Re: The New AM Anthropologist

Patricia Clay (pclay@WHSUN1.WH.WHOI.EDU)
Thu, 6 Oct 1994 10:13:05 -0400

Lee Cronk asks:
> Isn't anyone besides me disturbed by this issue?

Actually, I did find it disturbing. But I'm not sure that was bad.
It made me very uncomfortable: all that personal information and soul
searching. It gave me the willies. However, as I thought about why I felt
uncomfortable I also decided that part of it was for precisely the reasons
that the various authors brought up -- and *that* I liked. Issues had been
raised that are, in fact, not socially acceptable. They had trodden on my
professional taboos. Isn't this one of the time honored anthropological
ways of learning? Accidentally (or in this case on purpose -- which is
somewhat problematic...) breaking a rule and then having people explain
why that was a wrong thing to do... It made me think, and that is what a
good journal should do.

I sincerely hope, though, every issue doesn't concentrate on this
same style of writing. It verges a little much on what I dislike about
postmodernism. (But let's not start that war up again.) I don't mind
occasional non-academic style or self-studies, but I don't want the AA to
become primarily that.

> What bothers me
> most about it is the heavy editorial hand evidently being taken by
> the new editors. I had heard rumors that people (mostly from
> biological anthropology) had submitted manuscripts to them, only
> to have them returned, unreviewed, with a note to the effect that
> they don't match the new editors' vision of the journal

Now this is a whole other kettle of fish! I had not heard any of
this and it disturbs me in a way I don't find interesting *or*
thought-provoking. Much as I find myself specializing and specializing, I
strongly believe in 4-fields grounding as necessary to maintain a holistic
perspective. A journal has the right to reject manuscripts that are outside
the range of its interests, but I don't like the idea that biological
anthropology is outside the range of the AA's interests. True, there's not
that much bio anth at the AAA meetings anymore, but that's all the more
reason to keep it in the journal.

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?