1. Letter from the President
The EASA President summarises the issues the Executive is currently working on.
It is my pleasure and honour to address you with this letter as an incoming President of EASA in 2021-23. When I put forward my name for a new mandate as a new EASA exec committee member – at that point completely unaware that this might as well mean earning your confidence to become a President – I also did that on the back of the achievements of the previous EASA exec led by outgoing President Sarah Green. The previous exec came together with the promise to strengthen its work on the rise of precarious labour, the ever greater need to decolonise the discipline vis-à-vis the rise of new authoritarian and old capitalist forms of oppression and hierarchies within and outside anthropology. While making some steps to address these, we were also faced with further choices to make and positions to take, regarding the discipline’s preparedness to face the new regimes of authorship, fundraising and publication enclosures, the impending climate and labour crises, and all that vis-a-vis the COVID-19 global pandemic that turned our lives - and our conference plans - upside down and accelerated the perils of the analogue and digital developments anthropologists have been discussing all along.
Faced with many of these emergencies, the previous exec had taken at earnest, discussed and made at least some first decisive steps on some of these new topics while continuing to engage with the already existing ones: with events organised, discussions hosted on- and offline and with broader publics, deeper engagement with lobbying processes and democratic decision-making, the outgoing exec will be remembered with its genuine attempt to take in and address critical feedback from the membership. Some bigger challenges remain, however, which not only our discipline, but also the world around us is facing – and, let us not fool ourselves – while winning battles, we are mostly losing the war, day by day. This present exec will still do the best to marshal our effort, together with other members of the anthropological and social sciences community to address these and further emergent issues in anthropology and in Europe, and beyond these rather privileged and confining remit we have. This current newsletter – the preferred form of communication with you, our members, as the survey on social media engagement commissioned by the previous exec showed – is to draw attention to some achievements, some ongoing plans, and some challenges we are facing and changes we are making. We hope that these will all be addressed via active deliberation with our members.
The deeply discomforting (if disturbingly unsurprising) findings of the EASA-PrecAnthro report published by a team led by Martin Fotta will now be addressed further through a new initiative to collect knowledge about and join efforts with kindred associations and efforts to fight precarity in anthropology in Europe and beyond. Our new anti-precarity officers Cris Shore and Fiona Murphy have worked closely with PrecAnthro members to craft this new agenda.
Our lobbying efforts with EU-level lobby groups such as the ISE and the EASSH, has now been strengthened through members of the exec joining the conversations about general directions that the lobby groups in Europe will be taking (EASA exec’s new lobbying officers Sharon McDonald and Chandana Mathur) and working groups on more specific topics such as open science (Monica Heintz), and precarious researchers’ careers (Mariya Ivancheva).
The ‘Code of Conduct’ group emerging around the HAU affair and its repercussions throughout the discipline and PrecAnthro’s watchdog work, have laid the path toward two crucial initiatives such as the now officially accepted Guidelines for Ethical Authorship by Alice Tilche and Rita Astuti, and EASA’s Integrity Committee which Alice Tilche, Insa Koch, and Matan Kaminer join along with two members of EASA exec – David Mills and Fiona Murphy.
Our commitment for deepening the democratic dialogue with EASA’s members throughout the two years between biennial conferences and to reducing our carbon footprint, will also result in a change of the way we conduct our AGM in the year between conferences: with a number of topical webinars carried out throughout the year to discuss emergent topics, and the AGM delivered fully online for members to propose and vote on new initiatives of EASA.
We also plan a discussion of ways ahead for our EASA networks: EASA’s building blocks that define the development and growth of the discipline. Together with network convenors, the new network officers Sharon McDonald and Chandana Mathur will be working toward a solution that can steer the proliferation of networks into productive collaborations that still guarantees funding and support, while encouraging a better network economy and ecology.
The new exec continues the David vs. Goliath struggle against the enclosures on academia and anthropology due to the rise of authoritarian political and capitalist managerial regimes. Our emerging issues officers Chandana Mathur and Cris Shore are joined by our co-opted member Chowra Makaremi, to strengthen our work on scholarship at risk, with Ahmed Samir Santawy’s sentence and UWA’s closure of anthropology as recent cases at stake but also vis-a-vis the currently deepening migrant crisis which will put many more students and scholars at risk of political and economic precarity and vulnerability.. Our publications officers Sharon McDonald and Cris Shore will continue spreading the word about our Social Anthropology/ Anthropologie Sociale journal’s move toward open access with Berghahn, and the EASA Berghahn series under the new leadership of Jelena Tošić, Sabine Strasser, and Annika Lems. Together with NomadIT, our social media officer Fiona Murphy will share news about EASA exec, networks, members, and our website redevelopment.
So, stay tuned, and do share with us any ideas about where you find EASA can make a meaningful intervention. Email monica.heintz(at)gmail.com or where you think anthropologists or EASA exec are getting it wrong, email ethics(at)easaonline.org.
Mariya Ivancheva, July 2021