Re: industry finger up the academic wazoo

Michael Cahill (MCBlueline@AOL.COM)
Thu, 17 Oct 1996 14:18:18 -0400

In a message dated 96-10-16 14:38:47 EDT, (Ronald
Kephart) writes:

<< I almost forgot: CNN today reports that about 24% (don't recall exact
figure) of
Americans are living below poverty level, the highest rate in the
world. Second place goes to Canada, with about 12%. Does anthropology have
anything to say about this?>>

My experience over the past year or so has been that topics like this one do
not generate much discussion on this list. Maybe it's because most
anthropologists don't study U.S. society and culture. Maybe it's because the
ones who do don't focus on "macro" issues. Maybe the questions have been
poorly put. I just don't know. There is a relatively new section within the
AAA called SANA (Society for the Anthropology of North America) that may
develop a more powerful voice on these matters. That's yet to be seen.

My own view is that anthropologists should not only be able to provide
readers with detailed portraits of what life is *really* like in various
kinds of American communities -- rich, middling and, poor ones -- they should
also be able to set the American experience with prosperity and poverty in a
world perspective. For more of the latter to happen, however, bridges will
need to be built between the kind of work now being done by internationalist
writers like Paul Kennedy (_Preparing for the Twenty-First Century_ 1993) and
Robert D. Kaplan (_The Ends of the Earth: A Journey at the Dawn of the 21st
Century 1996), by social commentators and critics as diverse as Michael Lind,
Felix Rohatyn, and Charles Sykes (_A Nation of Victims: The Decay of the
American Character_ 1992), and by anthropologists like Nancy Scheper-Hughes
and Phillipe Bourgois. To top it off, this new anthropology will need to
have the readability and elegance of an Oscar Lewis work. Right now, I don't
see this kind of thing happening. If anyone else has, please let me know.

I should say that I detect the spirit of it in Kate Gillogly's work.

Mike Cahill