Re: Anthro's most important contribution to society

Thomas W. Rimkus (trimkus@COMP.UARK.EDU)
Sun, 9 Apr 1995 12:37:14 -0500

> On Sat, 8 Apr 1995, Jack Kelso wrote:
> > If you were pressed to identify the one most important contribution which
> > anthropology has made to improving the well being of humankind what would
> > it be?
> > I assume that the majority of readers of this list are anthropologists, but
> > I am interested in responses from non-anthropologists too.
> >
> > Jack
> >

As a lay person who has been interested in anthropology from an early age,
the most important contribution I see by Anthropology to society is the
broad overview of the effect that the specie has had on the environment.
This may not be earth shattering news, but the effect of human activities
such as agriculture and technology (along with the attendant population
growth) on the world during the relatively recent past must be seen as the
most significant issue of humanity. Traditional materialistic western
society analyzed in comparison to alternative societies from the past and
present is a major and proper subject matter for Anthropology. It seems
to me that whatever we do, the future will find us with significantly
different subsistence strategies and economies. These changes will be
forced upon us by uncontrolled pressures if we do not take the proactive
stance to make global decisions based more intelligently in the context of
Anthropological knowledge. I have long felt that the workings of society
can best be understood in analogy to individual unconsciousness, but I
think there is a growing possibility for a model of consciousness to be
applied and that this consciousness is supported by the corpus of knowledge
added to by Anthropology as it dispells the myths of religious and self
directed political dogma and opens our eyes to alternatives. This will
occur, however, only if disciplines such as Anthropology find better ways
to communicate with the decision making members of society. Politicize
or Perish!

BTW, this is the part of RJ that I respected.

Tom Rimkus
Madison County