HAU 15 June
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- 15 June 2018
- Dear Editorial Members and Colleagues
- We are writing as Board of Trustees of HAU-Society for Ethnographic Theory, to comment on the very disturbing allegations that have been made in social media against the project in its pre- vious incarnation as a non-incorporated society. Those allegations were known to the previous Advisory Boards, lead by Sarah Green from 2013 to 2017, and later by an Interim Chair, Carole McGranahan from May 2017 to January 2018, McGranahan was in charge of overseeing the transition of HAU to the University of Chicago Press and the incorporation of the new or- ganisation. We wish to forward you the material - at that time confidential - that the previous Advisory Board forwarded us and which we are now given permission to release.
- As a newly responsible collective, we have taken a few days to ourselves consider, among our- selves, how to respond to the social media storm of, often anonymous, grievance and critique. It is an interesting and harrowing moment in public life, especially in North America. We truly hope that the extra insight the documents below provide will help guide your judgement as to how adequately the problems at HAU have been considered and whether commensurate action has been taken to overcome them.
- To the information below, we wish to enclose two statements that we received today from Carole McGranahan and Garrett P. Kiely, the Director of the University of Chicago Press.
- Carole McGranahn writes: “The accusation that the HAU Board (and the Editor-in-Chief him- self) did not do anything to address known problems is false. At least for the very short period that I was Interim Chair, there were concrete, meaningful efforts to address management/staff problems in the editorial office prior to the restructuring.”
- Garrett Kiely wants to clarify that all assertions that HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory has been “sold” to the University of Chicago Press are false. The Press has not acquired the journal or any interest in the Society. They plan to abide to the agreement with the Society and will proceed with publication of the journal.
- Best wishes,
- The Board of Trustees of HAU-Society for Ethnographic Theory
- Letter 1: April 4, 2018
- From Carole McGranahan:
- Dear trustees of the new Society for Ethnographic Theory, Or, if I may,
- Dear Magnus, Carlos, Caterina, Niloofar, Michael, Joel, Carlo, Anne-Christine, and Giovanni,* How wonderful to be writing to simultaneously welcome you to the new Board of Trustees and to thank you for agreeing to serve on the Board. As I believe most of you know, since May of 2017, I was the Interim Chair of the External Advisory Board (EAB) for HAU, charged with restructuring the organization, including reorganizing the editorial offices of the journal and books division, writing a new set of bylaws from scratch, and legally incorporating in the UK. Together with the wonderful, smart, and committed members of the Executive Committee (EC) of the EAB—Carlos Fausto, Jane Guyer, Michael Lambek, Rena Lederman, Michael Puett, Andrew Shryock, and our two informal advisors: Priya Nelson (publishing industry best practices) and Alain Pottage (legal issues)—we were able to prepare a restructuring plan, present it to HAU Editor-in-Chief Giovanni da Col, and then work together with Giovanni to finalize the details and legalize the Society. It was truly a joint effort. Our intention was to provide a transparent, efficient, and fully legal structure for running the Society. There will inevitably be issues we did not anticipate, and so changes that need to be made (and that we have made pro- visions for in the bylaws). Overall, though, we aimed to be clear where clarity was needed, and to be open where room for growth and/or change seemed potentially desirable. Two of the cur- rent trustees were part of this Executive Committee—Carlos Fausto and Michael Puett—and so are both familiar with the restructuring process; my thanks to them for serving in both capaci- ties. As all of you now begin this new work as the Board, may the Society for Ethnographic Theory flourish in your capable hands!
- Right now, I want to share with you an outline of the work I did as Interim Chair so that you are aware of recent HAU business:
- - As I wrote in my April 3 letter, in addition to the restructuring process, the other main task the EC had was to consider accusations made of HAU and its Editor-in-Chief that
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- were being circulated in the anthropological community primarily, but not only, by Da- vid Graeber. This was serious work for which we sought legal advice, and considered le- gal action. In the end, the EC decided not to pursue legal action, but—much to the dis- may of the EC—it was clear that there are scholars in the anthropological community who want to harm HAU, and who had no shame in using dishonest and unethical be- havior to do so.
