Darkness in El Dorado Controversy: Questions and Answers

Darkness in El Dorado - Archived Document
Anthropological Niche of Douglas W. Hume
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Internet Source: American Anthropological Association
Source URL: http://www.ameranthassn.org/press/qa.htm


Darkness in El Dorado Controversy

Questions and Answers

Updated Friday, September 22, 2000

Q: How does AAA evaluate the allegations contained in this book? Do the allegations have any validity?

A: "This book presents the views, conclusions and opinions of its author. It is extremely important, however, that other individuals featured in the book be afforded the opportunity to express their own views on its contents. Until there is a full and impartial review and discussion of the issues raised in the book, it would be unfair to express a judgment about the specific allegations against individuals that are contained in it."

Q: What are the implications of these allegations for anthropologists and anthropology?

A: "The allegations in the book will cause discussion and debate in the anthropological community concerning the issue of ethical research and the protection of human subjects. However, these are not new issues to the anthropological and scientific community. Anthropologists and other scientists have long been concerned about ethical standards for research involving human subjects. Federal regulations have been developed to protect human subjects in federally-funded projects. Institutional review boards at universities and other institutions have been created to review the effect of research projects on human subjects. In addition, concern among anthropologists, led to the development of AAA’s Code of Ethics which provides anthropologists with ethical guidelines for their research."

Q: What actions is AAA going to take in regard to these matters?"

A: "The Association is anticipating conducting an open forum during our Annual Meeting in November to provide an opportunity for our members to review and discuss the issues and allegations raised in the book. Any other actions would depend on the results of this forum and other discussions within the organization."

Q: When will the American Anthropological Association make a decision on what formal actions to take?

A: "No decision has been made whether any formal action will be taken. Nor has a timetable been established. After necessary debate and discussion of the allegations and issues, the Executive Board will determine an appropriate response."

Q: Why is the AAA holding an open forum regarding the allegations?

A: "One of the roles of the Association is to serve as a forum for discussion and debate on issues important to the anthropological community. As a scientific and professional organization we are committed to a fair and impartial discussion of the issues raised by the book."

Q: When and where is the open forum being held?

A: "The Open Forum will be held on Thursday, November 16 at 6:15 p.m. in Continental Ballroom 4 of the San Francisco Hilton and Towers."

Q: How was it decided to hold an open forum?

A: "In April, our Committee for Human Rights, which investigates human rights abuses, decided to hold an open forum at each Annual Meeting to update members on past issues where the committee or predecessor committees have been involved. After reviewing proposals for the forum from emeritus members, Committee Chair Barbara Johnston decided to hold a balanced debate and discussion regarding the allegations and the issues raised in the book."

Q: How does the AAA respond to the accusations that the forum is one-sided?

A: "These charges are absolutely false. We are holding an open forum at our Annual Meeting in November designed to include both sides of this controversy, as well as impartial experts in the field, so that the allegations and issues which they raise can be fairly debated and discussed among our members."

Q: Does the AAA have a code of professional ethics?

A: "Yes, the Association has adopted a Code of Ethics. It was adopted by the Association in 1997."

Q: Does the AAA have an official process for considering charges of unethical conduct?

A: "AAA has an established Code of Ethics, however, the association itself typically does not adjudicate charges of unethical behavior on the part of individuals. If members want to pursue an organizational remedy associated with charges of unethical conduct by an individual, the Executive Board would have to decide how to proceed."

Q: What does the AAA code of ethics have to say relevant to allegations contained in this book?

A: "Among other matters, the Code of Ethics of the American Anthropological Association addresses the ethical obligations of anthropological researchers to the people they study. It says, "Anthropological researchers have primary ethical obligations to the people . . . they study and to the people with whom they work. Anthropological researchers must do everything in their power to ensure that their research does not harm the safety, dignity, or privacy of the people with whom they work."

Q: Is there an official body that overseas the research of anthropologists? If so what is that body?

A: "There is no single organization which oversees the research conducted by anthropologists. Review and monitoring of their research is usually conducted by the organization which funds their research. Projects done by university-based researchers, must be approved by Institutional Review Board’s which review the project proposals against certain criteria including their effect on human subjects. All scientific projects funded by the federal government must follow federal "Protection of Human Subjects" regulations [Title 45 CFR Part 46], as well as individual agency regulations concerning the research."

Q: Does the AAA have an official process for considering charges of human rights abuse?

A: "AAA has a Committee for Human Rights authorized to investigate matters of human rights abuse. Were the committee to decide to investigate such charges, they could do so. The results of such investigation, and any recommendations for formal action by the Association would have to be considered and authorized by the Executive Board."