Re: Mob Scenes (lengthy)

Steve Maack (steve_maack@QMBRIDGE.CALSTATE.EDU)
Wed, 8 Dec 1993 10:07:58 U

According to a message sent to me, Dan Jorgenson recently wrote to

>None of this is the result of nasty old mean-spirited silverbacks trying
to protect privilege,
> but rather an expectable outcome of the fact that we have for some time
> more anthropologists than anybody can find a use for. To return to what
kicked off the
> discussion, it is a fair bet that a lot of what one sees in current
academic life -- especially
> in anthropology -- is not just a matter of intergenerational politics,
but instead reflects
> bad "market conditions" ....
> If there were anything really creative going on out there, it would be
less in the direction
> of providing an alternate form of academic stuff, and more in terms of
providing an
> alternative *to* academic stuff (hats off to Steve Maack and company
here). So I'm all
> for aiming for "sustainable" anthropology by cutting back on production
and finding more
> uses for anthropology -- as opposed to multiplying the number of sharks
in the tank.

Colleagues, friends, and others,
I want to reinforce what Dan is saying about "finding more uses for
anthropology" and note that the problem is NOT that there are "more
anthropologists than anyone can find a use for" but rather more
anthropologists than the academic (faculty) marketplace can find a use for.
This problem, of course, is not unique to Ph.D. anthropologists but is
also shared by Ph.D.s in Philosophy, English, Sociology, etc., etc.

The related problem is, of course, that anthropologists have not (yet) done
a good enough job on marketing HOW they can be of use outside of academic
(faculty) work. THAT anthropologists can be successful outside academic
work has been shown as anthropologists have responded to the poor faculty
marketplace and gone out and got (so-called) "real jobs." Some of us
(collectively) who are out doing applied / practicing work are by now
convinced that there are NOT ENOUGH anthropologists around to fill all the
POTENTIAL applied niches to which anthropologists might aspire. (Note that
we applied types weren't sure at first about this as we sought jobs
individually with little help from the profession as constituted under AAA
until NAPA got formed ten years ago, but have more and more success stories
to tell every year).

It helps if profs like Dan Jorgenson do "truth in advertising" about the
poor academic sector, but also educate themselves so that there can also
be "truth in advertising" about the potential market in the private, public
(non-academic), and non-profit sectors (separately and/or combined). In
the last 15 years there have been several excellent works published about
applied anthro work which just weren't available when I got my Ph.D. in
1978. Most can be found in John Van Willigen's "The Uses of Anthropology"
(2nd edition), an annotated bibliography showing how anthropologists have
applied anthro over the years, in Van Willigen's "Applied Anthropology," or
Erve Chambers book of the same name. Once academics have read those, then
talk to applied / practicing anthropologists, look at NAPA publications,
get involved with any local practioner organizations or similar
organizations in your vicinity (WAPA in Washington, SCAAN in Southern
California, CAPA in Chicago, High Plains Society in Colorado and the high
plains, AAAAA in Ann Arbor, a new statewide Association of North Carolina
Anthropologists, etc. -- I know I forgot some), and buy the brand new video
on applied anthro careers from NAPA (just $25, as I recall from the NAPA
premier screening at the AAA '93 meetings, and very useful to show to
anthropology students).

Even as more anthropologists than the growing number of NAPA and Society
for Applied Anthropology members get acquainted about applied / practicing
/ professional anthropology (the latter insisted on by Cathleen Gretenheart
of LTG Associates, one of the most successful firm of anthropologists in
existence), then there is a big task in informing the general public, the
hiring authorities, public officials, private sector leaders, etc., etc.
about just how useful anthropologists, anthropological approaches, and
(yes) some anthropological theory can really be, in terms that those
non-anthropologists understand. NAPA and SfAA are trying to work toward
this educating, but need more help. I got kind of flustered the other day
when I told a friendly high level CSU official about the NAPA video and he
asked what anthropology was doing to get the word out BEYOND ACADEMIA and
BEYOND OTHER ANTHROPOLGISTS about what anthropology and anthropologists can

Well, I'll quit here and say "goodbye" again. You see, I'm not on ANTHRO-L
right now, since my academic administrative position is being taken away
and I am being laid off effective January 14, 1994. I got off ANTHRO-L to
concentrate on the job hunt. I am decidely NOT looking for a teaching
position (although academic adminsitration is a possibility for me). Some
of the "creative" things I have come up with so far are training business
people about how to adapt to foreign cultures (successful interview on that
at AAA with a one-and-a-half year old firm of anthropologists, with
possiblity of occasional consulting work a day here and there), contacts
with two firms engaged in land use/housing/real estate work (which already
have anthropologists on staff and which fit my background), and with one
firm engaged in both survey research work and product / program marketing
(also from an AAA meeting contact -- a Columbia grad like me). Other
possibilities encountered at AAA by hanging out with NAPA and other applied
oriented folk: being involved with organizational change in K-12 schools
(lots of potential there for organizational change experts, community /
neighborhood oriented anthropologists, those who apply anthro to better
K-12 classroom teaching), the ongoing Senegal River Development project
(where anthropologists convinced everyone else to create a dam with
provisions for controlled flooding of the Senegal River -- for the first
time ever -- so as not to completely disrupt the local agricultural economy
which depends on seasonal flooding in this Sahel area of Africa), AIDS
prevention efforts, a variety of other medical anthro related work,
culturally /socially appropriate housing design and neighborhood
development efforts (space use), etc. That is a small sampling biased by
my own personal interests, and you all KNOW how varied anthropologists are
in their interests. If everyone on ANTHRO-L would begin looking, you would
be surprised about how many and varied and interesting the non-academic
jobs are out there. If you are an anthropologist or anthropology student
reading this, you probably like to explore and try to understand cultural
and social systems which are not completely familiar to you -- and that is
the fun part of using one's anthropological skills and training while doing
a non-academic job hunt. The market in California is still lousy for
everyone, but I sure have a lot more options to pursue OUTSIDE OF academic
(faculty) positions than I would be having if I were ONLY looking at that.

Hope this fits in with the ANTHRO-L "thread" that I haven't been following.
Talk to you all again later once my life settles down a bit.

Steve Maack
(at least until January 13, 1994)