Protocol Governing Creation and Maintenance of an Interest Group

Protocol Governing Creation and Maintenance
of AAA Interest Groups

Approved January 29, 1994, Revised June 2, 2007, and May 31, 2009

An Interest Group of the AAA is not a Section, but rather a mechanism for creating a network of AAA members sharing interests in an important anthropological intellectual and/or professional issue(s) or concern(s).  By design, an Interest Group is more informal and more limited in its potential range of activities and duration than an AAA Section.  The intention is to provide AAA members a simple, informal vehicle for coming together to discuss, exchange information, advance some common interests or concerns not falling within the purview of an existing Section.  Interest Groups are temporary entities, continuing only so long as there is demonstrated sufficient interest in the topic, and as such an Interest Group will be authorized for only three years at a time; they may apply for reauthorization as many times as sufficient interest can be demonstrated, but this must be initiated by the Interest Group.

Further, AAA Interest Groups are creations of and exist at the discretion of the Association, and are subordinate in every way to the Association.  For example, an Interest Group may not make public statements, sign contracts, or make unapproved commitments (like any Section, Committee, Commission or Task Force of the Association.)

This protocol sets out the policies governing the creation and maintenance of an Interest Group.

There are specific requirements that must be met and documented in order to create and to maintain an Interest Group.  These are controlled by the AAA Bylaws and by the policies contained herein, and are specific to the intended purposes of Interest Groups.  How these requirements are met must be must be documented in applications, and supported in reports.  AAA Executive Office staff are available for consultation, and may recommend other AAA entities to consult, particularly at the time of application or reauthorization.

A. Purpose

  1. 1. An Interest Group must have a clearly defined area of important intellectual interest(s) or professional concern(s) consistent with the purposes and missions of the AAA but not otherwise represented in the AAA. 
  2. 2. An Interest Group must have a clearly defined need(s) and a reason(s) for existing (e.g., to create a network of AAA members for the purpose of sharing research ideas/findings in its specific area).
  3. 3. An Interest Group must provide at least one ongoing mechanism for exchanges of information (e.g., an Annual Meeting special event, written communications, website, etc.).

B. Membership
A member of an AAA Interest Group must be a current member of the AAA. Associate members of the AAA are not eligible to be members of Interest Groups.

C. Size

An Interest Group must have and maintain a minimum membership of 25 AAA members.

D. Convener(s)

  1. An Interest Group must have an officially designated convener, who will be the contact person for (1) information about the Interest Group, (2) contact with AAA headquarters, and (3) for organizing any Interest Group activities.
  2. The Convener(s) may be selected in any way the members of the Interest Group prefer, but this must be a process internal to the Group.  The AAA election is not available to Interest Groups.

E. Reporting

  1. At its founding an Interest Group must submit to the AAA Executive Office a Statement of Purpose that documents these requirements (see Section VI).
  2. Each year after its establishment an Interest Group reports to the Section Assembly Executive Committee, via the AAA Executive Office, with a report of activities.  If the Group wishes to continue beyond it's three year charter it must also formally request reauthorization at that time, with supporting documentation as in the original application (list of members is not necessary then).

Activities in which Interest Groups may engage are controlled by the AAA Bylaws and the policies contained herein, and are specific to the intended purposes of Interest Groups.

A. AAA Annual Meetings

  1. An Interest Group may hold one special event at the AAA Annual Meeting, for substantive and/or business discussion, provided meeting space is available. 
  2. The Interest Group Convener must apply for meeting space through the AAA process for requesting time for special events (see annual Call for Papers).
  3. An Interest Group may submit volunteered annual meeting sessions for review and acceptance/rejection by the AAA Program Committee. 
  4. These submissions will be processed in accordance with the normal process for submitting volunteered sessions.  Accepted Interest Group volunteered sessions will be identified as that Interest Group's submission in the Annual Meeting program.

C. Prohibited Activities

  1. Interest Groups may not publish journals, reviews or books.
  2. Interest Groups may not issue advocacy statements, take advocacy positions on issues, or act contrary to the AAA Bylaws, though, as with any AAA subentity, they may make recommendations to the Executive Board.

Because Interest Groups are defined as temporary units they cannot engage in financial activities, with limited exception as specified herein.

A. An Interest Group may not assess dues or create a general fund balance.

B. An Interest Group may assess a minimal fee for a specific service (e.g.,  a reception at the annual meeting), with the review of staff and approval of the AAA Executive Board.  Fees must be collected through the AAA headquarters.  Any unspent funds at the end of the fiscal year will revert to the AAA general fund.

