By Leith Mullings
As an anthropologist and president of the American Anthropological Association (AAA), I was especially gratified to hear President Barack Obama acknowledge the discipline of anthropology and support its scientific integrity. In a speech at the 150th anniversary of the National Academy of Sciences, President Obama said:
And it's not just resources. I mean, one of the things that I've tried to do over these last four years and will continue to do over the next four years is to make sure that we are promoting the integrity of our scientific process; that not just in the physical and life sciences, but also in fields like psychology and anthropology and economics and political science -- all of which are sciences because scholars develop and test hypotheses and subject them to peer review -- but in all the sciences, we've got to make sure that we are supporting the idea that they're not subject to politics, that they're not skewed by an agenda, that, as I said before, we make sure that we go where the evidence leads us. And that's why we've got to keep investing in these sciences.
Nearly 100 anthropologists are members of the National Academy of Science, many of whom are among the 12,500 active members of the AAA. In an era in which some members of Congress are attempting to undermine the peer-review process and academic freedom in research, it is heartening to have the support of the president on these important issues.
I look forward to the president's continued support for the critical contributions that anthropologists make to the understanding of humankind in all its aspects.
Leith Mullings is Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at the Graduate Center, City University of New York, and president of the AAA.