At the AAPA business meeting at the 87th Annual
Meeting in Austin Texas (Friday, April 13, 2018), the Executive Committee stated
its intention to hold a non-binding survey of all AAPA members to assess their
opinions on whether the AAPA should change its name, and if so, what that name
- The purpose of this non-binding survey is to allow all
members to express their opinion on this important issue.
- Based on the outcome of this survey, the Executive Committee
will hold a binding vote of members of the association (all regular members) on whether
the name should be changed and what the name should be.
- Depending on the results of the binding vote, the Executive
Committee will initiate the name change
procedures at the 88th annual
business meeting in Cleveland, Ohio (March 29, 2019).
- In accordance with the AAPA bylaws, a final vote on name
change will be held at the 89th annual business meeting in Los
Angeles, CA (April 17, 2020).
You can access the survey here. Before you participate
in this survey, please read the following and familiarize yourself with the
The main issues are:
- Does “Physical Anthropology” continue to be the best
descriptor for the type of research carried out by our members?
- Should our association continue to be identified as
the “American” association?
- If a new name is desired, what should be the name?
These issues were discussed in length at the Presidential
Panel at the Austin meetings and were the topic of the 2016/17 Pollitzer
Student Travel Award essay competition. The Austin Presidential Panel was audio recorded and a transcript of the session is available here.
Summary of the main points:
Should the AAPA change our name?
Many of the
Pollitzer essays cited Agustín Fuentes’ 2010 Yearbook of Physical Anthropology
essay (The New Biological Anthropology: Bringing Washburn’s New Physical Anthropology
Into 2010 and Beyond) where he asked “…are we biological anthropologists
yet?” The majority of the students replied “YES” (81
out of 118 essays).
FOR a name change:
Anthropology” evokes a narrow, antiquated, racist, and embarrassing past. The discipline has changed and we should change the name of the
association in accordance.
- Members self-identify as biological anthropologists and a significant number
of academic departments, sections, degree courses, textbooks have dropped “Physical
Anthropology” in favor of “Biological Anthropology” or other descriptors such
as “Evolutionary Anthropology.”
Anthropology” does not cover the nature of the modern field, which is integrative,
dynamic and process-oriented.
Anthropology” impedes public understanding of our discipline because it does
not convey what we do.
“Physical Anthropology” in favor of another descriptor would give the field
AGAINST a name change:
- Our field has historically been known as “Physical
Anthropology” and there is little difference in meaning between “Physical” and
- Both names reflect the work we do as scientists today.
- “Owning” our history is essential to our field and changing our
name appears to erase or deny the ugly and uncomfortable past.
- We send a powerful message by retaining our name and using
it to educate our colleagues in other fields and the public about the history
and future of scientific inquiry.
association be identified as the “American” association?
Some of our members have expressed the opinion that we
should reconsider branding our association as “American.”
FOR dropping “American” from our association name:
- We have members who reside and work outside of the US, hence the term “American” does
not adequately describe the nature and inclusivity of our association.
includes other countries besides the USA.
Arguments AGAINST dropping “American” from our association
- We are the “American Association of Physical
Anthropologists” NOT the “Association of American Physical Anthropologists.”
Many other national associations, both in the US and abroad, have international
members and have not felt the need to change their name because of this.
- Changing our name to, for example, the “International
Association of Physical Anthropologists” implies a degree of hegemony in
relation to our international colleagues.
- By taking it upon ourselves to change our name to an "international”
association we deny equal involvement of all of our international colleagues
and sister organizations.
What should the new name be?
Over the past 18 months the following names have been
suggested for our association. When you take the non-binding survey, you will
be asked to give your first, second, and third choice for a new name. You also
will have the opportunity to comment on your choices and to suggest other names
if you wish to do so. Suggested names are offered in alphabetical order and do NOT
indicate an order of preference.
Association of Anthropological Sciences
Association of Bio Cultural Anthropology
Association of Biological Anthropologists
Association of Evolutionary Anthropologists
Association of Integrated Integrative Biological Anthropology
Association of Physical and Biological Anthropology
of Biological Anthropologists
Anthropology Association of North America
Anthropology Association of the United States
Association of Biocultural Anthropologists
Association of Biological Anthropologists
Bio, Cultural Anthropology and Outreach Association
Conference for Biological Anthropologists
for American Biological Anthropologists
for Biological Anthropologists
survey will be open until November 30, 2018.