Beyond the Academic Pale

John Mcreery (jlm@TWICS.COM)
Sat, 4 Jun 1994 07:58:35 JST

Mary Pat Mann writes,

"My question (re: Mike Salovesh's comments) is, how
does one remain (or become) a professional anthropologist when not in
an academic position? Anthopologists are about as elitist as any other
faculty (in my experience) and don't view paid applied anthropology as
legitimate (I realize there are some exceptions...), let alone an
"amateur" who has a doctoral degree in (choke) education. Is there a
way back into the field? If so, how?"

In my case it started in the summer of 1989, twenty years since I'd first
gone to Taiwan to do fieldwork. Had an idea for a paper. Wrote it and, feeling very diffident, sent it off to the Journal for the Study of Chinese Religion.
Got it published (1990). Feeling bucked up, I pulled another piece from my
files that I'd been poking at off and on for several years. Since I wasn't
faced with "publish or perish," I took my time and tried to make it really
good. It appears next year in American Ethnologist. In the meantime, I
provided an entree to the ad agency where I work for a graduate student
who was writing an MA thesis on one of the agency's campaigns. That led to
meeting her adviser and an
offer to teach a seminar as an adjunct faculty member.

Looking back on this experience, I note

(1) I started with a piece for a small, obscure journal for the very limited
circle of people who share my particular interest (in Chinese religion). It
wasn't an anthro journal. It's run by a subgroup of the Asian Studies Association.
(2) As already remarked, I didn't have to grind stuff out. Taking my time
was good for the papers.
(3) I, admittedly accidently, found a way to be useful to academically
connected peocA $@^ (J?
ple. I did a favor and have got one in return.

be very interested indeed in
communicating with others who have had similar experiences.

John McCreery (TWICS.COM)