Occasionally a Society member or group of members will ask the Executive Committee (the committee) to make a public statement about an issue or event unfolding in the world.
The committee sees the value in articulating a position on an issue so that others—our members, students, colleagues, the general public—know what we stand for. Public statements may not result in changing conditions or resolving larger issues, but they convey to those who are affected that we are bearing witness and bringing some anthropologically grounded analysis to their experiences.
The committee recognises the role the Society can play in public anthropology, yet directors and other office holders have limited capacity for the production of public statements.
These guidelines clarify how members can submit requests for statements issued in the name of the committee and the reasonable time frames for responses.
Where appropriate, the AAS can also share and amplify commentary and scholarship authored or recommended by our members through our various communication streams (website, e-bulletin, and social media). AAS members are encouraged to continue using AASNet to share information about and discuss unfolding events. That forum especially has proven useful for activating critical masses around certain issues and for identifying ad hoc groups to work up longer open letters or petitions. The AAS will continue to support these member-led initiatives as much as possible, but is not seeking to centralise or formalise them.
The committee cannot make statements on behalf of the entire association (the membership) without a robust consultation process that would normally delay the formulation of a response so that we miss the momentum building around a particular issue.
Rather than issuing statements on behalf of the entire association, public statements may instead be issued in the name of the committee.
Guiding questions for such statements include:
- Does the issue directly affect the practice of anthropology in Australia?
- Does anthropology provide a particularly valuable perspective on this issue?
- Are we able to highlight anthropological scholarship in relation to the issue?
Procedure for requesting a statement (members)
The AAS will not be monitoring the AASNet forum for requests for public statements (the discussion forums facilitate member discussions with each other, not member communications with the committee).
Requests for the committee to issue a statement should be made directly to the Society email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) with the subject ‘Request for a committee statement about XYZ’.
Requests should include the following:
- A short draft statement for the directors to consider (as a guide see previously issued statements)
- Suggested references and links to any relevant information that might inform the statement, especially work or commentary highlighting anthropological / social sciences perspectives, and including open access materials where possible
- Names of any other members who may be informed about the issue at hand
Once received, the committee will endeavour to respond to requests within a week.
Procedure for formulating a statement (directors)
Upon receipt of a request via the Society email address, the Administrator will forward the request to the committee via the ‘exec’ forum for consideration and internal discussion.
In the first instance, all committee directors must agree to (be in support of) the statement being issued (if not all details of the draft provided then at least in principle).
If agreed, the President may identify a committee director, or group of directors, to finalise the draft statement. Others not on the committee may also be called on to assist with this process (e.g. the member(s) who submitted the request, or others with relevant knowledge/expertise).
The final draft should be circulated to all committee directors for comment and approval before being issued.
Executive Committee Statements will be issued using the ‘blog’ module on the AAS website, which has been named AAS Communicates. The blog for Executive Committee Statements has the following settings: viewable by anyone, only members may leave a comment.