December 4, 2015

Dear Colleagues,

Thank you all for your warm welcome.

I am writing today—my first communication to my fellow delegates in WCAA—to share with you information about the recent vote at the AAA business meeting in Denver on a resolution proposing a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. I know there may be some uncertainties about what happened, what it means, and what will happen, moving forward. I am acutely sensitive to the potential impacts of the Association’s debate around the world, and especially to our sister societies that are WCAA members.

In the past two weeks since the business meeting, there has been a lot of misinformation circulating on blogs and from news sources. I would like to use this opportunity to provide you information in hopes this will be useful to any discussions you may be having.

The first thing to know is that AAA has not voted to boycott Israeli academic institutions. Members attending the annual business meeting in Denver voted to place a resolution to boycott Israeli academic institutions on the Association's spring 2016 election ballot. The resolution will not be decided until it is voted upon by the association’s overall membership.

AAA follows a democratic process; any member in good standing may submit a resolution for a vote at the annual business meeting. Approving a resolution for a membership-wide vote does not indicate endorsement by the AAA at large.

A record-breaking 1,800 people attended the AAA business meeting, including an estimated 1400 members who came from many places across the US and from many countries outside the US. More than 1,000 members voted to put the resolution to a full vote before AAA’s 10,000+ members during the spring ballot. Should the member-wide vote approve the boycott resolution, the Association’s Executive Board will determine the terms of any such action.

For more than a century, the AAA has been guided by its commitments to preserving academic freedom and protecting human rights. The Association reaches decisions on how to fulfill these commitments through a transparent democratic process. As always, we remain committed to AAAs mission as a scholarly and professional society.

I hope you find this information useful. We are happy to provide you, our WCAA colleagues, up to date information as the discussion moves forward.

Sincerely yours,


Alisse Waterston
Professor, Department of Anthropology
President, American Anthropological Association
Twitter: @anthroprez; @AlisseWaterston