EASA Integrity Committee Statement on sexual harassment and bullying

Sexual harassment, bullying and abuse of power are endemic, systemic issues in anthropology departments, as in other parts of higher education.1 Graduate students and other precarious academics, extremely dependent on the goodwill of advisers, mentors and other faculty, are particularly at risk in the workplace - a risk often compounded by those they face while doing fieldwork and at home.2 Institutional frameworks for addressing harassment, abuse and bullying, though crucial, are often weak, complicated and inadequate.3 Hence the profound importance of senior, permanent and tenured scholars actively fostering an atmosphere in which harassment and abuse are not tolerated and complaints are treated with respect, gravity and fairness. The Integrity Committee (IC) of the European Association of Social Anthropology unequivocally recognises the courage of those who step forward with their complaints despite the emotional, professional and political risks attached to doing so. We also recognise that not everyone feels they can speak out due to the calculated logics of institutional protectionism and offer our support to those who feel they have no adequate institutional method of redress.

In pursuance of our terms of reference, which empower us to consider “wider questions of ethics or integrity” for the discipline and to “anticipate emerging issues and future challenges in relation to academic integrity,”4 the IC has been asked to consider the case of the two open letters published by senior anthropologists (and others) in support of Prof. John Comaroff, responding to Harvard’s disciplinary procedures against him on multiple charges of sexual harassment.5 Our response recognizes that this is not a unique case, either within anthropology or in academia more broadly. We believe that we must work collectively against what Sara Ahmed has called ‘institutional fatalism,’ a culture of permissibility which allows some individuals to behave as they wish.6

Without taking any stance on the veracity of the claims against Prof. Comaroff – which are currently under investigation by both Harvard University and the state courts of Massachusetts7 – we are of the view that the letters published in support of Prof. Comaroff were detrimental to the creation of an atmosphere of respect and fairness. The signatories took it upon themselves to adjudicate a case in which much relevant information has not been made public.8 In arguing for Prof. Comaroff’s innocence, the signatories adduced his excellence as a scholar and their personal acquaintance with him. These factors are not only irrelevant; their citation as evidence sends a signal to vulnerable members of the academic community that the facts matter less than the professional status and social network of the accused. Such statements speak to the troubling extent to which patronage networks spanning different geographies and various institutional hierarchies serve as mechanisms of silencing and rank closure9.

We welcome the fact that many of the signatories to these letters subsequently retracted their signatures, citing public and private criticism and acknowledging its merits.10 As such, we do not set out herein to censure any individual in particular. Rather, we wish to sound a clear note that as anthropologists and as academics, professional ethics behoove us not only to refrain from harassment and abuse – that much is obvious – but also to struggle actively to reshape our discipline as an equitable, open and honest field of inquiry in which vertical relations of dependence are tempered to the greatest extent possible by increased transparency, survivor-led repair strategies, and cultivation of horizontal ties of solidarity and trust. We have a long way to go.

As the delegated committee dedicated to addressing wider questions of ethics (that is part of a continent-wide professional association), the Integrity Committee wishes to join other voices in signaling our strong support for institutional initiatives that foster equity and promote justice.11 In addition to compiling a list of practical resources and guidance for those experiencing harassment and solidarity initiatives (see below), we will encourage the EASA Executive to commit additional resources to such initiatives12. We also encourage colleagues who have experienced bullying or harassment, and who have not been able to gain institutional redress through other channels, to reach out to us for support, our email address is ethics(at)easaonline.org.


1 Bondestam, F. and Lundqvist, M. (2020). Sexual harassment in higher education – a systematic review. European Journal of Higher Education, [online] 10(4), pp.1–23. Available at: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/21568235.2020.1729833.

2 fieldworkinitiative.org. (2020). Handbooks and Reading Lists | The Fieldwork Initiative. [online] Available at: http://fieldworkinitiative.org/handbooks-reading-lists/ [Accessed 26 Apr. 2022].

3 Ahmed, S. (2021). Complaint. Duke University Press: USA.

4 See “Terms of Reference of the Integrity Committee,” Arts. a.ii., h., in “Call for applications for the Integrity Committee,” EASA Online, 14 September 2021.