- - One of the responsibilities of my job was overseeing the editorial office given some on- going issues with team members who, during my tenure, were all graduate students working solely for very modest honoraria paid at the end of each year, and who forfeited this modest honoraria if they left the position prior to the end of the year. I worked closely with Giovanni to help with managing professional relations with these employees starting in May 2017. HAU had been launched by graduate students, but that model had worked better in the early years of the journal, and not so well at this time. In No- vember 2017, Giovanni proposed to me ending the position of “honoraria” team mem- bers, and I agreed immediately. We eliminated the position, and offered back pay to all honoraria team members who had quit before their term was up and thus forfeited their honoraria. I personally wrote to each of these individuals to explain and offer the money to them. Every single former team member I wrote to accepted our offer, thereby elim- inating any further financial claims on HAU. I also inquired regarding any future legal claims they might have against HAU. No one responded in the affirmative or provided any information that would be grounds for a legal claim of any kind.
- - In regard to the allegations, I corresponded and communicated with numerous anthro- pologists around the world who reached out to me with questions and concerns. Over time, it became very clear that there is a small group of scholars who are actively work- ing to smear the name of HAU and its Editor-in-Chief. Given the thoroughness with which we were able to review the available evidence of the allegations, I am confident in sharing with you that the bulk of the allegations are not only unfounded, but appear to be purposefully malicious gossip.
- - Oversaw the restructuring and legal incorporation process. I note that the EC worked independently. To grant the EC this autonomy, Giovanni recused himself from his posi- tion as ex-officio member of the EAB.
- *Zito joined as of May 1, 2018
- Letter 2: June 1, 2018 From Carole McGranahan:
- Sarah [Green] emphasized three main issues to me: (1) the need for a smaller Executive Board with decision-making powers such that HAU was not a “one-man show,” (2) the need to fill the empty treasurer position, and (3) the need to address Giovanni’s difficulties in managing people including what she referred to as his tendencies to bully people. In response I note, that we (1) have formed this new Executive Council as the new acting body of the EAB to deal with the re- structuring. The HAU Constitution was amended to remove Giovanni as Editor in Chief from the EAB, and thus from the Executive Council, so that the EC could do its work as impartially as possible. (2) Giovanni hired a new treasurer, Maria Luisa Nodari. And, (3) as Interim Chair, I was involved in oversight of Giovanni’s management of editorial team members. In addition, we identified a fourth issue which we dealt with in early December: the need to eliminate the honoraria editorial team member position. In addition to eliminating this position, such that all existing team members are now either voluntary contributors or paid contributors (wage or sala- ry), we have also offered compensation to former honoraria staff members who per the HAU Constitution had forfeited their honoraria; we made this goodwill gesture in recognition of their contributions to HAU and with the intention of moving forward to the University of Chicago Press with as fresh a start as possible.
- As I went through Sarah’s reports and our conversation notes, I specifically looked for any comments regarding issues involving women, gender or sexual harassment that I might’ve over- looked earlier; I found none. There is no mention at all of issues regarding mistreatment of fe- male team members or sexual harassment in either of the prior Chair’s reports to the EAB, nor in her transition conversation with me. I note also that former female Managing Editors did not make any gender-based complaints or any remarks at all regarding sexual harassment in their exit feedback to me. In an email dated 30 December 2017, HAU’s long-serving Managing Edi- tor Sean Dowdy, who resigned in early 2017, stated the following: “if any staff would have come forward to me about first-hand sexual harassment of any sort by any member of the editorial team, then I would have taken proper communication with the board about the matter. But, no
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- claims, accusations, or even rumors of sexual misconduct were made while I was at HAU. If there were, I certainly was never aware of them.”
