Dear AWA Members,
The AWA Board is monitoring what is happening at the SAA 2021 Annual Meeting. The SAA decided to platform anti-NAGPRA and anti-Indigenous proponents in a general session entitled, “Curation, Repatriation, and Accessibility: Vital Ethical Conversations” under the guise of “providing a space to offer diverse viewpoints.”
The AWA stands with our Indigenous and non-Indigenous students, scholars, and colleagues in objecting to the SAA platforming this paper. The AWA supports NAGPRA unequivocally and recognizes that it does not go far enough to address colonialism in archaeology. Additionally, the SAA should not have allowed this paper to have been presented, as 1) the submitted abstract should have alerted the conference committee to a non-inclusive fringe topic, and 2) objections were sent to the Annual Meeting’s Ombudsman earlier in the day with time to cancel the presentation.
The AWA Board of Directors will follow up this brief announcement with a more comprehensive statement in opposition to SAA’s decision to platform anti-NAGPRA and anti-Indigenous activists at their Annual Meeting.
The AWA Board of Directors
In order to improve diversity and inclusion within AWA, the AWA Diversity Committee understands that our organization should provide more inclusive spaces to welcome, hear, and appreciate underrepresented voices. It is clear that AWA member benefits, such as networking, fellowship, and mentoring, are not currently shared equally across the membership. Some AWA members who are impacted by racism and/or discrimination do not feel comfortable participating in the AWA. One way that AWA hopes it can enhance the experience of our members is to provide opportunities to host and participate in free, respectful, enjoyable, and productive Community Group conversations and events.
The AWA encourages all members who have felt marginalized or underrepresented in our organization to come together to network, learn, build common ground, collaborate, share resources, grow professionally, give guidance, and support one another. Joining a Community Group is a great way to meet other archaeologists and cultural-minded individuals who share your interests and experiences. The AWA Community Groups are member-led groups that form around shared interests, issues, and backgrounds. Any AWA member can self-select to participate in one or more Community Group(s). The Community Groups will not be asked to do anti-racism, equity, or social justice work for AWA. Rather the AWA hopes to establish these intentional spaces for minorities in archaeology (members and non-members) to use in whatever way is needed.
Examples of Community Groups that might form include:
The list above includes a few examples of possible future Community Groups. If you are interested in forming a Community Group within AWA, please email the Diversity Committee Chair, David Carlson at awadiversity[at]gmail.com. The AWA will support Community Groups by providing a free environment to meet (virtually during COVID-19). Sponsorship of a Community Group can be anonymous – just create an email. Sponsorship of a Community Group does not mean that the sponsor must lead the group. A sponsor can solicit a single leader from interested participants or co-organizers may be identified as the group develops. Each group will decide how and when they meet. The groups can rename based on the affinities of the participants. The AWA Diversity Committee will help the Community Group sponsors/organizers schedule meetings, post information on the AWA website, distribute meeting ground rules and harassment policies, and make announcements to the membership via email, as requested.
Stay tuned if you want to participate in a Community Group, but you do not want to be a sponsor or organizer. You will be able to reach out to the Community Groups via email after they have formed. Look for updates on the AWA website in 2021. You may also reach out to the Diversity Committee Chair, David Carlson at awadiversity[at]gmail.com for additional information.
*The term LatinX is used as a gender-neutral or nonbinary alternative to Latino or Latina. While LatinX is considered to be more gender inclusive, the AWA recognizes that it may not be the preferred term for all people and that no single term adequately represents every one of Latin American and Mexican origin or descent