CAE Mission

A Call to Action and Mission Affirmation:
A Letter from the 2016-2017
Council on Anthropology and Education
 Presidential Team

November 22, 2016

 As we return home from our annual meeting, we reach out to the CAE community to affirm our mission, share immediate plans for action, and thank you for your participation in the Council on Anthropology and Education Program. During our time together the overwhelming majority of participants shared feelings of being heart-sick, fearful, and angry about the outcomes associated with the U.S. election. At our Board Meeting (open to the general membership), we began a discussion of how CAE can respond to the current political moment. We committed, as individuals and as an organization, to step up our efforts to fight oppression, and to work for racial and social justice in concrete ways that draw upon our collective knowledge as educational anthropologists. Through our research and advocacy we support students, families, teachers, teacher leaders, and broader communities to counter a national climate that includes emboldened strains of racism, anti-immigrant sentiment, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, ableism, misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia. While the issues we face today are long-standing and pernicious, in this moment our mission is ever more relevant:

 The mission of the Council on Anthropology and Education is to advance anti-oppressive, socially equitable, and racially just solutions to educational problems through research using anthropological perspectives, theories, methods, and findings.

The Council advocates for:

Research that is responsive to oppressed groups.           

Research that promotes practices that bring anthropologists, scholars from other disciplines, and educators together to promote racial and social justice in all settings where learning takes place.

In light of our mission, the CAE Board committed to areas of action listed below. While we will be working with the Board and the membership to figure out our next steps, we highlight here some ideas that the Board and CAE members have suggested so far:

 1)   Develop and distribute a Council statement affirming our commitment to fight against oppression and injustice, and supporting the construction and maintenance of racially and socially just learning environments.

 2)   Develop and share resources. We will collect, create and share resources to address emerging social climate issues at the school, university, and broader community levels, and policy issues at school, district, university, state and federal levels. This may include:

●     Highlighting resources developed by other organizations;
●     Calling on membership to collaboratively develop additional resources (statements, briefs, case studies, activities, and others); and
●     Conducting research with children, youth, and communities that supports them to document and counter their experiences with marginalization,  abuse, and oppression

 3)   Develop a public advocacy program. This may include:

●     Developing and sharing a statement and briefs;
●     Social media communication;
●     Writing Op-eds; and
●     Collecting names of experts from our membership who can be called upon by community members to help address issues ranging from unjust and oppressive educational practices, hate speech, or inequitable educational policies in specific areas of their expertise.

 This list is not exhaustive and it is subject to revision in light of feedback from our members. In the coming weeks, and months, we want to think creatively with our membership about how we can productively dialogue and plan actions with each other and our broader communities, and how we can create stronger processes for these dialogues to continue when we are together at the 2017 AAA meetings. We encourage 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 learning together.


Thea Renda Abu El-Haj, President

Marta P. Baltodano, Past President

Kevin M. Foster, Program Chair and President-elect