Today’s guest blog post is written by Ed Liebow, Executive Director.
Last July’s Anthropology News mentioned a variety of ways in which AAA leadership is trying to foster dialogue and information exchange among AAA members on anthropologically relevant issues related to Israel/Palestine. We mentioned there that an Open Forum would be held at the Annual Meeting; it has now been scheduled for Thursday 4 December, from 13:00 to 14:15 in the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, Ballroom Salon 2. Our goal is to facilitate dialogue among AAA Members, bringing to bear on the conversation the culture of inquiry and analytical skills characteristic of our profession.
The frame for the discussion is: what issues related to Israel/Palestine are relevant to us as anthropologists, as members of a scholarly association, and to the AAA as an association of anthropologists?
Here is what you can expect at the Open Forum. The hall will be arranged with a number of tables; the hall is large and we can accommodate many small groups. You will be encouraged to sit with people you do not already know well. There will be introductory remarks from Monica Heller, the AAA President, a brief update on the work of the AAA Task Force on Engagement on Issues related to Israel/Palestine by the Task Force chair, AAA Past-President Don Brenneis, and a short explanation of the forum’s format by our lead facilitator, Tarek Maassarani. The process will include an opening round to build trust and familiarity amongst participants; several discussion rounds with prompts to share what questions, knowledge, perspectives, and experiences participants bring to the table; and a reflective closing round to share insights and their relevance beyond this one event.
Participants will also be given index cards that they can place in feedback boxes as they leave the room. Facilitators will be asked to fill out a reflection form immediately following the dialogue to help us better understand what happened at each table. If there is time, we might be able to hear from some of the facilitators before we need to vacate the room. Since the objective at this stage is to foster dialogue among members, we will check badges at the entrance. Executive Board members, Task Force members, Section Assembly leadership and AAA staff will likely attend as observers. We will ask the press to respect our privacy during the Forum, though we are happy for participants to speak to the press (or blog or tweet) before and after the event. We are also open to considering further such events, whether open only to members or not.