Should Scholarly Associations Take Political Positions?

Richard A. Shweder, the University of Chicago anthropologist, who is speaking tonight  in Denver at the annual American Anthropological Association convention, is recommending a “no-action” option on Israel/Palestine, meaning that he considers it inappropriate for the Association, as an entity, to support either side of the dispute.

An AAA task force has come down on the other side, unanimously voting against inaction.  Shweder says, “Many of those who agonize over the conflict are motivated by deep sympathies for one side or the other; and because of such attachments they are concerned and eager to find avenues to express their feelings of solidarity, with one side or the other.

It does not follow however that it is appropriate, legitimate, right or good to express such feelings by mobilizing a majority vote of support from individual members of the AAA and then turning it into the unitary corporate voice of the institution.“

UPDATE. At the business meeting of the American Anthropological Association those who showed up voted 1040 to 146 in favor of a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. That vote places the boycott resolution on the Spring ballot of the association and will be sent out to all members.

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