- Statement of the Executive Council of the HAU External Advisory Board 27 January 2018
- HAU: Journal for Ethnographic Theory launched in 2011, followed by the creation of two book series in 2012: Masterclass and Classics in Ethnographic Theory, and by the for- mation of the Society for Ethnographic Theory in 2013. HAU/HAU Books/SET is thus still young and, while its intellectual accomplishments have been widely recognized from the start, like many new organizations it has also had its share of problems in its early years. With hopes for a more secure financial footing, HAU journal is currently making a transition to the Univer- sity of Chicago Press. In preparation, the journal’s External Advisory Board has completed a restructuring of the Society for Ethnographic Theory and its publication divisions, and is legally incorporating as a not-for-profit society in the UK. In the process, we identified some areas for immediate action regarding the management and structure of the editorial office. We have al- ready taken action on several of these issues and addressed others through the detailed restruc- turing process. Once the organizational and legal components of the restructuring are conclud- ed, we will make a formal, public announcement.
- In the meantime, the Board was contacted by people who have received allegations re- garding improprieties within the journal. It is not clear how widely those allegations circulated. In response, as the body invested with the powers of deliberation and sanction concerning the entirety of the HAU organization, the External Advisory Board directly contacted the source of the allegations asking for a formal disclosure to us for consideration. Our request was denied. Without laying claim to any legal powers this Board does not have, we then carried out our own internal investigation into the alleged improprieties, including but not limited to those regarding HAU’s financial office. Our review of the available evidence—which has been conducted with due diligence and careful attempts to assess the validity of multiple claims—strongly suggests that many of the allegations are based on unverified rumor, on exaggeration without context, and, most disturbingly, on willful efforts to prompt or even potentially fabricate charges. Some of the allegations relate to problems in the editorial office and with managerial procedure that have been known to us for some time but were difficult to correct so long as HAU’s organizational process remained informal. We are taking action to address these issues first of all through re-
- structuring to institute formal governance and grievance procedures, and have reprimanded the Editor in Chief. Throughout, the Advisory Board of HAU has been respectful of legal con- straints (including limitations on our ability to be specific about the sources and content of the alleged improprieties).
- To the new Board of Trustees of the Society for Ethnographic Theory, we offer the fol- lowing assessment of the situation: Our close investigation of recent complaints against HAU and its editor, Giovanni da Col, has shown us the disturbing extent to which these complaints are shaped by negative gossip, hearsay, and personal animosities. We are especially concerned that these destabilizing efforts come at the precise moment when a dedicated team of scholars is working hard and collaboratively to restructure and incorporate HAU. We would encourage our colleagues to embrace the work of reorganizing HAU so that it may continue to contribute to anthropological scholarship in its own unique and vital way.
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- Timeline of the HAU project administration
- February 2011-May 2013 - from an idea of Giovanni da Col, an informal group of friends, graduate students and early career scholars establish and run HAU Journal and two online book series “Masterclass” and “Classics in Ethnographic Theory” as editorial team.
- May 2013 An unincorporated association - The Society for Ethnographic Theory - is founded, with a constitution written by the editorial team and the Chair of the newly constituted Advisory Board, Sarah Green, and approved by all editors and members of the new Advisory Board. March 2015 - HAU Books is launched
- May 2016 - End of the Chair formal mandate - no replacement appointed but term is extended August 2016 - June 2017 Editor-in-Chief Sabbatical
- May 2017 - Appointment of an Interim Chair, Carole McGranahan, to transition the old unin- corporated association to an incorporated organisation appointed
- January 2018 - the unincorporated association is dissolved, the boards dismissed and new non- profit organisation - Company Limited by Guarantee - is established. New editorial committees are put in place
- Roles in the old unincorporated association (members are personally liable)
- Ruled by the editors in collaboration with the Advisory Board
- Senior Editors (Editor-in-Chief, Managing editor, Deputy Managing Editor).
- Editor-at-Large (editorial advice, scientific contribution, collect grievances and controversies in the editorial team and bring them to the Advisory board)
- Advisory Board - advises the editors but can reprimand or remove them and appoint new Edi- tor-in-chief
- Chair of the Advisory Board - coordinate the Board, collect grievances, ensures that the consti- tution is not violated
- HAU - Society for Ethnographic Theory (CLG) Limited Liability
- Ruled by a collective of directors/Trustees, each one in charge of different domains: human re- sources and diversity, finances, legal, institutional relationships, fundraising
- Guaranteed by a group of members
- HAU Journal: Editorial committee, Editor-in-chief, 1-4 deputy editors
- HAU Books: Editorial collective of 2-4 editors
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