect that an organisation that exists just to have a bunch of people meet in chain hotels to try and network is actually not for me. In fact, although at the moment my participation has not been with the frequency I'd like (sorry Keith), I do feel that the OAC is more representative of anthropology (although we could do with more arch and bio anth representation, I guess).

Anyway, I am a social anthropologist who has carried out experimental research and who collaborates with people on the more biological side of anthropology, and so I am concerned about anything that might be construed as "shunning" people who are not cultural anthropologists. All the same, I don't really know whether it's my place to talk about the direction of an association that I don't support and that doesn't support me.

BUT - it may be worth drawing OAC members attention to the new wiki created by Daniel Lende to "crowdsource" a AAA Long Range Plan. Given that it's a collaborative space within which people can discuss the future of anthropology and help to mould alternative visions to that put forward by the AAA exec, it could well be worth keeping an eye on.
http://aaalongrangeplan.wikispaces.com/
Comment by Keith Hart on December 6, 2010 at 10:11am
There have been 9 comments in two weeks, 6 of them by you and me. So I would say the membership were not interested in this conversation. I did a clearout of the featured blogs in order generate some movement in what had become a stagnant section. I featured John's new post in case it sparked a new round of discussion about the science question. Lighten up.
Comment by Jacob Lee on December 6, 2010 at 9:59am
Featured....unfeatured. Is this a conversation someone does not want to have?
Comment by Jacob Lee on December 3, 2010 at 11:14pm
I have posted the full text of the new AAA Long-Range Plan in a new blog post.
Comment by ryan anderson on December 3, 2010 at 6:44am
This decision makes absolutely no sense to me. I can understand why the AAA wanted to emphasize some new focal points--but removing all references to science? Seems to me this will only push the archaeologists and bio-anth folks out of the tent.
Comment by Keith Hart on December 2, 2010 at 10:34am
A point of view from Savage Minds:

My point is simply that positions which argue anthropology must be science or it is nothing have not just forgotten a vast amount about the philosophy of science and the other departments they share their universities with, they have forgotten a tremendous amount of the history of our discipline as well. There are lots of reasons to be critical of AAA leadership, but no one is well-served by this shallow, knee-jerk reactionism.
Comment by Jacob Lee on December 1, 2010 at 12:18am
Comment by Jacob Lee on November 28, 2010 at 10:55am
The change appears to de-emphasize the promotion of the interests of professional anthropologists and and place more emphasis on the role of the AAA in informing the public, but both aspects were present in the previous version, and both remain in the new version.

But reference to science has been removed altogether. It is also curious that Section 1's including the dissemination of anthropological knowledge and its use to solve human problems. is replaced with including the dissemination of anthropological knowledge, expertise, and interpretation.

Keith is right to point out that some anthropologists feel alienated within the AAA; many have dropped out of its membership entirely because they do not feel it represents their interests any longer. As I understand it, this is especially the case with some applied anthropologists and with some more science-oriented anthropologists.
Comment by Keith Hart on November 25, 2010 at 4:22pm
It seems obvious enough to me that the AAA has come round to acknowledging that the public doesn't know what anthropology is, so it should do something about it. This is not so much a matter of funding as advancing recognition for what anthropologists do. Moreover, this last covers a wide range of humanities and social (even natural) sciences and the word science is narrower than equivalent words in French (science) and German (Wissenschaft) which mean systematic study without the positivist connotations of the English term. The fact that some anthropologists do what they think of as hard science and feel swamped by a horde of soft word-mongers is another matter.
Comment by Paul Wren on November 24, 2010 at 9:06pm
It seems even more interesting to me that they have replaced the concept of doing science with the concept of informing the public. Trying to remain relevant? For funding purposes, perhaps?

The AAA is a professional association, yet it places public understanding ahead of promoting the professional interest of its members.

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