Jobs in Anthro

Fri, 3 Jun 1994 15:33:01 EDT

high degree of interest, seeing as how I hope to complete my Ph.D. next year
and will be entering that same deflated market. Danny Yee and Eve Pinsker's
comments struck me as very important considerations. Like it or not folks the
world does not owe us a living. To misquote someone, I can't remeber who off
hand, the world has been around longer than we have and its up to us to find
our place in it. We have choosen to go into this field despite the trials and
tribulations of seeking employment, and what often appear to be unfair hiring
and tenure policies. I took this path because I felt that the information we
gather and the way we approach problems in anthropology provides an important
perspective on the world.

However, that perspective and love of approaching issues in this manner only
entitles us to a degree after numerous hard years of work and study, not a job
(as much as it pains me to admit it). If we want our profession and perspec-
tive to be valued then we have to sell ourselves and our profession to the
world in general. We have to start in education, I recently learned that the
state I live in, Kentucky, does not consider anthropology as a certifiable
discipline for primary and secondary school teachers, though social studies is
a required part of the curriculum. I would imagine this is the case in other
states as well. Anthropologist should be protesting this sort of discrimina-
tion in the education job market, surely an anthropologist is qualified to
teach teenagers about the job market.

When it comes to colleges and universities is it any wonder that were constant-
ly devalued. My experience with anthropologist in academics has indicated that
even though we're trained in the study of culture we seldom are able to under-
stand the culture of the administrative systems. We don't sell ourselves to
the administration and legistature the way that you need to promote the
discipline. It's our job to show them why we're valuable, not their's to
find a position for us. We sit in our offices doing our research and complain
that we don't have the time or desire to get involved in the politics of
administration. Its been my experience that departments that don't play the
game don't get the rewards regardless of how "valuable" they see themselves.

In addition we have to sell ourselves to the students or we're doomed. I can't
believe how many times I've heard undergrads say that anthropology is a useless
study that provides them nothing for surviving in the real world. If students
have this attitude then we have only ourselves to blame. I've had a number of
professors over the years and frankly many of them can't teach. We have one of
the most exciting subject matters in academia but students are often left cold
by it because of our failure. Hey, I'm the first to admit that some students
just aren't interested but we have to make teaching competence a greater part
of the tenure process at universities and colleges. The current publish or
perish mentality does not promote the development of quality instructors and
I'm sorry folks but in my opinion teaching should be job one of the academic
anthropologist if we want to be a valuable asset to students who aren't going
to be anthropologists.

Lastly, as Eve Pinsker said, those anthropologist who don't find jobs in
academia need to promote their backgrounds. I've met a number of anthropol-
ogists over the years we seem almost afraid to admit their background. We have
to sell the profession as capable of expanding beyond the traditional areas
areas of anthropology otherwise we will perish.

Once again I ramble on, that's why I so seldom contribute, but I firmly believe
that the hope of this profession lies in the reorganization of ourselves. We
have to show them why we're needed and shout at them when they abuse us, like
hiring historians, sociologists and geographers, to teach anthro courses at
junior colleges. Perhaps we also have to accept the fact that most of us will
never get rich doing anthropology but we can show non-anthropologist the value
of including us in a variety of fields so that we can at least get a job and
eat. Finally, we need to stand up in opposition to the policies of state and
federal governments, and even the ideas of our culture which devalues education
in general.