Committee on Minority Issues in Anthropology



The Committee on Minority Participation (CMP) was established in August 1970, in response to a resolution passed at the 1969 Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association in New Orleans (see Appendix A). The resolution urged the vigorous recruitment of Black, Chicano, American Indian, Asian students (and others of similar background) into anthropology, and encouraged efforts to hire and facilitate their careers in the profession. The Committee was formed for the purpose of recommending "immediate and long-range methods for enabling the profession to move speedily to increase the number of anthropologists of minority background."

The Committee was created after a call for nominations was published in the Newsletter, and letters soliciting nominations were mailed to anthropologists of minority background on behalf of the Executive Board. The first Committee consisted of Gloria Marshall (Michigan), Chair; James Gibbs (Stanford), AAA Board liaison; and members, Alfonso Ortiz (Princeton); Francis L. K. Hsu (Northwestern); and Thomas Weaver (Arizona), with student members Abdulhamid Akoni (California State, Long Beach) and La Verne Masayesva (Arizona).

The Committee held its first meeting in Palo Alto, California, on August 8 and 9, 1970, during which it worked toward formulating its role and interpreting its charge from the Executive Board. The original resolution was found to be too restrictive, and the Committee adopted the following purposes and goals:

1. To prepare a questionnaire to be sent to anthropologists of minority background eliciting information, views on anthropology as a profession and certain dimensions of their professional experience;

2. To develop a statement which would describe the ways in which the professional structure of anthropology as a discipline may operate differently on anthropologists of minority background than on non-minority anthropologists;

3. To produce a statement on the manner and extent to which the professional world view and activities of anthropologists are ethnocentric, reflecting racism and other values of American and European cultures;

4. To discuss the attraction and recruitment of minorities into anthropology.

Brief statements on these subjects were circulated and discussed among the CMP members. The Committee met twice during the 1970 AAA Annual Meeting in San Diego, revised its questionnaire, designated Thomas Weaver as its new Chair and discussed the problem of defining so-called minorities. Because of budgetary restrictions, the CMP was not able to meet again.

After review by the AAA Board in May 1971, and in line with its policy of rotating committee membership to maximize participation by Association members, the CMP was dismissed. The following committee was appointed in August 1971: Delmos Jones (CUNY); Francis L. K. Hsu (Northwestern); Diane Lewis (San Francisco State); Beatrice Medicine (Washington); James L. Gibbs (Stanford), AAA Board liaison; and Thomas Weaver (Arizona), Chair.

The new Committee's scope was broadened under the name of Committee on Minorities and Anthropology (CMA) with the following resolution from the Board, dated July 26, 1971:

We believe that the Committee on Minority Participation has been unduly constrained by the original resolution that led to its establishment, which referred principally to recruitment of minority members and the facilitation of their careers. We suggest that the Committee might find a viable mission by broadening its perspective to consider, in addition, the question of the improvement of research, pure and applied, dealing with minorities and with minority-majority relations, and of the presentation of such research results in useful fashion. Still other issues may arise.

We also remind the Committee that, although it may wish to restrict itself to minority members, it is empowered to utilize majority members who have studied minority relations. None of these comments should be construed as directions, save that the Committee must in the next year provide a satisfactory and substantial statement.

In accordance with the above directive, the new Committee, meeting in Tucson, Arizona, on September 10-11, 1971, attempted to take a wider perspective. A series of activities was discussed, including in-depth interviewing of minority anthropologists, designing questionnaires for students and administrators, and other research. The CMA felt that the most productive activity would be to concentrate on analyzing the results of a questionnaire mailed to all minority anthropologists and to write a series of essays focusing on these results. It was agreed to meet during various professional meetings when possible and to sponsor sessions on the topics of the Committee work.

The Committee's questionnaire was completed, approved by the Executive Board in line with standing procedures during the 1971 AAA Annual Meeting in New York and circulated by mail on January 6, 1972.

The Committee met again in San Francisco on May 26-27, 1972, to discuss and integrate preliminary analysis by each member on various parts of the questionnaire. In addition to work on the report, the Committee made the following decisions:

1. To present a draft of the report to a minority faculty caucus at the AAA Annual Meeting in Toronto and to request suggestions;

2. To expand its data base by comparing the questionnaire results with information on minority anthropologists found in professional directories;

3. To collect essays from other anthropologists on the minority experience in anthropology;

4. To rotate the Committee membership upon completion of the present phase of work.

The CMA held a Minority Faculty Caucus during the AAA Annual Meeting in December 1972, in Toronto. Four members of the CMA presented a summary of the Committee's findings to that date and answered questions (one Committee member was unavailable and a second was not able to obtain travel funds to attend the AAA meeting). Also present were about twenty-five Black, three Asian, six American Indian, and two Spanish-speaking anthropologists. Two recommendations came out of this meeting, as follows:

1. That the mailing list compiled by the CMA should not be made available to other persons or institutions and that it should be destroyed after the work of the present Committee has been completed;

2. That the work of the Committee be continued with new members who would have the responsibility to explore other problems, such as the careers of minority students entering anthropology.

The present report, and suggested items for a book of readings on the minority experience in anthropology, were circulated to Committee members and revised at a meeting in San Francisco on June 3-4, 1973.

We wish to thank Grace Clark, Barbara Jablonski, Angie Rodriguez, and Josephine Cento of the Bureau of Ethnic Research, University of Arizona, for typing the various drafts of this report. We also wish to express our gratitude to the following research assistants: Ron Giteck and Peteris Dajevskis, University of Arizona; Judith Herbstein, CUNY; Frank Pasquale, Northwestern; and to editor Richard Greenwell.

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