American Anthropological Association

Published on December 28, 2010 by John

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The American Anthropological Association (AAA) is the world’s largest professional organization of scholars and practitioners in the field of anthropology. With 11,000 members, the Arlington, Virginia based association includes archaeologists, cultural anthropologists, biological (or physical) anthropologists, linguistic anthropologists, linguists, medical anthropologists and applied anthropologists in universities and colleges, research institutions, government agencies, museums, corporations and non-profits throughout the world. The AAA conducts the largest annual meeting of anthropologists and publishes over 20 peer-reviewed scholarly journals, available in print and online through AnthroSource. The AAA was founded in 1902.


According to its articles of incorporation, the AAA was formed to:
…promote the science of anthropology, to stimulate and coordinate the efforts of American anthropologists, to foster local and other societies devoted to anthropology, to serve as a bond among American anthropologists and anthropologic[al] organizations present and prospective, and to publish and encourage the publication of matter pertaining to anthropology.
At its incorporation, the association assumed responsibility for the journal American Anthropologist, created in 1888 by the Anthropological Society of Washington (ASW). By 1905, the journal also served the American Ethnological Society, in addition to the AAA and ASW.
From an initial membership of 175, the AAA grew slowly during the first half of the 20th century. Annual meetings were held primarily in the Northeast and accommodated all attendees in a single room. Since 1950, the AAA’s membership has increased dramatically, now averaging around 11,000. Annual meetings frequently draw over 5,000 individuals, who attend over 500 sessions organized into a five-day program.
The AAA has been a democratic organization since its beginning. Although Franz Boas initially fought to restrict membership to an exclusive group of 40 “professional anthropologists,” the AAA’s first president, W. J. McGee, argued for a more inclusive membership embracing all those who expressed an interest in the discipline. McGee’s vision still guides the association today. Business affairs are now conducted by a 41-member Section Assembly representing each of the association’s constituent sections, and a 15-member Executive Board. This increase in representation reflects the growing diversity of the discipline, which is viewed by many as a source of strength for the association and for American anthropology as a whole. In Richard B. Woodbury’s words, “. . .the AAA has remained the central society for the discipline, addressing with considerable success its increasingly varied interests and speaking for anthropology to other fields, the federal and state governments, and the public.”
The AAA decided in 2010 to strip the word “science” from a statement of its long-range plan. The change was favored by members who study race, ethnicity and gender and see themselves as advocates for native peoples or human rights.


The AAA is composed of 38 sections, which are groups organized around identity affiliations or intellectual interests within the discipline of anthropology. Sections each have an elected president or chair and many publish journals and host meetings./h2>


The AAA today publishes over 20 section publications including, among others, American Anthropologist, American Ethnologist, Cultural Anthropology, Anthropology & Education Quarterly and Medical Anthropology Quarterly. The AAA’s official newspaper, Anthropology News, is published monthly September through May. It has a monthly circulation of 11,000-12,000, including members and individual and institutional subscribers. Since 1962 the association has published the AAA Guide, which lists anthropology departments, with staff and program information. It gradually expanded to include section and association membership directories, information on industry and research firms, government and non-profit agencies and museums, academic statistics and PhDs granted in the discipline. AAA publications are available in print and online through AnthroSource.


Since 1902, the AAA’s meetings have been important venues for the exchange of anthropological knowledge, conducting business and conversing with colleagues from all areas of anthropology. As the AAA has grown, its meetings have expanded. The 2007 annual meeting had an attendance of 5,500 people with 534 sessions. The ability to connect with colleagues remains a major reason for attending the annual meeting, whether those colleagues are other AAA members, members of related societies, publishers, policymakers, employers or media. In recent years, the AAA annual meeting location has alternated between Washington, DC and other U.S. cities. The 2008 annual meeting was held in San Francisco, CA; 2009 in Philadelphia, PA and 2010 in New Orleans, LA. The 2011 meeting will be held in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.


