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more on the end of anthropology programs

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  • George Thomas
    I think I ve seen that one by Steadman Upham, and many other similar papers, articles, essays and dire pronouncements.   It s possible to see the diplomatic
    Message 1 of 4 , May 17, 2011
      I think I've seen that one by Steadman Upham, and many other similar papers, articles, essays and dire pronouncements.
      It's possible to see the diplomatic advantage of moving anthro in among business, English, sociology (what is "applied anthro" if not glorified social work?  Problems?  I know!...) and related disciplines. The way it seems to be moving, however, is the disenfranchisement of anthropologists and the teaching of the discipline through graduate levels by business and management folks.  Many of the points of debate within our tidy little multi-field would become sanitized as the whole discipline is streamlined into a set of acceptable management techniques. 
      Political science in its "international relations" incarnation had this down to theoretical levels under headings of "neo-realism."  In the 60s, when computer models of the global "big picture" were relatively new ideas, people wrote seriously about ethnic and regional interests being irrelevant.  They were at "the unit level of analysis," while "systemic" interests could be number-crunched, and were at the "systemic level of analysis."  Things might get uglier, unless people in all these fields can air out their concerns.... as they always have, through conventions and publications.  But how many of us read economics, literary or political science journals regularly?  A lot of the problem stems from the fact that everyone's so darned busy.
      (What a great time to find your position has been declared obsolete!)
      And I imagine archaeologists would finally be fully devoured within engineering and construction firms as ancillary staffs.
      Recently I think I may have observed one angle of this as a microcosm within one cultural anthro class.  After our viewing of the documentary "Ishi: The Last Yahi," many expressed dislike, not of the maddening difficulties of popular misconceptions within society and acknowledgment of the old attitudes within both cultural and physical anthropology, but of the MOVIE. 
      The Ishi story and anthropology are both, in a sense, "the messenger," and many believe it's a good idea to slay them.
      more on the end of anthropology programs
          Posted by: "Bob Muckle" bmuckle@... canadianarchaeologist
          Date: Mon May 16, 2011 4:03 pm ((PDT))

      I recall a short article that was published several years ago on the status of anthropology in academia, written by a university president (and former anthropologist/archaeologist).

      The author was Steadman Upham, and the article was published in SAA Archaeological Record (available free-on-line several years ago).

      My recollection is that the article suggested, from an administrators point of view, anthropology was already perceived to have low status on the hierarchy of academic disciplines and was further descending. According to the article, anthropology was  largely considered irrelevant in today's world. The view of many administrators was that anthropology had lost its distinctiveness, with its central concepts such as culture and methods such as ethnography having been successfully co-opted by other disciplines. 

      So, perhaps something to consider is that it isn't that administrators do not understand anthropology; perhaps it is more that they do understand it and perhaps see the value of it. Still though, they think others can do it better. Including those with degrees in English, business and other disciplines.


      Upham states "...there is a general perception among many university administrators of academic irrelevance and intellectual disarray in social sciences and humanities. Anthropologoy is included among the fields that are suspect in this regard."

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