Alisse Waterston, AAA President, CUNY John Jay College
Last November (2016) my president’s letter to AAA members announced a new project: PIFFT: the Palestine Israel Fellowship Fund for Travel, one among several Board-approved actions AAA has taken to engage as an Association with the political situation in Israel Palestine.
I am thrilled to announce that PIFFT is now launched—today is opening day for PIFFT applications! Deadline to submit a completed application is June 5.
In the first instance, PIFFT is designed to support Palestinian scholars. It may also support those dissenting Israeli scholars whose academic freedom is limited. As documented by the AAA Task Force on Israel Palestine report, there are Israeli scholars who feel silenced—unable to speak up against Israeli policies and practices. When they “dissent,” they are punished or threatened with punishment; it is these Israeli scholars that the Fund seeks to support. Finally, the Fund may support visiting scholars to the region who face the obstructions and obstacles noted above.
We’ve worked diligently over the past 6 months to raise the minimum funds necessary to get PIFFT off the ground. It took some doing, but by means of generous donations from over fifty people—most but not all AAA members—we are able to award the first fellowship this year.
I can’t think of a better setting than Washington, DC or a better venue than the Annual Meeting on Anthropology Matters! to greet the first PIFFT scholar or student. As your AAA president, it will be my honor to do so.
PIFFT is a great opportunity to make a dent and a difference. We can make a dent in overcoming obstructions and obstacles to academic freedom, and a difference in the lives and work of those who otherwise would be unable to engage in scholarly exchange. By means of PIFFT, we have the chance to do our bit to include the excluded in scholarly exchange.
If you fit the criteria for a PIFFT award, please submit your application. If you know scholars and students who fit the criteria, please urge them to apply. For all: please share this great news widely on your social media platforms!