AnthroSource is the online repository of the journals of the American Anthropological Association. Launched in 2004, AnthroSource contains current issues for fifteen of the AAA’s peer-reviewed publications, as well as an archive of the journals, newsletters, and bulletins published by the American Anthropological Association and its member sections. Members of the AAA are given access to AnthroSource as a benefit of membership, and institutions may receive access via paid subscription.
Until August 2007, AnthroSource was a collaboration between the University of California Press and the American Anthropological Association. It, along with all AAA journals, has since been pulled from the University of California Press by the AAA Board and given to Wiley-Blackwell, the new publisher created when John Wiley & Sons purchased Blackwell Publishing in February 2007. Commencing 2008, AnthroSource is to be hosted and managed by Wiley-Blackwell as part of the five-year publishing contract awarded.

Primary peer-reviewed journals

American Anthropologist
American Ethnologist
Anthropology & Education Quarterly
Anthropology & Humanism
Anthropology of Consciousness
Anthropology of Work Review
Archeological Papers of the American Anthropological Association
Central Issues in Anthropology
City & Society
Cultural Anthropology
Culture & Agriculture
El Mensajero
Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology
Journal of Linguistic Anthropology
Journal of the Society for the Anthropology of Europe
Medical Anthropology Quarterly
Museum Anthropology
North American Dialogue
Nutritional Anthropology
PoLAR: Political and Legal Anthropology Review
Transforming Anthropology
Visual Anthropology Review

Past AAA Presidents

William J McGee (1902–1904)
F W Putnam (1905–1906)
Franz Boas (1907–1908)
W H Holmes (1909–1910)
J Walter Fewkes (1911–1912)
Roland B Dixon (1913–1914)
F W Hodge (1915–1916)
Alfred L Kroeber (1917–1918)
Clark Wissler (1919–1920)
W. C. Farabee (1921–1922)
Walter Hough (1923–1924)
Ales Hrdlicka (1925–1926)
Marshall H. Saville (1927–1928)
Alfred M. Tozzer (1929–1930)
George G. MacCurdy (1931)
John R. Swanton (1932)
Fay-Cooper Cole (1933–1934)
Robert H. Lowie (1935)
Herbert J. Spinden (1936)
Nels C. Nelson (1937)
Edward Sapir (1938)
Diamond Jenness (1939)
John M. Cooper (1940)
Elsie Clews Parsons (1941)
A.V. Kidder (1942)
Leslie Spier (1943)
Robert Redfield (1944)
Neil M Judd (1945)
Ralph Linton (1946)
Ruth Benedict (Jan-May 1947)
Clyde Kluckhohn (May-Dec 1947)
Harry L. Shapiro (1948)
A. Irving Hallowell (1949)
Ralph L. Beals (1950)
William W. Howells (1951)
Wendell C. Bennett (1952)
Fred R. Eggan (1953)
John Otis Brew (1954)
George P. Murdock (1955)
Emil W. Haury (1956)
E. Adamson Hoebel (1957)
Harry Hoijer (1958)
Sol Tax (1959)
Margaret Mead (1960)
Gordon R Willey (1961)
Sherwood L. Washburn (1962)
Morris E. Opler (1963)
Leslie A. White (1964)
Alexander Spoehr (1965)
John P. Gillin (1966)
Frederica de Laguna (1967)
Irving Rouse (1968)
Cora DuBois (1969)
George M. Foster, Jr. (1970)
Charles Wagley (1971)
Anthony F. C. Wallace (1972)
Joseph B. Casagrande (1973)
Edward H. Spicer (1974)
Ernestine Friedl (1975)
Walter Goldschmidt (1976)
Richard N. Adams (1977)
Francis L. K. Hsu (1978)
Paul J. Bohannan (1979)
Conrad M. Arensberg (1980)
William C Sturtevant (1981)
M. Margaret Clark (1982)
Dell Hathaway Hymes (1983)
Nancy O. Lurie (1984–1985)
June Helm (1986–1987)
Roy Rappaport (1988–1989)
Jane Buikstra (1989–1991)
Annette Weiner (1991–1993)
James Peacock (1993–1995)
Yolanda T. Moses (1995–1997)
Jane Hill (1997–1999)
Louise Lamphere (1999–2001)
Don Brenneis (2001–2003)
Elizabeth M. Brumfiel (2003–2005)
Alan Goodman (2005–2007)
Setha Low (2007–2009)
Virginia Dominguez (2009–Present)

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