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RE: [SACC-L] FYI. AAA Responds to Public Controversy Over Science in Anthropology

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  • Lynch, Brian M
    ... Pope approves condom use by male prostitutes! Or so the headlines read after Pope Benedict s latest book was published. What a mess it stirred up. And
    Message 1 of 3 , Jan 4, 2011
    • 0 Attachment
      ..."Pope approves condom use by male prostitutes!" Or so the headlines
      read after Pope Benedict's latest book was published. What a mess it
      stirred up. And it was *not* what he said, but it was what he said. His
      spokespeople went through all the theological reasoning about why he
      wasn't actually condoning 1)condom use or 2)male prostitution... but at
      the end of the day the sound bites trump the nuanced theological
      discussion.

      So "anthropology is not a science" is the ordinary language, everyday
      story, however the AAA et al. nuance it. Both in the case of the Pope
      and the AAA, somebody needs to learn a bit more about the finer points
      of public relations.

      Brian



      -----Original Message-----
      From: SACC-L@yahoogroups.com [mailto:SACC-L@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf
      Of Ann Bragdon
      Sent: Tuesday, January 04, 2011 12:05 PM
      To: SACC-L@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: [SACC-L] FYI. AAA Responds to Public Controversy Over Science
      in Anthropology

      Perhaps you all saw this?


      AAA Responds to Public Controversy Over Science in Anthropology
      Some recent media coverage, including an article in the New York
      Times, has portrayed anthropology as divided between those who
      practice it as a science and those who do not, and has given the
      mistaken impression that the American Anthropological Association
      (AAA) Executive Board believes that science no longer has a place in
      anthropology. On the contrary, the Executive Board recognizes and
      endorses the crucial place of the scientific method in much
      anthropological research. To clarify its position the Executive Board
      is publicly releasing the document "What Is Anthropology? that was,
      together with the new Long-Range Plan, approved at the AAA's annual
      meeting last month.
      For the most recent press release regarding the AAA long-range plan,
      please click here.

      The "What Is Anthropology?" statement says, "to understand the full
      sweep and complexity of cultures across all of human history,
      anthropology draws and builds upon knowledge from the social and
      biological sciences as well as the humanities and physical sciences. A
      central concern of anthropologists is the application of knowledge to
      the solution of human problems." Anthropology is a holistic and
      expansive discipline that covers the full breadth of human history and
      culture. As such, it draws on the theories and methods of both the
      humanities and sciences. The AAA sees this pluralism as one of
      anthropology's great strengths.

      Changes to the AAA's Long Range Plan have been taken out of context
      and blown out of proportion in recent media coverage. In approving
      the changes, it was never the Board's intention to signal a break with
      the scientific foundations of anthropology - as the "What is
      Anthropology?" document approved at the same meeting demonstrates.
      Further, the long range plan constitutes a planning document which is
      pending comments from the AAA membership before it is finalized.

      Anthropologists have made some of their most powerful contributions to
      the public understanding of humankind when scientific and humanistic
      perspectives are fused. A case in point in the AAA's $4.5 million
      exhibit, "RACE: Are We So Different?" The exhibit, and its associated
      website at www.understandingRACE.org, was developed by a team of
      anthropologists drawing on knowledge from the social and biological
      sciences and humanities. Science lays bare popular myths that races
      are distinct biological entities and that sickle cell, for example, is
      an African-American disease. Knowledge derived from the humanities
      helps to explain why "race" became such a powerful social concept
      despite its lack of scientific grounding. The widely acclaimed
      exhibit "shows the critical power of anthropology when its diverse
      traditions of knowledge are harnessed together," said Leith Mullings,
      AAA's President-Elect and the Chair of the newly constituted Long-
      Range Planning Committee.

      "What is anthropology?" can be found on the AAA website at
      http://www.aaanet.org/about/WhatisAnthropology.cfm
      .

      What is Anthropology?

      http://www.aaanet.org/about/WhatisAnthropology.cfm

      Anthropology is the study of humans, past and present. To understand
      the full sweep and complexity of cultures across all of human history,
      anthropology draws and builds upon knowledge from the social and
      biological sciences as well as the humanities and physical sciences. A
      central concern of anthropologists is the application of knowledge to
      the solution of human problems. Historically, anthropologists in the
      United States have been trained in one of four areas: sociocultural
      anthropology, biological/physical anthropology, archaeology, and
      linguistics. Anthropologists often integrate the perspectives of
      several of these areas into their research, teaching, and professional
      lives.

