I'm a bit troubled too, but not by the new AA

John Stevens (8859jstev@UMBSKY.CC.UMB.EDU)
Sat, 8 Oct 1994 12:09:05 EDT

Greetings. And now, let's talk about the Tedlocks. Mike Lieber gets my vote
for "voice o' reason" for his measured response to the Tedlock eruption that
has been going on recently on the list. Give the Tedlocks, time, folks; it's
tough job they're doing, and as I've said before, most editors worth their
salt try to make a lasting first impression that lets you not only what side
of the fence they're on, but what color they want to paint it. The Tedlocks
are pretty flamboyant (and maybe a little intolerant), and I'm glad that they
laid it all out before us. Don't start a war (to paraphrase Mike) until you
know there's an enemy.

It seems to me that this debate lies at the heart of the whole specialization
debate so nicely encapsulated by Trish Clay's recent post. For me, it is a
debate not about what you study, but how. Too many people in "area studies"
\lack a solid theoretical or methodological approach, and this hurts their
work. You can't learn about something with knowing a somehow to learn it.
This is why no less an iconoclast than myself embraces the mantle of (budding)
anthropologist. If we all have one thing in common, it is the literal
definition of anthropology: the study of MAN. Culture has long been held
to be a central part of that study, so of course there will be more
specializations around that heart of anthropological inquiry. I would love
to see an Ethnoarchaology group or a Biocultural discussion, etc; that's the
kind of diversity that powers what is ideally the most encompassing and
holistic of the human/science disciplines.

Anthropology gives me an anchor in the knowledge whorl. Whether I'm studying
history, literature, the rhetoric of human rights, epistemology, religion, or
North American cultures, I know that I have a default perspective. I can
analyze meaning, critique assumptions, and describe behavior, all under the
aegis of anthropology, and that suits me fine. It's almost an identity thing;
it's knowing where you're coming from. Maybe that's why the whole Tedlock
thing has been raging, because some see this grand old organ churning out
music that isn't to their taste and that does not reflect them? Personally,
I don't think that any one journal can possibly encompass the discipline,
but if it presents thoughtful work and attempts to cover multiple
perspectives, then I'll be satisfied.

Best regards,

John Stevens
University of Massachusetts