In the wake of the US Presidential regime change, the Council on Anthropology and Education reaffirms our mission and its commitment to “advance anti-oppressive, socially equitable, and racially just outcomes . . . in all settings where learning takes place.”
Living out this mission in the current political moment requires us to speak back to calls for academic neutrality, and instead to stand firmly against racist, anti-immigrant/refugee, Islamophobic, anti-Semitic, homophobic, transphobic, ableist, and misogynistic words, actions, and policies. Inequality and oppression are not new. As anthropologists of education we have long documented the effects of deeply entrenched systems of oppression and injustice across many communities and worked to challenge and change these conditions, both in the US and internationally. However, this election and new administration have enabled a surge in both the quantity and intensity of the hatred and oppressive policies directed at targeted communities. We cannot allow this reality to slide into normalization. Many people are living and will continue to live with a new level of fear of individual acts perpetrated against them and we must continue to work with communities to address these acts. At the same time, we must focus energy on speaking against the policies of this new administration that have already and will continue to harm many individuals, communities, and nations. These policies include, for example, increased surveillance, denial of human and civil rights, abrogation of the rights of indigenous communities, environmental devastation, dismantling of our public education system, intensified militarization of the police, even wider deportation of immigrants, denial of the rights of refugees to safe haven, and increased international conflict. In this context it is more important than ever to affirm that there is no room for compromise in our fundamental valuing of all humans, and their right to live and learn free from violence, hatred, and oppression in the US and also abroad. Within this fragile moment, we, as anthropologists of education, bear the responsibility to continue to write and work “against the grain” of these dominating logics. Indeed, ethnographies, with their emphasis on lived experience, are critical tools we can continue to mobilize in order to interrupt white supremacy and other forms of oppression being concretized in our midst.
Our mission and our conscience call on us to work in solidarity, support, and stand with all communities whose safety, well-being, and dignity are threatened by both government policies that create oppressive conditions, and government inaction in the face of hatred directed at so many communities.
To that end, we plan to increase our efforts “to promote racial and social justice in all settings where learning takes place.” We will work with our members to:
- Continue to conduct research with and for communities to document and interrupt the effects of oppression in the lives of young people, their schools, and their communities, while also continuing to understand and promote social change and justice. Here we might be emboldened to continue our work of drafting “ethnographies of resistance and hope” that can document and enact more expanded ways of being.
- Draw on our knowledge base as educational anthropologists to create, strengthen, and disseminate materials and resources with and for educators and community organizers that support them in their work for social justice in these times.
- Engage in public advocacy for anti-oppressive, equitable, and racially just policies.
We can only do this work in community with each other. We encourage CAE members to share their ideas for actions, reaffirm our mission, and join in solidarity with the many communities within which we work to create just, equitable, and compassionate spaces for living and learning together.