Public Anthropology

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Unformatted text preview: Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu WHY A PUBLIC ANTHROPOLOGY? 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu by Rob Borofsky (Hawaii Pacific University) 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu PREFACE 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu Three Ways to Read This Book This book is directed at three audiences: students taking introductory courses in anthropology, advanced anthropology students and their teachers, and general readers outside the discipline of anthropology. Does that mean that each audience is encouraged to read Why a Public Anthropology? in a different way? W ell, not really. I have discovered the one sure rule in suggesting how audiences should read a book is that they will ignore your suggestion. They take charge of the book and read it as they wish. Let me offer some options that readers might consider in choosing how they will read this book. Option One: The book is written somewhat like a set of blogs, with each chapter having a number of questions and answers. If you want to get the "big idea" of what each chapter is about and have a limited amount of time, you might consider reading only the questions and short answers. This way you can get a sense of each chapter without getting bogged down in the details. Reading the book this way should take just under two hours. Since most introductory anthropology students will be using this book in relation to the Public Anthropology Community Action W ebsite Project, this might be the best option for you. You will get an intriguing perspective on the discipline plus the background you need to put the Project what it seeks to achieve and why in perspective. Option Two: This option represents the standard way of reading a book. You start at the beginning and go through it paragraph by paragraph until you come to the last page. In terms of the book's format, this means reading the questions in each chapter as well as their short and longer answers. (The longer answers elaborate on the short answers, going into more detail with more supporting case material.) This option is well suited for advanced students of anthropology. It provides the supporting details that explain an answer in depth allowing readers to sift through the data to see to what degree they do, and don't, concur with the point being made. Interested readers are encouraged to pursue matters further, if they wish, by examining the online footnotes. These provide elaborations of points made in the book as well as additional references. Option Three: I suspect this is the option most will choose. Once readers get a sense of how the book is laid out, they will select and choose which questions they wish to read the short answers to and which the longer. W ith some questions, readers may prefer to only gain a brief, general answer. The question doesn't particularly interest them. But readers may find other questions quite interesting and want to read everything both the short and the longer answers. Some readers may skip around in a chapter, seeing which questions interest them and focusing on those. The "golden rule" of reading is how you read depends on the purpose you are reading for. If you are reading for a multiplechoice exam, you need to focus on details. If you are reading for an essay exam, you need to read for big ideas and a few, self7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu selected details (to support the points you will make in your essay). If you a reading to gain insights and ideas, you tend to skip around looking for the sections that interest you. If you have time on your hands, you might meander through the book at your own pace reading sections of interest and skipping those that don't. The choice is yours. The Book's Five Themes It seems clear, succinct, and definitive to say that Why a Public Anthropology? has five themes. Actually, it isn't true. The book probably has more than five, as readers will discover when they wend their way through the book. (Dare I suggest that different readers will perceive different numbers of themes?) But suggesting five themes with one theme representing the book as a whole and a theme for each chapter offers a guide into the book. It foreshadows what the book is about. The book's central point is that anthropology is embedded in certain structures that shape its dynamics. To date, these structures have limited the discipline's intellectual development. If the structures are altered to facilitate greater transparency and accountability anthropology could both overcome this limitation and also become more socially engaged, helping to better the lives of people around the world. The book's underlying question is how to facilitate such change. W hile not discouraging traditional approaches, it observes past efforts have mostly failed because the forces aligned against change are too strong. To subvert the forces subverting the discipline's transformation, the book seeks to draw the larger society into the process. Succinctly stated, the book seeks to move anthropology from the rhetoric of social accountability to the practice of it. Chapter 1 provides an overview of anthropology the social structure within which the discipline is embedded, the discipline's key methodological tools, and its appealing vision of tolerance. Critically, the chapter describes how the social structure within which anthropology is embedded not only shapes the discipline's self-definition but also defines objectivity incorrectly as involving apolitical perspectives. Objectivity isn't defined by apolitical posturing but by the independent confirmation of a claim. Positively, we see the power of anthropologists such as Franz Boas, Margaret Mead, and Paul Farmer to address important social problems. Chapter 2 suggests cultural anthropology (which constitutes two thirds of the discipline) has made limited intellectual progress over the past sixty-plus years. Since this isn't a particularly popular notion for many anthropologists, the chapter details the data leading to that conclusion. (Still further data are provided in the footnotes.) After describing the ways anthropologists 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu usually define disciplinary progress, it examines five popular trends dating from the 1930s up to 2000. It suggests in respect to the trends examined, despite hundreds of publications and the spending of thousands of research dollars, there has been significantly less intellectual progress than hoped. In seeking to explain why, the chapter considers the disciplinary chase for status and how anthropologists often work the system to advance their careers. The problem, the chapter suggests, doesn't lie with the chase for status per se. Rather the problem results from the loose accountability and validation standards within the discipline. They encourage an entrepreneurial flair that generates a number of exciting possibilities but little cumulative progress. Chapter 3 discusses the power of anthropology's two key methodical tools contextual analysis and comparative analysis to better the lives of millions of people around the world. It considers questions raised in three case studies: (1) W hy have the billions of dollars allocated each year for foreign aid had such a limited impact? (2) W hat went wrong with the United States' efforts in Vietnam and later, in Iraq, leading to a significant loss of life and the wasting of billions? and (3) W hy does higher education cost so much today, yet yield such uncertain results? W e live in an imperfect world in which power often trumps reason. Still, anthropologists can help address important social problems such as those cited by increasing transparency and thereby enforcing social accountability in important institutions. Anthropologists can speak truth to power (to use the famous Quaker phrase) in ways that enhance institutional accountability. Chapter 4 considers on how to facilitate disciplinary change striving to move anthropology from the intellectual styles discussed in Chapter 2 to those covered in Chapter 3. On a positive note, the chapter indicates that the concept of a public anthropology recently has been embraced by many. Less positively, the chapter observes that public anthropology is but one of many efforts at social engagement which, to date, have languished after an initial burst of enthusiasm. Given the academic structures poised against social engagement, the question is: Can a public anthropology break free of this pattern of waxing and waning. The chapter offers five strategies for transforming these structures. It remains to be seen whether we have the insights and support to foster social engagement and structural transformation this time around. But the chapter offers a commitment. Change, it notes, takes learning from past experiences and innovating until the problems are overcome. It takes persistence. It takes time. 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu Acknowledgments It is my honor to acknowledge various people who have helped in the development of this volume. The book is dedicated to my wife, Nancy. W e have been together for more than three decades and that certainly deserves recognition and celebration. W hen thinking of various titles for the book, she suggested one morning, why not avoid all that fancy stuff and just say . . . . That is how the book's title came to be. I want to thank Naomi Schneider at the University of California Press, my compadre in the Public Anthropology Series, as well as various authors in the series from Paul Farmer to Nancy Scheper-Hughes, Alex Hinton, and Carolyn Nordstrom. I would also like to thank W illiam Rodarmor, who has edited this manuscript more than once and, in doing so, has made it significantly better. At Hawaii Pacific University I would single out Chatt W right for providing a stimulating, exciting place to work, learn, and write. Let me also thank others at Hawaii Pacific who have made a difference in the development of this book: Andy Brittain, John Fleckles, Bill Potter, Ellen Moodie, Susan Trencher, David Simmons, Yin Lam, Courtney Kurlanska, Gwen W edow, Rachel W ier, Jill Peterson, Crystal W oods, Tom Thomas, Joe Esser, Leslie Rodrigues, Janice Uyeda, Darlene Young, Lorrin King, Ian Masterson, and Colin Umebayashi. W ithin the larger Hawaii setting, I would like to thank Stan Bowers, Mac Shannon, Jim Thompson, Steve Drake, Jeff Grad, Russell Yoshida, Eric Freitas, Howard Matushima, Janice Shiroma, and Tim Cavanaugh. I also want to express my appreciation to my immediate family for being who they are: Amelia, Robyn, and especially Nancy. I would also add my appreciation to the larger Borofsky family: Jerry, Jeanne, Nate, Anna, Richie, Antra, Nadine, Larrisa, and Nancy B. Pictures The pictures at the beginning of this book and at the beginning of each chapter are from Victor Englebert's outstanding ethnographic collection of photographs. If you would like to see more of Victor's photographs, please click on this link http://ww w .victorenglebert.com/ or copy it into your browser. Please note these pictures are copyrighted so it is illegal to make copies of them. These and other pictures in Victor's collection, however, can be purchased from Victor Englebert at a fairly inexpensive price. 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu From the Niger Republic, Sahara Desert. A young From Cuenca, Ecuador. The three women Tuareg woman is pulling a baby camel away from are waiting outside a church for the bus on its mother after nursing so the woman's relatives market day. can milk the mother camel. From the Aures Mountains, Medina, Algeria. Shawiya Berber elders are enjoying an afternoon chat. From Chombote, Peru. At dawn, fishermen unload the catch from their fishing boats onto the rowboats that then take the fish into the beach. From the Danakili Depression in the Afar region of Ethiopia. The men are taking a rest from herding goats and camels. The man standing in the middle, with a gun on his shoulders, is the headman. From the Amazon rain forest, Roraima, Brazil. An older Yanomami woman. 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu TABLE OF CONTENTS Chapter 1: How Should We Define Anthropology? 1-22 Chapter 2: How Much Progress has Cultural Anthropology Made in the Last Sixty-plus Years? 23-78 Chapter 3: Do You Seriously Believe that Anthropology's Methodological Mainstays Contextual and Comparative Analysis Can Help Better the Lives of Millions of People Around the World? 79-115 Chapter 4: Why a Public Anthropology? Why Now? 116-145 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 1 CHAPTER 1 HOW SHOULD WE DEFINE ANTHROPOLOGY? 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 2 Overview: This introductory chapter describes the discipline of anthropology. It examines how the academic social structure within which anthropology is embedded shapes its operation. It also describes anthropology's two methodological tools contextual and comparative analysis as well as its intellectual vision and the impressive way certain anthropologists have implemented it. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 1:1 Question: The chapter title suggests that you are going to offer a definition of anthropology. Are you suggesting there is no unified agreement on exactly what anthropology is? If that is so, how are you going to define anthropology to get around the problem? _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ 1:1 Answer: what it is." He writes: As its title suggests, this chapter seeks to introduce readers to the discipline of anthropology. But there is a problem: Defining anthropology isn't an easy task. The famous American anthropologist Clifford Geertz once observed: "One of the advantages of anthropology as a scholarly enterprise is that no one, including its practitioners, quite knows exactly People who watch baboons copulate, people who rewrite myths in algebraic formulas, people who dig up Pleistocene skeletons, people who work out decimal point correlations between toilet-training practices and theories of disease, people who decode Maya hieroglyphics, and people who classify kinship systems into typologies in which our own comes out as "Eskimo," all call themselves anthropologists. Another prominent anthropologist, Eric W olf, phrased it more positively: "The result of anthropology's eclecticism is that the field continues to astound by its diverse and colorful activity." Nor is it easy to differentiate anthropology from other disciplines. You would be hard pressed to find a topic anthropologists study that some other discipline doesn't also study in some form. Power? Anthropologists study that; but so do political scientists. Economic exchanges? Both anthropologists and economists study them. Clyde Kluckhohn, a noted post-World W ar II anthropologist at Harvard, suggested that a degree in anthropology provided a license for poaching other disciplines' ideas. How then should we proceed? In studying other groups, anthropologists frequently focus on a group's social structure as a 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 3 way of describing that group. This chapter applies the same approach to anthropology. The chapter focuses on its academic social structure to examine what topics anthropologists study (versus which ones they avoid) as well as some of the myths anthropologists embrace as a way of reducing conflicts within this structure. The implicit message in the first part of the chapter is that anthropologists are a lot like the people they study. W hile claiming to be objective scholars, they too are embedded in a structure that shapes their beliefs and behaviors. The chapter next turns to the discipline's two key methodological tools, contextual and comparative analysis. It describes what they are and how anthropologists use them setting the stage, in Chapter 3, for demonstrating their potential for helping to improve the lives of people around the world. The chapter concludes by considering anthropology's vision for itself a historically unique ideal that draws people toward more tolerant, positive, human relations. It describes the impressive ways three anthropologists have implemented this vision to address critical social problems. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ 1:2 Questions: You indicate you will focus, in the first part of the chapter, on anthropology's social structure. Can you explain how you are going to use this social structure to define anthropology? ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ 1:2 Short Answer: and isn't perceived as anthropology. The academic departmental structure the core social structure that shapes the reproduction of the discipline plays a key role in determining who is and isn't perceived as an anthropologist as well as what is If an individual wants a job as an anthropologist either inside or outside the university then that person usually needs an advanced degree in anthropology (at the masters or doctorate level). Such degrees are only provided by anthropology departments. Anthropology ranges here and there over the intellectual landscape. It covers a truly vast array of interesting questions and issues. One may argue, in the abstract, about whether a particular topic is anthropological. But it is generally assumed by those both within and outside the university that if a topic is taught by an anthropologist in an anthropology course it is anthropology. Readers may suggest exceptions to these propositions. I freely grant there are. There is no perfect way to define 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 4 anthropology or anthropologists. But focusing on the departmental structure offers a way to specify who is an anthropologist and what is anthropology that the broader public accepts. It avoids the confusion inherent in saying that anthropology is the study of certain topics X, Y, and Z and then leaving readers to figure out on their own how it differs from a range of other disciplines. ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ 1:2 Longer Answer: In seeking to define both who is an anthropologist and what is anthropology, we need to acknowledge a tension between an ideology of individual autonomy individuals freely define themselves and the discipline as they wish and a social structure that frames the contexts in which the ideology of autonomy operates. As noted, in this section we will focus on the discipline's social structure. If an individual wants a position in anthropology such as a teaching or a non-academic position they generally need a graduate degree in anthropology. This means that, in most cases for most people, to practice anthropology one has to be credentialed by an anthropology department. Once credentialized as an anthropologist, the individual can legitimately study a wide range of subjects in the social sciences and humanities and still claim to be an anthropologist. Of course an individual can also simply claim to be an anthropologist. But to be seen by others and, critically, to obtain employment as an anthropologist, the key is having a graduate degree either at the masters or doctoral level. This is like the old baseball saying that a pitch isn't a strike until the umpire calls it a strike. An individual isn't considered a professional anthropologist no matter what she or he does until some anthropology department grants them a graduate degree in anthropology. Anthropology departments allow anthropology to reproduce itself through time by producing anthropologists. Quoting the prominent sociologist Andrew Abbott: Non-disciplinary intellectuals have difficulty reproducing themselves because the American open market for public intellectuals is incapable of supporting more than a tiny handful of nonacademic writers and has no organized means of reproduction and exchange beyond some tenuous referral networks. Academia is, to all intents and purposes, the only practical recourse for American intellectuals. And being an academic means willy-nilly being a member of a discipline. There have indeed been great interdisciplinary geniuses, even within academia; Gregory Bateson is an obvious example. But they have no obvious mode of reproduction. They simply arise, revolutionize two or three disciplines, and 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 5 leave magical memories behind. Phrasing anthropology in this way helps make sense of applied anthropology's straddling of the academic/nonacademic divide. As the journal Applied Anthropology (later renamed Human Organization) indicated in its opening editorial, "Applied Anthropology is designed not only for scientists, but even more for those concerned with putting plans into operations, administrators, psychiatrists, social workers, and all those who as part of their responsibility have to take action in problems of human relations." Despite a determined effort to reach beyond the academy, a sizable number of applied anthropologists remain university based. W hy? Because the field can only reproduce itself if a sizable number of applied anthropologists remain within the academy and train new generations of applied anthropologists. How should we define anthropology? Anthropologists go off in all sorts of intellectual directions, study all sorts of topics, explore all sorts of questions. But anthropology departments demarcate some courses as being anthropology courses and others as not. Let me explain. If you look at the course offerings of different anthropology departments in different universities, you will notice that many courses have similar titles. Most departments, for example, teach introductory anthropology as well as courses in economic and political anthropology, religion, and anthropological theory. But if you examine the reading lists and the topics covered for by courses with the same generic name, you see tremendous diversity in respect to the readings assigned, locales studied, and issues addressed. As long as teachers stay within certain departmentally defined parameters have a recognized title for the course, for example, or make passing reference to material that might be perceived as anthropological they are pretty much free to frame their courses as they wish and still call them anthropology courses. There is an unseemly side to the ambiguity over what is and is not deemed anthropology. Anthropologists use the claim that "so-and-so isn't doing anthropology" as a way of dismissing an individual's work. Ultimately, if we are to avoid such power plays, if we are to have some clarity amid the muddle, we need to acknowledge that the departmental structure frames discussions of what is and is not anthropology. The bad news is that if a topic isn't covered within a department's course offerings at some school, despite this or that individual insisting it is anthropology, many may question whether it really is. The good news is that there are lots of anthropology departments and they cover a whole host of topics. Some anthropology department somewhere will quite likely define a particular topic as in some way related to anthropology. 