Celebrating Anthropology

Elizabeth Becker 541-6970 (BECKER%SSIDW1@RCC.RTI.ORG)
Thu, 9 Jun 1994 14:28:25 -0400

Karen Szala-Meneok writes:

"C.Colfer's career route and many others indicate that we NOW need to make
a commitment in graduate curriculum that does not ignore but CELEBRATES
this potential for non-academic applications of anthro."

Oh, I think that's a wonderful idea! But, I would also add that
anthropologists could also (should also?) market the field. I think
that a lot of folks, at least where I am, have a really strong
misunderstanding of anthropology. They think it's studying gorillas a la
Dian Fossey or it's digging in sand a la Indiana Jones. If they are aware
of socio-cultural anthropology or linguistics at all, most people are
under the impression that it's as irrelevant to our field (educational
research) as, say, theoretical math. I've been in a number of meetings
where I've tried to assert that we needed to look at SYSTEMS and look
at the culture surrounding X or Y population as well as the classroom
curriculum. The reaction has often been akin to "Oh, isn't she sweet to
be thinking of their families."

On a more pragmatic level, just recently AAUW put out an RFP to look at the
effect of school climate on girls. It was just a (relatively) little grant
of 100K. I tried to convince the powers that be that our company needed
to open up this segment of the market (and, of course, that I was just the
person to do it! I really wanted to go after this thing. . .). The response
was that there is no market to open up and there is not *significant*
funding in the areas of educational anthropology, social/cultural
foundations of education, etc. Now, these people may have been wrong
and I wouldn't know because I'm too new to the field to really know the
market, but if there is no funding, my question is WHY NOT? This
is such a relevant area that I cannot believe that more people don't
recognize its value. Any PR people out there have any suggestions on how
to convince the general populace of the the applicability/relevance of

Boy, and I thought I was going to get some work done today!
All Best.
Elizabeth Becker
Research Triangle Institute