      Sociocultural Anthropology
      Sociocultural anthropologists examine social patterns and practices
      across cultures, with a special interest in how people live in
      particular places and how they organize, govern, and create meaning. A
      hallmark of sociocultural anthropology is its concern with
      similarities and differences, both within and among societies, and its
      attention to race, sexuality, class, gender, and nationality. Research
      in sociocultural anthropology is distinguished by its emphasis on
      participant observation, which involves placing oneself in the
      research context for extended periods of time to gain a first-hand
      sense of how local knowledge is put to work in grappling with
      practical problems of everyday life and with basic philosophical
      problems of knowledge, truth, power, and justice. Topics of concern to
      sociocultural anthropologists include such areas as health, work,
      ecology and environment, education, agriculture and development, and
      social change.
      Biological (or Physical) Anthropology
      Biological anthropologists seek to understand how humans adapt to
      diverse environments, how biological and cultural processes work
      together to shape growth, development and behavior, and what causes
      disease and early death. In addition, they are interested in human
      biological origins, evolution and variation. They give primary
      attention to investigating questions having to do with evolutionary
      theory, our place in nature, adaptation and human biological
      variation. To understand these processes, biological anthropologists
      study other primates (primatology), the fossil record
      (paleoanthropology), prehistoric people (bioarchaeology), and the
      biology (e.g., health, cognition, hormones, growth and development)
      and genetics of living populations.
      Archaeology
      Archaeologists study past peoples and cultures, from the deepest
      prehistory to the recent past, through the analysis of material
      remains, ranging from artifacts and evidence of past environments to
      architecture and landscapes. Material evidence, such as pottery, stone
      tools, animal bone, and remains of structures, is examined within the
      context of theoretical paradigms, to address such topics as the
      formation of social groupings, ideologies, subsistence patterns, and
      interaction with the environment. Like other areas of anthropology,
      archaeology is a comparative discipline; it assumes basic human
      continuities over time and place, but also recognizes that every
      society is the product of its own particular history and that within
      every society there are commonalities as well as variation.
      Linguistic Anthropology
      Linguistic anthropology is the comparative study of ways in which
      language reflects and influences social life. It explores the many
      ways in which language practices define patterns of communication,
      formulate categories of social identity and group membership, organize
      large-scale cultural beliefs and ideologies, and, in conjunction with
      other forms of meaning-making, equip people with common cultural
      representations of their natural and social worlds. Linguistic
      anthropology shares with anthropology in general a concern to
      understand power, inequality, and social change, particularly as these
      are constructed and represented through language and discourse.
      Addressing complex questions, such as human origins, the past and
      contemporary spread and treatment of infectious disease, or
      globalization, requires synthesizing information from all four
      subfields. Anthropologists are highly specialized in our research
      interests, yet we remain generalists in our observations of the human
      condition and we advocate for a public anthropology that is committed
      to bringing knowledge to broad audiences. Anthropologists collaborate
      closely with people whose cultural patterns and processes we seek to
      understand or whose living conditions require amelioration.
      Collaboration helps bridge social distances and gives greater voice to
      the people whose cultures and behaviors anthropologists study,
      enabling them to represent themselves in their own words. An engaged
      anthropology is committed to supporting social change efforts that
      arise from the interaction between community goals and anthropological
      research. Because the study of people, past and present, requires
      respect for the diversity of individuals, cultures, societies, and
      knowledge systems, anthropologists are expected to adhere to a strong
      code of professional ethics.

      Employment
      Anthropologists are employed in a number of different sectors, from
      colleges and universities to government agencies, NGOs, businesses,
      and health and human services. Within the university, they teach
      undergraduate and graduate anthropology, and many offer anthropology
      courses in other departments and professional schools such as
      business, education, design, and public health. Anthropologists
      contribute significantly to interdisciplinary fields such as
      international studies and ethnic and gender studies, and some work in
      academic research centers. Outside the university, anthropologists
      work in government agencies, private businesses, community
      organizations, museums, independent research institutes, service
      organizations, the media; and others work as independent consultants
      and research staff for agencies such as the Centers for Disease
      Control, UNESCO, the World Health Organization, and the World Bank.
      More than half of all anthropologists now work in organizations
      outside the university. Their work may involve building research
      partnerships, assessing economic needs, evaluating policies,
      developing new educational programs, recording little-known community
      histories, providing health services, and other socially relevant
      activities. You will find anthropologists addressing social and
      cultural consequences of natural disasters, equitable access to
      limited resources, and human rights at the global level.

      As you can see from the extensive list of sections within the American
      Anthropological Association, anthropologists have research interests
      that cut across academic and applied domains of scholarship. These
      domains reflect the many significant issues and questions that
      anthropologists engage today, their areas of employment, the locations
      around the world where they do research, and their commitment to using
      research results to improve lives. We invite you to explore the
      diversity of topics and approaches in this exciting field.





