Re: Ad Man

Patricia Clay (pclay@WHSUN1.WH.WHOI.EDU)
Wed, 5 Oct 1994 17:39:22 -0400

In response to John McCreery's query on ways for consultants to explain
anthropology to potential employers, Aaron Fox states:

> I deeply, deeply resent JM's facile, disingenuous comparison between the
> project of his henchmen (sorry, "employees," "consultants," snake-oil
> salesmen, whatever) and the project of professional, scholarly
> ethnographers, who learn foreign languages, who spend years studying and
> living with (usually rural, typically oppressed, almost always poor) people
> in their communities, who for the most part are deeply offended by the way
> the adver-tizing-men and the sales-men and the capitalist
> multinationalist-men and their thugs and apologists and evangelists are
> fucking over the people in these places, and who are responsible to their
> colleagues for deeply considered and carefully researched scholarly work as
> well as to their "subjects" for political and moral advocacy.
<...even more inflammatory personal digs deleted...>

As neither a consultant nor a full-time academic, I feel in a
neutral enough position to respond to this. I really think the rhetoric is
uncalled for. With academic jobs few and far between, many anthropologists are
turning to consulting to make a living. The anthropologists I know who are
consultants are highly moral and just as concerned with oppression as Fox
seems to be. A few points:
1) Just because you are a consultant doesn't mean you work for
oppressive/repressive employers. Ever heard of consulting for the school
board or the NAACP or a homeless shelter or a tribal council?
2) Even if you feel all corporations are evil, the old question arises of
whether to work for change from without or from within.
3) Being a consultant doesn't mean you are not a scholar. More and more
applied anthropologists do both theoretical and practical work.

Trish Clay

Dr. Patricia M. Clay, Anthropologist voice: 508-548-5123
National Marine Fisheries Service fax: 508-548-5124
Northeast Fisheries Science Center email:
166 Water St.
Woods Hole, MA 02536 Favorite quote: "So what do you
U.S.A. study? The social behavior of fish?