As you may be aware, CSAS has been in a precarious position for some time. For years, we have had difficulty meeting the AAA’s minimum membership number of 225. The 2019 spring meeting was financially problematic, and the Society went seriously into debt. That was partially addressed by a generous bequest from the estate of Ray Fogelson, which reduced the section’s debt to approximately $3,000. The 2020 meeting, which had been structured to alleviate most of the remainder had to be cancelled. More recently, for reasons that are still unclear to many of us, several board members, including the president, president-elect, and secretary-treasurer resigned, leaving something of a leadership vacuum. In an effort to address this predicament, the remaining board members and officers as well as some of the past presidents formed an ad hoc group to discuss CSAS’s future.
On Friday July 24th, a half dozen members of that group met via Zoom with AAA Executive Director Ed Liebow, Section Assembly Convener Elisa Sobo, Chief Financial Officer Elaine Lynch, and AAA Organizational Governance Manager Kim Baker. The reasonable and practical way for CSAS to continue seems to be to move under the aegis of the General Anthropology Division (GAD) as one of its sub-sections. If this is done, AAA will absorb the remaining debt. CSAS could continue to administer its awards, including the endowed White and Dillingham funds, and organize meetings. We would also have a representative on the GAD Board.
A couple of us have spoken with GAD President Anthony Kwame Harrison and President-elect Jennifer Cool, both of whom have expressed strong interest in our merging. CSAS and GAD both are committed to collegiality among anthropologists of all five of the customary fields. With encouragement from the AAA’s central leadership, we hope soon to enter a formal conversation with GAD to explore structural and operational details. While no outcomes can be guaranteed, it is our hope to negotiate a solution that will cause only minor alterations to the benefits of membership. The current section fee for GAD is only $5 more than that for CSAS, and we will try to retain both the annual conference, which many of us believe is important for networking and the opportunities it provides students, and our semi-annual Bulletin. Meanwhile, we in the CSAS working group will be happy to hear from you on the proposed solution to the present problems: email Rick Feinberg <[email protected]> or Alice Kehoe <[email protected]>.
With best wishes to you all,