WCAA over the past three years

Gordon Mathews, Chair WCAA
Sept. 2023
With input from the WCAA OC and from Isaac Nyamongo, Previous Chair

The World Council of Anthropological Associations is an association of anthropological associations from around the world, an integral part of WAU, the World Anthropological Union, along with IUAES.  Each associational member of WCAA is represented by a delegate: a president or representative. As of 2023, there are 56 member associations, representing tens of thousands of anthropologists in their membership.  One key endeavor of WCAA has been to work to create a level playing field for anthropologists around the world to counteract the effects of Anglo-American hegemony; we seek to make anthropology a truly global discipline. 

Over the past three years, the WCAA has responded to the Covid-19 pandemic by making its meetings either on-line or hybrid. This has included our elections for new members of the WCAA Organizing Committee, Chair, and Vice-Chair. Conducting these functions on-line has had the effect of easing inequalities in funding of Global North and Global South, since delegates need not fly to distant locations. At present, WCAA continues to explore ways to have hybrid meetings at anthropological conferences worldwide, including those of IUAES and AAA.  It also continues to explore funding opportunities to enable its delegates to meet in person.  Over the past two years WCAA has held on-line delegates meetings 2-3 times per year, and now expects to increase these to 4 per year. 

WCAA has over the past three years established a lively webinar series on a bimonthly basis, on anthropological topics of global interest, consisting of 4-6 anthropologists from societies around the world discussing topics ranging from human rights to anthropology and the natural world, to anthropologists on the war in Ukraine, to anthropology and gender, to anthropology and global hegemony, to anthropology and refugees, to a range of additional topics. These webinars are held live on-line but are also available on Youtube and other platforms, where they have a wide audience. WCAA has also co-sponsored the multilingual webinars of Anthropen over the past two years, on such topics as Privilege, and Minoritization, which also have drawn a broad audience.  WCAA has been very actively publicizing these and other of its events on social media.

WCAA continues to publish on its website the yearly journal Déjà Lu, consisting of open-access reprints from anthropological journals around the world as chosen by the editors of these journals.  The purpose of Déjà Lu is to enable anthropological articles worldwide to be on a common platform, read free of charge.  Its latest 2023 issue consists of 43 articles in English and also in Spanish, German, Chinese, Japanese, and other languages. WCAA also publishes a quarterly newsletter portraying the various activities and initiatives of different anthropological associations around the world, as available on the WCAA website.  

The activities of the WCAA involve Task Forces on ongoing matters of concern to anthropologists.  The Making Anthropology Global Task Force published its report on “Comparing the Situation of Anthropologists Around the World” on the WCAA website in 2023, and also gave a WCAA webinar on this topic.  The Council on Publishing has organized two WCAA webinars in 2023 in which editors of anthropological journals around the world shared their insights and their disagreements; it has also investigated In 2021, the makeup of editorial boards of anthropology journals, looking to find global diversity and significant representation of anthropologists producing knowledge from the Global South.  The Task Force on Global Cultural Policies has also been very active, publishing in 2023 the special issue “Anthropological Perspectives on Covid 19” in Issues in Ethnology and Anthropology, based on papers originally presented at the Yucatan IUAES-WAU Congress. The Task Force on Precarity has organized roundtables at anthropological conferences around the world over the past three years and is now also proceeding on a special issue in an anthropological journal.  

The WCAA responds to global anthropological issues by writing letters to relevant authorities, on matters ranging from the persecution of anthropologists around the world to statements about governmental policies affecting anthropology. It has sent numerous such letters in conjunction with its sister association, IUAES. As WCAA and IUAES become increasingly integrated into a single organization, the World Anthropological Union, the activities of our separate organizations will become increasingly blurred; already we share a common platform on our website, of WCAA/WAU/IUAES.  This has already happened with the WCAA webinars, which as of early 2023 became WAU webinars.  There have been some hiccups in the integration of  WCAA and IUAES into WAU, but this integration is what all of us are ultimately aiming for—a single organization that will represent global anthropology.  


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