5 Isabella B. Cho and Ariel H. Kim, “38 Harvard Faculty Sign Open Letter Questioning Results of Misconduct Investigations into Prof. John Comaroff,” Harvard Crimson, 4 February 2022; Carolyn Abbate et al., “Open Letter from Concerned Faculty,” n.d. (late January 2022), PDF; Daniel Herwitz et al., “Letter: Against Harvard's Kangaroo Court,” National Association of Scholars Blog, 2 February 2022.

6 Ahmed, S. (2021). Complaint. Duke University Press: USA, pg 164.

7 Isabella B. Cho and Ariel H. Kim, “Lawsuit Alleges Harvard Ignored Sexual Harassment Complaints Against Prof. John Comaroff for Years,” Harvard Crimson, 9 February 2022.

8 Letter from Dean Claudine Gay to Professor Ingrid Monson et al., 3 February 2022, PDF. This fact was recognized by the signatories to the retraction letter (see below).

9 Walters, Holly. (2022). #MeToo Anthropology and the Case Against Harvard. [online] SAPIENS. Available at: https://www.sapiens.org/culture/metoo-anthropology/; Allegra Lab. On the use and abuse of networks in academia. February 2022 https://allegralaboratory.net/on-the-use-and-abuse-of-networks-in-academia/ [Accessed 26 Apr. 2022].

10 Carolyn Abbate et al., “We Retract,” n.d. (early February 2022), PDF

11 See, e.g., PrecAnthro Collective Statement, 16 February 2022; Australian Anthropological Society Executive Committee, “Statement Against Sexual Harassment and Assault,” 15 March 2022.

12 This list of resources will be expanded by both the integrity committee and a consultant researcher.

Sample of Resources (to be expanded)

General overview/systematic review articles

Aguilar, S.J. and Baek, C. (2020). Sexual harassment in academe is underreported, especially by students in the life and physical sciences. PLOS ONE, 15(3), p.e0230312.

Bondestam, F. and Lundqvist, M. (2020). Sexual harassment in higher education – a systematic review. European Journal of Higher Education, [online] 10(4), pp.1–23. Available at: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/21568235.2020.1729833.

Bull, A. and Page, T. (2021). The Governance of Complaints in UK Higher Education: Critically Examining ‘Remedies’ for Staff Sexual Misconduct. Social & Legal Studies, p.096466392110022.

Dykstra-DeVette, T.A. and Tarin, C. (2019). Isolating Structures of Sexual Harassment in Crowdsourced Data on Higher Education. Women’s Studies in Communication, 42(3), pp.371–393.

Gender-Based Violence Specially Sexual Harassment Prevention In Higher Educational Institution. (2021). Journal of Humanities & Social Sciences, 4(2).

Page, T., Bull, A. and Chapman, E. (2019). Making Power Visible: ‘Slow Activism’ to Address Staff Sexual Misconduct in Higher Education. Violence Against Women, 25(11), pp.1309–1330.

Prothero, A. and Tadajewski, M. (2021). #MeToo and beyond: inequality and injustice in marketing practice and academia. Journal of Marketing Management, 37(1-2), pp.1–20.

Shandy, D. and Torres, M.G. (2021). Rules Matter: How Can Professional Associations Remap Intracommunity Norms around Sexual Violence? Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 47(1), pp.209–234.

Sundaram, V. and Jackson, C. (2018). ‘Monstrous men’ and ‘sex scandals’: the myth of exceptional deviance in sexual harassment and violence in education. Palgrave Communications, 4(1).

Torres, M.G. and Shandy, D. (2019). Transforming Teaching towards Empowered Learning: What #MeToo Taught Us about Anthropology. Teaching and Learning Anthropology, 2(2).

Veer, E., Zahrai, K. and Stevens, S. (2020). I stood by: the role of allies in developing an inclusive and supportive academic environment post #MeToo. Journal of Marketing Management, 37(1-2), pp.162–179.

Young, S. and Wiley, K. (2021). Erased: ending faculty sexual misconduct in academia: an open letter from women of public affairs education. Public Management Review, 23(6), pp.797–801.

Sample of online writing

Cantrell, K. (2018). #MeToo: Sexual harassment by students can no longer be ignored. Retrieved October 30, 2020, from https://www.timeshighereducation.com/features/metoo-sexual-harassment-students-can-no-longer-be-ignored.[Accessed 26 Apr. 2022].

Chakravartty, P. (2022). Academic Hierarchies and Harassment. [online] Medium. Available at: https://medium.com/@pauchakravartty/academic-hierarchies-and-harassment-f39c66b72b08 [Accessed 26 Apr. 2022].