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 6 This brings me to a definition of anthropology. If a particular topic is taught as part of an anthropology course by an anthropologist within an anthropology department then it is anthropology. W e can phrase this another way. If some anthropologist in some anthropology department somewhere teaches a particular subject, who is to say that what the teacher is teaching, or what the students are learning, isn't anthropology? Most people inside and outside anthropology, inside and outside the university would agree. The definition doesn't have the liberating sense of saying anthropologists do almost anything. But it sidesteps the power plays anthropologists do against one another, and it cuts through the complications of deciding which topics "belong" to what discipline. Let me offer two personal examples. I teach an anthropology course at Hawaii Pacific University called "Is Global Citizenship Possible?" with the Dean of the College of Natural Sciences. It covers a wide range of topics and involves readings from diverse disciplines. But no one has ever questioned whether the course is "really" anthropology, at least to my face. I also teach a course called "Managing Our Mortality" with a registered nurse. It is a cross-listed course in both disciples. Most nurses I talk to want to make sure there is a nursing component to the course. But the nurses never question whether the course is anthropological. They assume that if it is labeled as an anthropology course and is being taught by a professional anthropologist, it must be anthropology. Summarizing, various anthropologists define themselves and their discipline in broad, encompassing ways that enhance their intellectual freedom. But that doesn't mean that others especially outside the discipline accept their definitions. The assertions of this or that individual aren't makes others accept certain definitions. W hat brings public consensus to certain definitions is when they are embedded in publicly accepted social structures. That is why the departmental structure has the authority, to define who is (and is not) an anthropologist as well as what is (and is not) anthropology. ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ 1:3 Question: Anthropologists often suggest that a group's social structure influences the group's beliefs and behaviors. Does the academic structure within which anthropology is embedded shape important aspects of the discipline? ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ 1:3 Short Answer: 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 True to the anthropological paradigm, the discipline's department-based social structure has shaped key aspects of the discipline. Let me offer three examples. This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 7 First, most anthropologists perceive that political advocacy conflicts with objectivity. In fact, the two are unrelated. Objectivity arises when people independently confirm a research project's results. It isn't particularly relevant that one of the confirming parties is a strong political advocate for a cause, only that the parties work independent of one another in obtaining the same research results. W hy has objectivity often been equated with avoiding advocacy? It comes from anthropology being embedded in universities. As readers will see in the longer answer, one of the terms for social scientists gaining academic positions was that they should not disrupt the social order that funds universities. If they wanted to be "professional" (and, more to the point, keep their academic positions), anthropologists needed to not challenge the "powers that be" who ran universities. Second, the status hierarchy within anthropology departments often influences who does and doesn't address broader social concerns. Those at the higher status levels senior, tenured professors are generally free to pursue personal intellectual interests. But those at the lower status levels particularly untenured faculty are more engaged with broader social concerns. Frequently they are allocated the responsibility of teaching large introductory classes, handling a variety of university tasks, and reaching out to the broader society. Those who are seeking tenure need to carry out these tasks to allow the senior faculty, who decide departmental tenure, to pursue their own personal interests. Third, the creation of diverse specializations within anthropology didn't arise spontaneously. It occurred in the late 1960s when anthropology departments expanded. Anthropologists in the enlarged departments needed separate specialties to differentiate themselves from other faculty. To advance their careers, these faculty also needed places to publish and conferences to attend that emphasized this intellectual distinctiveness. ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ 1:3 Longer Answer: It is critical to appreciate that establishing anthropology within universities shaped the discipline in very definite ways. Even more critically, it shaped how many anthropologists came to avoid political advocacy. In the mid- to late-nineteenth century, as disciplines took shape, social scientists often lacked an aura of public credibility. They were deemed to be amateurs unprofessional in orientation and training who might peddle this or that view but who lacked the proper expertise to induce others to take them seriously. Becoming a credible professional in a university involved establishing a disinterested, "objective" attitude toward the subjects one studied. It is all there in Mary Furner's study of early social scientists, Advocacy and Objectivity: A Crisis in the 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 8 Professionalization of American Social Science, 1865-1905, a book that won the Frederick Jackson Turner Award from the Organization of American Historians. Let me present four quotations from Mary Furner's book so that she herself can explain what transpired. (1) Establishing scientific authority [in the 1870s and 1880s] was . . . difficult for . . . [amateur social scientists] because many of them were publicly connected with controversial political positions. No matter how hard preacademic social scientists tried to change their image . . . anyone who resented their findings . . . could easily cast doubt on their objectivity by hurling the reliable epithet, "reformer." (2) By the end of the 1890s professional status and security competed with ideological . . . considerations as values [for social scientists] . . . . Direct appeal to the public . . . was retained as a theoretical right but . . . [social scientists] were expected to channel most of their reform efforts through government agencies or private organizations where scholars could serve inconspicuously as technical experts, after the political decisions had been made, rather than as reformers with a new vision of society. . . . Rarely did academic [social scientists] . . . deal publicly with the controversial normative questions that had preoccupied the emerging profession[s] in the 1880s. (3) Objectivity . . . [became] part of . . . [an] emerging professional identity, but . . . [university] leaders defined it in a special way. It restricted open public advocacy of the sort that allied . . . [social scientists] with reforms that threatened the status quo. (4) The tension between advocacy and objectivity which characterized the professionalization process altered the mission of social science. Only rarely [as the twentieth century proceeded] did professional social scientists do what no one else was better qualified to do: bring expert skill and knowledge to bear on cosmic questions pertaining to the society as a whole. Instead, studies and findings tended to be internal, recommendations hedged with qualifiers, analyses couched in jargon that was unintelligible to the average citizen. A fundamental conservatism developed in the academic social science professionals . . . The academic professionals, having retreated to the security of technical expertise, left to journalists and politicians the original mission the comprehensive assessment of industrial society that had fostered the professionalization of social sciences [in the first place]. In brief, to gain academic security and respectability, academics needed to behave in "professional" ways. Academics were 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 9 seduced away from social activism by the comforts and financial stability of university positions. One can follow this process by examining the late-nineteenth-century case of Richard T. Ely, a prominent tenured economist at the University of W isconsin. Ely, as Furner remarks, "was more active than anyone else [in economics] in taking his findings directly to the people and advocating specific reforms." W hen one of the University of W isconsin's regents charged Ely with unprofessional behavior (including being an anarchist) in 1894, the university's Board of Regents held a trial to decide whether or not to dismiss him. Ely's most vigorous support came from nonacademic economists rather than academic economists who were afraid his case might undermine their status as reputable, objective scholars. Ely was cleared of the specific charges laid against him. But after the trial, he became more conservative in his views and turned toward writing scholarly publications rather than engaging in reformist activities. Objectivity came to mean avoiding politically charged topics that might upset the "powers that be" in universities. But objectivity doesn't lie in avoiding certain topics, in appearing respectable. The issue isn't whether one does (or doesn't) have a political agenda. To some degree, everyone has biases of one sort or another. As noted in Chapter 4, being a "disinterested" professional doesn't mean being uninterested in the world outside one's laboratory. It means putting the larger society's interests ahead of one's own interests or the interests of those one works for. It means subsuming one's personal concerns under a broader concern for the public good. Objectivity derives from the open, public analysis of divergent accounts. W e know an account is more objective, more credible, more scientific, after various individuals independent of one another have confirmed its results. Take the example of cold fusion, the claim that atomic fusion can occur at normal temperatures within normal laboratories. It is irrelevant what the political affiliations were of the academics who claimed to have created it. They might have worn white coats, used impressive-looking machines, and presented complex mathematical computations to buttress their claims. To date, other scholars haven't been able to reproduce their claims in other laboratories. As a result, the claims regarding cold fusion aren't viewed as objectively tested knowledge. They are perceived as untrue. In some complex cases, retesting claims may not be possible because certain data are difficult to replicate. In such cases, the key is conversations held among those of divergent perspectives regarding what caused two results to diverge in unexpected ways. W e see this in respect to the Redfield-Lewis controversy I discuss in Chapter 2. Two anthropologists, Robert Redfield and Oscar Lewis, both wrote ethnographies of a Mexican village called Tepoztlan, but their accounts differed in 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 10 significant ways. Most anthropologists would agree that the process of sorting through their differences by Redfield, Lewis, and their peers led, , to a more objective account of Tepoztlan's dynamics. It didn't matter that Lewis was of a more liberal persuasion than Redfield. W hat mattered was that various anthropologists, poring over the same material, found a way to make sense of the differences. (Lewis, it turned out, focused more on actual behavior; Redfield, on ideal norms, with both concurring on certain points.) Objectivity, in brief, derives from the independent retesting of claims and the negotiated conversations arising out of them. Advocacy has little, if anything, to do with objectivity. The opposition isn't between objectivity and advocacy. The opposition is between claiming objectivity and substantiating it. It is rubbish to assert that if one thinks objectively, that if one acts in a seemingly disinterested manner, if one avoids any hint of social advocacy, then one is objective. A second way anthropology's department-based social structure shapes anthropological behavior is in terms of who does, and doesn't, tend to address the concerns of the broader academic community and society. In the United States, the departmentally based status hierarchy moving from high to low consists of full professors, associate professors, assistant professors, lecturers, and adjuncts (or term faculty) Those of higher status tend to be more removed from accountability that might call their expertise and competence into question, and allowed the space to purse their own intellectual interests. Two critical points need be noted regarding departmental status hierarchies: First, those at the lower status levels of a department tend to address the public roles of the department teaching the larger courses and being involved in more university responsibilities, such as sitting on committees. Second, those at the lower status levels of a department tend to be more accountable to constituencies beyond the department the university, students, and the broader society. Those at the higher status levels are freer to withdraw into their personal cocoons. I'm not suggesting anything radically new. Here is how the Chicago sociologist Andrew Abbott phrases the point: "Professionals who are doing what the public imagines to be the most basic professional functions [such as teaching, especially at the lower levels] are of relatively low status in the eyes of professionals themselves. It is the `professionals' professionals' who are of high status." "Since professionals draw their self-esteem more from their own world than from the public's . . . . The frontline service that is both their fundamental task and their basis for legitimacy becomes the province of low-status colleagues and para-professionals." 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 11 A third way the departmental structure shapes the discipline is in terms of specializations. The rise of major specializations, especially within cultural anthropology, coincided with a significant increase in departmental personnel. Readers may not be aware that some of the major specializations within cultural anthropology medical anthropology, political anthropology, and economic anthropology, for example are relatively recent. The expansion of specializations within cultural anthropology came during the 1960s, as university enrollments increased, anthropology departments expanded, and those departments hired more faculty. This encouraged greater intellectual differentiation as each faculty member sought to carve out a special area of expertise. To advance their careers, new faculty needed new publications that covered new topics. W hatever intellectual justifications one might offer for the division of cultural anthropology into specializations and subspecializations, departmental demographic pressures the increased number of faculty in departments helped drive the process forward. Summarizing, we see that a group's social structure may shape various beliefs and behaviors even when it involves a scholarly profession. It isn't a certain relationship. But in the cases discussed here, we see that social structure plays an important role. It helped shape how anthropologists define objectivity and why political advocacy within anthropology departments is frequently muted. It helped shape who addresses concerns of broader social import. And it helped shape the specialization that pervade cultural anthropology today. ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ 1:4 Questions: how do they deal with them? The social structures anthropologists study often have points of stress that the group's members need to address in order to maintain group stability. Do anthropologists have such stress points within their departments? If so, ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ 1:4 Short Answer: Anthropology's department-based social structures do have points of stress that anthropologists need to address to insure departmental stability. W e look at two myths anthropologists perpetuate to address the stress points. The first myth suggests that once, long ago, anthropologists had a unified disciplinary perspective. Anthropologists, though they had different specializations, worked as a team to address a set of central concerns. In fact, an examination of articles in 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 12 the discipline's leading journal over a hundred-year period suggests this never occurred. Then, as now, anthropologists went off in their own separate directions publishing on their own separate concerns. W ith anthropologists pursuing so many different interests today, it isn't clear what unites them into a common discipline. The answer the myth is that once anthropologists were united in their research interests. The myth allows anthropologists to pursue their personal interests without having to break up the discipline or departments. A second myth addresses the problem of amateur anthropologists those who have conducted respected anthropological research without having earned an advanced anthropological degree. Before the departmental structure held sway, there were many self-trained anthropologists. Some were leading figures in the discipline. But highlighting these amateur anthropologists undermines a department's claim to authority: that departments, and only departments, can credentialize aspiring anthropologists. W hat the myth does is airbrush out these early amateurs. For example, it enshrines Franz Boas as the father of American anthropology. In fact, Boas founded the first anthropology department in the United States, but to claim Boas as the father of American anthropology flies in the face of known facts and dismisses the significant intellectual contributions to the discipline made by early amateurs. ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ 1:4 Longer Answer: Readers should know up front that many anthropologists affirm the "myths" to be discussed here are true despite strong and clear evidence to the contrary. As a way of introducing the first myth, let me note that various textbooks conceive of the discipline's subfields in different ways. Alfred Kroeber, the foremost anthropologist of the period after W orld W ar II, divided anthropology into race, language, culture, psychology, and prehistory. Ralph Linton, another prominent anthropologist during this period, wrote, "the two great divisions of anthropology . . . are known as physical anthropology and cultural anthropology." Cultural anthropology he divided into archeology, ethnology, and linguistics. (After noting that linguistics was "the most isolated and self-contained" of anthropology's "subsciences" he dropped further discussion of it.) Today Carol and Melvin Ember divide anthropology into biological anthropology and cultural anthropology. Cultural anthropology they divide into archaeology, linguistics, and ethnology. Cutting across these four fields, they add a fifth one, applied anthropology. 