Re: Mob Scenes (lengthy)

wilkr (wilkr@INDIANA.EDU)
Thu, 9 Dec 1993 10:38:32 -0400

Just to prod Dam Jorgenson a little bit on the academic job market... I
was indeed one of those on the edges, nomadic and untenurable for
several years, also saw some of the best and brightest leave in disgust
or fear or simply for brighter horizons.

In fact, I was in my second year in grad school when the job market
collapsed...and it was a time of great fear and tension

But something good did come out of the overproduction and
underemplyment, which is that it FORCED anthropologists out of academia
and into all those areas of applied anthropology which are just
beginning to flourish now. Most of my peers and I were trained to think
that the only 'real' job for an anthropologist was teaching in a large
graduate department...and that applied work was scut-work. We ended up
doing applied work because we saw it as the only possibility - and then
many of us found that it was a real calling, that it was the cutting
(and often bleeding) edge. It also makes a lot of the 80's theoretical
dreck in cultural anthropology seem farily trivial, like an academic
parlor game. At the same time, I think most practicing anthropologists
recognize the importance of research and grounded theory, as well as
teaching and training as part of an integrated anthropological

So yes, it was painful. But no, I don't think the answer is to train
only the number of anthropologists who can fit into existing jobs...we
need to expand the range and presence of our discipline, and the only
way to do this is to train more people and help them invade new
territory. I think there are still hundreds of fields that desperately
need an anthropological perspective -- I haven;t found anything yet than
an anthropologist can't add something to!

Rick Wilk