President’s Letter Regarding Annual Meeting in Tampa

Dear Colleagues,

I hope this message finds you well. As you may know, a motion was presented at the Annual Association Business Meeting in Toronto this past November recommending the 2024 Annual Meeting be moved to another location. I am writing today to let you know that the Executive Board has decided, after careful consideration and weighing all the options, to go forward with the AAA Annual Meeting in Tampa this November 20–24.

This decision is based first and foremost on our mission and values, which hold that anthropological scholarship can make a difference to solving human problems, and it was not by any means a decision we took lightly. We heard varying opinions and are well aware of the concerns about going to Florida, including the fear of people who are the targets of political activity and legislation being harmed physically and/or emotionally and, by attending the meeting, our supporting the state and its “slate of hate” policies. We also weighed the positive impact we could have by showing up and we heard from members working at Florida universities and colleges imploring us to come to Tampa, join them in their resistance, and make our voices heard collectively.

We are fully committed to addressing members’ concerns and working together to find a way to meet in Florida that upholds our community’s values and protects attendees’ safety. The 2024 Executive Programming Committee (EPC) has provided focused leadership on this effort and continues to address these concerns based on 1) the various positions on attending and participating in the conference represented among EPC members; 2) their communication with members of section interest groups; and 3) communication with Florida colleagues requesting our presence as well as various Florida grassroots organizations. The EPC is committed to holding space for difficult conversations that honor the multiple perspectives related to attending the annual meetings. It is also developing conference elements that will enable us to work in solidarity with targeted communities in Tampa.

The safety of our members is paramount! While Tampa Bay scored a perfect 100 on the Human Rights Campaign LGBTQ+ Index for the fifth year in a row, we will continue to do everything in our power to ensure attendees are as safe and secure as possible, and we commit to maintaining clear communication with members and meeting attendees about specifically how we will accomplish this.

Furthermore, the concerns members raised led us to think about the implications for future sites as we are already committed to going to Louisiana (New Orleans) in 2025, Missouri (St. Louis) in 2026, and Oregon (Portland) in 2027. Decisions about future meetings will be important because, when looking at states as a whole, there is currently no place in North America that is completely safe for all of our members. Your response to the Tampa meeting offers a perfect opportunity for us to rethink not only the relationship between the meeting and the city that hosts it, but also the process through which future host cities are selected. Toward this end, we will hold virtual Town Halls as well as a member survey to gather feedback from members and help us rethink how we hold our meetings and where we hold them. Details will be forthcoming on all of the above.

According to a report recently released by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), “Florida and other states following suit … know well that access to knowledge, free inquiry, and education that employs a critical lens to understanding our past and present injustices are among the biggest threats to their dreams of a nation built for uplifting only certain races or religions.”

“If you have Marxist professors leaving, that is a gain for the state of Florida.”
DeSantis press secretary Jeremy T. Redfern

All the more reason for us to show up and defy this reasoning by applying our anthropological scholarship through our sessions, activities, and participation with local organizations. I look forward to seeing you in Tampa and working together to ensure future meetings remain as safe and productive as possible.


Whitney Battle Baptiste
President, AAA