Re: the arrogance of postmodern mumbo jumbo

Gerold Firl (
9 Oct 1996 19:37:16 GMT

In article <>, (Jay Bernstein) writes:

|> ....................................Who could have guessed that it would
|> become a fixation, and that feminism and postmodernism would have combined
|> to be the hegemony to end all hegemonies in anthropology, so that they are
|> now about 30-40 percent of jobs in anthropology, and if you throw in
|> multiculturalism--ie being an entitled minority bitching about how bad
|> straight white males are--you've got 75-85 percent of all jobs in
|> anthropology. If you are not identifiable as a militant participant in
|> those movements, you are ineligible for 75-85 percent of jobs in
|> anthropology, and there aren't that many jobs to begin with. It is
|> bullshit. These people should be locked up. I was educated within the
|> interpretivist and culture-and-cognition as well as other contemporary
|> psychological paradigms in anthropology, not to mention geographical and
|> historical traditions of research. But the postmodernism sickens me so
|> that I feel a warmth for more scientific, materialistic and empiricist
|> paradigms in anthropology. Especially, I feel that we should be relating
|> cultural anthropology more to evolution and biological anthropology.

Agreed. Anthropology is painting itself into a ghetto of subjective
feel-goodism, an isolated, closed circle in a tower-of-color, hoping
they can keep their stipend coming as long as possible. What a sad
state of affairs for what *should* be the queen of the social
sciences, encompassing history, literature, linguistics, and psych. How
can anthropology exist when the closed circle faces inward, and when
their mantra "it's all culturally relative" is repeated to the
exclusion of any other sound? How can an anthropologist have any time
to study actual culture, what with all the struggle meetings they're
obliged to attend?

|> Not that postmodernist stuff is all wrong. I think they make a lot of
|> interesting points. But they deserve no more than 5 percent of the
|> anthropological pie.
|> Empiricists, interpretivists, micro-analysts, and ethnographers, unite and
|> take back our birthright of anthropology! The postmodernist scumbags
|> should be cut back, controlled like a disease or plague that is already
|> out of control.

Looking beyond the symptoms of militant affirmative action and random
deconstruction, I see the malaise of anthropology as a process of
*incystation*, as a threatened subculture tries to insulate itself
from change. The same process that tom billings described is
pertinent: funding for anthropology is meager, and job prospects look
bleak. As a result, anthropologists and would-be anthropologists
circle the wagons, throw up a smoke screen, and pass the ammunition.
Postmodernism is just a form of protective camoflage, a sheltering
song-and-dance. In itself, it means nothing; as a symptom of
fossilization, it is troubling to any who love anthropology, or who see
the value of anthropology in the great blending of culture currently
taking place. For anthropology to become petrified into rigid
scholasticism would be a tragedy.

The pomo anthros are adept at playing political games; that is their
only real talent. Just like their jargon and their convoluted prose,
they are meaningless in themselves; only to the extent that they can
form a political bloc and convince others of their power are they

Anthropology is, or should be, a science. That means that hot air and
bluster can be blown away. The pomo bullshitters and foucault-citing
deconstructionists must be fumagated from the house of anthropology;
in fact, fumagation isn't even necessary. All you have to do is open
the shutters, unbar the door, and allow the light and air to clear the
mildewy shadows. Scissors cut paper, paper covers rock, rocks beats
scissors; fact beats postmodernist.

Disclaimer claims dat de claims claimed in dis are de claims of meself,
me, and me alone, so sue us god. I won't tell Bill & Dave if you won't.
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=---- Gerold Firl @ ..hplabs!hp-sdd!geroldf