Re: Does a BA "make" an Anthropologist

Jennifer Hardin (hardin@LUNA.CAS.USF.EDU)
Mon, 27 Feb 1995 15:33:49 -0500

Hello everyone! I, too, have been following this thread with great interest.
I am currently writing a Master's thesis for the completion of the MA program
in applied anthropology at the University of South Florida. My thesis is
based on 10 months of fieldwork undertaken for fulfillment of the full-time
internship requirement here at USF. For the past two years, I have also been
employed as a research assistant at a university-based transportation
research institution (also my internship agency). Throughout my internship,
I was constantly amazed by the barrage of ethical issues that I was had to
confront on a daily basis. This experience has taught me as much (if not
more) as my six years of course work in anthropology about what it is to
"apply anthropology". Fieldwork is scary, no
matter where you do it and there is no better way to impress upon students
the seriousness of planned intervention and/or facilitated change. I
think we should be very careful that students (UG or Grads) are suitably
prepared for the angst they are sure to confront in the process of conducting

As an undergraduate student of anthropology, I was strongly encouraged to
participate in some type of a field school. This was not a requirement, but
all of my professors told me that if I felt that I wanted to go on to grad
school for anthropology, it would be a really good idea to try it out first,
rather than just relying on what I had read in textbooks, ethnographies, etc.
I took their advice and participated in a ten week archaeological field
school in New Mexico. While the field school was a wonderful, gratifying
experience, it also served to convince me that archaeology "is not my
thing". That ten weeks helped me to focus my interests so that I was
better prepared to choose graduate programs that would be suitable for me and
vice versa. In addition, I learned how to do systematic research and those
skills were easily transferable to fieldwork in applied urban anthropology,
as well as other areas of my life. Finally, the field school really helped
me make the link in my own mind between "the four fields" of anthropology.

So, in conclusion, I think that encouraging and facilitating fieldwork
experiences for undergraduates is a great idea and probably one that is
more common than we realize. In my experience, the fieldwork that I
was involved in served to solidify my commitment to anthropology.

Still pondering....

On Thu, 23 Feb 1995, John Taylor wrote:

> Hi. I've been following this thread for quite some time and, as an unde
> rgraguate
> student seeking a BA in Anthropology, I decided I needed to respond.
> I have seen people's opinions on UG fieldwork as needed for experience i
> n the field. I,
> however, believe there is another reason for it. The field of Anthropology is s
> o wide and
> varied, an UG degree cannot specialize in any one part of it very well. That is
> what
> graduate schools are for. But the biggest problem I have found as an UG is that
> without
> fieldwork (of all kinds), how can one such as myself be prepared to participate
> in a graduate
> program without knowing what is out there and whether or not I like it and am wi
> lling to
> spend A LOT of money being trained in it.
> Case in point: I used to believe ethnographic fieldwork to be extremely
> exciting until I
> had to do a small ethnography for a class I was taking. Had I never had to do t
> hat, I would
> have never had known that ethnographic fieldwork was not for me.
> I hope I am not too off on this post, but my point is, UG students need
> fieldwork in order
> to actually experience it and decide if that is what they wish to pursue.
> peace, john taylor