Ethics

The “Frankfurt Declaration” of Ethics in Social and Cultural Anthropology

This declaration by the German Anthropological Association (GAA) was passed at the GAA general assembly 2 October 2009 in Frankfurt/Main. Instead of being a fixed set of rules on how to handle ethical dilemmas it is intended above all to promote constant citical reflection of our professional practice.

Ethics documents

On the 1st of October 2019 four documents were adopted at the general meeting at the GAA conference in Constance. These documents define the positioning of ethnology or social and cultural anthropology with regard to ethics committee review procedures and are also intended for use within the field to support reflection on aspects of research ethics. The four documents have the following functions:

1. The „Ethics Guidelines“ document explains the principles and procedures for the ethical review of ethnological or social and cultural anthropological research, as well as the use and addressees of the related documents.

2. The document for reflection on issues of research ethics in ethnological or social and cultural anthropological research can/should be used within the context of mentoring conversations (e.g. between doctoral students and their supervisors) or alternatively in peer-to-peer discussions (particularly for advanced specialists in the field). This document includes a form which confirms that the discussion has been conducted: this form is for internal use or, if required, it can be submitted to ethics committees as proof of the discussion — however the content of the discussion itself remains confidential.

3. The document for reflection on aspects related to security when undertaking field research is completed by the researcher and remains exclusively with them.

4. The policy letter for ethics committees or funding organisations summarises the basic principles of ethnological or social and cultural anthropological research and can be enclosed with applications, especially in those cases where an ethics committee vote is required. In such cases, the signed form described in (2.) can also be submitted as proof that a supervision or peer-to-peer discussion has been conducted.