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 13 These different ways for organizing the subfields point to a contradiction within anthropology. Anthropology is committed to intellectual progress and change. Yet it is centered in a bureaucratic structure academic departments that doesn't readily facilitate such change. W hen anthropology departments were created, they drew together scholars from an array of backgrounds to facilitate the examination of certain intellectual concerns focusing on the "cultural roots" of non-W estern groups without recorded history. That is the reason researchers from cultural anthropology, archaeology, physical anthropology, and linguistics were included in anthropology departments. The difficulty anthropology faces today especially in cultural anthropology, which constitutes two-thirds of the discipline is that many anthropologists have gone on to other questions, other concerns, besides the one's that initially unified anthropology departments intellectually. As a result, they find little in common with departmental colleagues in other subfields. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries Europe went through a major transformation. Unified nation-states were created out of fragmented, localized communities. "The inhabitants of W ales, of Scotland and of England," writes the noted Princeton historian, Linda Colley, "were separated from each other . . . [by] different folklores, different sports, different costumes, different building styles, different agricultural practices, different weights and measures, and different cuisines." To smooth the transition to unified nation-states to make a cohesive emotional, cultural, and intellectual union out of such differences scholars searched for cultural "roots" that validated the new nation-states. During this period, finding a unified past that nation-states could collectively affirm became a major preoccupation of scholars and politicians alike. W hen early anthropologists studied non-W estern groups, they tended to carry the European search for cultural traditions over to the people they studied. You needed biological, linguistic, archaeological, and cultural clues to infer a group's origins and migrations. As one anthropologist phrased it, a primary task of American Anthropology was to determine questions of origins. The answer? "By the study of the physical types of the people, their archaeological remains, their languages, and their customs the four fields of anthropology." The prominent anthropologist/historian George Stocking notes: "The unity of anthropology was a historical product . . . a number of methodological approaches had [to] come together . . . the overarching interpretive frameworks were . . . concerned with the history of mankind." Understandably, however, anthropological interests changed over time. So what does a discipline do when a large percentage of the discipline moves off in a new direction that separates it intellectually from the rest of the discipline? Do 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 14 anthropologists organize themselves into new, smaller, departments? To quote George Stocking again: "Any movement in ethnology [or sociocultural anthropology] away from historical reconstruction could not help but have implications for the unity of anthropology." Bureaucratically, anthropology departments are set up to defend anthropology its funding, its faculty positions, its status in wider settings against competitors. They aren't set up to continually change with changing trends, especially when one subfield moves off in a different intellectual direction. How do anthropologists deal with this bureaucratic contradiction? Some ignore it, but many embrace a myth of disciplinary integration in times past. The myth does more than overstate reality. It also affirms an ideal that some hope will inspire a disciplinary unity and intellectual coherence in the future. The distinguished anthropologist Eric W olf expresses this myth in a widely cited introduction to the field: "In contrast to the anthropological traditions of other countries, anthropology in the United States always prided itself upon its role as the unified and unifying study of several subdisciplines. In combining the pursuits of human biology, linguistics, prehistory, and ethnology, American anthropology put a premium on intellectual synthesis, upon the tracing out of connections where others saw only divergence." But if we examine all 3,252 of the articles from 1899 to 1998 in the American Anthropologist, the discipline's flagship journal, only 308 substantially draw on more than one anthropological subfield in the analysis of their data. That is to say, over a hundred year period, only 9.5 percent of the articles published in the American Anthropologist bring the discipline's subfields together in any significant ways. Most of the articles focus on narrow subjects and use the perspectives and tools of only one subfield. The 3252 articles are narrowly framed and narrowly presented, with relatively little synthesis across subfields. Up until the 1970s, the total number of collaborative subfield articles decade by decade in the American Anthropologist was always lower than the 9.5 percent figure cited. Only eight times in the last hundred years has the number of collaborative articles across subfields reached at least 20 percent of the total articles published in the journal in 1974, 1975, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1984, 1986, and 1989. Early anthropologists often published articles in more than one subfield. But the critical point is that they rarely brought the subfields together in the same article, using different subfield perspectives to provide a broader synthesis. In terms of the American Anthropologist from 1899 to 1998, collaboration across the subfields was a distinctly minority affair. The lack of subfield integration in times past is readily apparent when you read through old issues of the American 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 15 Anthropologist. So why would anthropologists believe something about the past that the subfields previously collaborated in significant ways that is so clearly at variance with established fact? The myth of some "golden age" of disciplinary integration constitutes a "social charter" for today's departmental structure: It holds up an ideal of what the past was like. Disciplinary integration is imposed on the past an "invention of tradition," to quote the famous British historian Eric Hobsbawm. But it also does more. It implicitly represents a call for disciplinary integration to resolve the problem of departmental fragmentation. The myth allows anthropologists to address a problem of social structure departmental fragmentation without the pain of actually forcing anyone to change. It seduces them with a false belief. It allows them to pretend that they all once shared an intellectual vision, they all once worked together as a team. It's all very anthropological. Let me turn to the second anthropological myth, according to which Franz Boas is the father of American anthropology. It is a version of history that many anthropologists believe and many texts propagate. One sees reference to Boas as the "father of American anthropology" in textbooks, in the American Anthropologist and other American Anthropology Association journals, in book advertisements, and even in W ikipedia. In fact, it is incorrect. Housing anthropology in university departments is today portrayed as an important step forward in the discipline's progress toward professional authority and objectivity. The image frequently conveyed is that, prior to the establishment of university anthropology departments, anthropology was full of unprofessional amateurs. Readers need to realize that, for anthropology departments to retain control over the training (and reproducing) of anthropologists, they need to create barriers against amateurs training themselves. After all, if anyone can become an anthropologist by reading books and doing fieldwork on their own, what legitimacy would departmental degrees have? Anthropology departments emphasize that they provide the training that turns amateurs into professionals. One Boas obituary declared that he "found anthropology a collection of wild guesses and a happy hunting ground for the romantic lover of primitive things; he left it a discipline in which theories could tested and in which he had delimited possibilities from impossibilities." In point of fact, a number of prominent anthropologists before Boas exerted important influences on the discipline's development. Boas deserves to be recognized for establishing the first anthropology department (at Columbia University in New York City), but that doesn't mean he deserves to be called "the father of American anthropology." The nineteenth century had a number of prominent anthropologists, but they were not trained in university settings; they 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 16 were mostly self-taught. These included important theorists such as Lewis Henry Morgan; significant ethnographers such as James Mooney, Frank Hamilton Cushing, and Henry Rowe Schoolcraft. Lewis Henry Morgan, a lawyer turned anthropologist, has been described as one of "the most important social scientists in nineteenthcentury America." Lewis Henry Morgan's League of the Iroquois was a precedentsetting ethnography, as was James Mooney's The Ghost-Dance Religion and the Sioux Outbreak of 1890. John W esley Powell helped establish the premier anthropological research unit of the nineteenth century in the United States, the Bureau of American Ethnology (housed in the Smithsonian Institution). W hile neither Morgan nor Powell worked in academic settings and they embraced a form of evolution that was anathema to Boas, they certainly were not "amateurs." In many ways, they were the true founding fathers of the discipline. The positioning of Boas as the "father of anthropology" was facilitated, in part, by his ability to produce the first generation of academically based anthropologists. His students came to control the American Anthropological Association as well as many of the academic departments in the country. They rewrote the discipline's history in their image. The Boasian academic branding emerges even in this small detail: Once the Boasians gained control of the American Anthropological Association, its officers were no longer identified in the association's publications by their hometowns but rather by their institutional affiliations. ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ 1:5 Questions: W hat are the discipline's central methodological tools? Can you provide examples of how anthropologists apply them? W hat value do they have? ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ 1:5 Short Answer: institutions operate the way they do. Anthropology emphasizes two central methodological tools in its research. The first, contextual analysis, places beliefs and behaviors that may seem strange at first glance within the contexts that people live them so they make better sense. Contextual analysis offers a means to understand, often in subtle ways, what makes people and The second methodical tool is comparative analysis. Comparisons are systematically made between beliefs and behaviors within one group of people with those within another group as a way of understanding dynamics in both groups. Comparative analysis allows us to see the bigger picture, the broader dynamics. Especially when the two methods are entwined, anthropology is able to provide important insights about critical concerns of 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 17 wide relevance. As we will see in Chapter 3, the two methods offer a powerful means for understanding the world around us and addressing significant social problems. ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ 1:5 Longer Answer: W ithin anthropology, intelligibility and understanding are achieved by placing elements within cultural contexts. W hat may seem strange and exotic to those unfamiliar with a group's practices often make more sense when placed within indigenous contexts of meaning. The ethnographer Bronislaw Malinowski, one of the founders of British social anthropology, famously stated his goal as "to grasp the native's point of view, his relation to life, to realize his vision of his world." Alfred Kroeber writes that Franz Boas insisted "that phenomena can properly be dealt with only in their adhering context." That is why anthropologists spend considerable space in their ethnographies discussing indigenous terms and conveying the subtleties and complexities of indigenous perceptions. It clarifies, to quote Clifford Geertz again, a sense of "what goes on in such places . . . [asking,] W hat manner of [people] are these?" Let me offer two examples from my own fieldwork to illustrate contextual analyses. (They are drawn from my book Making History.) I spent forty-one months in the South Pacific conducting research on a small Polynesian atoll in the northern Cook Islands called Pukapuka. To explain how Pukapukans acquired and validated knowledge of the past, I provide a sense of what life was like on the atoll when I was there. (1) As Molingi was trying to make a particular [traditional] string figure (waiwai), Nimeti, her husband, jokingly criticized her efforts. W hen she failed to do it right the first time and had to try over again, he turned to me and stated she did not know how to make such things. Here was the proof; she could not do a string figure. Molingi appeared to ignore his comments. She seemed absorbed in trying to work out where she had gone wrong in making the figure. Again Nimeti criticized her efforts. Finally Molingi turned to him and stated that he was getting senile. (Both of them are in their seventies.) Didn't Nimeti recognize, she rhetorically asked, that she was an expert on traditional matters? As a result of Molingi's comment, Nimeti picked up a string and started making a figure himself. Molingi scoffed at his efforts. My daughter, Amelia, came by and asked Nimeti what he was doing. He proudly showed her his figure. Molingi criticized Nimeti's string figure as something any child could do. Finally Molingi finished her figure and showed it to me. She pointedly noted that Nimeti did not know how to make one like hers. Nimeti laughed at the implied challenge 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 18 and began to work on a different string figure. Here was another one, he commented, that Molingi did not know. (2) One day, after gathering some poles in Loto's public reserve to build the roof of my cook house, I stopped at a pule guardhouse to rest and talk with two of the guards. They were both women, one in her late thirties and the other in her late twenties. One thing led to another and we started discussing whether it was the legendary figure W aletiale or Malangaatiale who possessed an enlarged penis. Both of them asserted that it was Malangaatiale. They admitted uncertainty as to exactly who Waletiale was, but basically felt that he was another character entirely. I, on the other hand, asserted that W aletiale possessed the enlarged penis and that the legend of Malangaatiale concerned a man struck by lightning. W e discussed our differences of opinion for a while without coming to any agreement. Then the younger of the two women asked me how I knew my version of the two legends was correct. I replied that this was what several old people, especially Petelo and Molingi, had told me. As I listened to them, they again discussed the whole issue between themselves. W hat I had said did not really seem right to them. But they admitted that they themselves were not that sure of either legend. Finally, they decided that I might indeed be right. Unlike them, I had discussed the issue with Petelo and Molingi, both recognized experts on Pukapukan legends. Contextual analysis involves taking experiences such as these, placing them in broader perspective related to other experiences and drawing general principles from them. It allows readers to understand other people we are unfamiliar with through the contexts in which they lead their lives. The second method, comparative analysis, compares behaviors and beliefs in one group of people with related data drawn from other groups. In discussing comparison, we might draw a distinction between implicit and explicit forms. Implicit comparison is inherent in most description. W hen we describe someone as "hopeful," we mean hopeful in comparison to our understanding of the term (or to some personal experiences), not in regard to some absolute sense that can be measured with an instrument. Explicit comparison is different. It involves overtly comparing two or more groups to illuminate certain dynamics. By bringing more than one case to bear on a problem, anthropologists can perceive suggestive possibilities for explaining how cultural trait A influences B or how trait C causes D. In what are termed "controlled comparisons," anthropologists explore a select number of related contexts involving a limited number of differences and/or similarities to better understand certain 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 19 cultural dynamics. Here are two examples. The first example involves British anthropologist S. F. Nadel's 1952 study of four African societies regarding the dynamics of witchcraft. (Because of length considerations, I limit my summary here to two W est African societies.) The Nupe and Gwari, he noted, shared a number of cultural similarities regarding social, economic, and political organization. But they differed on one significant point. Among the Nupe only women were witches, among the Gwari both men and women were. W hy the difference? Nadel pointed out that Nupe women were traders, and this trading often provided them with economic power and wealth. Moreover, it allowed Nupe women the freedom to become involved in a number of extramarital liaisons. Gwari women lacked this power and freedom. They were unable to challenge the cultural norm of male dominance existing in both cultures. Nadel suggested that the gap between the ideal power (of men) and the real power (of women) focused witchcraft accusations on female traders among the Nupe. Social stresses among the Gwari were more diffuse and as a result so were the witchcraft accusations. In the second example, Eric W olf (1957) used historical material to compare responses to colonization in Meso-America and Central Java. He suggested that a type of peasant village termed "closed corporate communities" arose in both locales due to similar pressures during the colonial era. Closed corporate communities, W olf wrote, were communities with communal jurisdiction over land, restricted membership, redistributive mechanisms for surplus, and barriers against outside goods and ideas. Part of the reason they developed, he suggested, was because of administrative efforts to restrict the power of colonial settlers. "By granting relative autonomy to the native communities, the home government could at one and the same time ensure the maintenance of cultural barriers against colonist encroachment, while avoiding the huge cost of direct administration." Another formative factor concerned the enforced economic dualization of the colonial society, which involved a dominating entrepreneurial sector and a dominated peasant sector. Indigenous peasants were relegated "to the status of part-time laborers, providing for their own subsistence on scarce land, together with the imposition of charges levied and enforced by . . . local authorities." Through his comparative study, W olf perceived important dynamics that shaped peasant communities during the colonial era in separate parts of the world. Comparison, in brief, offers a tool for making sense of similarities and differences among groups. W hile comparative studies have an honored place within the discipline, I should note that they play a less significant role numerically and intellectually today than they once did. "The sheer number of comparative articles and books published," in the early 1950s, the prominent anthropologist Laura Nader notes, reminds us "that energetic debates about the intellectual place of comparison are missing 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 20 among today's anthropological agendas." As the editor of Comparative Anthropology observes, "these days, a great proportion of empirical research is distinctly non-comparative" and "comparisons aimed specifically at generating cross-culturally valid generalizations seem to be conspicuous by their absence." ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ 1:6 Questions: The third aspect of anthropology you refer to in the introduction besides the discipline's social structure and its methodological tools is the discipline's vision. Does anthropology really possess a historically unique vision? And is it ever realized in practice? ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ 1:6 Short Answer: Anthropology is a historically unique project with a historically unique vision that strives to appreciate others in their own terms. As the careers of Franz Boas, Margaret Mead, and Paul Farmer demonstrate, some anthropologists have put the vision into practice in impressive ways. But as already noted, anthropology is embedded in certain structures. These structures shape how the idealistic project is often carried out. Anthropology has high hopes for itself but it isn't always able to live up to them. The question at the heart of this book is: Can the impressive achievements of Boas, Mead, and Farmer be extended to the discipline as a whole? ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ 1.6 Longer Answer: Anthropology's third distinctive feature involves the tension between an idealistic, vision and how that vision is carried out in fact. Anthropology is a historically unique project. No intellectual effort in recorded history has involved as many scholars striving to understand people living in different locales on their own terms. Anthropologists don't come to dominate or trade. They come to understand and appreciate. Yet, since its disciplinary beginnings, anthropology has tended to be the study of less powerful groups by scholars from more powerful groups. W hether one phrases it as the First W orld studying the Third, "us" studying "them," or the richer studying the poorer, there is often a power differential involved. Those with more power are usually studying those with less. Talal Asad, a New York City-based anthropologist who has written extensively on the subject, notes that anthropology is "rooted in an unequal power encounter . . . that gives the West access to cultural and historical information about the societies it has 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 21 progressively dominated." The famous French anthropologist Claude Lvi-Strauss observed, "It is a historical fact that anthropology was born and developed in the shadow of colonialism." W e can see the potential of anthropology, despite such problems, to realize its positive vision by examining the public activities of three scholar-activists: Franz Boas, Margaret Mead, and Paul Farmer. During the early twentieth century, Franz Boas was one of the most socially active anthropologists in America. He opposed racist theories of development and defended the rights of individuals caught in oppressive power structures. As Nazism strengthened its hold on Germany, he graced the cover of Time magazine in May 1936, which called Boas's The Mind of Primitive Man "the Magna Carta of self-respect" for non-W estern peoples. Based on years of study, Boas emphasized that "physiological, mental and social functions are highly variable, being dependent upon external conditions so that an intimate relation between race and culture does not seem plausible." A somatological study of European immigrants he conducted for the United States Immigration Commission (published in 1912), which led to a similar conclusion. He expressed his opinions on numerous issues in letters and articles to the New York Times, the Nation, and Dial. After W orld W ar I he organized the Emergency Society for German and Austrian Science to assist scientists in these countries during the difficult times following military defeat. He wrote an open letter to Germany's President Hindenburg denouncing Nazism. He was the catalyst behind a 1938 "Scientists' Manifesto" opposing any connection between race and intelligence that was signed by 1,284 scientists from 167 universities. He was involved with the NAACP and wrote the lead article for its journal's second issue. He publicly challenged Columbia University's president and trustees when they sought to fire a faculty member for opposing American entry into W orld W ar I. Margaret Mead was a cultural icon. She remains the most widely known and respected anthropologist in the world. There were tributes at her death in 1978 not only from the president of the United States but the secretary-general of the United Nations. In 1979 she was posthumously awarded the United States' highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Quoting from a description of her by the American Museum of Natural History (where she worked from 1926 until her death), Mead "brought the serious work of anthropology into the public consciousness. . . . A deeply committed activist, Mead often testified on social issues before the United States Congress and other government agencies." She brought an understanding of culture especially how it shaped human differences to an international audience eager, in the aftermath of W orld W ar II, to address the ills of the world in less violent terms. Her intellectual output was staggering. She wrote 44 books and more than a thousand articles. She was a monthly columnist for the popular magazine Redbook from 1961 until 1978. She reputedly gave up 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 22 to 110 lectures a year. She was a leader in the feminist movement. Her 1928 book, Coming of Age in Samoa is the best-selling book of all time by an American anthropologist. Paul Farmer is different. He is well known in W estern medical and academic circles. In 2008 he was interviewed on CBS's Sixty Minutes. But he isn't as well known to the general public as Margaret Mead. W hile his 2003 book Pathologies of Power is a best seller by academic standards and has outsold Boas's The Mind of Primitive Man, its sales lags far behind Mead's most popular books. Through his work as a medical doctor and anthropologist and the action of Partners in Health (a nonprofit organization he helped found), Farmer has played a central role in improving the health care of millions. The New York Times reports, "If any one person can be given credit for transforming the medical establishment's thinking about health care for the destitute, it is Paul Farmer." W orking through Partners in Health, he and others have been able to lower the price of drugs for the sick in Third W orld countries as well as change the World Health Organization's guidelines for treating the poor. The New York Times article continues, "Dr. Farmer and his Partners in Health have shown that a small group of committed individuals . . . can change the world." As the Partners in Health website says, "we build on the strengths and the communities by working within public health systems and serving where there are gaps, and . . . we invest directly in the communities we serve by training and employing a cadre of local community health workers to accompany our patients and their families through their care." This is a radically different but very anthropological perspective, and it has transformed health care in many Third W orld settings. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ 1:7 Question: The current chapter describes the academic structures anthropology is embedded in and how these shape the discipline's dynamics as well as the discipline's core methodological tools and intellectual vision. W hat does the next chapter discuss? ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ 1:7 Answer: One might assume that with the time and money thousands of cultural anthropologists have spent on research in recent years, with the piles of publications anthropologists have produced over the past several decades, anthropology would have refined key disciplinary concepts and built a solid body of facts. As we will see, this assumption is open to debate. ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 23 CHAPTER 2 HOW MUCH PROGRESS HAS CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY MADE IN THE LAST SIXTY-PLUS YEARS? 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 24 Overview: This chapter suggests that cultural anthropology, anthropology's largest subfield, has made only limited intellectual progress over the past sixty-plus years. After exploring the supporting data for this assertion, it considers why, contrary to expectations, this has occurred. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ 2:1 Questions: Can you explain what you are trying to do in this chapter and how it relates to the book's general themes? Are you suggesting that despite the thousands of publications cultural anthropologists have produced over the past sixty-plus years there has been limited intellectual progress within cultural anthropology? ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ 2:1 Short Answer: There are two versions of anthropology's recent development. One version stresses progress. "The intellectual adventure of cultural anthropology," one noted historian of the discipline writes, has exhibited a continuous . . . advance in perspective." The author of Theory and Progress in Social Science observes that "the desire to `contribute' to some form of intellectual progress is all but universal among students of social life. . . . W ho would trouble to put words . . . to paper, if not in the hope that the result might leave some overall fund of understanding improved?" Yet there are those who have their doubts. "In anthropology, we are continuously slaying paradigms [or trends], only to see them return to life, as if discovered for the first time," asserts Eric W olf. "As each successive approach carries the axe to its predecessors, anthropology comes to resemble a project of intellectual deforestation." The noted Berkeley anthropologist Elizabeth Colson writes: Rapid population growth and geographical dispersal [within the discipline] have been associated with the emergence of a multitude of intellectual schools, each of which stresses both its own uniqueness and superiority and the need for the whole of the social/cultural community to accept its leadership. This never happens, and even the most successful formula rarely predominates for more than a decade: At the moment when it appears to triumph, it becomes redefined as an outmoded orthodoxy by younger anthropologists who are attempting to stamp their own mark upon the profession. This has the therapeutic effect of outmoding most of the existing literature, by now too vast to be absorbed by any newcomer, while at the same time old ideas continue to be advanced under new rubrics. 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 25 The question at the heart of this chapter is, who is correct, those stressing cultural anthropology's intellectual progress, or those doubting it? The chapter takes the latter position. It doesn't say there has been no progress, only limited progress and, certainly, less progress than claimed in some quarters of the discipline. It is a position that challenges what many believe and, hence, needs some explanation in order not to be dismissed. If you already accept the chapter's thesis, you may prefer not to wade through the details of this and that trend and skip to the heart of the chapter the reasons for the discipline's limited intellectual progress over the past sixty-plus years. If on the other hand, you affirm, as many do, that cultural anthropology has indeed made significant intellectual progress in recent decades, you are strongly encouraged to read carefully through the next several sections. And, if after reading them you still affirm that position, you are strongly encouraged to go through the footnotes and references, citation by citation. This book calls for a new type of anthropology, one that moves beyond old habits and styles. To set the stage for what follows, this chapter shows why the old habits and styles aren't working as claimed. The chapter is meant to be provocative in a positive way. It doesn't criticize specific individuals. It develops its main argument at some length so readers will take it seriously. But the chapter is less concerned with criticizing cultural anthropology than with fixing it. If anthropology is to both reach its potential as a discipline and effectively address important social concerns, we need to understand the disciplinary dynamics that have limited cultural anthropology's progress. Living within an intellectual cocoon, telling ourselves false myths, means the problem will continue. W e need to confront the problem to help the discipline grow. And to confront it, we need to acknowledge not only that a problem exists but also understand why it exists. Chapter 2 highlights four points: (1) The chapter suggests that, contrary to what one might expect, cultural anthropology has not made significant intellectual progress in recent years. Cultural anthropologists have raised all sorts of interesting possibilities. But few have been systematically substantiated. We remain uncertain as to which are credible and which are not. 2) Instead of building systematically on the work of an earlier anthropologist, most anthropologists advance their careers by pursuing their own personal interests. This is because the path to status lies in developing an innovative perspective that others refer to and use. 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 26 3) The constant criticizing of established formulations and seeking of new formulations in a chase for status is feasible because of the way accountability and credibility are defined within the discipline. There is a clear system of accountability, especially at the junior level. Anthropologists must publish. Tearing down old frameworks and erecting new ones provides plenty of publishing opportunities. Most anthropological data tend to be accepted on trust. Anthropologists rarely go back and re-study the same topic in the same locale. This means that the new framework an author suggests is generally authenticated by the author's data. The process encourages a creative, entrepreneurial freedom while downplaying the value of objective data to support one or another framework. 4) The way this system plays out benefits those within the academic community individual anthropologists, their departments, and their universities. The more an individual anthropologist is recognized for an innovative formulation, the more status is conferred on them and, beyond the individual, on their department and university. But the way the status chase is strong self-serving and the way it is currently framed impedes the discipline's intellectual development and brings limited benefits to the larger society. These are uncomfortable points to make. But by acknowledging that the status quo only works for a few rather than for the broader society that financially funds anthropological research and explaining why this is, the chapter hopes to set the stage for changing it. 2:1 Longer Answer: The chapter focuses on cultural anthropology partly because it represents the dominant disciplinary subfield and partly because it allows for an in-depth case study within the chapter's space constraints. Cultural anthropology studies the beliefs, behaviors, and organization of people around the world today. It is by far the largest field of anthropology, constituting roughly two-thirds of the discipline. W hile the chapter's conclusions relate to cultural anthropology, readers might ponder to what degree the whole discipline (and possibly other disciplines) face the same problem. In a sense, disciplinary progress is almost a self-evident proposition. W hat are anthropologists doing if not building on each other's work, refining key concepts, and addressing disciplinary problems? And why would funding agencies provide research money or publishers publish anthropological books if not to assist in advancing human understanding? 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 27 Aspiring for progress isn't a new academic goal. The noted British historian Peter Burke in A Social History of Knowledge dates this academic ideal to the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, highlighting Francis Bacon's 1605 The Advancement of Learning as a prominent example. Burke writes, today "intellectual innovation, rather than the transmission of tradition, is considered one of the major functions of institutions of higher education, so that candidates for higher degrees are normally expected to have made a `contribution to knowledge', and there is pressure on academics . . . to colonize new intellectual territories rather than to continue to cultivate old ones." W hile "the history of anthropology isn't a linear tale of progress," Eriksen and Nielsen assert, "there has been a steady, cumulative growth in knowledge and understanding." To quote James Rule, the author of Theory and Progress in Social Science: Pretensions of progress are pervasive in the images we project of our work. Conferences are convened, and volumes of studies commissioned, purporting to extend the "frontiers" of knowledge in one or another domain. Yearbooks are published documenting "advances" in the discipline. Journal submissions, books, and doctoral dissertations are assessed in terms of whether they constitute "contributions" to existing knowledge. Such language obviously presumes movement in the direction of fuller, more comprehensive, more advanced understanding. The notion of a "contribution" implies not just the sheer addition of another book, article, or research report to an ever-lengthening bibliography, but a meaningful step forward in a direction shared by all. And claims to participate in such advances, I hold, are central to the justifications most of us would put forward for our work. Yet the position has its doubters. Here is the Canadian anthropologist Philip Carl Salzman: A well known and occasionally discussed problem is the fact that the vast multitude of anthropological conferences, congresses, articles, monographs, and collections, while adding up to mountains of paper (and subtracting whole forests), do not seem to add up to a substantial, integrated, coherent body of knowledge that could provide a base for the further advancement of the discipline. L. A. Fallers used to comment that we seem to be constantly tooling up with new ideas and new concepts and never seem to get around to applying and assessing them in a substantive and systematic fashion. John Davis, over two decades ago in The Peoples of the Mediterranean, seemed on the verge of tears of frustration during his attempts to find any comparable information in the available ethnographic reports that might be used to put individual cases into perspective and 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 28 be compiled into a broader picture. Nor is there confidence in the individual ethnographic reports available: W e cannot credit the accounts of I. Schapera, because he was a functionalist, or that of S. F. Nadel because he was an agent of colonialism, or J. Pitt-Rivers because he collected all his data from the upper-class seoritos . . . or M. Harris because he is a crude materialist, etc. etc. So we end up without any substantive body of knowledge to build on, forcing us to be constantly trying to make anthropology anew. It isn't just anthropology that faces this problem. The prominent Chicago sociologist Andrew Abbott (referred to in Chapter 1 suggests that the social sciences "pretend to perpetual progress while actually going nowhere at all, remaining safely encamped within a familiar world of fundamental concepts." He writes: "The young build their careers on forgetting and rediscovery, while the middle-aged are doomed to see the common sense of their graduate school years refurbished and republished as brilliant new insights." To quoting James Rule again: A "manifestation of our troubled theoretical life is the arcane contested, and transitory quality of what are promoted as `state-of-the-art' lines of inquiry. Apparently unsure of where the disciplines are headed, we are subject to a steady stream of false starts. . . . Exotic specialties arise . . . to dazzle certain sectors of the theoretical public, then abruptly lose both their novelty and their appeal." W e have, then, divergent perspectives regarding disciplinary progress: one affirms it, the other challenges it. Let me be clear regarding the position taken in this chapter. It doesn't assert there has been no progress in the last sixty-plus years, only fairly limited progress a little bit here, a little bit there. The chapter's implicit message is that, given such limited progress, perhaps it is time to consider alternative ways from those currently embraced for developing the discipline. Might it not be time to explore new options? I begin the chapter by describing the two standards anthropologists generally use for measuring disciplinary progress. The first standard considers the degree to which particular ideas are refined through time. The second stresses the