Statement against the resolution presented during the AAA Business Meeting on December 3, in Philadelphia.
This statement asks the AAA membership to vote no on the resolution. Our intent is not to restate the main points advanced in the letter of the Honduran anthropologists against the resolution. Rather, in this brief note we wish to highlight, in broad terms, why we are against the resolution proposed by Dr. Rosemary Joyce and colleagues with regards to the political situation in Honduras. We would like to draw attention to several statements made by the outgoing president of the AAA, Dr. Setha Low, during the Business Meeting, this past December 3rd. In recounting her experiences as president of our association, Dr. Low emphasized her efforts and work directed towards the creation of a non-dominative, non-hegemonic global anthropology—efforts we certainly commend. As the leader of the most influential anthropological association in the world, Dr. Low was sensitive to the fact that North-American anthropologists experience an array of privileges beyond the grasp of many anthropologists from the global south. North American anthropologists often times work in the geographic location of their choosing, relying on “native” anthropologists and social scientists as consultants as they see fit.
Thus it was a stark contrast to see proponents and defendants of the resolution dismiss the concerns of several Honduran anthropologists as “simply being the voice of a few”, and not the voice of the “people” during the business meeting in Philadelphia; the simple fact that several Honduran colleagues feel like their perspectives as researchers, political actors, and ordinary citizens are grossly overlooked and disregarded by the proposed statement is enough of a reason to reject the motion. How can a professional organization of anthropologists disregard the voice of several Honduran colleagues on such a controversial issue? This is a complete disregard to the epistemic and ethical foundations that make anthropology the unique discipline that it is. We question the logic guiding the arguments of Dr. Joyce and colleagues when they stated that the anthropologists against this resolution are just a few, as it seems to revolve around sampling issues. Six Hondurans drafted a letter feeling their opinions were overlooked. Should we be concerned if this number were ten instead of six? How many Honduran anthropologists are practicing now in Honduras? On the other hand, when and how were Dr. Joyce and colleagues appointed and by whom to represent the Honduran people?
Furthermore, we question the language used by proponents of the resolution to describe the situation in Honduras as a “military dictatorship”. As far as we know, there is no consensus regarding the political events that unfolded. Some qualified opinions maintain that Manuel Zelaya broke the law, and disregarded all judicial and legal institutions of Honduras, and that the judicial and legislative branches of the Honduran government acted to curtail the excessiveness of the executive. On what basis can the American Anthropological Association pronounce itself condemning a whole country so uncritically on a matter that is highly complex and contested? We conclude that so far there is no basis as a professional organization to take an objective or definitive stance on this complex issue.
Ernesto Ruiz (University of South Florida), Dra. Gloria Lara-Pinto (Francisco Morazan National Teacher's College), Jose Hasemann (University of South Florida)