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Our Commitments to Access and Safety for the Annual Meeting in Tampa and Beyond

Following consultation with our members, the SAW Executive Board has released the following statement.

Published onMar 25, 2024
Our Commitments to Access and Safety for the Annual Meeting in Tampa and Beyond

Members of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) have raised legitimate concerns about holding the association’s Annual Meeting in places that criminalize subgroups of our community. Florida (and, by consequence, Tampa), for example, has laws that criminalize expressing a different gender than that which is recorded on one’s drivers license.

We recognize this problem is not unique to Florida. Louisiana, where the Annual Meeting is scheduled to take place in 2025, has similar laws in place. We also recognize that exclusionary criminalization has long been a force at our Annual Meetings, blocking those who cannot get visas to travel or weathering those racialized as improper subjects of knowledge production.

Knowing this, we strive not to double down on these exclusions but to work towards universal and equitable access. Unequal access to AAA convenings has unequal effects on people's access to networking, interviewing, and professionalization--all important parts of getting and keeping a secure job in academia or elsewhere in anthropology. Unequal access also structures what communities get to participate in intellectual imaginaries sometimes years from publication and distribution.

The Executive Board of the Society for the Anthropology of Work (SAW) commits to the following: 

We will work with other sections to pursue a binding resolution restricting the hosting of AAA conferences to locations that do not subject a subset of our membership to criminalization. We also seek contract language that allows us to exit sites that criminalize our membership.

For the 2024 Annual Meeting, SAW will encourage virtual format submissions (including Roundtable, Conversation, and Interview) and prerecorded individual submissions (now called Talk Presentation) so that SAW conversations can be accessible to all of our membership, regardless of their capacity to shoulder the risk of trans-criminalization. (See overview of presentation types here.)

SAW will still accept and support in-person panel submissions (and Program Chairs cannot see whether a panel is online or virtual when reviewing), because we recognize the differential needs for in-person conferencing and differential capacity to offer solidarity sought by Florida-based members.

SAW will offer online mentoring and networking programs for interested section members.

SAW will conduct our business meeting online to expand access, including to section members who have not registered for the Annual Meeting.

We see this not as a boycott, but as a step towards building more equitable access aligned with the core commitments of the section.

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