Recent years have seen increasing pressure in the American Anthropological Association (AAA) and many other professional academic associations to discuss alleged Israeli violations of academic freedom and human rights, and to move toward sanctioning Israel. More than 1,100 anthropologists, many of whom are AAA members, have now signed a petition asking the AAA to undertake a boycott of Israel. This particular position, along with the perspectives of others encouraged AAA to consider how it might best engage with the issues the situation in Israel/Palestine raises. On August 1, 2014, the AAA Executive Board announced the formation of the Task Force on the AAA Engagement on Israel/Palestine (hereinafter referred to simply as the Task Force, or TFIP). The Task Force was charged with helping the Executive Board consider the nature and extent to which AAA might contribute – as an Association – to addressing the issues that the Israel/Palestine conflict raises.
The Task Force on AAA Engagement on Israel-Palestine issued its final report today. It is a long and thorough report, so I won’t attempt to summarize the whole thing. (There is already an “executive summary” in the report itself.) But as someone who has followed the issue for a long time, both through the extensive coverage here on Savage Minds as well as on the blog of the Anthropologists for the Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions, and who is therefore suffering from “BDS fatigue” from the repetitive nature of some of the discussions, I still found much that was new and interesting in this report. Even with regard to topics that I am already somewhat familiar with, the report provides examples from the daily lives of academics working in the region which bring these issues to life. Accordingly, what I have assembled below is a rather idiosyncratic selection of highlights from the report, based on what jumped out at me and got my attention, along with some comments and reflections of my own. I hope it will encourage more people to read the full report.1
This is the first of a series of articles that I will be posting this month as a guest-contributor for Savage Minds. In each post I will be sharing some preliminary and open-ended reflections relating to my research on Tibetan diaspora, esotericism, and the globalization of Tibetan culture. This week, I’d like to introduce readers to the non-celibate Tibetan religious specialists known as ngakpa (literally mantra or ‘spell’-users in Tibetan, sngags pa) who are the focus of my current doctoral dissertation fieldwork with Tibetan refugees in India and Nepal.