Re: A spirit of bitterness is abroad on ANTHRO-L...

Tom Riley (triley@VMD.CSO.UIUC.EDU)
Fri, 7 Oct 1994 14:20:58 +0000

I agree with Lee Cronk and I have sent a letter to Wendy Ashmore outlining
my problems with the editorial vision of AA. The text follows:

"I am writing to urge you and the AD Executive Committee to strongly object
to the directions that are being taken in the American Anthropologist under
its new editors. Fromk the very beginning of their editorship, when the
Tedlcoks slurred Mayan archaeologists, I feared that their idea of
archaeology was flawed, simplistic and naive. The first issue of the
journal has shown that this is true, but it has also demonstrated a lack of
use of their editorial board and an inability to recognize what archaeology
is.I do not want to comment on particular articles, since I felt that there
was some fine work in the first issue, but I do want to state categorically
that there was no archaeology in the issue. It was this which disturbed
me immensely.
I realise that the editors would most likely disagree with me, but that is
where the problem lies. If we can judge from the issue, they have no idea
what archaeology is and they are unwilling to learn from their editorial
board or their reviewers.
It is even more disturbing to hear several reports from colleagues that the
editors have returned a number of articles without review, saying that they
do not fit the vision that the editors have for the journal. If there was
a vision that reflected World archaeology, that might be acceptable. It is
obvious from the first issue, however, that archaeology is not within their
The American Anthropologist is supposed to be a unifying force within a
discipline which distinguishes itself from the other social, behavioral and
historical sciences by its holism. It appears to have been captured by an
extremely provincial and narrow segment of the discipline intent on
imposing its narrowness on the rest of us.
This has happened before in the field, but it is much more destructive now.
I hope that the AD leadership can act for us in this crisis, for it is a
crisis that is not only ours but one that affects the discipline as a