Re: Rensberger and anthro (long)

Alayne Unterberger (alayne@DAISY.MOFFITT.USF.EDU)
Thu, 24 Oct 1996 14:42:26 +0000

I, for one, appreciate Gina's insights on the coverage we
anthropologists get (or don't get) in popular press. In an earlier
post, she pointed out that anthropology has not been ignored by
science writers. I've had many conversations with colleagues in
which we bemoan the popularity of psychology and the
preponderance of quotations by psychologists in
popular press - where we say, "They should have consulted an
anthropologist...." blah, blah, blah.

But what do we do as anthropologists to make the press want to
consult us? We, as experts in culture, should be cognizant that the
press constitutes another "culture" in which things are said and done
differently. So, adapt or die. Why can't we explain what we do in a
sound bite? We should be able to. However, I think that if it is
impossible for us to make a cogent statement in everyday language (ie
without using anthropological terms with which the general public
is unfamiliar), then we should take the advice set forth here:

In such instances, one always has the prerogative to address the problem
head on by saying something like, "That's an over-simplification of the
idea/historical narrative/issue. In fact, it's more complicated, because XYZ."

The point is, would anthropologists rather complain about the lack of
coverage than make a real attempt to get this information out to the
public? I hope this is not true but I'd like to hear others'


Alayne Unterberger, MA
Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute
Tampa, FL phone: 813-632-1344