Now that we are fast approaching another AAFS meeting, and it has been 9 months since the ‘beginning’ of somewhat serious discussion of a change of name for the Physical Anthropology Section, I would like to provide a review of the discussion in Atlanta and the ensuing on-line discussion within this blog, in anticipation of the next stages in the process: (1) Reviewing the comments of the Section members posted in this blog; and (2) conducting a survey with name proposals based on those comments and the survey carried on in 2011.

As suggested by many blog posts, at this point it will probably be helpful to review our presentation at the 2012 meeting in Atlanta:

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Before reviewing the input offered by the blog posts, the discussion at Atlanta following this presentation, and the survey conducted in 2011, I would like to stress again a few key points:

1) The primary reason for changing the name is to reflect more accurately the true diversity of roles and activities performed by the forensic anthropologist. The nominal clarification of these roles and professional capabilities is primarily for consumption by forensic pathologists, coroners and medical examiners (although some anthropologists may also benefit from it).

2) I think it is time to bring forensic archaeology firmly into the fold of forensic anthropology as reflected by current thinking, practice and published definitions. In my view, there is definitely no need to create a separate and distinct forensic archaeology section within the Academy. (Toto, we are not in Great Britain anymore)

3) The vote would relate only to changing the name from Physical Anthropology. It does not change membership requirements, board-certification, or other match-point topics. Those issues and considerations come later.

4)  I am also convinced that a name change would not result in cultural anthropologist or linguists flooding the meetings or attempting to become members. If an occasional cultural anthropologist has something relevant to say in our section meeting, then let’s listen.

Please, keep these things in mind, and follow this link to read our comments on the input received from the survey, this blog and the discussion in Atlanta. A link to take a new survey to choose between different names can be found at the end of those comments. Thanks!

Dennis C. Dirkmaat