Eric Bailey
Human Rights and Social Justice Committee Chair 

As Chair of the Human Rights and Social Justice (HRSJ) Committee, I would like to submit my observations and initial comments from this year’s Society for Applied Anthropology (SfAA) meetings in Portland, Oregon. As Chair for the past year, I have learned a lot about my new role and the responsibilities that it takes to keep a special committee functioning throughout the year and contributing to the annual SfAA meetings.

One of the major functions as chair of a SfAA committee is to organize the set number of papers assigned to your committee (i.e. HRSJ) into different categories so that they all fit into a particular session. Several months ago, I received this list from SfAA and organized the set of papers into a total of eight sessions all related to the issues of human rights and social justice. Doing this for the first time, I wondered for a few months whether I was successful in completing this major function as chair.

To my pleasant surprise, I believe that the sessions that I was able to attend during the SfAA meetings fulfilled this objective. As I observed and participated in the designated HRSJ sessions such as Global Health Inequities, Gender Issues and Activism, Political Conflicts with Indigenous Rights, and Homelessness and Systemic Injustices – each had their audiences engaged in the presenters’ paper presentation and discussion. That felt good to experience and see for myself.

Another major function of chair of a SfAA committee is to support student involvement in the SfAA meetings. During the SfAA business meeting, it was a joy to see the recipient of our Human Rights Defender Award – Alessia Gonzalez – receive her award and her reactions. She was truly pleased with the recognition as I hurriedly took her photo with out-going President Alexander Ervin. 

In my effort to start a new tradition for the HRSJ Committee, our members and I decided to establish a new student award called “The HRSJ Innovative Award.” This proposed new student award is designed to recognize STUDENT POSTER PRESENTATIONS that are focused on human rights and social justice issues at the SfAA meetings. Along with the award comes a $250 to $500 check as well. 

In order to accomplish this new student award, however, I learned from SfAA Executive Director and Treasurer -- Neil Hann and Jennifer Weis --  the procedure and steps in getting this award established within SfAA. I therefore had a special meeting with Neil and Jennifer to talk about it on Thursday. It was an informative, delightful, and fun meeting we had in one of the meeting rooms at the conference.

Basically, what I learned from our meeting was that we need to raise about $5,000 to get the student award established and sustained for several years. I therefore proposed that our HRSJ committee can start a campaign for the next 2 years to raise the necessary funds to get our new student award – THE HRSJ INNOVATIVE AWARD – established within SfAA so that future students can be recognized for their research on human rights and social justice issues. 

At the conclusion of the meeting, we all agreed and I informed them that I will start off the campaign by donating $200. I also asked Neil and Jennifer if we could take a SELFIE together to document the beginning our new student HRSJ INNOVATIVE AWARD! 

Check out our Selfie!

Selfie with Eric Bailey, Chair of the HRSJ Committee; Neil Hann, Executive Director; and Jennifer Weis, SfAA Treasurer

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