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1. President's Letter

EASA President updates members on recent Exec actions.

President's Letter

Dear EASA members

As I write these lines, the amount of grief and anxiety related to violent conflicts in several parts of the world is overwhelming for many of us. I want to acknowledge the emotional toll that the last month has taken on many of us, and reiterate my heartfelt solidarity with all our members and colleagues who have suffered, directly or indirectly, from the violence in Israel/Palestine and elsewhere.

Under these circumstances, it appears more important than ever to enhance anthropology’s relevance in the world, and to allow it to fulfil part of its mission – as Ruth Benedict saw it – to ‘make the world safe for human differences’ through scholarship and public engagement. For that, we have been busy thinking about ways to strengthen EASA’s engagement with the members and with the broader public.

In October, the executive committee met over the duration of several days to chart EASA’s path forward in a world increasingly plagued by conflicts, overlapping crises, and the continuous precarisation of labour. It has become clear that the executive committee as governing structure is too limited in numbers and time to make the association grow and respond adequately to all the challenges that anthropology faces – from academic precarity to the neoliberalisation of the university, and from struggles around academic freedom to the rise of authoritarian governance that also impacts academia. For that reason, we are working towards establishing several working/thinking groups that would involve EASA members on the various domains of activity of the association, from lobby to publishing, and from public engagement to mentorship for early career anthropologists. We believe that by increasing member participation in such structures we can enhance the sustainability of our actions, as well as the democratisation of EASA’s governance, while at the same time raising the next generation of anthropologists in the spirit of service to our discipline. At the same time, we hope that such groups will not be experienced as ‘yet another bureaucratic committee’ whose meetings will burden their members, but as real communities brimming with ideas and dynamism. This is a process that will take some time – and, crucially, your support – but we foresee the set-up of these new structures and the clarification of their working procedures before the next EASA conference. These groups are part of a wider EASA strategy that we started to work on in October. We will soon create spaces of discussion around the strategic directions and the concrete steps to realise it over the next few years, and all members will be able to contribute through feedback and democratic voting.

Besides the work on a longer-term strategy of the association, in the first part of our mandate, we have undertaken steps to strengthen our communication both inward and outward through the appointment of our communication specialist, Rowena Harding. She breathed new life into our social media and imparted knowledge on communication strategies through a social media training dedicated to our networks, which we also opened to representatives of national anthropology associations in Europe. With this initiative, we aim at enhancing the public engagement of our discipline while further building our anthropological community in Europe. In this sense, the organisation of the first European Anthropology Days in February 2024 – about which you can read more in the newsletter – is another step to increase our discipline’s visibility.

Other achievements of our executive committee are described in more detail in the rest of the newsletter. I look forward to seeing many of you at the AGM in December, to tell you more about what the executive committee has been working on in the first half of its mandate, and to receive your feedback and ideas on how to move EASA forward.

All my very best,
Ana Ivasiuc