Jacobs, S. (2022). “Letters of Recommendation”. Retrieved from https://africasacountry.com/2022/02/letters-of-recommendation [Accessed 26 Apr. 2022].

Leighton, M. (2022). Coping with Conflictual Reactions to the Comaroff Story. [online] Mary Leighton. Available at: https://www.maryleighton.com/post/coping-with-conflictual-reactions-to-the-comaroff-story [Accessed 26 Apr. 2022].

Walters, H. (2022). #MeToo Anthropology and the Case Against Harvard. [online] SAPIENS. Available at: https://www.sapiens.org/culture/metoo-anthropology/ [Accessed 26 Apr. 2022].

Sample of Anthropology statements on sexual harrassment and bullying

American Anthropological Association’s Policy on Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault. (n.d.). [online] Available at: http://s3.amazonaws.com/rdcms-aaa/files/production/public/AAA_SH_Policy_2018.pdf [Accessed 26 Apr. 2022].

physanth.org. (n.d.). AABA Statements on Sexual and Other Harassment. [online] Available at: https://physanth.org/about/position-statements/sexual-and-other-harassment/ [Accessed 26 Apr. 2022].

Society for Medical Anthropology. (2020). Society for Medical Anthropology: Anti-Harassment Policy. [online] Available at: https://medanthro.net/policy/sma-anti-harassment-policy/ [Accessed 26 Apr. 2022].

Sample of databases

Kelsky, K. (2017). A crowdsourced survey of sexual harassment in the academy. Retrieved from https://theprofessorisin.com/2017/12/01/a-crowdsourced-survey-of-sexual-harassment-in-the-academy/ (accessed April 24th, 2022).

Libarkin, J. (2019). Academic Sexual Misconduct Database. https://academic-sexual-misconduct-database.org (accessed April 24th, 2022).

Fieldwork and training guides (compiled by anthropologists)

fieldworkinitiative.org. (2020). Handbooks and Reading Lists | The Fieldwork Initiative. [online] Available at: http://fieldworkinitiative.org/handbooks-reading-lists/ [Accessed 26 Apr. 2022].

metooanthro. (2018). Training Guides. [online] Available at: https://metooanthro.wordpress.com/training-guides/ [Accessed 26 Apr. 2022].

Quinn, Naomi, (n.d.) "What to Do About Sexual Harassment: A Short Course for Chairs." Available at: https://www.americananthro.org/ParticipateAndAdvocate/Content.aspx?ItemNumber=2151[Accessed 26 Apr. 2022].


Dick, K. (2015). The hunting ground. Lantern Entertainment.

Sample of EU reporting on sexual harrassment and bullying

Arenas et al. (2015.) Definitions and legislation on sexual harassment across EU countries https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4678195/ [Accessed 26 Apr. 2022].

Arenas, A., Giorgi, G., Montani, F., Mancuso, S., Perez, J.F., Mucci, N. and Arcangeli, G. (2015). Workplace Bullying in a Sample of Italian and Spanish Employees and Its Relationship with Job Satisfaction, and Psychological Well-Being. Frontiers in Psychology, [online] 6. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4678195/ [Accessed 19 May 2019].

Eurofound (2015). Violence and harassment in the European workplaces: Causes, impacts and policies, Dublin. https://www.eurofound.europa.eu/sites/default/files/ef_comparative_analytical_report/field_ef_documents/ef1473en.pdf [Accessed 26 Apr. 2022].

Framework Agreement on Harassment and Violence at Work: https://www.etuc.org/en/framework-agreement-harassment-and-violence-work [Accessed 26 Apr. 2022].

Union, P.O. of the E. (2018). Bullying and sexual harassment at the workplace, in public spaces, and in political life in the EU. [online] op.europa.eu. Available at: https://op.europa.eu/en/publication-detail/-/publication/8b1bb35a-5801-11e8-ab41-01aa75ed71a1.

Køhlert, BG. (2020) . ‘Bologna Ministerial Conference’ recommends the set up of higher education Ombuds within the European Higher Education Area – ENOHE. [online] Available at: http://www.enohe.net/2020/12/bologna-ministerial-conference-recommends-the-set-up-of-higher-education-ombuds-within-the-european-higher-education-area/ [Accessed 26 Apr. 2022].