The committee constitutes a forum in which respect for human rights and social justice issues can be included as a part of all anthropological inquiry. It serves SfAA members by establishing a community of anthropologists and interested collaborators who bring up-to-date and urgent actionable items to their attention, along with the recommendations of the people and resources they may need. Applied anthropologists often work at community-based or grassroots levels on social justice issues, and are therefore in position to serve as educators and facilitators in many areas (e.g., the right to health care for immigrants, labor rights, the rights and protection of researchers from retribution, health care rights). A primary goal of this standing committee is for SfAA to play a pivotal role in building collaborative relationships with human rights and professional associations, develop and provide resources to its members, and create a community of people dedicated to social justice issues.
To this end, the committee – apart from promoting human rights and social justice – does not take stances on specific issues brought to its attention. It does screen and provide information about them to the SfAA and its constituents. As appropriate, and upon the request of the board, the committee works in collaboration with the Public Policy Committee. As part of its educational mandate, columns are written by committee members (or their assignees) for each edition of the SfAA Newsletter regarding issues of importance, including sessions at SfAA annual meetings. The Committee also commissions Issue Briefings on timely and pertinent topics, and posts these Issue Briefings on the Committee’s website.
SfAA members are encouraged by the committee to contribute to the perpetuation of human rights and social justice in the following ways:
Applied research, on such topics as labor rights
Identification of “actionable items,” such as IDP struggles within Zaire
Advocacy, about such issues as health care reform in the context of HIV/AIDS
Teaching, about such issues as humanitarian intervention in emergent wars
Presentations, particularly panels held at SfAA annual meetings
Trainings to help SfAA members build their “activist toolkit” – such as how to work with the media, doing public advocacy, etc.
Building collaborative relationships, e.g. the AAA’s Committee for Human Rights.
Awarding the Human Rights Defender award to graduate student members
Ensuring ethical oversight of SfAA practice regarding contracting with hotels, etc.
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