Guidelines for the SMA listserv

Dear SMA members,

The SMA executive board, which is constituted by a diversity of medical anthropologists elected by all its members, welcomes open discussions on medical and health-related anthropology in our listserv. All SMA members have direct access to post to the list on medical and health-related anthropology that pose substantive queries to the SMA community and/or provide relevant information about upcoming conferences, panels, or job announcements. The SMA does not censor or moderate messages, absent spam or messages that are off topic. The listserv manager does not make decisions about whether any particular message has scholarly validity, nor do they edit or screen these posts, save to ask someone to resend without an attachment or to approve a nonmember post.

We have adapted the guidelines of the Association for Queer Anthropology (AQA, and the Society for Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology (SLACA) to keep the SMA listserv as a place for collegial and useful exchange of ideas:

1)    Posting to the listserv should address the readership at large rather than individuals specifically. If a discussion develops into an exchange between two parties, the conversation should move to private e-mail immediately. Please consider whether forwarding an exchange between two parties to the listserv is relevant to others.

2)    Conference announcements, calls for papers, and specific calls for references, reflections on projects, or assistance are appropriately directed to the group at large. Responses to such calls could be directed to the list at large. If, however, the nature of the response engages the original poster specifically, strongly consider answering such calls via personal correspondence. If you are summarizing the literature on a certain topic in a manner you think would be of interest to a broader audience, exercise your judgment as to whether or not it should be sent to the entire listserv. We would encourage subscribers to more frequently incorporate the line “Please respond privately” into their postings requesting assistance. The SMA listserv hosts call for papers from a variety of organizations and their posting on the SMA listserv is at members’ discretion and does not imply official endorsement by the SMA.

3)    Treat the virtual space of the listserv as a professional setting: discussions should refrain from name-calling and dismissive responses. If readers wish to disagree or challenge statements made on the list, they should do so without directing hostility at the original poster. Critiques about respectability politics and shutting down dissenting views as inappropriate are powerful and compelling, and we want to create a space to foster these conversations rather than censor them. To emphasize: for all postings, writers should presume that the reader is the entire list and not just the person originating the discussion. If a reader does not see a way to respond without personalizing, they should not post to the listserv at large but directly to the person in question.

4)    Topicality. Discussions should be topical to SMA’s stated mission. Off-topic comments or questions are not appropriate. As topicality is to some extent in the eye of the beholder, there is considerable leeway under this guideline and greater responsibility placed on members to respect the need to have some coherent focus for the list.

While we cannot insure that every SMA member’s experience of the SMA listserv is without friction, we hold that an individual and community commitment to the free exchange of ideas in the spirit of mutual support will guide the SMA as we continue to learn from and support each other. Thank you all for sharing ideas and knowledge with other medical anthropologists.

Arachu Castro


Arachu Castro, PhD, MPH
Samuel Z. Stone Chair of Public Health in Latin America
Director, Collaborative Group for Health Equity in Latin America (CHELA)
President, Society for Medical Anthropology of the American Anthropological Association
Department of Global Community Health and Behavioral Sciences – International Health and Development Section
Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine
1440 Canal Street, Suite 2220, Mail Code #8319  |  New Orleans, LA 70112 USA  |  Tel. +1-504-988-7177  |