Sections & Interest Groups

Policies and Procedures for Creating New Sections

approved by the AAA Executive Board October 7, 1995
amended by the AAA Executive Board February 6, 1999
amended by the AAA Executive Board April 29, 2000

amended by the AAA Executive Board May 23, 2010

amended by the AAA Executive Board November 19, 2011



Groups wishing to create a new Section of the AAA should use the following policies and procedures:


1. Requests/applications asking the Executive Board to create a new Section will be referred to the Section Assembly Executive Committee (SAEC) and the Finance Committee who will make a recommendation to the AAA Association Operations Committee (AOC) for review, comment, and recommendation.


2. The SAEC will review requests to determine that:

A. The group meets the minimum number of members (see below).

B. The proposed Section's mission and goals are consistent with AAA missions and goals, will help advance AAA mission and goals, and do not duplicate the intellectual mission of an existing AAA Section.

C. The proposed rules of procedure are consistent with AAA policies. (Before being sent to the SAEC &AOC, proposed Section rules of procedure will be reviewed by the AAA attorney and staff.) The groups are encouraged to take a minimalist approach to rules of procedure and Section organization. The focus should be on content and service(s), not on structure.


3. When applying, the group's application must also state its initial dues and the services to be received in return for the dues. (The group must understand that the initial dues will be collected over the course of its first year (see below) and in all likelihood will be unable to deliver any services in the first year.) The proposed dues and services will be reviewed by the Finance Committee as well as the SAEC & AOC, and referred to the Executive Board for action.


4. Any requests to begin a publication (journal, review, newsletter) will be considered by the AAA Anthropological Communications Committee, the Finance Committee and the Executive Board after a Section has been authorized, and been in contact with the Director of Publishing to discuss guidelines.


5. The group must present a list of at least 225 prospective members (complete names, emails and addresses) when asking the Executive Board to create a new Section. The list may include any number of non-AAA members.


6. The approval of a new Section will come in two steps:

A. A group meeting all of the required tests will be approved on a probationary basis for one year, giving the group time to build its official membership to the 225 minimum and submit an initial Annual Report updating the AAA on its first year of development as a probationary Section.

B. If the Section has 225 paid members at the end of the year and has submitted an initial Annual Report, the Section will automatically move from probationary to fully authorized status. If not, a probationary Section may ask for a one-year extension. If a Section fails to meet the membership minimum within two years or fails to submit Annual Reports updating the AAA on its progress and development, the Executive Board will either reclassify the group as an AAA Interest Group or disband it, depending on the number of the group's members and the wishes of the group.


This two-step procedure is necessary for the following reasons. A person must pay Section dues to be a member of the Section. Because there will be no paid members when a Section is initially approved, and because an individual's AAA and Section memberships start at the same time, people will officially join the Section during the year.

When a group is initially approved as a Section, and assuming the Section dues have been established, staff will:


A. Immediately bill any non-AAA members on the list of prospective Section members.

B. Immediately add a billing for the new Section's dues to the annual dues notices of AAA members who have said they would join the Section.


7. A Section will qualify for space in the Anthropology News Section News when it is authorized as a probationary Section and has submitted its initial Annual Report.


8. The annual schedule for considering requests to form new Sections will be:

  • March 15--draft of purpose statement, proposed rules of procedure, initial dues and planned services to begin in Year II due at AAA office.

  • March 15 to April 1--Staff and attorney review material and suggest revisions as necessary.

  • April 1-May 1--SAEC followed by Finance Committee review, comment on and recommend actions to the AOC.

  • May--AOC review, comment on and recommend action(s) to the Executive Board.

  • May--Executive Board considers and acts on request.

  •  June--Non-AAA members billed; Section dues added to dues notices of AAA members.

Groups that are considering authorization by the Executive Board to become new AAA Sections are encouraged to confer first with staff to determine if such a Section would compete with an existing Section and the proposed mission is satisfactory. Such an informal inquiry should be made by October 1 so the inquiry can be discussed at the SAEC and AOC's November meeting, if necessary.