Does a BA "Make" an Anthropologist?

Sun, 19 Feb 1995 22:44:52 -0500

Tim Wallace asks the very sensible question why a BA in engineering
qualifies one as an engineer but a BA in anthropology does not
(apparently) qualify one as an anthropologist.

Blame Franz Boas. Fieldwork in an "alien" culture is the defining
experience in the making of an anthropologist. Not just visiting, or
tooling around, but some sort of systematic participant observation.
(Otherwise any student who had spent a semester abroad could claim
to be an anthropologist). If fieldwork in a culture other than one's
own (at home or abroad) were required in every undergraduate anthro
program, the BA would be held in higher esteem than at present.

James P. Spradley and David W. McCurdy's (1972) collection of
ethnographies produced by undergraduates, The Cultural Experience:
Ethnography in Complex Society (Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press)
demonstrates that respectable fieldwork can be accomplished by
college students. It just takes a great deal more in time and
resources than most undergraduate anthro programs can afford.

It would be very interesting to know how many BA-level anthro
program actually require fieldwork. Has AAA does any survey research
on this topic?

Eileen M. (de la Torre) Mulhare, Ph.D.
Research Associate, Dept. of Sociology and Anthropology
Colgate University, 13 Oak Drive, hamilton, Ny 13346
Phone: (315) 824-3102, Fax: (315) 824-7726