In general, the AfAA is holding
steady and moving forward on several key projects, though
more slowly thanhad been hoped. Our regular membership
remains just over 300, so our dues income is also steady.
The number of student members has grown, from 91 to
114. Although students only pay $5, still that is a
good sign for the future. For the last two years, our
expenses have stayed within our income, and our assets
have actually increased slightly. Some of our new initiatives
would have involved deficits for a couple of years,
but since they have taken off more slowly than anticipated,
the projected expenses also have been delayed.
reliable activities have been at the AAA meetings. We
usually have a good set of invited and reviewed panels,
and this year was no exception. Maria Cattell has been
our program chair for several years, but she has recruited
David Turkon as her successor. They will organize the
program together this year, preparatory to his taking
over. Our distinguished lecture has also had quite a
good turnout in recent years. Despite the AAA difficulties
this year, the timely topic and reputation of Mahir
Saul drew a respectable audience. The change of venue
prevented us from having a board meeting or formal membership
meeting at AAA, but President-elect Bennetta Jules-Rosette
was able to hold an informational meeting for those
attending. Attendance at the business meeting, as last
year, was much improved by having it continue right
after the distinguished lecture.
also seeing a change of editors for the AAA newsletter
column, which Michael Lambert handled very ably for
several years. He has recruited Jennifer Coffman, who
started with the January 2005 issue. Michael Lambert
also took care of our website, but it will now be updated
in combination with the work on our membership email
Carolyn Martin-Shaw (our membership chair) last year,
I tried to enlist student assistance to set up an email
list that could be updated annually. The first student
assistant hired proved rather unreliable and inexperienced,
so much of those funds remained unspent in 2004. At
present the list functions minimally for announcements,
but corrections and updates are difficult. A new recruit
for 2005 has more experience and should get farther
along. Meanwhile, AAA informed me recently that they
can send an email to all our members or lapsed members
as a "blast" email, on request infrequently.
I will take advantage of this in 2005 and also evaluate
whether the new Anthro Commons might prove more effective
for member communications.
last several years we have tried without much success
to award a travel grant, to sponsor an African anthropologist
to present at the AAA meetings. The publicity we have
done, through personal contacts and lately through PAAA
(Pan African Anthropology Association), has generated
only a couple of applicants, and they have not been
people whose abstracts were accepted for the program.
One obstacle seems to be how far in advance abstracts
must be submitted. Another is that the allotted funds
cover the plane ticket, but not the associated lodging
and registration expenses, which themselves are beyond
many personal budgets.
this budget line remains in our budget for the next
two years, we plan to modify the travel award to further
our budding relationship with PAAA by inviting one of
the PAAA officials to attend the AAA at our expense.
This was done ad hoc in 2003, by inviting David Bogopa,
the then President of PAAA. This led to much more effective
communication with PAAA, as well as giving their officers
a better idea of what our meeting is like.
was a concerted effort in 2004 to begin closer cooperation
with PAAA by organizing a joint board meeting at their
own annual meeting, held in early August in Ghana. We
funded air tickets for several of their board members
to attend, but none of our own board members were there.
I was not even able to attend myself, because my flight
on Ghana Airways was caught up in their bankruptcy.
This led to a reassessment of what kind of joint activities
have sufficient mutual interest. A memo of understanding,
still to be confirmed by the AfAA membership, initiates
a more basic level of cooperation with PAAA, starting
with mutual publicity for meetings, websites, and publications.
PAAA are also part of the initiative for a World Council
of Anthropology Associations that AAA is working on.
This aims to eventually provide reciprocal membership,
at which point we could offer them free AfAA membership.
PAAA officers also expressed interest in future training
workshops, for example in grant writing or applied anthropology,
if we can get outside funding. In 2005, there will be
another push to have AfAA members attend the next PAAA
meeting, in Cameroun, where further projects may be
formulated. AfAA members voted to approach the AAA board
with a proposal to offer a few free AAA memberships
for African expatriates recently arrived in the US,
which we could complement with free AfAA memberships.
Sheila Clarke-Ekong, our continuing treasurer, volunteered
to work on this but would appreciate assistance. The
members also voted in favor of organizing an article
prize, since several relevant book prizes already exist.
This would be awarded to the best article published
in African anthropology each year. In 2005 board members
will select judges and set a procedure for starting
of the new AAA web portal raised again the possibility
of mounting a publication series, for example of working
papers or notes from the field. It was decided to consider
this further once the initial stage of digitizing AAA
publications has been completed and new projects will
be accepted. For 2005, we will experiment with using
the new Anthro Commons as a platform for AfAA announcements
and member commentary, to gauge what kinds of material
might be useful to post.