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EASA statement in support of PhD stipend extensions

The European Association of Social Anthropologists has noted with concern the wide-ranging negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on researchers' ability to carry out their work, and notably many PhD researchers whose funding is by definition short term. While all disciplines are impacted in unique ways, anthropologists are particularly hindered from carrying out their research. Travel restrictions, as well as limits placed on face-to-face research, have brought most ethnographic field research to a halt and threaten to prevent a new generation of anthropologists from carrying out meaningful research.

This development not only negatively affects researchers directly impacted but will undoubtedly have a detrimental effect on the future of anthropology. While some funding agencies have requested that students "adapt and adjust" their projects in order to complete within their original timeframes without assurance of funded extensions, this is a virtually impossible task for anthropologists. In addition to the professional and personal challenges caused by the global pandemic, anthropologists have discipline-specific requirements that make these expectations impossible to fulfil without substantial extensions. In the vast majority of cases, long-term, immersive and interlocutor-led fieldwork is essential to secure the ethnographic data that researchers need to complete their PhDs to “a doctoral standard,” for such data constitutes the primary research material for almost all anthropology PhD.

It is essential that early career researchers are able to make contributions to the field of anthropology in order to keep their scientific engagement in the global academic community. As a European association committed to the support of sound anthropological research, we urge funding bodies across Europe to offer fully funded extensions of at least six months to PhD students who have been and/or continue to be prevented from collecting data.