The Society for Humanistic Anthropology (SHA) was first discussed at the 1974 meeting of the American Anthropological Association in Mexico City to open a dialogue on the means by which anthropologists might evoke, represent, or give account of the human subject both visually and in writing. Humanistic anthropology involves the recognition that professional inquiry takes place in a context of human value. The humanistic orientation is particularly concerned with the personal, ethical, and political choices facing humans. Members of the Society receive Anthropology and Humanism, which publishes essays, narratives, dramas, poems, translations, drawings, and photographs twice a year.

Humanism has historically made the human endeavor the subject of its concerns. Humanistic anthropology seeks to bring the intellectual resources of the discipline to bear upon this subject. While not blind to the constraints within which we humans operate, humanistic anthropology, in the tradition of the discipline, celebrates that human reality is something upon which we creative primates have real feedback effects: we can change our social and natural environment. Accordingly, it recognizes that anthropological inquiry constitutes a part of that work, particularly in promoting multicultural understanding and revealing the social blockages that are deleterious to our social and physical environment.

The Society gives three annual awards in writing: The Victor Turner Prize in Ethnographic Writing, and a poetry and fiction competition. The Victor Turner Prize in Ethnographic Writing is given for published books in various genres including ethnographic monographs, narratives, essays, biographies, memoirs, poetry, and drama.

The American Anthropological Association (AAA), the primary professional society of anthropologists in the United States since its founding in 1902, is the world’s largest professional organization of individuals interested in anthropology. Membership is open to all who share an enthusiasm for both humans and anthropology. The Society meets annually as a section of the American Anthropological Association.