The American Anthropological Association 2012 elections are open for votes until 31 May 2012.
After earlier discussion on Open Access, I posed the quesiton of accessibility and relevance to the eight candidates for Executive Board. As of 16 April 2012, I have complete statements from four, and the two candidates for the student seat have promised statements. I have pasted the statements below and will update as necessary. I originally wanted to include the text of what each candidate wrote for the official ballot, but this would be unwieldy to reproduce. I would therefore urge you to read these statements in the context of the information provided on the AAA ballot.
Although of course these candidates will be only part of the full Executive Board, we can be encouraged that this issue is gaining currency and relevance at the AAA Executive Board level. Especially when considered against recent statements from other scholarly associations (see Christopher Kelty’s Savage Minds post on the Archaeological Institute of America), there does seem to be traction for change in the AAA.
A Lynn Bolles
Anthropologists in particular must come face to face with “doing their homework” as our colleague Brackette Williams (36:1-25-51) reminds us in her 1995 article The Public I/Eye in Current Anthropology. Doing one’s homework is “to gather information in order to be an informed citizen capable of acting in a morally conscientious manner toward a particular category of persons with whom the participant observer shares the identity ‘fellow citizen.’” Homework in this instance is about understanding “what must be done, why it must be done, and what the consequences are of doing it one way and not another.” Open Access addresses the inequitable situations prompted by the corporate university and its allies, in this instance journal publishers. Homework must be done by the AAA as it reconciles the privileges accorded in present day academic life, the moral responsibility of anthropology (across the subfields) as it amends the “child of imperialism” legacy and to serve as a positive force for social change. In these days of immediacy, knowledge and information must come in various formats, be available, and designed for multiple audiences.
The AAA needs to begin a serious, sustained conversation with its membership, leadership and Wiley-Blackwell about open access options above and beyond so-called “green” open access and to begin to envision a future – and, yes, a business model – that would support “gold” open access. This needs to be done in a way to facilitate the greatest level of access for readership but also for authorship, avoiding the “author pays” models of many of the trade presses, which would ultimately restrict authorship to all but the faculty at the richest universities. Gold open access will require a re-thinking of the Association itself: its purpose; its meetings (and the expense related to meetings); its harnessing of freely-gifted labor of reviewers and editors; and its relationship to wider publics. This is a challenge I welcome.
My ideas draw from Jason Baird Jackson’s On Green OA and the Future of AAA Publishing at #AAA2011 and his interview on Savage Minds with Ryan Anderson, Anthropology & Open Access.
Karen G Williams
I am strongly in favor of Open Access to anthropological research published in AAA journals and to Open Access in general. It is simply the right thing to do. It promotes the work of our discipline at a time when anthropological insights have a lot to offer and it fosters collaboration within our discipline by providing access to scholars outside of the U.S. whose libraries may not be able to afford such access. It also fosters collaboration between disciplines and allows a much wider opportunity to share our work with our informants. I agree with those who have argued that Open Access will require that we rethink how the AAA and the Sections in it raise money, but that’s a task well worth undertaking.
Peter Neal Peregrine
I’m of two minds when it comes to open access. Having been a textbook author for more than a decade, I am sensitive to publishers who need to make a profit for their owners. As a scholar, it infuriates me to produce an article or review a paper that a publisher turns around and sells at an exorbitant price. The current model no longer works, and something needs to change. For the AAA, I would like to see all journals be open access after a brief period of time (say 3 to 5 years). The current 35 years for American Anthropologist is ridiculous. Research libraries and individual scholars want the most recent information, and will still pay for immediate access. But students and the broader public will benefit if the restricted-access window were significantly shortened. I think it is important to note that there something all of us can do to help promote open access right now–post our own articles on-line. All of the AAA journals allow us to do so, and many others do as well. I’m guilty (as many are) of not taking the time to do this yet, but now that I have thought about this issue more, I think I will make posting my work for others to access a priority. If every author in a AAA publication were to take the time to post their work on-line then there would not be a problem, would there?
Kathleen Musante Dewalt