collection of ethnographic material by one anthropologist that another anthropologist then systematically builds on. I offer illustrations of both standards. I next turn to five trends that were prominent in cultural anthropology between 1935 and 2000. In most cases, I discuss three seminal figures in each trend. I repeatedly note that these figures don't significantly engage with each other's work to build a cumulative, objective body of knowledge or collectively address the trend's key conceptual problems. Instead, they mostly go off 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 29 in their own separate directions. The same holds true for their colleagues working within the trend and citing them. Rarely do these colleagues engage with these seminal figures' work on a substantive level or revisit their field sites. The discussion of these five trends takes up most of the chapter. Since the point I am making make some uncomfortable, readers have a right to examine that data I put forward to support the thesis. W ithin the space constraints of this chapter, I strive to do this. But given the subject matter, I could double or triple the chapter's length and still not deal with every reader's concerns. So I encourage interested readers to examine the online footnotes, statistics, and additional references that support the statements made here. The trends discussed below represent a special time in cultural anthropology's development. By the 1930s, the discipline had coalesced professionally and was embedded in university departments. It was striving to demonstrate its value to others within and beyond the university. For the decades discussed, many cultural anthropologists shared a set of common concerns and addressed a set of common problems. Today, cultural anthropology is fragmented into sub-cohorts and sub-sub-cohorts going off in diverse directions. With little to bind these different groups together, it isn't clear that cultural anthropology as a field is progressing forward. The first trend, Culture and Personality, ran from the 1930s into the 1950s. It explored the relationships between culture, on the one hand, and personality on the other. The second, Cultural Ecology, was prominent in the 1960s. It focused on environmental and evolutionary explanations for cultural phenomena. The third trend, Interpreting Myths, Symbols, and Rituals, was prominent within cultural anthropology from the late 1960s into the 1970s. It explored how myths, symbols, and rituals provide insights into the dynamics of both specific cultural groups and, more generally, the workings of human society. The fourth, a turn toward historical analysis, I term the (Re)turn to History because it renewed an earlier anthropological concern with history. It was prominent from the 1970s into the 1990s. The fifth trend, Postmodernism, was prominent from the late 1980s through the 1990s. It emphasized the role the knower (the anthropologist) played in the construction of the known (the description of a cultural group). Following the discussion of these disciplinary trends, I discuss the reasons for the limited progress and limited intellectual progress they individually and collectively made. For many, this will prove the most interesting part of the chapter. 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 30 I first consider the form the chase for status takes within anthropology. I note that junior professors frequently cite senior colleagues as a way of gaining credibility for themselves. But at some point, if they are to build their own careers, junior anthropologists must move beyond deferring to others. They must develop their own insightful analyses. It is the primary way to move up the status ladder. I then consider why one formulation suddenly seems to take the field by storm and another does not. I don't have a clear answer. But I suggest, through the example of Postmodernism, that generating new publishing opportunities for junior faculty often plays a role. Underlying the status chase and shaping the form it takes are the ways the discipline defines accountability and assesses validity. There is accountability in anthropology, but it revolves around publishing and being cited. The two standards are entwined. More publications frequently produce more citations. But readers should understand that the number of times a particular work is cited doesn't reflect its intellectual value. There is a "bump-and-go" citation style in anthropology in which many works are cited but few seriously engaged with. Turning to assessing validity within cultural anthropology, most anthropologists accept each other's data on trust unless it directly challenges their own. The attitude toward objectivity is "live and let live." Anthropologists rarely revisit an earlier anthropologist's field site and study the same problem. As a result, one has limited data for assessing the validity of a claim one is not directly familiar with. Unless a member of the profession is in a fairly secure position, it makes little sense to rock the boat by calling another anthropologist's data into questions even though, when this occurs, it frequently leads to more objective, reliable ethnographic accounts. There is a sense that, if not "anything goes," then at least there is a lot of room for innovation within anthropology. The accountability and validity standards encourage an entrepreneurial, creative freedom that many anthropologists find invigorating, but it simply doesn't lead to systematic progress. The current system of accountability and validity clearly works for those within the academic environment. It allows for upward mobility. Some anthropologist makes a bold claim that their research proves Y or disproves Z. It attracts academic and/or public recognition. The recognition reflects positively on the individual, their department, and their university. In adding to the department's status, the individual strengthens the department's claim on university resources vis--vis other departments 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 31 and increases the pool and quality of graduate student applications. At the university level, the recognition increases the university's status and ability to raise funds. W hat is there not to like? Well a lot, actually. The status chase framed within existing standards of accountability and validity means that cultural anthropology remains on a treadmill of possibility. More and more publications are produced but we are left to puzzle over the possibilities generated. And what about the larger society, the society that helps fund the academic establishment? Shouldn't cultural anthropology with its power to address significant social concerns offer benefits to others beyond the university? Should cultural anthropologists be allowed to take the larger society's money without providing substantial return in the form of objective knowledge and incisive insights? Is cultural anthropology only about self-interest? 2:2 Question: The key of whether significant intellectual progress has occurred over the past sixty-plus years in cultural anthropology depends on how one defines progress. How are you defining it? Could you cite specific examples to provide a concrete sense of what you mean? ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ 2:2 Short Answer: Anthropologists generally use two standards to measure progress. It makes sense, in explicating what I mean by progress, to use the disciplinary definitions in place rather than create alternative ones. There is nothing shatteringly new in the perspectives cited. They fit with the general public's understanding of the term. The first measure of progress involves the refining of an idea through time. In the Longer Answer below I use the example of Franz Boas's students (and the students of his students) refining one of Boas's concepts. The second standard involves establishing objective accounts by different anthropologists working in the same locale, with the second anthropologist building on the work of the first. In the Longer Answer, I refer to Annette W einer's building on the work of Bronislaw Malinowski in the Trobriand Islands. In elaborating on this standard, I also refer to Marshall Sahlins using ethnographic accounts of various Polynesian islands to build an analytical model of social stratification in Polynesia. In the Longer Answer, I describe some of the problems inherent in these standards. I observe that many students, once free of their mentors' control, often seek to differentiate themselves from their mentors. They don't necessarily follow lock step in their mentor's footsteps, refining the mentor's ideas. And since anthropologists rarely return to the same site and address the same 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 32 problem as an earlier anthropologist Annette W einer being the exception it is difficult to build objective, factual accounts of a particular group. W hat we have, instead, are mostly partially objective accounts that others find difficult to build on. ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ 2:2 Longer Answer: It makes sense, as just noted, to use the standards of progress generally referred to within the discipline in defining progress for this chapter. The first measure anthropologists employ emphasizes the discipline's success in refining certain ideas through time. That is what Fred Voget was referring to in A History of Anthropology when he stated "The intellectual adventure of cultural anthropology . . . . has exhibited a continuous . . . advance in perspective." Anthropologists perceive progress in how ideas are developed and elaborated upon as one generation of scholars transmits them to their students who, in turn, transmit them to their students. Take, for example, the transmission of Franz Boas's skepticism regarding historical speculation and wide-ranging comparisons. Boas castigated the speculative, comparative analyses of early evolutionists. In one of his most famous articles, "The Limitations of the Comparative Method of Anthropology" he critiqued the abandon with which certain scholars compared different cultures across time and space. Boas was concerned with understanding specific patterns in specific cultures before offering broad generalizations about the dynamics at work across a panoply of cultures. Boas wrote, "when we have cleared up the history of a single culture and understand the effects of environment and the psychological conditions that are reflected in it, . . . we can then investigate in how far the same causes . . . [are] at work in the development of other cultures." Having spent years examining native American societies during the early part of his career, Boas's first student at Columbia, Alfred Kroeber, took up the possibility that there were common patterns of development in Old W orld civilizations (in Configurations of Culture Growth), But Kroeber was not interested in conjectural histories of the type emphasized in the grand theories of the evolutionists. He immersed himself in the historical specifics of ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece, and Rome, detail after detail. Julian Steward, Kroeber's first student at the University of California, Berkeley, exhibited the same Boasian caution toward comparative conjectures. His book, Theory of Culture Change, had as its subtitle The Methodology of Multilinear Evolution to make clear that he was not proposing a grand theory of change but a method for studying detailed cases of change. One of Steward's students at Columbia, Eric W olf, continued the Boasian tradition of rejecting conjectural histories. In Europe and the People without History, W olf showed specific ways that W estern economies shaped the development of non7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 33 W estern groups. W olf focused on detailed historical records to make his case. He avoided wide-ranging, unsubstantiated speculation. W e see in the procession of anthropologists Boas teaching Kroeber teaching Steward teaching W olf a concern with specific histories over conjectural ones. Boas's perspective clearly shaped the work of his students and the students of their students. But we also should note, for what follows, that one might question whether the anthropologists who followed Boas were collectively refining and developing his perspective. It would be nearer the mark to suggest they were refining Boas's perspective only in a vague general way. In terms of specific data and specific analyses they were mostly going off in their own separate directions. A key reason for this, as noted in 2.9 (below), is that anthropologists at a certain point in their careers seek to intellectually differentiate themselves from their mentors. They generally don't want to be seen as simply carrying out their mentor's program in their mentor's terms as their mentor's perennial student helper. They seek to establish their own intellectual identity. Kroeber, I would note, only explored the areas of Boas's work he found congenial to his interests, studiously rejecting others. Critiquing Boas's approach to history, Kroeber wrote: "the uniqueness of all historic phenomena is . . . taken for granted . . . No laws or near-laws are discovered . . . . there are no historical findings." In a biography of Steward, Kearns writes that Steward "privately denied that his teachers with the slight exception of Lowie had affected his thought. His unpublished writings suggest that he saw practically no connection between his graduate training and his ideas; he considered himself a maverick and freethinker, not anyone's disciple. (Lowie declared in print that no one in his own field, including his graduate teacher, Franz Boas, had been a `source of inspiration' for him.)" W olf begins Europe and the People without History with a critique of Steward's work. Students may draw on their teachers' ideas when they are under their teachers' tutelage, but, once free and on their own, they frequently branch off in new directions as a way of establishing their intellectual independence. The second measure of disciplinary progress focuses on developing detailed ethnographic accounts that others then build on. It emphasizes establishing a cumulative body of knowledge regarding a specific group of people. This is the form of progress Eriksen and Nielsen were referring to when they stated "there has been a steady, cumulative growth in knowledge." A good example of this second measure is the New York University anthropologist Annette W einer's research among the Trobrianders of Papua New Guinea. By the time of her fieldwork in the early 1970s, the Trobrianders were already a well-known 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 34 group, thanks to the writings of Bronislaw Malinowski, one of the discipline's founders. His Argonauts of the Western Pacific (1922), The Sexual Life of Savages (1929), and Coral Gardens and Their Magic (1935) were classics in the field. But that didn't mean W einer couldn't build on Malinowski's work. W einer writes, "although Malinowski and I were in the Trobriands at vastly different historical moments and there also are many areas in which our analyses differ, a large part of what we learned in the field was similar. From the vantage point that time gives me, I can illustrate how our differences, even those that are major, came to be." She states, "my most significant . . . departure from [Malinowski] . . . was the attention I gave to women's productive work." "My taking seriously the importance of women's wealth not only brought women . . . clearly into the ethnographic picture [which was not the case in Malinowski's accounts] but also forced me to revise many of Malinowski's assumptions about Trobriand men." Building on Malinowski's classic writings, in other words, Annette W einer was able to extend and refine the analysis of Trobriand society. Marshall Sahlins's Social Stratification in Polynesia, his doctoral dissertation at Columbia University, offers a different example of progress in this second sense. Building on the accounts of individual Polynesian atolls, Sahlins was able to perceive a generalized pattern of social organization existing on many Polynesian atolls. The atolls have, he writes, "a number of interlocking social groups, each dedicated to the exploitation of a particular resource or resource area." Sahlins suggested the pattern of interlocking ties between descent and residential groups on these atolls constituted an adaptation to highpopulation densities on islands with limited food surpluses and periodic conditions of scarcity. In brief, Sahlins built on the work of earlier scholars studying separate atolls. W ith their data, he was able to suggest a general process adaptation that lay behind the shared social structures of various Polynesian atolls. Leonard Mason, another Pacific specialist, subsequently took Sahlins's account of Polynesian atolls and applied it to Micronesian atolls. He found that Micronesian atolls responded in a related way to many of the same pressures. All this sounds impressive. But, as noted in Chapter 1, objective data arise from retesting earlier accounts, earlier results. W einer's restudy of the Trobrianders offers a model in this regard. W einer worked through the differences between Malinowski's and her data in a way that built greater trust in their combined accounts. But we remain uncertain in the case of Sahlins's work. W ere the earlier accounts objective enough, reliable enough, to draw the conclusion Sahlins did? Or was his analysis mostly speculative based on bits and pieces of incomplete data? 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 35 The problem is that few anthropologists conduct research on groups already studied by other anthropologists. They prefer to focus on groups that they, and they alone, study. Quoting Philip Salzman again, "The credibility of our [anthropological] field reports rests mainly on their uniqueness, that is, on the absence of any other reports that might present contrary `findings . . . that test their reliability." When I started searching for a field site for my research in which I intended to compare what presentday informants recollected about a previous period with ethnographic records from that period I was repeatedly discouraged by noted anthropologists from working among groups they, themselves, had studied. After repeated rejections, I realized (following W einer's example) that if I wanted to stick with the project, I should select the field site of a deceased anthropologist. That way there would be no objections. That is how I came to choose Pukapuka. W hy are anthropologists so leery of others visiting their field sites and questioning their data? I have no clear answer. But we might reflect on a noted case in anthropology, the Redfield-Lewis controversy involving Tepoztlan. Robert Redfield, a noted anthropologist at the University of Chicago, studied a rural Mexican village named Tepoztlan in 1926-27. He wrote an ethnographic description of the village that focused on normative rules. Redfield portrayed neighbors as living in relative harmony. In 1943, another anthropologist, Oscar Lewis, with a non-academic affiliation (the Interamerican Indian Institute), conducted research in the village. Focusing on observed behavior, rather than ideal norms, Lewis painted a picture of conflict and factionalism. The rumor I don't know if it is true is that Redfield refused to talk to Lewis after that. W hile many anthropologists know of the controversy, it is rarely highlighted in introductory textbooks or disciplinary histories. I examined twenty-two introductory texts. None of them refer to the controversy. I also examined eleven disciplinary histories. Two, written by European anthropologists (one being Eriksen and Nielsen's A History of Anthropology), refer to it. No American anthropologist did despite the fact that Redfield and Lewis were both American. You might infer that many anthropologists feel uneasy with discussing a case in which two recognized anthropologists described the same field site in two different ways. W hy? It challenges the credibility of the disciplinary paradigm that one anthropologist is sufficient for describing one cultural site. Still, Redfield drew the right conclusion from the episode: "The principle conclusion that I draw from this experience is that we are all better off with two descriptions of Tepoztlan than we would be with only one of them. More understanding results from the contrast and complementarity that the two together provide. In the cases of most primitive and exotic communities we have a one-eyed view. W e can now look at Tepoztlan with somewhat stereoscopic vision." W ith these two measures of progress in mind, let us turn to the five trends that form the main part of this chapter. 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 36 _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ 2:3 Questions: W ho were the leading figures in Culture and Personality, the first trend to be discussed? W hat types of questions did they ask? Did the anthropologists associated with this trend refine the trend's key concepts, resolve problems critics criticized the trend for, or build a cumulative body of knowledge regarding certain locales? ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ 2:3 Short Answer: One might describe Culture and Personality as an effort by American anthropologists from the 1930s into the early 1960s to explore relationships between personality and culture. It offered a number of suggestive answers as to how culture shaped personality and how personality shaped culture. Three of the trends leading figures were Margaret Mead, Cora Du Bois, and Anthony W allace. Mead demonstrated that the gender stereotypes we associate with men and women in America don't hold for all societies. In fact, men may act in ways we associate with women and vice-versa. Du Bois showed that certain types of child-rearing practices could lead to certain types of adult personalities and beliefs. And W allace indicated people within the same small cultural group didn't necessarily share the same personality traits. There was not a one-to-one relationship between culture and personality. In a vague sort of way, one can perceive a progressive refining of the frames of analysis through time. But anthropologists involved with the trend didn't systematically build on the analytical framework of their predecessors nor did they return to earlier field sites and develop a substantive body of ethnographic knowledge on previously studied groups. Most of the exciting suggestions offered for the relationship between culture and personality remained just that exciting possibilities to ponder. W e never learn if some behaviors are gender specific and others not. W e remain in doubt as to the exact child-rearing practices that shape adult personality. And we never learn, beyond the group W allace studied, whether most cultural groups possess a range of personality types. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ 2:3 Longer Answer: Margaret Mead's Sex and Temperament in Three Primitive Societies (1935) explored the ways cultures patterned male and female behavior. As Mead recollected in her autobiography, Blackberry Winter, she went to the East Sepik region of Papua New Guinea "to study the different ways in which cultures patterned the expected behavior of males and females." She reasoned that "if those temperamental attitudes which we have traditionally regarded as feminine 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 37 such as passivity, responsiveness, and a willingness to cherish children can so easily be set up as the masculine pattern in one tribe, and in another be outlawed for the majority of the women . . . we no longer have any basis for regarding such aspects of behavior as sex linked." In the East Sepik, she "found three tribes all conveniently within a hundred mile area. In one [the Arapesh], both men and women act as we expect women to act in a mild parental responsive way; in the second [the Mundugumor], both act as we expect men to act in a fierce initiating fashion; and in the third [the Tchambuli], the men act according to our stereotype for women are catty, wear curls, and go shopping, while the women are energetic, managerial, unadorned partners." These data led Mead to conclude that overall "male and female personality are socially produced." But while emphasizing the importance of cultural conditioning, Mead didn't elaborate on how specific cultural mechanisms shape particular personality styles. Cora Du Bois, in The People of Alor (1944), addressed the problem of specifying the cultural mechanisms shaping personality the problem Mead had left unaddressed. For the Indonesian Island she studied, Du Bois described how specific cultural institutions shape personality traits and how these personality traits, in turn, shape other cultural institutions. W orking with 180 inhabitants in a village cluster called Atimelang, roughly fifty miles from the coast on Alor, Cora Du Bois collected considerable ethnographic material: observations of child-rearing practices, life histories of eight adults, and important psychological test data (involving 37 Rorschachs, 55 Porteus Mazes, 36 W ord Association protocols, and 55 children's drawings). She framed her analysis in terms of the Freudian psychiatrist Abram Kardiner's assertion that certain primary institutions, such as economic organization, shaped child-rearing practices that resulted in the development of certain adult personality traits, which in turn helped shape certain secondary institutions, such as religion and myth. Du Bois discovered that a mother's economic responsibilities taking care of the family's horticulture gardens meant she spent relatively little time with an infant child during the day. The child was mostly the responsibility of an older sibling who, often as not, was inconsistent in disciplining the child. Instead of offering love and affection, the older child often emphasized ridicule and teasing. This sort of child rearing, Du Bois suggested, resulted in an emotionally shallow adult with limited self-confidence who distrusted deep relationships. The psychological test data were analyzed independent of Du Bois to avoid biasing the results. They confirmed Du Bois's impressions of Atimelanger personality thereby strengthening her assessment. Oberholzer, who analyzed the Rorschach tests, described the Atimelangers as "suspicious and distrustful . . . not only toward everything that is unknown and new . . . but 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 38 also among themselves. Not one will trust another." Fitting with this pattern (and perpetuating it), Atimelang men were involved in a precarious status-wealth system based on chicanery and deceit. In accord with Kardiner's perspective, the Atimelangers frequently framed relations with supernatural beings in terms of manipulation and exploitation. As Du Bois herself came to recognize, her impressive results were tarnished by sampling problems. Focusing on eight adult autobiographies or even 37 Rorschachs in a group of 180 villagers (within a larger cluster of 600 people) meant that it was difficult to assess the Atimelang modal, or average, personality. Complicating her research further was the fact the most of the culturally successful individuals, those in the thick of the village's business and dynamics, were too busy to be interviewed. Anthony W allace addressed Du Bois's sampling problem in a study of the Tuscarora Indians in upstate New York. Focusing on a Tuscarora reservation of roughly 600 people near Niagara Falls a group perceived as being culturally homogeneous W allace found significant variation in personality traits (as judged by Rorschach protocols). Only 37 percent of the 70 interviewed possessed what might be termed a modal, or average, personality their collective responses (in terms of 21 identifiable Rorschach categories) fell within a modal range. Another 23 percent fell within the modal range for some Rorschach categories but not others. W allace referred to these as "submodal." And a final 40 percent fell completely outside the model range. These he called "deviant." The results (published in The Modal Personality of the Tuscarora Indians in 1952) led Wallace to make a critical distinction in a later book, Culture and Personality (1961). He differentiated between two models for conceptualizing the "relation between cultural systems and personality systems." The first he termed "the replication of uniformity" in which "the society may be regarded as culturally homogeneous and the individuals will be expected to share a uniform nuclear character . . . [what researchers needed to study were the] . . . mechanisms of socialization by which each generation becomes, culturally and characterologically, a replica of its predecessors." In "the organization of diversity," or second model, a group's psychological diversity was stressed and researchers needed to examine "how . . . various individuals organize themselves culturally" given such diverse personalities. This second model, W allace indicated, emphasized "when the process of socialization is examined . . . it becomes apparent that . . . it is not a perfectly reliable mechanism for [cultural] replication." W allace, in other words, reframed how anthropologists might perceive the relationship between culture and personality, offering two models of socialization instead of one, and highlighting the presence of psychological diversity within a seemingly culturally homogeneous group. It was a powerful perspective, and W allace gained considerable respect for enunciating it. But 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 39 few anthropologists built on W allace's work. One of the key figures in the field, George Spindler, in reviewing Culture and Personality, suggested that W allace had unnecessarily dichotomized the issue. Should we view these culture and personality studies as embodying progress either in terms of refining certain ideas and tools of analysis or in terms of building cumulative knowledge through time? It is possible to perceive in a vague sort of way a progressive refining of the frames of analysis in the Culture and Personality trend. Mead set out a cultural, that is, non-biological, position regarding the development of personality. She demonstrated that given the variations in gender temperaments, culture must logically play a key role in shaping gender-oriented behavior. But she didn't specify specific mechanisms by which this occurred. Du Bois showed that certain Freudian-based assumptions about child rearing explained developmental processes shaping adult Atimelanger personalities. Her analysis was strengthened by the fact that psychologists, relying solely on the test data, came to the same general conclusions as she did in her ethnographic research. Her study failed, however, to deal with intracultural variation. W allace made intracultural variation the focus of his study. He used the results of his Tuscarora research to conceptualize a new way of looking at culture and personality. But I don't perceive substantive intellectual progress by the terms defined in this chapter. It would be fairer to suggest that, in an effort to conduct innovative research, there was a vague refining of earlier perspectives but in different locales. They didn't directly address earlier research in its own terms except to criticize it. If Du Bois and W allace had gone back to New Guinea where Mead did her work, and redid her study, then, in a very real sense, one could view their collective studies as cumulative. But they didn't. W hen Du Bois and W allace cited earlier research, it was generally in a critical way that placed their own work at center stage. W allace's Culture and Personality referred to Du Bois's work, but only to emphasize that the autobiographies she collected showed diverse personality types. Neither these researchers nor their colleagues working within the Culture and Personality perspective returned to earlier field sites to build directly on the data collected by earlier anthropologists, in the objective sense suggested in Chapter 1. Instead, they went to different sites, hundreds or thousands of miles away. (Decades later, working from a different perspective, two anthropologists did revisit the Tchambuli, calling them Chambri, but addressed a set of problems different from those addressed by Mead.) 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 40 W hen we discuss other trends below, I will be able to offer more systematic data on how various colleagues did or didn't build on the work of a trend's key figures. But since culture and personality occurred before the Social Sciences Citations Index (now ISI's W eb of Knowledge) began the source I use for such data I can only offer an impression. "The Six Cultures Project" published by John and Beatrice W hiting in the early 1960s is probably the most comprehensive culture and personal research project ever undertaken. Rather than returning to any of the above studied sites, the six researchers chose new locations for their research. It is interesting to note that the key books describing the project's theoretical and ethnographic underpinnings does not refer to any of the above authors' writings, even though Du Bois worked in the same department (at Harvard) as the W hitings. The W hitings concluded from their work that " the question of the correspondence of . . . variables within and across cultures remains unanswered." In other words, the "Six Cultures Project" left unanswered the very question Mead and Du Bois had left unanswered in their research. W allace formulated an answer, but few (including the Whitings) seemed interested in following up on his idea. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ 2:4 Questions: W ho were the leading figures in Cultural Ecology, the second trend to be discussed? W hat types of questions did they ask? Did the anthropologists associated with this trend refine its key concepts, resolve problems raised by critics, or build a cumulative body of knowledge regarding certain locales? _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ 2:4 Short Answer: Cultural Ecology was prominent in the 1960s. Though called by different names including cultural evolution, neo-evolution and cultural materialism its adherents tended to share certain perspectives. Anthropologists associated with the trend often (a) perceived themselves as building on the works of Leslie W hite or Julian Steward and (b) focused on environmental adaptation as an explanation for various cultural institutions. Four of the Cultural Ecology trend's leading figures were Elman Service, Marshall Sahlins, Roy Rappaport, and Marvin Harris. Service and Sahlins helped initiate the trend with a book seeking to reinvigorate the evolutionary approach within anthropology. Service then elaborated on this approach setting out various evolutionary stages of human social organization and the characteristics of each. Rappaport emphasized that ritual often possessed important ecological functions. Among the group 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 41 Rappaport studied, for example, certain rituals helped keep human-animal-environmental pressures in rough balance, preventing the pig population from expanding to where it could cause serious environmental damage. Harris set out a new vision of the discipline's history. He stressed that evolutionary and ecological concerns were central to understanding how groups adapted and changed through time. W hat did the trend achieve? As with the previous trend, Culture and Personality, we might perceive in a vague sort of way a degree of intellectual refinement and development with this trend. But I wouldn't say that the trend's central works embody significant intellectual progress through time, at least as progress is defined in this chapter. First, the three authors dealt with different ethnographic areas. Second, with two exceptions, the authors don't seriously engage with each other's work. Third, the authors never seriously came to terms with the trend's key problem assuming adaptive value without supporting diachronic data. They instead focused on unsubstantiated conjectures. Moreover, colleagues working within the same trend rarely built systemically on these seminal figures' central writings. They mostly cited them in a list of citations or in a short phrase rather than discuss their ideas at length. The citations followed the "bump and go" pattern mentioned earlier. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ 2:4 Longer Answer: Marshall Sahlins and Elman Service's Evolution and Culture (1960) set the tone for the trend. Their purpose, they state in the book's introduction, "is not to describe the actual evolution of culture, but rather to argue in favor of several general principles that we believe are fundamental to the theory of cultural evolution." Chapters in Evolution and Culture discuss "The Principle of Stabilization," "The Law of Cultural Dominance," and "The Law of Evolutionary Potential." The second chapter is the most cited. It involves Sahlins's effort to bring White's and Steward's differing approaches into a common framework. Sahlins saw White's work as involving general evolution, and Steward's as concerning specific evolution. Quoting Sahlins, "general cultural evolution . . . [involved the] passage from less to greater energy transformation. . . . Specific evolution is the . . . ramifying, historic passage of culture along its many lines, the adaptive modification of particular cultures." W here specific evolution might be perceived as adaptation moving from more homogeneous structures toward more heterogeneous ones, general evolution involved a progressive movement toward "all-around adaptability." Drawing on an idea from Steward, Sahlins suggested a proposition that was later elaborated by Service: Different societies had different levels of social integration (or forms of social cohesion). 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 42 In Primitive Social Organization: An Evolutionary Perspective (1962), Service described three stages of cultural evolution bands, tribes, and chiefdoms and suggested that each stage had its own distinct form of social integration. He wrote that hunters and gatherers formed cohesive bands as a result of "familistic bonds of kinship and marriage which by their nature can integrate only the relatively small and simple societies that we call bands." "The economy, polity, and ideology of the culture of bands is . . . familistic only." Tribal social solidity derives from certain "pan-tribal solidarities which can integrate several bandlike societies" into one unit. Chiefdoms, by contrast, involve "specialization, redistribution, and the related centralization of authority." (Service contrasted chiefdoms with states that by having "a bureaucracy employing legal force" allowed for still further integration.) W hat did their colleagues make of these ideas? Not much, apparently. The American Anthropologist reviews of Evolution and Culture and Primitive Social Organization focused on a perennial problem with the trend. The review of Evolution and Culture claimed that "the authors haven't seriously investigated any of [the] principles [discussed], nor do they give any sign of an intention to do so, nor do they express any diffidence about the usefulness of their untested concepts or the validity of their untested hypotheses." The review of Primitive Social Organization stated: "Chapters 3, 4, and 5 dealing with bands, tribes, and chiefdoms . . . [are mostly] devoted to defining the criteria of the specific levels [of integration]. This leaves little [room for] . . . more than a listing of . . . examples with discussion devoted primarily to problem cases. The reader, in effect, is left to accept the type societies on authority." Of the five trends discussed in this chapter, Cultural Ecology is most tied to archeological research and the one most cited by archeologists. Yet the archeological record which, through its concern temporal transformations, could provide empirical substantiation to Sahlins's and Service's claims is rarely cited. The adaptative significance of particular cultural forms tended to be mostly postulated, not demonstrated. Roy Rappaport's Pigs for the Ancestors (1968) approached cultural adaptation differently, emphasizing the regulatory role of ritual in maintaining a community's ecological viability. He perceived the 200 Tsembaga he studied in highland New Guinea as more than simply a cultural collectivity. He viewed them as a biotic community that sought to stay in balance with its environment. Addressing the flaw in the two works just cited, Rappaport focused on the specific ethnographic "processes by which systems maintain their structure." He summarized his thesis this way: "The regulatory function of ritual among the Tsembaga . . . helps to maintain an undegraded environment, limits fighting to frequencies that do not endanger the existence of the regional 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 43 population, adjusts man-land ratios, facilitates trade, distributes local surpluses of pig . . . and assures people of high-quality protein when they most need it." Criticisms of Pigs for the Ancestors centered on the degree to which Rappaport moved beyond simply suggesting that rituals had certain ecological functions to actually demonstrating it. Today, the book is still seen as a descriptive tour de force, but many critics feel that Rappaport never proved the postulated cause-and-effect relationships between ritual and environment. They perceive them as mostly conjectures. Marvin Harris, in The Rise of Anthropological Theory (1968), wrote a history of the discipline emphasizing ecological/evolutionary theory (which he termed "cultural materialism") and the diverse ways adaptation worked in cultural systems. "The reader. . . [is] forewarned that, while this book is a history of anthropological theories, it is intended to prove a point" relating to cultural