Re: Please Read! (Message from one of

Thu, 13 Oct 1994 16:20:00 PDT

Jarvis writes:

" On reading over all teh messages that were posted to anthro-l recently in
regards to the American Anthropological Association, their journal, and its
editorial policy, it has occured to me that some of these statements <<MAY
over the course of that Association and its journal. As there are already
media for the discussion of those issues, and appropriate avenues for teh
expression of discontent, or content over their activities, I will ask that
further discussion of this topic be taken of the list. Anthro-l was
established to be a medium for the communication of information, and the
friendly discussion of topics relating to anthropology and anthropological
research. It was never intended to be a political mouthpiece."

Did Hugh Jarvis, on his own, sit down, read the comments about the AA journal
(which are both positive and negative and also show change in viewpoints) and
then, in isolation, decide that somehow that dialogue is inappropriate for
ANTHRO-L because, conceivably, someone, someplace might construe those
messages as possibly being linked to some unknown, allegedly political
debate over the direction of the Association and its journal???

I suppose there are those who believe that, and they probably also believe in
the easter bunny as well.


I hope I am wrong. I really hope I am wrong. I hope it is the case that no
one has put pressure on, or threatened Hugh Jarvis with reprecussions because
he has faithfully provided one of the great aspects of a democracy: the forum
for free expression of ideas. Anthro-l, is a fantastic list because of the
dialogue it generates, the ideas that are exchanged. Yes, there are
excesses--but excesses lead to their own corrections through responses of
those who make Anthro-L what it is, its subscribers.

I have read through all of the postings of the current debate on the AA
journal as they were posted and have marveled at what e-mail has provided:
the opportunity for there to be immediate response and debate on a matter
that affects all of us as anthropologists. I have found the discussion,
to be useful, informative, helpful, and well within my perception of what
Anthro-L is about. In contrast, would it be better if those who feel,
rightly or wrongly, that the journal is going in directions harmful to them
as researchers through begin (in their perception, be it right or wrong)
excluded from the flagship journal of the Association by, allegedly,
editorial fiat and not scholarly standards, be denied an opportunity to
openly express their discontent through a forum such as Anthro-L? Yes, they
could have written a letter to the Newsletter, yes, they could have written
to the Tedlocks (and some are now, because of the dialogue that took place,
following that route according to their postings)--and they could have
complained to others behind the Tedlocks' backs about their discontent with
the journal. Is that really better than what took place on Anthro-L: open,
free discussion of objections, counters to those objections, change of
positions through that discussion--and an opportunity for the editors to
engage its readers in dialogue. Regrettably the latter has not taken place.
How much better would it be for us if there were discussion--frank
discussion--with the Tedlocks over the direction the journal is going.

I had hoped the Tedlocks would join in the discussion. They could have
provided needed clarification, further discussion of their goals,
--even dialogue with us, the readers, as to whether their vision is in
keeping with the interests of the journal's readers. Through that discussion
we could all come away with a better understanding of what the journal is
about and what it is doing, even if we are not all in total agreement. And
the Tedlocks, through such discussion, might have been led to modify or
change some aspects of their vision to keep the journal as representing the
whole anthropological community.

I regret that Hugh Jarvis has to ask for cessation of discussion. I regret
that we can reach a position as a community where certain topics are "off
limits" because they MIGHT have linkages to alleged "political debate" over
the direction of the association. When some one complains: my article was
rejected out of hand because it does not fit with the vision of the editors,
is that POLITICAL? When someone raises the concern that journal is moving in
a direction apparently aimed at one segment of the anthropological community
to the exclusion of other segments, is that POLITICAL? Those complaints may
not be valid--or they might be. Are we better served by saying that this is
a topic that should not be discussed on Anthro-l, as if research is a
separate compartment that does not relate to its dissemination through
publication? Or are we better served by open discussion that can bring
correction to excesses and rebuttals to false claims?

Among the various persons who have posted on this topic to Anthro-L there may
be those motivated by the most crass of political reasons; should we silence
discussion because a few might abuse the intent and purpose of the list, or
should we assume that the subscribers are intelligent persons capable of
distinguishing between discussion aimed (in the broad sense) at the
betterment of anthropology and our doing of anthropological research, versus
discussion aimed at presenting a pollitical agenda? I have much faith in the
subscribers to this list to not merely make that distinction, but to point it
out forcefully in posts to the list!

So I am pained! pained! that Hugh Jarvis wrote what he wrote; pained because
I do not--indeed cannot--believe that it was written without pressure from
somewhere or from someone who fears and does not trust dialogue and exchange
of opinion--free speech--with its ability to arrive at a consensus that
serves all of us well. And I am fearful that Hugh Jarvis's posting may have
the chilling effect of creating self-censorship ......

D. Read