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1. President’s letter

EASA President updates members on recent Exec actions.


Dear members, 

It has been a busy few months since our last AGM in December, and a few important developments for our association are worth mentioning. 

We have been busy continuing the work undertaken by our executive to draft a strategy for our association that will put crucial issues on the table and provide a clear orientation for future executive committees. We have given impetus to - and lightly coordinated, together with a number of national associations - the first European Anthropology Days in February. A number of inspiring events have taken place within this framework. For instance, the Association of Portuguese Anthropologists organised a conference reflecting on heritage and cultures of oil; I saluted our Portuguese colleagues for having chosen this topic as one of crucial importance in our current historical moment, where public anthropology seems more important than ever. 

Those of you who were present at the AGM in December remember the Motion that a group of EASA members put forward, Motion to create a Working Group on Human Rights and Academic Freedom, to advise the Executive Committee on such matters. The Motion, proposing the modus operandi of the Working Group, is now open to the members’ vote on our website. We waited with the opening of the voting procedure to make sure that more people will have access to this right following the renewal of the yearly membership dues in February. I take this opportunity to thank those involved in this important initiative, not only because it is a topic that concerns the work of many anthropologists, but also because initiatives like this make EASA a lively community that takes matters of human rights to heart. I therefore invite you all to exercise your democratic right to vote and express your choice with regards to the Motion.

Our EASA executive team will undergo some changes soon, as the mandates of our Secretary, Monica Heintz, and our Treasurer, David Mills, come to a close. We are looking for new, dedicated colleagues to work with us and undertake these crucial roles in the association; more on the requirements and the recruitment process below. 

One of the initiatives we are undertaking during our mandate is the organisation of a mentorship programme for early career scholars. The initiative is still in its early development stage, but the first step in fostering the next generation of anthropologists is a summer school in experimental ethnography organised around EASA2024 in Barcelona. We are excited to present to you the summer school and detail the application process in this newsletter, and we encourage you to disseminate the news among your PhD students. EASA is financially supporting the summer school, offering partial bursaries to students in need. 

Our Local Committee for EASA2024, together with our wonderful team at NomadIT have been busy with the organisation of what looks like the biggest EASA conference yet. We put that down to the attraction of Barcelona, certainly, but also to the generous and inspiring topic the Local Committee has chosen for the conference in a moment that feels like the undoing of certain worlds and the doing of others. We also spur the sense that the current moment demands of us collective action and the forging of a community around our goals. Many colleagues feel that EASA2024 will be the place where a number of important conversations will take place: around what kinds of public anthropology EASA should promote, or how best to resist the authoritarian backlash against academic freedom that is currently taking place in several national contexts. 

This brings me to some of the worrying developments that EASA has recently been vocal against. In February, the Max Planck Society terminated Prof. Ghassan Hage’s contract with the Max Planck Institute of Social Anthropology in Halle, accusing him of antisemitism for his public views on Palestine. Together with many colleagues who have written in their own names or in the names of their associations, EASA has stood by Prof. Ghassan Hage and wrote a letter to the management of the MPS. We want to emphasise that we see this not as a single event directed at a high profile academic; we know of other cases in which anthropologists have been intimidated by the management of their universities for simply signing some of the numerous petitions that have circulated online and expressed criticism at the state violence directed against Palestinians. This is a worrying backlash against critical, reflexive scholarship, against certain kinds of public anthropology, and against academic freedom, and EASA is taking a clear stance against censorship and the intimidation of our colleagues, especially in German-speaking academia. We salute the statement issued in this sense by our colleagues at the DGSKA, and stand by their side in opposing the recent authoritarian turn in German academia. 

Recently, two anthropology departments in the United Kingdom have been threatened by either total or partial closure: Kent University and Goldsmiths. We are following closely the developments and support our colleagues threatened by redundancy to organise against the decisions of their university management. If you have not done so yet, I strongly encourage you to sign the petition in defence of the Kent anthropology department, as well as to follow the developments at Goldsmiths. We stand in full solidarity with our colleagues and welcome any initiative to resist the neoliberal developments we are witnessing. 

Our solidarity extends globally too, as we stand with our colleagues in Argentina. The new government has threatened to cut the budget for science, affecting all academic areas, anthropology included. Argentinian colleagues have mobilised to request letters and videos of support for their work, and EASA has sent its own letter, to be presented to the Argentine government. We encourage you to express your support for Argentine science and send your own messages to This address is used not only for STEM, but for all scientific domains. 

I close my letter to you with a message of resistance and solidarity in the face of these developments and those to come, in a world that seems on the verge of major shifts. I know anthropology has much to offer in defence of life, of critical questioning, and of collective action. It has the potential to imagine coming, better worlds, and to make them possible. As anthropologist David Graeber - whose birth we commemorated on 12 February - said: “The ultimate, hidden truth of the world, is that it is something that we make, and could just as easily make differently.”