Anthropology predicament

Here we go. This is becoming a trend, at least in my corner of the anthropology world.

First of all, being a part time anthropologyinsturctor and a very part time (and more often, lately pro bono) archaeologist, I save money by not subscribing to American Anthropologist. I have colleagues with the money who don’t subscribe because of the content not being scientific enough for them. I have been subscribing to publications from the Society for Applied Anthropology. Just sayin’.

So here we have it:

Via email to Inside Higher Ed, he said that “I think the problem is with my choice of the word ‘particular’ when saying that biological anthropologists have a ‘particular problem.’ I was referring to the technical nature of their subject, which sometimes leads to their material being hard to understand for sociocultural anthropologists, who comprise most of the readership of the journal. But I could just as easily have said that ‘sociocultural anthropologists have a particular problem’ — which is the tendency to write in complicated ways when their ideas could be expressed more simply, posing problems for all readers, no matter what their subfield (including other sociocultural anthropologists).”

Speaking as an archaeologist by training and with a master’s degree, I think he’s a part of the problem. Hello? If we’re a four subfield discipline still; don’t we all receive some education in each of the subfields? I wouldn’t expect a specialist in Asian studies to know what I’m talking about when I go into technicalities regarding excavating. That’s okay. Do your best and I’ll do my best. When I did my undergraduate work, I was expected to have at least one course, maybe more than one, from each subfield. I preferred archaeology and biological anthropology and had a minor in linguistics. I studied geoarchaeology and stretched myself a bit. When completing my master’s I went heavily into human osteology and botany. These complemented archaeology for me. In fact, botany became the backbone of my specialization. (And it didn’t hurt me as a farmer, either) I felt like I was weak in sociocultural anthropology until I was nudged toward writing an ethnographic  dissertation. That’s the beauty of a discipline that is broad-reaching like four-subfield anthropology. We can stretch our knowledge and our research toward other, related subfields. We can learn from colleagues and mentors in other subfields.

We don’t have to stay in our bubble. We really do best not to stay in our bubbles. Get a grip here, people.



Mano fragment

Mano fragment

Historic can Dump, Mojave Desert.

Historic can Dump, Mojave Desert.


About rainshadowfarm

West Virginia hillbilly girl grown up. Grew up in northern Ohio. Farmer from birth. Working class academic. Practical agroecologist. Community educator. Single parent of eight. I also teach anthropology at a community college. I like this work and think it's worth doing and doing well. California community college students are some of the most incredible students I have ever known.
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