(rev. March 25, 2020)
As a section within AAA, the Society for Medical Anthropology (SMA) is committed to protecting and promoting intellectual and professional development across its diverse membership. The American Anthropological Association’s (AAA’s) Principles of Professional Responsibility emphasize that in all interactions with students, colleagues, research participants, interlocutors, clients, and staff members, anthropologists “should comport themselves in ways that promote an equitable, supportive and sustainable…environment….[and] should at all times work to ensure that no exclusionary practices be perpetrated on the basis of any nonacademic attributes.” Harassment violates these core standards and expectations, and constitutes serious professional misconduct.
In its 2018 Policy on Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault, AAA specifically defines sexual harassment as follows:
Sexual harassment is defined in U.S. federal guidelines as ‘unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.’ Importantly, the legal definition includes harassment that is sexist rather than sexual: it can ‘include offensive remarks about a person’s sex,’ with this form being ‘illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment.’ In fact, the majority of sexual harassment is its sexist rather than sexual form, and has been tied to negative work and health consequences for victims.
We recognize that work environments for medical anthropologists often shift across diverse institutional (e.g., academic, governmental, non-governmental) and geographic/cultural settings, and prominently feature periods of fieldwork. As Hall-Clifford & colleagues (2019) note, “meaningful field-based training opportunities are often limited until much is at stake for a student’s [or trainee’s] future career success.” As such, mentors, trainees, and staff/community members in local field sites need to start engaging in fuller discussion and sharing of experiences about harassment. Doing so will help to develop best practices that enable medical anthropologists in the field to access appropriate support and resources if they encounter harassment.
Professional gatherings also profoundly shape the work lives of medical anthropologists. The SMA organizes conferences and events around core principles of equity and safety, while recognizing that power inequalities underwrite many professional relationships. Using power inequalities to engage others in persistent, unwelcome and/or intimidating interactions constitutes harassment and is a serious form of professional misconduct.
Meetings Policy: Expectations
The following expectations are adapted from the American Anthropological Association’s 2018 Policy on Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault, and where noted, also from the American Political Science Association’s (APSA) Anti-Harassment Policy.
Expected behavior at SMA meetings and events:
- Treat all participants, attendees, staff, and vendors with respect and consideration
- Communicate openly, respectfully and collaboratively, critiquing ideas rather than individuals
- Respect the rules and policies of the meeting venue, hotels, contracted facility, or any other venue.
- If conducting job interviews, do so in public spaces at hotels/convention centers and not in private hotel rooms.
- Alert conference staff if you notice a dangerous situation or someone in distress.
Unacceptable behavior at SMA meetings and events:
Harassment, bullying or discrimination in any form will not be tolerated. Examples include, but are not limited to:
- threatening or intimidating verbal comments; inappropriate physical contact; unwelcome sexual attention; stalking or following; harassing photography or recording;
- using threats of professional harm to gain physical or emotional intimacy (APSA);
- undertaking prejudicial actions related to sexual orientation, sex, gender identity or other social identities that compromise professional equity and/or free academic exchange (APSA);
- advocating for/encouraging any of the above behavior.
Responding to Harassment:
Individuals who violate the standards and expectations described here are subject to the AAA’s 2018 Policy on Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault, which states that “AAA’s Executive Director (or their designee) or security may take any action deemed necessary and appropriate, including immediate removal from the meeting without warning or refund. AAA staff reserve the right to prohibit attendance at any future meeting.”
Individuals who are currently sanctioned for harassment or assault by an adjudicating institution (e.g., a university) are prohibited from attending SMA meetings. If you are aware that such an individual is either planning to attend or attending an SMA meeting or event, then please contact an SMA officer or Board member.
If you experience or witness harassment at an SMA meeting or event, or then you can either contact AAA’s Ombudspeople for Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault directly at firstname.lastname@example.org, or notify an SMA officer or Board member (either in advance of the meeting/event or on site) who will help you to do so.
If you experience or witness behavior that poses an immediate or serious threat to personal or public safety, call 911 or locate a house phone and ask for security.
Draft statement for CONFERENCE REGISTRATION:
The Society for Medical Anthropology (SMA) is a section of the American Anthropological Association (AAA). In order to protect and promote intellectual and professional development across a diverse membership, the SMA organizes conferences and events around core principles of equity and safety. Given that power inequalities underwrite many professional relationships, using these inequalities to engage others in persistent, unwelcome and/or intimidating interactions constitutes serious professional misconduct.
By registering to present and/or attend an SMA-sponsored conference or event you agree to abide by the SMA’s Anti-Harassment Policy as well as the AAA’s 2018 Policy on Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault upon which it is based.