Re: career paths

mike salovesh (T20MXS1@MVS.CSO.NIU.EDU)
Sun, 11 Dec 1994 23:24:00 CST

Warren Sproule said:

>I'm with Alan Hanson on this one (12/10) in terms of the dangers
>relaying such misgivings to prospective students at the outset.
>Might they not be justified in questioning why, in the situation
>as described, we choose to stay in, submit to and *profit by*
>what we describe as an iniquitous professional situation? . . .
>Mike seems to be his own best argument against the pessimism
>inherent in his diagnosis.


Ok, who said I was a pessimist? I'm an optimist, dammit: I still
believe the situation can be turned around!!!

I dunno about anybody else. I choose to stay in and submit to
(*profit by* isn't happening to me, yet) the iniquities of the
academic life for several reasons:
Anthropology is challenging and stimulating.
Doing anthropology is a helluva lot of fun, besides.
Teaching is rewarding because I have been lucky enough to
have a hand in training some really good people.
Studying the structure of academia is a great way to do
participant observation.
And every once in a while I block the worst of the
iniquities: I like being a successful revolutionary!
All right, mostly I don't succeed--but I haven't given up, either.

I think telling prospective students up front some of the ugly parts
of what's ahead for them is a healthy antidote for my enthusiasm for
anthropology. I got into anthropology in the first place because it
gave me room to do what I'd most like to do if I didn't have to
worry about making a living. I even get paid for it. (The pay's
a pittance, compared to what I used to earn before I went back to
school and started studying anthro. In constant dollars, I've been
going backward ever since I got here 25 years ago--and I took a pay
cut, in current dollars, to join NIU.)

The rewards of doing anthropology are so great that pay doesn't
really matter.

What's more, any time I get tired of the particular niche I've been
occupying within anthropology I can change to doing something
completely different and still be an anthropologist. How can you
get bored or tired with that?

My advice for students assumes, at the start, that the people I'm
talking to are on the way to loving anthropology and anthropologists
as much as I do. My warnings are a reality check for my feelings
that I've gone to heaven--even while living in hell.

-- mike <>