      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]



      ------------------------------------

      Find out more at our web site http://saccweb.net/ Yahoo! Groups Links
    • Lloyd Miller
      Thanks for this, Ann. I m really pleased with the statement. It certainly reflects my own long-held belief that anthropology s main concern should be to help
      Message 2 of 3 , Jan 4, 2011
      • 0 Attachment
        Thanks for this, Ann. I'm really pleased with the statement. It certainly reflects my own long-held belief that anthropology's main concern should be to help solve human problems.

        Lloyd


        On Jan 4, 2011, at 11:04 AM, Ann Bragdon wrote:

        > Perhaps you all saw this?
        >
        >
        > AAA Responds to Public Controversy Over Science in Anthropology
        > Some recent media coverage, including an article in the New York
        > Times, has portrayed anthropology as divided between those who
        > practice it as a science and those who do not, and has given the
        > mistaken impression that the American Anthropological Association
        > (AAA) Executive Board believes that science no longer has a place in
        > anthropology. On the contrary, the Executive Board recognizes and
        > endorses the crucial place of the scientific method in much
        > anthropological research. To clarify its position the Executive Board
        > is publicly releasing the document "What Is Anthropology? that was,
        > together with the new Long-Range Plan, approved at the AAA's annual
        > meeting last month.
        > For the most recent press release regarding the AAA long-range plan,
        > please click here.
        >
        > The "What Is Anthropology?" statement says, "to understand the full
        > sweep and complexity of cultures across all of human history,
        > anthropology draws and builds upon knowledge from the social and
        > biological sciences as well as the humanities and physical sciences. A
        > central concern of anthropologists is the application of knowledge to
        > the solution of human problems." Anthropology is a holistic and
        > expansive discipline that covers the full breadth of human history and
        > culture. As such, it draws on the theories and methods of both the
        > humanities and sciences. The AAA sees this pluralism as one of
        > anthropology‚s great strengths.
        >
        > Changes to the AAA's Long Range Plan have been taken out of context
        > and blown out of proportion in recent media coverage. In approving
        > the changes, it was never the Board‚s intention to signal a break with
        > the scientific foundations of anthropology ˆ as the "What is
        > Anthropology?" document approved at the same meeting demonstrates.
        > Further, the long range plan constitutes a planning document which is
        > pending comments from the AAA membership before it is finalized.
        >
        > Anthropologists have made some of their most powerful contributions to
        > the public understanding of humankind when scientific and humanistic
        > perspectives are fused. A case in point in the AAA's $4.5 million
        > exhibit, „RACE: Are We So Different?‰ The exhibit, and its associated
        > website at www.understandingRACE.org, was developed by a team of
        > anthropologists drawing on knowledge from the social and biological
        > sciences and humanities. Science lays bare popular myths that races
        > are distinct biological entities and that sickle cell, for example, is
        > an African-American disease. Knowledge derived from the humanities
        > helps to explain why "race" became such a powerful social concept
        > despite its lack of scientific grounding. The widely acclaimed
        > exhibit "shows the critical power of anthropology when its diverse
        > traditions of knowledge are harnessed together," said Leith Mullings,
        > AAA‚s President-Elect and the Chair of the newly constituted Long-
        > Range Planning Committee.
        >
        > "What is anthropology?" can be found on the AAA website at http://www.aaanet.org/about/WhatisAnthropology.cfm
        > .
        >
        > What is Anthropology?
        >
        > http://www.aaanet.org/about/WhatisAnthropology.cfm
        >
        > Anthropology is the study of humans, past and present. To understand
        > the full sweep and complexity of cultures across all of human history,
        > anthropology draws and builds upon knowledge from the social and
        > biological sciences as well as the humanities and physical sciences. A
        > central concern of anthropologists is the application of knowledge to
        > the solution of human problems. Historically, anthropologists in the
        > United States have been trained in one of four areas: sociocultural
        > anthropology, biological/physical anthropology, archaeology, and
        > linguistics. Anthropologists often integrate the perspectives of
        > several of these areas into their research, teaching, and professional
        > lives.
        >
        > Sociocultural Anthropology
        > Sociocultural anthropologists examine social patterns and practices
        > across cultures, with a special interest in how people live in
        > particular places and how they organize, govern, and create meaning. A
        > hallmark of sociocultural anthropology is its concern with
        > similarities and differences, both within and among societies, and its
        > attention to race, sexuality, class, gender, and nationality. Research
        > in sociocultural anthropology is distinguished by its emphasis on
        > participant observation, which involves placing oneself in the
        > research context for extended periods of time to gain a first-hand
        > sense of how local knowledge is put to work in grappling with
        > practical problems of everyday life and with basic philosophical
        > problems of knowledge, truth, power, and justice. Topics of concern to
        > sociocultural anthropologists include such areas as health, work,
        > ecology and environment, education, agriculture and development, and
        > social change.
        > Biological (or Physical) Anthropology
        > Biological anthropologists seek to understand how humans adapt to
