wilkr (wilkr@INDIANA.EDU)
Sat, 11 Jun 1994 16:45:09 -0600

Thanks to Mike Salovesh for an eloquent and telling critiqwue of the
so-called tenure and promotion system.

I find this theme of supirious quantification is not confined to the
groves of acaeme. When I worked for USAID I had to be in the office a
certaon number of minutes each week, and produce a certain number of
pages of text, regardless of whether I was awake while I was in, or what
was in the pages.

When people are reluctant to make judgements of quality, they decide on
quantity instead, in our culture. We measure everything except what
matters - I consider this to be an abdication of responsibility, usually
justified by misplaced relativism (well, who is to say this work stinks?
Some people think this kind of thing is great!). One of my colleagues
yelled at me because I insisted a student's qualifying exam was poorly
written and logically flawed - she said I was on a "power trip" trying
to impose my own arbitrary standards of behavior on the poor student.
Who was I to say the paper was poor? Well, I thought that was what I was
getting paid for - making judgements of quality based on evidence and
argument....but that is another story.

Salovesh is exactly right that anthropologists are getting less and less
likely to read in other subfields and evaluate each others' work. Why
this year when our department hired a cultural anthropologist, some of
the cultural anthropology faculty thought that the physical anthros and
archaeologists shouldn't have a vote, since it was not their subfield
and they had no expertise. I have not matched Mike's record - I only
publish in archaeology and cultural, though I have appeared in journals
like "Energy and Buildings" and have writeen about British colonial
poetry among other things. I have heard a department chair tell me I
would never get tenure because I had never published a paper in American
Anthropologist or Ethnologist (still haven't. don't plan to.). But I do
read work in other subfields, not out of duty but because some of it is
just fascinating. And that open interest in each others' work is what
seems to be slowly diminishing and seeping away, and this is very worrying.

Folks - it has been a wonderful summer so far on anthro-l. I am about to
leave for Karelia (eastern Finland) and nearby places for a few weeks,
and will reluctantly set "nomail" for a while. I have enjoyed the daily
jolt of interesting voices, and will be back later.

Rick Wilk