Re: Does a BA "Make" an Anthropologist?

Brad M Biglow (bmb@PINE.CSE.NAU.EDU)
Tue, 21 Feb 1995 16:49:16 -0700

} Yes, I think that some kind of field training is important for
} undergraduates taking applied anthropology, whether it is an
} internship or a field school.
} Do we agree?
} Tim
}-- End of excerpt from "Tim Wallace"

As one of the few (?) applied anthropology MA students on this list, I
think it's about time one of us speaks out. After following the tidbits of
this conversational thread, I couldn't agree more. An internship or fieldwork
experience would greatly enhance any undergraduate anthro. program. Sure, there
are always going to be those who see the building of the BA as a "background"
of knowledge that needs to be gained in order to pursue further study in the
field, but (and this is my own humble opinion) if anthropology is presented at
the undergraduate level in a more contemporary framework, students may much more
realize the relevancy of applied work to human civilization and culture. Part
of the reason I became involved in this field was due to the presentation of
anthropology in a static sense while I was an undergraduate. In fact, my BA was
in Spanish and *not* anthropology. Were it not through a fluke of nature, I
would have considered anthropology only in the old theoretical ivory tower sense
of the discipline. There is so much more out there than can be learned in the
classroom. It took the discovery of this applied program to realize the full
potential of applied anthropology in the workplace or the field and I am
grateful for that. I can only hope that others don't have to struggle with
what they learn vs. the Real World in order to discover that their BA or MA
'can' mean something.

The problem arises when people are resistant to change and place
stereotypes and labels upon applied anthropologists as being something "less
than professional." Sure, there are times when I don't reveal myself as an
anthropologist, but hide behind my M-F job of "Systems Administrator" or call
myself an "educational researcher", but it's surprising how often people ask
"So do you teach there at NAU?" or "Where did you do your PhD work?"
No. I don't have my PhD, or even my MA yet. It's as if because you don't have
those three initials behind your name, you're something less than an
"anthropologist" in the Boazian tradition. So let them know if they ask
(lying is not the point of the argument here), otherwise it may be best to
keep your mouth shut. Let them see your strengths and abilities FIRST; your
degrees second. With more applied anthro. work in BA degrees, it is hoped
that some of these idiosyncracies and petty frustrations can be avoided in
the future.

Now. Anyone care to do a comparative study of BA holding anthropology
grads. who obtained their emphases in archaeology vs. cultural anthropology
and working world success?

Brad M. Biglow
Northern Ariz. Univ.