American Anthropological Association

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Boasian anthropology
American Anthropological Association
Boasian anthropology
Cultural relativism
Franz Boas
Noble savage
Race denialism
Recent African origin
of modern humans
Statement on "Race"
The Race Question

The American Anthropological Association (AAA) is an anthropological organization in the United States.

The organization promotes political correctness on various issues. One tactic is the organization (or just its leadership) issuing political correct statements on various issues, which cite no sources as evidence for the controversial claims made. It also engages in various other forms of politically correct activism.

Boasian anthropology

The organization is closely associated with Boasian anthropology. See the article on this regarding various topics related to the AAA, including the 2010 controversy regarding whether "science" should be part of the AAA's mission, as well as the increasing conflicts between the increasingly dominant cultural anthropology field and other anthropological fields.

The AAA's supposedly scholarly journals (or at least the cultural anthropology ones) are still filled with positive references to discredited pseudosciences, such as Marxism and psychoanalysis.

Race denialism

In response to The Bell Curve and race and intelligence public debates, the AAA in 1994 issued a "Statement on "Race" and Intelligence" and in 1998 issued a "Statement on "Race"". Neither of these brief, politically correct statements cited any sources for the claims made.

The "Statement on "Race"" is one example of just the AAA leadership proclaiming a controversial statement without sources, but that is often framed as being supported by every AAA member. See the article on the statement regarding more details.

A today less well-known book and public debate is the 1961 book Race and Reason: A Yankee View and the related public debate. The AAA and associated organizations in response issued race denialist statements, such as in 1962, when "the American Association of Physical Anthropologists voted to “deplore the misuse of science to advocate racism.” The president of the association and chairman of the meeting that passed the vote was Carleton Coon, who taught at the University of Pennsylvania and was the author of The Story of Man and The Origin of Races. He and Putnam were kinsmen, and agreed on many matters. Coon asked how many of the assembled anthropologists had read the book they were condemning; only one raised his hand. Later Coon wrote: “There they were, some of them old and trusted friends, apparently as brainwashed as Pavlov’s puppies. . . . told my fellow members that I would no longer preside over such a craven lot, and resigned from the presidency.”"[1]

See Arguments regarding the existence of races: Views of scientists on surveys of AAA members views of and knowledge of race. See in particular the section "2013 AAA survey", on a 2013 survey that found widespread lack of basic knowledge of race and genetic population research by AAA members.

The AAA currently actively promotes race denialism through various methods, such as educational projects aimed at the general public.

Other statements

The AAA has also issued statements on various other issues. Examples include statements

  • condemning the Cuban trade embargo
  • demanding ending the use of Amerindian nicknames, logos, and mascots by sports organizations
  • demanding "Language Rights" for non-English languages in the United States
  • opposing a constitutional amendment limiting marriage to heterosexual couples
  • supporting politically correct views on climate change and its effects

Chagnon controversy

A task force of the AAA in 2002 made various accusations against the well-known anthropologist Napoleon Chagnon. In 2005, however, the AAA rescinded the acceptance of the 2002 report.

A historian of medicine and science concluded after a year of research that the American Anthropological Association was complicit and irresponsible in helping spread falsehoods and not protecting "scholars from baseless and sensationalistic charges".[2]

Possibly related is that Chagnon's work on the Yanomamö Amerindians has been less politically correct. Most controversial has been his claim that the Yanomamö society is particularly violent, and his claim that this feature of their culture is grounded in biological differences that are the result of natural selection.[3]

Chagnon in his autobiographical book Noble Savages: My Life Among Two Dangerous Tribes -- the Yanomamo and the Anthropologists criticized cultural anthropology for having traded its scientific mission for political activism.

In an interview he stated that "I was threatening the general attitude within anthropology that all native peoples are pacific and live an angelic kind of life, gliding through the jungle with lithe, scented bodies, being altruistic, sharing their food, and willing to cooperate with the stranger that comes in and wants to learn about them and their culture, and anxious to share their knowledge and life histories with that stranger."[4]

See also the article Noble savage.

Illegal immigration

In 2010, the AAA Executive Board issued a resolution that declared Arizona's SB1070 (an anti-illegal immigration law) to be "unconstitutional." The Board stated that it would "boycott" Arizona, but would not boycott "Indian Reservations" within the state. It also stated that "The AAA has a long and rich history of supporting policies that prohibit discrimination based on...national origin...".

Human rights

The AAA was initially highly skeptical of universal human rights and in 1947 issued a statement expressing this. In part, this was due to fears that Western culture and legal tradition would be seen as superior as well as the Boasian concept of "cultural relativism". In part, it may have been due to fear that human rights would be used against Communism and the Communist states, with many anthropologists openly being Marxists or to some degree being influenced by Marxism. More recently, the AAA has become more positive, now interpreting universal human rights as supporting various leftist, politically correct, and Cultural Marxist views.

Failed Israel boycott

In 2016, a proposal to academically boycott Israel was narrowly defeated. In part this was due to intense outside lobbying by the Israel lobby.

See also the article on Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions.

External links

Chagnon controversy


  1. The Fight Against Integration
  2. Dreger, Alice (2011). "Darkness's Descent on the American Anthropological Association". Human Nature. 22 (3): 225–246. doi:10.1007/s12110-011-9103-y. PMC 3178026Freely accessible. PMID 21966181.
  3. Eakin, Emily (13 February 2013). "How Napoleon Chagnon Became Our Most Controversial Anthropologist". New York Times.
  4. Napoleon Chagnon and the Struggle for Scientific Anthropology
Part of this article consists of modified text from Wikipedia, and the article is therefore licensed under GFDL.