Former Commission on Race and Racism in Anthropology (CRRA) - Participate & Advocate
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Former Commission on Race and Racism in Anthropology (CRRA)

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The American Anthropological Association (AAA) and its members are committed to the principles of inclusion and social justice. This commitment is manifest in much of our research and work, not least an ambitious public education program on RACE. However, we recognize that as a profession anthropology in North America is not as diverse as it should be. Many personal experiences attest repeatedly to the continuation of exclusion and privileging by race, ethnicity, class, and gender in numerous settings and institutions in which we are educated and pursue our craft.

As anthropologists and an association committed to social justice and the dismantling of structures of exclusivity, we propose to explore how our own profession continues to privilege some groups over others and how we can overcome such privileging discourses, practices and institutions. If we increase the diversity of our profession -- and thereby the range of ideas, sensibilities, perspectives and visions articulated by those in different sociopolitical positions -- we can regain lost credibility among those with whom we frequently work and ally ourselves and we will enhance the vitality of the AAA and anthropology. (Executive Board Approved; October 2007)

Committee Charge


Therefore, the AAA Executive Board establishes an Ad Hoc Commission on Race and Racism within Anthropology and the AAA (CRRA). The general purposes of the commission are:

  1. to collect information in order to better expose how privilege has been maintained in anthropology and the AAA, including but not limited to departments and the academic pipeline and
  2. to develop a comprehensive plan for the Association and for the field of anthropology to increase the ethnic, racial, gender and class diversity of the discipline and organization.

Four Charges

  1. The first charge is to bring to the AOC and EB a revised mandate and plan of action for the Committee on Minority Issues in Anthropology (CMIA). This CMIA was established in the early 1990s after a series of studies and working groups. However, it has seemingly become marginalized and separated from the main decision making apparatus of the association.

    The CRRA will work with the CMIA to evaluate the history, current status and future direction of the CMIA with the goal of increasing its power and the centrality of its mission.

  2. The CRRA will evaluate and make recommendations to the AOC and EB on the implementation of other mechanisms that have the potential to more efficiently bring issues of race and racism to the center of networks of decision making in the AAA. Evaluations will include, for examples, the use of “minority seats” of committees and mechanisms used by other associations.
  3. It is expected that the commission will reinvigorate an association-wide discussion on race and racism in anthropology and the AAA. A starting point may be a discussion of the “progress” made since the 1973 report.

One of the recommendations of the 1973 report is that the AAA “should encourage … continual research and investigation.” Indeed, some of the information needs and areas of possible change that are highlighted below will help to direct changes in CMIA and the AAA. In addition to the above charges, the Commission may further define its own mission by prioritizing and initiating additional data gathering and long-range changes in other arenas such as sections and departments (see bullet list below). The following additional bulleted areas of data gathering and change are starting suggestions.

Existing ideas thus far suggested include:

Duration of Committee

Three years.

Committee Reports to

The Executive Board.

Membership and Appointment

The commission will be composed of six members, two senior honorary co-chairs, and two co-chairs, with the AAA President and President-Elect serving in an ex-officio capacity. At least one member will be from the executive board and two from the Committee on Minority Issues in Anthropology. Based on criteria agreed upon with the co-chairs, members are appointed by the President.


Work plan – the commission will prepare a work plan that lays out a timetable, defines roles for commission members, details how it will work internally and with non commission members, articulates a set of concrete objectives, and identifies the work products it will produce such as reports, hearings, motions to the executive board, and grant applications.

Communication – the commission will prepare regular progress reports that can be published in the Anthropology News. Such communications will highlight what the commission is working on, characterize discussions, and preview aspects of its future work.

Meetings and Schedule

Meetings – the commission will arrange conference calls and, where feasible, in-person meetings in order to conduct its business.

Contact Information

2300 Clarendon Blvd., Suite 1301, Arlington, VA 22201, (o) 703/528-1902, ext 1160, (f) 703/528-3546.

Committee Links

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