materialism, Harris writes. "The essence of cultural materialism," is that it directs attention to the interaction between behavior and environment [and emphasizes] . . . that group structure and ideology are responsive to . . . material conditions." Harris continues: "The vindication of the strategy of cultural materialism . . . lies in the capacity of the approach to generate major explanatory hypotheses which can be subjected to the tests of ethnographic and archaeological research." Harris published his book in 1968, at a critical time in anthropology. W ith the discipline expanding in the late 1960s, a new recounting of its past was needed to convey its new sense of respectability. Harris's account filled this need in a way that thrilled supporters of the evolutionary approach. But Harris never really put his explanatory principles to a test. He wrote best-selling books, such as Cows, Pigs, Wars, and Witches (1974) and Cannibals and Kings (1977), that offered suggestive and provocative explanations for a host of cultural phenomena. But though he espoused a concern for temporal explanations (especially in Cannibals and Kings), the brief explanations he offered for this cultural behavior or that pattern didn't meet his own standard. One intriguing suggestion was piled on top of another, but weren't systematically tested in any detailed way. Did these cultural ecology studies embody progress, either in terms of refining certain ideas and tools of analysis or in terms of building cumulative knowledge through time? In a vague sort of way, we might perceive a certain degree of intellectual refinement and progress. All the above-cited books refer back to the work of Leslie W hite and/or Julian Steward. Sahlins offers a thoughtful, synthesizing way to conceptualize W hite's and Steward's differences. In Primitive Social Organization, Service 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 44 presents a set of cultural stages that, in drawing on Sahlins's development of Steward's work, helps to order a diverse set of social units into the relatively ordered categories of bands, tribes, and chiefdoms. Rappaport builds on Steward's ideas while moving toward what some termed a "new ecology" focusing on biotic communities and the role that rituals not just technoecological/economic structures play in maintaining a group's ecological/cultural viability. Harris innovatively describes the discipline's history in terms of evolutionary/ecological perspectives that draw on Steward framework and research. Personally, I don't see their collective work as representing significant intellectual progress through time, however. It would be closer to the mark to suggest that, rather than cumulative progress, W hite's and Steward's writings offered different authors different possibilities that they then mined, each in their own interesting way. Service built on the work of Sahlins and Service in developing the levels of integration concept; but one would be hard pressed to demonstrate that Service, Rappaport, and Harris built on each other's work. They all seemed to go off in different directions. First, the three authors dealt with different ethnographic locales. If Rappaport had worked among one of the tribal groups discussed by Service, or if Harris, following on Rappaport's heels, had offered a detailed cultural materialistic reinterpretation of Rappaport's work among the Tsembaga that brought new data to light, then we could perceive progress being made. But that isn't what occurred. Rappaport worked in a totally different locale from W hite, Steward, Sahlins, Service, and Harris. Harris, in Cows, Pigs, Wars, and Witches, addresses Rappaport's analysis. But he doesn't really present any new data. Rather, Harris seeks to turn Rappaport's analysis on its head by making ecological concerns particularly population pressure and land carrying capacity the reasons for certain rituals, even though, as Harris admits, the ritual occurs well before "the onset of actual nutritional deficiencies or the actual beginning of irreversible damage to the environment." Harris is simply offering an alternative speculation to that of offered by Rappaport. He isn't building on Rappaport's work in a cumulative way. Second, aside from Harris's reinterpretation of Rappaport's analysis and Service building on Sahlins's suggestion (derived from Steward), these authors don't seriously engage with each other's work. Rappaport briefly cites Sahlins and Service in a critical footnote and adds a citation to Harris in the revised 1984 edition of Pigs for the Ancestors. But he ignores Harris's explanation in Cows, Pigs, Wars, and Witches, and doesn't even list Harris's book in his 1984 bibliography. Harris briefly discusses Sahlins's analysis in Evolution and Culture of general and specific evolution, but he is critical of the analysis, asserting that a different approach would be better. 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 45 Third, the authors all grapple with the same problem, of assuming adaptive value without offering supporting diachronic data. They all fall back on unsubstantiated conjectures. W e are left with much to ponder, but little proven. New possibilities keep piling up, but the underlying criticisms of the trend don't seem to get seriously addressed. Another way to examine the question of progress is to consider how other anthropologists, both in these authors' generation as well as in a subsequent generation, refer back to these figure's key works. To make the task manageable, I limited myself to five journals: the American Anthropologist, American Ethnologist, Current Anthropology, Man, and, because these authors are frequently cited in archeology, American Antiquity. I collected citations from five, ten and fifteen years out from the publications cited here (again, to make the task manageable). My examination of the citations suggests that other anthropologists rarely built on Service's, Rappaport's, or Harris's work. Rather, these anthropologists cited them mainly in passing, as a way of showing they were familiar with their work. (The dates in parentheses below represent the years the books were published or republished.) If we look at to what degree (of the total articles in which these figures were cited) the authors of these articles made a sustained attempt to develop one of the figure's work through reinterpreting, building on, or criticizing their respective work involving at least three sentences of discussion of the specified author's work we get the following percentages: Service (1962/71) 4% Rappaport (1968/84) 5% Harris (1968) 0% In other words, most of the citations to these figures' key works were of the "bump and go" variety. Authors referred to them only to convey they were aware of the relevant literature. But few sought to systematically engage with ideas in the figure's key work for more than two sentences. An issue of the American Anthropologist (Vol. 101, dated 1999) published several articles honoring Roy Rappaport. Examining these articles offers an opportunity for exploring to what degree anthropologists actually build on a prominent figure's work, when custom dictates they should. In terms of the anthropologists who dealt with Rappaport's classic Pigs for the Ancestors, 50 percent of them sought to develop his ideas, 33 percent discussed them in a review of the literature, and 17 percent cited his book only in passing as they were developing their own ideas. 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 46 One might interpret the special issue of the American Anthropologist as reinforcing the anthropological sense of progress. That, I think, is the dominant trend of the articles. I would note, however, that works dedicated to honoring a specific figure (they are termed Festschrifts) are rarely published today. Even in the case discussed here, only 50 percent of the authors embraced Rappaport's major work in developing their own. Not one of the anthropologists writing articles honoring Rappaport went back to his Tsembaga field site and sought to confirm or rebut his analysis, as happened with Tepoztlan. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ 2:5 Questions: W ho were the leading figures in the third trend, Interpreting Myths, Symbols, and Ritual? W hat types of questions did they ask? Did the anthropologists associated with this trend refine its key concepts, resolve problems raised by critics, or build a cumulative body of knowledge regarding certain locales? _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ 2:5 Short Answer: The third trend, Interpreting Myths, Symbols, and Rituals, was prominent in cultural anthropology from the late 1960s into the 1970s. Claude Lvi-Strauss, Victor Turner, and Clifford Geertz were the trend's dominant figures. W hile the three possessed different approaches, they shared a common concern for demonstrating how the analysis of symbols, myths, and rituals provided important insights into the dynamics of specific cultural groups and, more broadly, the workings of human society. Lvi-Strauss suggested that myths often expressed underlying social contradictions in groups. Myths didn't resolve these contradictions, but by highlighting them, they helped people to deal with them more effectively. Turner examined the structured rituals of the normal social order as well as "anti-structural rituals" that emphasized alternative forms of human relations, community, and human bonding. Geertz explored how cultural symbols reflected and reinforced certain social preoccupations within a group. W hat did the se figures collectively achieve? They certainly suggested interesting possibilities to ponder. And, if we are positive and speak in very general terms, we might perceive some vague sense of progress in the three authors' collective. But I hesitate to view their collective efforts as representing intellectual progress in the terms referred to in this chapter. First, despite the fact that Lvi-Strauss, Turner, and Geertz discuss a wide range of ethnographic materials, there is little overlap in their analyses. Second, while these authors take note of each other's writings, they seemed mostly focused, in their discussions, 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 47 on affirming their own positions. And third, the incisive insights proffered by these writers don't resolve the trend's underlying problem: How to evaluate one interpretative analysis against another, and test their validity. Neither Lvi-Strauss, nor Turner, nor Geertz, nor other anthropologists working within this trend ever answered that question in a way that satisfied those outside the trend. It always involved taking a particular perspective on faith. Finally, few colleagues working within the trend who cited these seminal figures' works appear to have systematically built on their work. As occurred with Cultural Ecology, the references to these works were mostly of the "bump and go" style a citing of them in passing to affirm an author's grasp of the literature. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ 2:5 Longer Answer: Claude Lvi-Strauss is widely recognized as an important intellectual figure, especially in Europe. W hat other anthropologist ever has represented his government abroad as a cultural attach, been the subject of a Susan Sontag essay and a Robert Lowell poem, or been cited in an Agatha Christie mystery? Lvi-Strauss's hundredth birthday was a national occasion for celebration, with the President of France making a personal home visit. In inventing structuralism, a prominent American anthropologist suggested, Lvi-Strauss created "the only genuinely original social science paradigm . . . in the twentieth century." The corpus of Lvi-Strauss's work is wide-ranging, subtle, and complex. In respect to myths, the topic dealt with here, he argues that "the true constituent units of a myth are not isolated relations but bundles of . . . relations . . . [that] produce a meaning." Lvi-Strauss viewed myth in terms of a musical composition in which, as in music, different variants of the myth represent variations on an underlying theme frequently concerned with social contradictions with groups. He suggested that myths don't usually resolve such contradictions. Rather, a myth and its variants tend to soften a contradiction's polarizing tensions in a way that allows people to better live with them. In the "Overture" to The Raw and the Cooked (1969) Lvi-Strauss addressed a question frequently raised by his critics: W hose "order" was being represented in his analyses his own, or that of the people he was studying? Lvi-Strauss offered an intriguing answer. "If the final aim of anthropology is to contribute to a better knowledge of objectified [human] thought . . . it is in the last resort immaterial whether in this book the thought processes of the South American Indians take shape through the medium of my thought, or whether mine take place through the medium of theirs. W hat matters is that the human mind, regardless of the identity of those who happen to be giving it expression, should display an increasingly intelligible structure as a result of the doubly reflexive forward movement of two thought processes acting one upon the other." 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 48 In The Ritual Process (1969) Victor Turner focused on rituals as a way of understanding broader social dynamics. He suggested that the structured, hierarchical order of everyday life was counterbalanced by a more communally oriented, sharing (or anti-structure) that temporarily united people without the differentiations or hierarchy of the normal social order. In the early 1900s, the Belgian anthropologist Arnold Van Gennep had postulated three stages to rituals of passage (or rites de passage such as those concerned with the change from a child to an adult). They were separation (i.e., exclusion from the society), margin (i.e., liminality), and aggregation (i.e., reintegration into the society). Turner built on Van Gennep's work focusing on the middle or liminal state, which he felt embodied an antistructural quality a way of relating distinct from the demarcations and separations of normal social structures. "The liminal group," he wrote, "is a community . . . of comrades and not a structure of hierarchically arrayed positions. This comradeship transcends distinctions of rank, age, [and] kinship position." Turner perceived "two alternative `models' for human interrelatedness, juxtaposed to one another. The first involved society as a structured, differentiated, and often hierarchical system of politico-legal-economic positions. . . . The second, which emerges recognizably in the liminal period, is of society as an unstructured or rudimentarily structured and relatively undifferentiated communitas, community, or even communion of equal individuals." He suggested that for both religious and secular groups, "a fairly regular connection is maintained between liminality, structural inferiority, lowermost status, and structural outsiderhood . . . [involving] . . . such universal human values as peace and harmony . . . fertility, health of mind and body, universal justice . . . and brotherhood." In concluding The Ritual Process, Turner suggested that society "seems to [involve a] . . . dialectical process with successive phases of structure and communitas. There would seem to be if one can use such a controversial term a human `need' to participate in both modalities." It is a powerful vision that gave new impetus to the study of rituals especially when Turner extended his approach, as he did in later work, to include historical events in W estern societies. (He analyzed Saint Francis of Assisi, Thomas Becket, and the Hell's Angels.) But Turner fell prey to the same criticisms as Lvi-Strauss did regarding why we should trust his interpretations. As one reviewer put it, Turner couldn't prove that his analyses were anything more than symbolic guessing. Believing that humans are caught up in webs of meaning that they themselves shape as well as are shaped by, Clifford Geertz sought to interpret the webs of meaning that bind people together in groups. Geertz, who conducted fieldwork in sites 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 49 ranging from Bali to Morocco, has been described as "one of the foremost figures in the reconfiguration of the boundary between the social sciences and the humanities in the second half of the twentieth century." Let me focus here on his most famous volume, The Interpretation of Cultures and, specifically, on its two most famous chapters, "Thick Description" and "Deep Play," which covers Balinese cock fighting. "W hen scholars from the humanities . . . cite an anthropologist," one anthropologist noted, "it is more often than not Geertz . . . and usually it is Geertz on thick description or Geertz on the cockfight." (Intriguingly, the American Anthropologist never reviewed The Interpretation of Cultures.) In discussing "thick" description, Geertz suggests, "it is not against a body of uninterpreted data, radically thinned descriptions, that we must measure the cogency of our explications, but against the power of the scientific imagination to bring us into touch with the lives of strangers." Geertz interprets the Balinese cockfight as a dramatization of status concerns and fears enacted on a public stage. He writes: "Attending cockfights and participating in them is, for the Balinese, a kind of sentimental education. W hat he [the Balinese] learns there is what his culture's ethos and his [private] sensibility . . . look like when spelled out externally in a collective text." Building on this point, Geertz writes, "the culture of a people is an ensemble of texts . . . which the anthropologist strains to read over the shoulders of those to whom they properly belong." "Cultural analysis is (or should be) guessing at meanings," Geertz suggests. But there remained the question of how we should judge his guesses. In respect to his Balinese material, other anthropologists have challenged Geertz's interpretation on a number of points. One wrote: "W hen Geertz discusses the aims and nature of interpretive theory, he seems more interested in possibility than in tangibility." Readers are left as with Lvi-Strauss and Turner wondering why his particular interpretation is more valid than some other. Should we view these myth, symbolism, and ritual studies as embodying progress either in terms of refining certain ideas and tools of analysis or in terms of building cumulative knowledge through time? W e can, speaking positively, perceive in some vague general sense progress in the work of the three cited figures. Turner gives analytical grounding to Lvi-Strauss's abstract analyses of myth, describing symbolism in action. Geertz broadens the symbolic discourse, viewing the everyday worlds anthropologists encounter, in all their diversity, as ripe for interpretive analysis as texts a framework that appeals to academics in other disciplines. But, again, I am skeptical that this constitutes more than limited progress as defined in this chapter. W hy? 