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

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  • 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 1 of 3 , Jan 4, 2011
      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.


      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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