AA and "subdisciplines" of Anthropology

Alexandre Enkerli (alexandre.enkerli@IMM.UNIL.CH)
Tue, 11 Oct 1994 12:32:58 +0100

I didn't follow the thread about the AA's lack of archeology and
bio-anthropology very much, so this might be a bit off-topic. What I know
is that the question of what is part of Anthropology or not is one of those
old problems that always get some exposure on anthro-l once in a while.
After graduating from U.of Montreal in Anthropology (with a bias towards
ethnolinguistics, symbolic anthropology and ethnomusicology) I came to
Switzerland to work in a speech synthesis project, nowhere near
anthropology. I wanted to keep in touch with anthropology so I got to the
anthro. dept. here at U.Lausanne.
First surprise, there is no "Anthropology" dept., faculty or institute.
But there is an "Institut d'Anthropologie et de Sociologie". Once again,
Anthropology is linked with Sociology. Second surprise, Archeology is done
in a separate faculty along with Ancient History. Third surprise (that I
have had before that but that amazed me afterwards) U.Geneve, not far from
Lausanne and cooperating on many aspects, doesn't have any Anthropology
except as a subdiscipline of biology. People tell me that there is
"Anthropology" elsewhere in Geneva, but still there is no Anthropology
dept. as such at U.Geneve.
Also, going in bookstores will usually make you realize the different
aspects Anthropology gets in the mind of non-anthros. As well as
discussing about it with non-anthros, browsing "Anthropology" shelves in
bookstores leads to surprising things. For example, some bookshops put
"Ethnology" apart from "Anthropology", the latter being mostly bio-anthro.
Others would put "Anthropology" along with "Sociology". Etc.
I suspect that some people (mainly Europeans, I guess) "Anthropology" has a
precise definition. This definition changes over time and space, but the
definition is precise. Archeologists at Lausanne might feel
"intellectually colonialized" if we associate them with "Anthropology".
And it might be that some bio-anthropologists don't really like to be
associated with ethnologists.
We can't do anything about it, it's a question of strong academic identities.
For my part, I do think, as a real North-American, that Anthropology is and
should be a diverse discipline in which the four sub-disciplines are all
important. But many people don't share this view. It's an important issue
but it is one that we should raise without a definite answer.

Alexandre Enkerli aenkerli@imm.unil.ch (Unil-LAIP Lausanne) ___________
enkerlia@ere.umontreal.ca (UdeM Dept. d'Anthropologie Montreal) ____ ____
"Doue d'une naivete permanente, il vivait plus que les autres." ___ o ___
Boris Vian /Une penible histoire/ in _Le loup-garou_ (1970:126) __ o o __