Re: Does a BA "Make" an Anthropologist?

wilkr (wilkr@INDIANA.EDU)
Tue, 21 Feb 1995 23:25:38 -0400

Paula Sabloff asks an excellent and important question.
Archaeologists would never think of sacrificing a site in order to train
students. Nor should people in applied sociocultural anthro (or academic
for that matter) use people and places in this way, without thought about
making a contribution or meeting professional and ethical standards.

I have thought about the ethics of training undergrads through field
exercises a lot. I do this in every introductory class - but mainly
asking students to work with each other. Sending students out to work in
the community raises all kinds of problems.

If my department ever got serious about including applied anthropology as
a component of our undergrad program, I think I would search out local
organizations that need applied research. I made some initial contacts
two years ago when I thought I was going to teach an undergrad applied
anthropology course, and quickly found three groups that wanted help with
surveys, needs assessments, and evaluation. One was a local land trust,
another a community center for the elderly.

This kind of engagement would do more than train students in methods. It
would teach them how applied anthropology requires ethical committment,
engagement with political realities and constant questioning of values.

Rick Wilk

Richard Wilk Anthropology Dept.
812-855-8162 (voice) Indiana University
812-855-4358 (fax) Bloomington, IN 47405