Even though an Interest Group cannot assess dues or build a fund balance, Interest Groups are entitled to certain kinds of organizational support as units of the AAA.

A. AAA headquarters will maintain Interest Groups' roster (names and address) supplied by the Interest Group convener.  Addresses must be the same as a person uses for her/his AAA membership.

B. AAA headquarters will collect and disperse any fees for services.

C. AAA headquarters will assist in scheduling Interest Group discussion/business meetings.

D. Anthropology News will carry a single, one-time, 500-word news item about the formation of an Interest Group.  Occasional and brief information in the Association Business Column or other appropriate place may be included on a space-available basis. Otherwise, Interest Groups are not entitled to space in any edition of AN.

E. If an Interest Group chooses electronic means of information exchange (website, listserve, blog, etc.), some Association resources may be available.  This would not normally include staff support, but may include server space and/or access to software.  If an Interest Group creates a website on an external site they must notify AAA so the appropriate link can be established.

F. The AAA Executive Board may reduce or modify any of these services as the number of Interest Groups increases.

Members interested in creating an Interest Group must submit an application to the Section Assembly Executive Committee, via the AAA Executive Office, providing information as stipulated herein.  Staff of the Executive Office will supervise and coordinate the process.

A. As the first step in organizing an Interest Group, a representative shall contact the AAA Executive Office for advice on the process.  AAA staff may ask for further information and/or consultation with existing entities of the AAA (e.g., Sections, Committees, etc.).

B. If requested, AAA staff shall assist in scheduling one pre-acceptance organizational meeting at an Annual Meeting, on a space-available basis, which can be used to review organizational plans and/or to ascertain interest in starting a proposed group.

C. As per Section II (above), the Interest Group convener(s) must submit a Statement of Purpose to the Section Assembly Executive Committee, via the AAA Executive Office, stating

  1. The intellectual topic(s) and/or professional concern(s) around which the Group is to be formed.
  2. The need for such a Group, i.e., explanation of what it will contribute that is different from other entities of the AAA.
  3. The process for selecting future conveners.
  4. Initial plans and process for developing information exchange/special event sessions at an annual meeting.
  5. A list of names and addresses of at least 25 current AAA members who have agreed to be members of the Interest Group.

D. After review and comment by staff, the application is forwarded to the Section Assembly Executive Committee for comment and recommendations, and with their endorsement then to the Association Operations Committee for comment and recommendation.

E. The AAA Executive Board will act on the AOC's recommendation, and if the action is positive, authorize the Interest Group for three years.


As part of its third year annual report, an Interest Group must indicate whether they are dissolving or requesting renewal of their status.

  1. If at that time the Group wishes to be renewed for an additional three-year term it should submit documentation as in the original application process (the list of members is not then necessary), as part of the report of its activities. This request will be reviewed as above (Section VI).
  2. If at that time the Group is being dissolved, a report of its activities shall be filed with the notation that it is so dissolved.
  3. If an Interest Group wishes to be dissolved prior to the end of three years, it may submit its report with that request at any time earlier.


2004 Reports
2005 Reports
2006 Reports
AAA Committees
AAA Guide
About AAA
Active Commissions and Task Forces
AIDS Commission
Annual Business Meeting
Annual Meeting Program Committee
Annual Reports
Anthropology Education Committee
Anthropology News
Association Operations Committee
Audit Committee
Awards Committee
Careers DVD
Child Care
Climate Change Task Force
Coalition Partnerships
Commission on Governance
Committee for Human Rights
Committee on Gender Equity in Anthropology
Committee on Minority Issues in Anthropology
Committee on Public Policy
Committee on World Anthropologies
Ethics Committee
Field Schools
Finance Committee
For Media
For Practitioners
For Researchers
For Students
For Teachers
Governance & Organization
Handbook on Ethical Issues
Help Information
History of AAA
Issues & News
Labor Relations Commission
Long Range Plan
Long Range Planning Committee
Mailing Lists
Meeting Information
Members in the News
Membership & Donations
Nominations Committee
On Race and Racism
Placement Center
Policy Actions
Presenters & Attendees
Press Kit
Press Room
Prizes & Awards
Professional Development
Program & Abstracts
Public Policy/Advocacy
Resource Devlopment Committee
Resources on Race and Racism
Section Reports
Sections & Interest Groups
Staff Directory
Training Resources