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A message from the PresidentLeith Mullings


To:                        Members of the American Anthropological Association

From:                    Leith Mullings, President

Subject:                Vote on Merging the Society for Economic Anthropology into the American Anthropological Association

I apologize for the recent flurry of mass mailings, but I would like to draw your attention to one more thing we need to accomplish. AAA has been in discussions for some time now regarding a possible incorporation of the Society for Economic Anthropology (SEA) as an AAA section. This is a terrific opportunity for both associations, and we have worked hard to make it possible. The SEA has already voted in favour; in order to complete the process our own membership must also vote by the end of this calendar year. Below you will find detailed information about the process, about the SEA, and about what a merger implies for the AAA, as well as a link to the ballot itself. The Executive Board is in favour, and we hope you will also share our view that this would be a positive step for us to take.

To access the ballot and vote, you can login through the Account/Member Profile LOGIN area at the top of the page of the AAA website ( You can access the AAA Site using your favorite browser. Once you login,make sure you are on the My Information Page, once there, you will see a VOTE NOW button. Click on it and you will be taken to the ballot where you can cast your vote. If you have any difficulties or questions, please email us. Deadline for voting is December 20, 2012.


Over the past three years, there have been periodic conversations among American Anthropological Association (AAA) members, who are also members of the Society for Economic Anthropology (SEA), about the potential for SEA to merge into AAA.

SEA is an independent not-for-profit corporation qualified under Section 501(c)3 of the IRS code.  Its members are primarily anthropologists whose principal area of research is economic anthropology.  It was incorporated in 1983 in Missouri and re-incorporated in 2010 in the State of Washington.   SEA currently has approximately 200 paid members although another 400 or so belong to the organization's electronic network and through that participate in its activities.  Approximately half of its paid members are also paid members of AAA. 

SEA conducts an annual meeting each spring on a timely theme in economic anthropology and publishes an annual volume that includes the best of the papers presented at their annual meeting the year before.  Its annual volume is disseminated primarily by library and individual subscriptions.  Until recently, SEA had a contract with AltaMira Press for the publication of their annual volume.   

SEA has three annual prizes, the Halperin Memorial Fund, the SEA Book Prize and the Harold Schneider Prize.  The Halperin Memorial Fund is funded by a gift to the Society and for which they are in the process of raising additional funds.  They have a website which has  been updated very recently, and an active listserv through which they regularly communicate with members.  They have a Facebook page which also serves to communicate with members and the wider public.  SEA's activities are funded by a combination of member dues, conference registrations and publishing subscription income.  They operate entirely with member volunteer labor and have no staff. 

In May 2012, AAA received a communication from Kate Browne, Professor, Department of Anthropology at Colorado State University and current President of SEA, proposing a merger of our two organizations by which SEA would cease to exist as a separate corporation and be folded into AAA as an unincorporated section of the association.  At its meeting in May 2012, the AAA Executive Board approved such a plan of merger.  On October 8, 2012, the membership of SEA voted to approve the merger. 

Action Requested

The AAA Executive Board is hereby submitting to the AAA membership a recommendation that the merger be approved.

The Society for Economic Anthropology and AAA

Over the past several months, at the request of the AAA Board, Dave Frantz, our Legal Counsel  has conducted a due diligence investigation of SEA's corporate, financial, membership, publishing, annual meeting, fellowship, and other conditions and status.  The following materials were included:

The results of this investigation have been delivered to the AAA Executive Board, and are outlined below:

SEA is a not-for-profit corporation in good standing with the State of Washington and is qualified with the IRS as a Sec. 501(c)3 corporation.  Based upon a review of SEA's bank statements, financial statements, and communication with SEA President Browne, it does not appear to have any liabilities and is not a party to any litigation.  Based on the review of information listed above and communication with Kate Browne, we believe that SEA is a financially sound organization operating in compliance with State and federal laws and regulations.   It currently has approximately 200 paid members.  As of August 31, 2012, SEA has financial assets of $3,200 in their general fund and $13,327 in their Halperin Fund.  SEA's 2012 Annual Meeting, held in San Antonio, Texas was focused on the theme of "cities".  Its 2013 Annual Meeting is scheduled to be held at Washington University in St. Louis, MO focused on the theme "inequality".  Attendance is usually between 50 and 80 anthropologists, economists, and other social scientists.

SEA's Rhoda Halperin Memorial Fund supports Ph.D. students in anthropology who share her love of economic anthropology and her concern for people living on the margins. Students engaged in economic research focused on social exclusion and poverty are provided small dissertation research grants ($1,000) to help them develop their topics and proposals, and subsequent travel money ($500) to present their findings at the Society for Economic Anthropology annual conference.

A Future Section of AAA

If the proposed merger is approved by AAA's members, AAA would assume both the assets and liabilities of SEA.  As a new section of AAA, SEA would be subject to exactly the same regulations, restrictions, rules, and procedures as are specified in AAA's bylaws for existing sections and govern relationships between AAA and its sections.   It will have one year to bring its membership up to the required 225 specified by AAA's bylaws.

SEA's annual peer-reviewed volume would transition into a peer-reviewed online only journal published by AAA through Wiley-Blackwell and be included in AnthroSource beginning in 2014. Wiley developed financial terms and conditions for acceptance of the publication and they have been accepted by SEA.  Wiley is enthusiastic about adding SEA's intellectual content of economic anthropology to our portfolio of publications. This peer-reviewed journal is expected to expand AnthroSource's coverage of issues that connect social and economic anthropology and speak to concerns of globalization, livelihood and business.  The new journal has the potential of bringing in new readers.   It is also expected to demonstrate the value of multidisciplinary approaches to topics like "urbanization", "inequality" and "social change".

SEA's annual meeting would be added to the complement of AAA section meetings held in the spring of each year.  SEA's Halperin Memorial Fund would be folded into and managed by AAA.  SEA's financial assets will be absorbed by AAA and held in separate accounts as is the case with other Sections' assets.  As an AAA section, SEA would be eligible to sponsor sessions at AAA's annual meeting.


Having reviewed the results of the due diligence investigation conducted by our legal counsel, and having considered both the potential risks and rewards associated with the proposed merger, the AAA Executive Board has concluded that such a merger is in AAA's interests. 

AAA would acquire additional members, in fields of study closely related to and compatible with the scholarly interests of many of its current members.  It would acquire a  highly respected publication that both complements and supplements our current portfolio.

As stated above, approximately 50% of SEA members are not currently members of the AAA, including a large number of archaeologists and scholars across the social sciences, such as economists, geographers, and political scientists.  SEA also has a contingent of international members, including scholars in India, Brazil, Spain, Thailand and other countries.  This merger presents an opportunity to expand the reach of our organization across an interdisciplinary and international spectrum, and thus affirm the unique insights possible within a four field academic and practicing tradition.

The Executive Board therefore recommends to the membership that it approve a merger of the Society for Economic Anthropology into the American Anthropological Association.

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