Re: Whither Anthropology

John McCreery (JLM@TWICS.COM)
Sat, 2 Dec 1995 08:19:57 +0900

Jim Martin writes,

"I think that answers to questions about the place of anthropology
departments in colleges and universities are important to discover. Not
only is this so for the discipline to survive, if not thrive, but it is also
so for the many thousands of students and faculty who spend their lives in
earnest study, teaching and research. In other words, if the discipline is
in trouble in its natural home, then the battle is half lost. Devising ways
to encourage its growth, to sustain its presence, to demonstrate its worth
to administrators and so on seems like the simplest of exercises in

Except for taking exception to "the simplest of exercises" (the politics
involved will be Byzantine), I'll second this. Then, however, I'll add that
while the place of anthropology in colleges and universities is important
to discover, the critical question, it seems to me, is the place of anthropologyin the world at large. Allow me to confess that I myself got into anthropology
in part because it seemed so exotic--an exclusive club based on esoteric
interests and experiences not shared by the hoi polloi. Now older and wiser
I recognize that the hoi polloi pay the piper and we must display a certain
concern about which tunes those who hold the purse strings find valuable. I do
applaud Jim's notion that we ought to be having a closer and more analytical
look at the the institutions in which we are, these days, more likely to spend
more years than we do in our other "field" sites.:-)

John McCreery