        > diverse environments, how biological and cultural processes work
        > together to shape growth, development and behavior, and what causes
        > disease and early death. In addition, they are interested in human
        > biological origins, evolution and variation. They give primary
        > attention to investigating questions having to do with evolutionary
        > theory, our place in nature, adaptation and human biological
        > variation. To understand these processes, biological anthropologists
        > study other primates (primatology), the fossil record
        > (paleoanthropology), prehistoric people (bioarchaeology), and the
        > biology (e.g., health, cognition, hormones, growth and development)
        > and genetics of living populations.
        > Archaeology
        > Archaeologists study past peoples and cultures, from the deepest
        > prehistory to the recent past, through the analysis of material
        > remains, ranging from artifacts and evidence of past environments to
        > architecture and landscapes. Material evidence, such as pottery, stone
        > tools, animal bone, and remains of structures, is examined within the
        > context of theoretical paradigms, to address such topics as the
        > formation of social groupings, ideologies, subsistence patterns, and
        > interaction with the environment. Like other areas of anthropology,
        > archaeology is a comparative discipline; it assumes basic human
        > continuities over time and place, but also recognizes that every
        > society is the product of its own particular history and that within
        > every society there are commonalities as well as variation.
        > Linguistic Anthropology
        > Linguistic anthropology is the comparative study of ways in which
        > language reflects and influences social life. It explores the many
        > ways in which language practices define patterns of communication,
        > formulate categories of social identity and group membership, organize
        > large-scale cultural beliefs and ideologies, and, in conjunction with
        > other forms of meaning-making, equip people with common cultural
        > representations of their natural and social worlds. Linguistic
        > anthropology shares with anthropology in general a concern to
        > understand power, inequality, and social change, particularly as these
        > are constructed and represented through language and discourse.
        > Addressing complex questions, such as human origins, the past and
        > contemporary spread and treatment of infectious disease, or
        > globalization, requires synthesizing information from all four
        > subfields. Anthropologists are highly specialized in our research
        > interests, yet we remain generalists in our observations of the human
        > condition and we advocate for a public anthropology that is committed
        > to bringing knowledge to broad audiences. Anthropologists collaborate
        > closely with people whose cultural patterns and processes we seek to
        > understand or whose living conditions require amelioration.
        > Collaboration helps bridge social distances and gives greater voice to
        > the people whose cultures and behaviors anthropologists study,
        > enabling them to represent themselves in their own words. An engaged
        > anthropology is committed to supporting social change efforts that
        > arise from the interaction between community goals and anthropological
        > research. Because the study of people, past and present, requires
        > respect for the diversity of individuals, cultures, societies, and
        > knowledge systems, anthropologists are expected to adhere to a strong
        > code of professional ethics.
        >
        > Employment
        > Anthropologists are employed in a number of different sectors, from
        > colleges and universities to government agencies, NGOs, businesses,
        > and health and human services. Within the university, they teach
        > undergraduate and graduate anthropology, and many offer anthropology
        > courses in other departments and professional schools such as
        > business, education, design, and public health. Anthropologists
        > contribute significantly to interdisciplinary fields such as
        > international studies and ethnic and gender studies, and some work in
        > academic research centers. Outside the university, anthropologists
        > work in government agencies, private businesses, community
        > organizations, museums, independent research institutes, service
        > organizations, the media; and others work as independent consultants
        > and research staff for agencies such as the Centers for Disease
        > Control, UNESCO, the World Health Organization, and the World Bank.
        > More than half of all anthropologists now work in organizations
        > outside the university. Their work may involve building research
        > partnerships, assessing economic needs, evaluating policies,
        > developing new educational programs, recording little-known community
        > histories, providing health services, and other socially relevant
        > activities. You will find anthropologists addressing social and
        > cultural consequences of natural disasters, equitable access to
        > limited resources, and human rights at the global level.
        >
        > As you can see from the extensive list of sections within the American
        > Anthropological Association, anthropologists have research interests
        > that cut across academic and applied domains of scholarship. These
        > domains reflect the many significant issues and questions that
        > anthropologists engage today, their areas of employment, the locations
        > around the world where they do research, and their commitment to using
        > research results to improve lives. We invite you to explore the
        > diversity of topics and approaches in this exciting field.
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        >
        >
        >
        > ------------------------------------
        >
        > Find out more at our web site http://saccweb.net/ Yahoo! Groups Links
        >
        >
        >
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