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 50 First, despite the fact that Lvi-Strauss, Turner, and Geertz discuss a wide range of ethnographic materials from the Amazon to Bali to California's Hell's Angels there is little overlap in their analyses. It would be one thing if all three worked in one locale with one set of rituals or myths. Then we could see up close how their approaches overlapped. W orking with these data, readers could weigh one interpretation against another. But comparing Ndembu African rituals and Tsimshian Canadian myths is akin to comparing bananas and bagels. Second, while these three authors take note of each other's writings (more so than the cultural ecologists did), they don't overtly build on one another's work. In discussing each other's work, they all seemed bent on affirming their own perspectives. In a critique of Lvi-Strauss, Geertz writes: "That Lvi-Strauss should have been able to transmute the romantic passion of Tristes Tropiques into the hypermodern intellectualism of La Pense Sauvage is surely a startling achievement. But there remain questions one cannot help but ask. Is this transmutation science or alchemy?" Geertz remarks that Turner "can expose some of the profoundest features of social process, but at the expense of making vividly disparate matters look drably homogeneous." Lvi-Strauss criticizes Turner, noting "ritual is not a reaction to life; it is a reaction to what thought has made of life. It is not a direct response to the world . . . it is a response to the way man thinks of the world." From the literature I have examined, LviStrauss appears not to have engaged with Geertz. Turner is the most positive of the three. He affirms his agreement with Geertz on certain points, and acknowledges LviStrauss's criticism of his work. But nowhere in the citations and comments I have examined is there a direct exchange, at the ethnographic level, regarding how one author's writings relate to another's or how one author's work might build on another's. And third, the incisive insights proffered by these writers don't resolve the trend's underlying problem: How do readers evaluate one interpretative analysis against another? W hen we set aside the intellectual glitter each presents, it remains uncertain to what degree we find ethnographic validation that extends beyond an author's own assertions. If the three had collectively examined the same myth or ritual, we would be closer to answering this question. But, as noted, this never occurs. If we apply the strategy used with the cultural ecologists seeing how other anthropologists refer back to these figures' work we come to a similar conclusion (though in one case there is somewhat more intellectual engagement). I examined citations five, ten, and fifteen years out from Lvi-Strauss's, Turner's, and Geertz's key works in some of the discipline's leading journals: the American Anthropologist, American Ethnologist, Current Anthropology, and Man. Rather than use an archeologically based 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 51 journal, it seemed more appropriate to use one focused on psychological anthropology. Hence, the fifth journal examined was Ethos, the journal of the Society for Psychological Anthropology. My survey of citations suggests that other anthropologists mostly didn't build on Lvi-Strauss's, Turner's, and Geertz's work. Rather, these anthropologists cited them mainly in passing as a way of showing they were familiar with these figures work. The notable exception is Lvi-Strauss. Perhaps having offered one of the most original perspectives developed in anthropology certainly for the trends discussed here he has stirred up more discussion and debate among his colleagues. If we look at to what degree (of the total articles in which the trends three leading figures were cited) the authors of the articles made a sustained attempt to develop one of the figure's ideas through reinterpreting, building on, or criticizing their ideas involving at least three sentences of discussion of the specified author's work we get the following percentages: Lvi-Strauss (1969) 19% Turner (1969) 6% Geertz (1973) 5% In other words, except in the case of Lvi-Strauss, the authors citing the above figures in the sample, did so mostly in passing, usually in a list with other citations. Within the sample examined, there is relatively little substantive engagement with these figure's ideas as they framed them in their books. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ 2:6 Questions: W ho were the leading figures in the (Re)Turn to History, the fourth trend examined? W hat types of questions did they ask? Did the anthropologists associated with this trend refine its key concepts, resolve problems raised by critics, or build a cumulative body of knowledge regarding certain locales? _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ 2:6 Short Answer: The (Re)Turn to History was popular in anthropology from the late 1970s into the 1990s. Among American anthropologists, the French philosopher/historian Michel Foucault was well cited for his historical analyses. In the United States, Eric W olf and Marshall Sahlins were the trend's most prominent proponents. Foucault explored how a "political economy of the body" that is, how the body was regulated (especially in prisons) related to the political economy of the broader society, especially the rise of capitalism. W olf showed how many of the societies 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 52 perceived as uninvolved in W estern systems of exchange after 1492, were, in fact, intimately connected to them and, in many cases, transformed by them. Sahlins sought to demonstrate, using the example of the 1779 murder of Captain Cook in Hawaii, how one might understand the history of contact what the "other (or non-W estern) side" thought through an understanding of their rituals, beliefs, and behaviors. Reviewing these three writers and their work, it is easy to be impressed: Drawing inspiration from a range of sources, they all raise important questions. And, equally significantly, they suggest provocative answers. But, once again, I perceive their collective efforts as mostly representing limited intellectual progress in the terms referred to in this chapter. First, despite the fact that Foucault, W olf, and Sahlins discuss a wide range of historical material, there is little overlap in their analyses. They all go off in their own separate directions. Second, while these authors take note of each other's writings, they seemed mostly focused, in their discussions, on affirming their own positions. And third, while the data the authors refer to are often massive, others may perceive their efforts as a little "quick of foot" skimming over important details that might disrupt the neat perspectives enunciated. W e are left with an uncertainty as to whether we should trust their analyses. W here does truth leave off and imagination begin in their writings? Examining to what degree those citing Foucault, W olf, and Sahlins directly engage with these figures' central works, we discover the same pattern as before. Most anthropologists citing these figures' major works appear less interested in constructively building on these figure's ideas than on citing them to demonstrate a familiarity with the literature. There is, however, a surprise in the data, an exception to the pattern. A controversy arose between Sahlins and another anthropologist, Gananath Obeyesekere, regarding whether or not Hawaiians perceived Captain Cook as a "god." As the controversy continued, researchers had an opportunity to look through the historical data that was, fortunately, publicly available. Anthropologists, of different perspectives and positions, systematically examined the same data and came to the same basic conclusion. There was a clear refining of how one might examine the history and politics of "first contact," and a clear building of cumulative knowledge _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ 2:6 Longer Answer: It is important that readers recognize that this trend's turn toward history was far from new. A concern for the temporal dimension in anthropology is almost as old as the discipline itself. Let me offer some examples. 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 53 Few readers will recognize all the individuals or studies referred to here. But just seeing the names and dates should convey that the historical analyses of the 1970s to the 1990s were following in the footsteps of earlier works works, I would note, these later authors rarely cited. Among the early works were: Wissler The American Indian (1917), Kroeber Cultural and Natural Areas of North America (1939), and Kroeber and Driver Quantitative Expression of Cultural Relationships (1932) as well as the Kluturkreis analyses of Graebner's Methode der Ethnologie (191(1). There were also important acculturation studies such as Mooney's The GhostDance Religion and the Sioux Outbreak of 1890 (1896), Linton's Acculturation in Seven American Indian Tribes (1940), and W ilson and Wilson's The Analysis of Social Change, Based on Observations in Central Africa (1945). W e should also acknowledge the work of ethnohistorians, such as Fenton on the Iroquois and Vansina on Central Africa. W e might highlight two works that few cite today but in their time thrilled the discipline: W issler's 1914 "The Influence of the Horse in the Development of Plains Culture" and Richardson and Kroeber's 1940 Three Centuries of Women's Dress Fashions. As far back as 1908 Bernheim emphasized a theme that W olf made famous in his 1983 book (discussed below). Bernheim asserted: "There are no peoples without history." The French scholar Michel Foucault used history to discover how submerged structures of power shaped important W estern (especially French) institutions from the treatment of the insane to the development of the medical profession to patterns of imprisonment. W hile Foucault wasn't technically an anthropologist, he had an air "of the anthropologist about him," as a reviewer noted in the New York Times. Discipline and Punish (1977) is the work most cited by anthropologists. It concerns a transformation in the ways criminals were punished in France. "At the beginning of the nineteenth century," Foucault writes, "the great spectacle of physical punishment disappeared." Torture stopped. It was replaced "by a punishment that acts in the depth on the heart, the thoughts, the will, the inclinations" the "soul rather than the body," He is referring to the individual learning to control his own behavior in prison rather than having it controlled by physical punishment. Foucault framed what he perceived as changes in the "political economy of the body" how the body was controlled and regulated by others in terms of changes in the political economy of society. "Is it surprising," he asks in respect to the rise of capitalist orientations in industry, "that prisons resemble factories, schools, barracks, [and] hospitals" in respect to the rise of new disciplined regimes such as organizing behavior according to regimented time schedules? 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 54 Reviewers repeatedly highlight two problems regarding Discipline and Punish. First, Foucault tended to work by analogy, showing how similar processes operated in different areas of French society rather than demonstrating historical or causal connections between the two. One reviewer noted "he constructs his argument not by mapping precise lines of influence from one institution to another but by defining broad similarities of approach." Second, Foucault asserted, "where there is power there is resistance." W hile readers can find suggestions of resistance in public disruptions of royal hangings, for example the resistance he describes tends to be at a vague, abstract level. W e don't see it in real people taking real actions. A reviewer observed, "Foucault's is a history without significant actors, a history filled with disembodied . . . forces." In Europe and the People Without History (1982), Eric W olf demonstrated that non-W estern groups did not lack history in our sense of the term. In fact, for the past 500 years their history has been part of our history they have been entwined with W estern systems of trade and exchange. Take, for example, the early American fur trade. W olf writes "wherever it went, the fur trade brought with it contagious illness and increased warfare. Many native groups were destroyed, and disappeared entirely; others were decimated, broken up, or driven from their original habitats. Remnant populations sought refuge with allies or grouped together with other populations, often under new names and ethnic identities." In respect to the African slave trade, W olf observes, "the Tallensi [a group described in a famous ethnography] . . . were formed from a fusion of original inhabitants of the country with immigrants headed by slave-taking chiefs." W olf's point is that the groups anthropologists study are frequently the "outcome of a unitary historical [economic] process" or, phrased another way, "the global processes set in motion by European expansion constitute their history" as well as our history. We helped create their history, and vice versa. Beyond doubt, Europe and the People without History is a powerful work, with its reconceptualization of W est-Rest relations combined with a broad range of ethnographic examples from around the world. (Though viewed as a critically important book within the discipline, like Geertz's Interpretation of Cultures, it was never reviewed by the American Anthropologist.) The book's problem is that, in a manner not dissimilar to Foucault, W olf tends to discuss the abstract dynamics of capitalism rather than how real people in specific locations had their lives shaped and re-shaped by capitalistic forces. A reviewer of Europe and the People without History phrased it this way: "The work . . . ends with the movement of commodities and with the movement of people as just another commodity. There is little about the self-movements of people." Like Foucault, W olf has bowled people over with the power of his vision. Many stand in awe of what he has done. Still, it is one thing to suggest that Tallensi are a cultural construction of the slave trade. It is another to substantiate the assertion. W olf never does. 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 55 Through two key books, Historical Metaphors and Mythical Realities (1981) and Islands of History (1985), Marshall Sahlins demonstrated how bringing cultural structures together with actual historical events allows us to better understand these events especially in terms of indigenous responses to W estern contact. Sahlins focused on Captain James Cook's 1778-79 visit to Hawaii. In the interactions of Europeans with Hawaiians, Sahlins suggested, was "a possible theory of history, of the relation between structure [i.e. culture] and event [i.e. history]." "The great challenge of a historical anthropology is not merely to know how events are ordered by culture," Sahlins writes, "but how, in that process the culture is reordered. How does the reproduction of a structure become its transformation?" But there is a problem, a problem that exists with most records of contact: How can we know "the other" in his or her completeness, beyond the historical records of Europeans or indigenous descendants written years later? Sahlins's solution was to focus on Hawaiian myths and rituals, as they were recorded by later Hawaiians and Europeans, in an attempt to grasp the cultural understandings of Hawaiians during Cook's 1778-79 visits. Cook was drawn into the Makahiki, a Hawaiian ritual celebrating the New Year, during his Kealakekua Bay visit. He was perceived, according to both British and Hawaiian accounts, as a manifestation (though not an actualization) of the Hawaiian atua Lono. (Though atua is often translated into English as "god," it might be better phrased as conveying a sense of the divine.) Sahlins suggested that Cook's sudden murder, at Kealakekua Bay on February 14, 1779, "was not premeditated . . . but neither was it an accident, structurally speaking. It was the Makahiki in a historical form" in which Lono was praised with offerings and then symbolically dismissed (or killed) to return again the following year. As with Foucault and W olf, there was an element of intimidation in the historical references Sahlins brought to bear on his analysis. The number of references cited, especially as they focused on a limited set of events few anthropologists knew about, made many shy away from challenging him. Yet a number of anthropologists were skeptical about Sahlins's interpretation whatever data he presented. The order he portrayed seemed too neat, too structurally "snug," to many. This became clear when, as we see below, another anthropologist challenged Sahlins's interpretation and few came to his aid. Should we view these (Re)turn to History studies as embodying progress either in terms of refining certain ideas and tools of analysis or in terms of building cumulative knowledge through time? 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 56 Reviewing these three writers and their work, it is easy to be impressed: Drawing inspiration from a range of sources, they raise important questions. And, equally to the point, they suggest thoughtful answers. Once more, however, I am skeptical as to the degree we can perceive significant progress in their collective efforts. There is little direct intellectual engagement among the three. Nor do they really engage with earlier anthropologists writing on the same topic. W olf wrote, an "older anthropology had little to say . . . about the major forces driving the interaction of cultures since 1492." In fact a host of works within American anthropology directly addressed this issue, but .W olf didn't cite them. Sahlins's perspective on Cook, without the theory or details, was essentially enunciated by Gavan Daws in 1968. Sahlins dismisses Daws in a footnote (1981:74) without giving him credit for the analysis. Such silencing doesn't detract from the power of these authors' ideas, but it does make the ideas seem less new, less innovative, than the authors imply. Repeating the pattern noted above, the three authors tend to talk past one another. It is reasonable not to expect Foucault to take note of W olf's and Sahlins's work, given that Foucault is French and came earlier than the others. But W olf doesn't cite Foucault, though they both address the "discipline" instilled by capitalism into W estern institutions during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Sahlins, in Islands of History (which came out three years after W olf), offers a brief one-sentence nod to W olf's perspective. Sahlins is concerned with Cook's role as "Adam Smith's global agent" in the sense of spreading capitalism but he never seriously takes up W olf's analysis of capitalism. And while concerned with how Cook used "tolerance for the pursuit of domination," Sahlins never refers to Foucault (though other writings demonstrate that he is clearly familiar with him.). One might hope that there would be some ethnographic overlap to let readers compare and thereby assess one perspective vis--vis another between the three works. But only once or twice do the authors' data overlap ethnographically. W olf makes reference to Hawaiian political transformations brought on by the acquisition of European weaponry in a single paragraph. It is a tangential, incomplete reference, and Sahlins ignores it in his writings. W olf refers in passing to French political consolidation as well as industrialization. But he focuses his analysis on the industrialization and the rise of capitalism in England and the United States. W ith the (Re)turn to History, the same two problems repeatedly arise: (1) ambiguous historical documentation means we remain uncertain regarding cause and effect claims and (2) the limited portrayal of indigenous agency leaves us wondering about the "other side" of the relationship. 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 57 To determine to what degree other scholars citing Foucault, W olf, and Sahlins engage with their work, I examined, as before, citations five, ten, and fifteen years after the publication dates for the book's referred to here in the discipline's leading journals: the American Anthropologist, American Ethnologist, Current Anthropology, and Man. For the fifth journal, I chose one of the trend's popular forums, Comparative Studies in Society and History. If we look at to what degree (of the total articles in which these figures were cited) the authors of these articles made a sustained attempt to develop some portion of the figure's key work through reinterpreting, building on, or criticizing of ideas in it involving at least three sentences of discussion of the specified author's work we get the following percentages: Foucault (1977/79) 0% Wolf (1982) 0% Sahlins (1981/85) 2% In other words, the authors citing the above figures in the sample did so mostly in passing, usually in a list with other citations. There was little substantive engagement in the sample with these figures' ideas as they framed them in their key books. So readers can see why I am skeptical regarding the claims of disciplinary progress. Still, the unfolding of history isn't always neatly ordered. In the (Re)turn to history, an exception to the pattern arose. In a manner similar to the Redfield-Lewis controversy over the Mexican village of Tepoztlan, a Princeton-based Sri Lankan anthropologist, Gananath Obeyesekere, challenged Sahlins's interpretation of Cook's "apotheosis" as the atua Lono. Obeyesekere viewed Sahlins as presenting a W estern rather than a Third W orld perspective. At first, few challenged Obeyesekere (to Sahlins's frustration). Sahlins finally decided that he himself had to reply to Obeyesekere and he did so in a strongly worded book, How "Natives" Think: About Captain Cook, for Example. The ensuing conflict and the literature it engendered need not concern us here. (Interested readers might turn to Borofsky 1997.) But the dispute, while engendering both buzz and bellicose relations, proved beneficial. There was a rush for the archives as the dispute drew others into assessing the data Sahlins used in his analysis. Importantly, all the relevant data were publicly available. Scholars went over the data inch by inch, row by row, until (in the model suggested in Chapter 1) a fairly objective sense of what the data did and didn't reveal arose. 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 58 Instead of being dependent on Sahlins's field notes, scholars were able to study the documentation in the British Public Records Office and in the libraries of Hawaii. Each could make his or her own independent assessment of what the material did and didn't affirm. (In case you're curious, Sahlins basically won.) Rather than the tendency toward limited intellectual engagement in the resolution of the Sahlins-Obeyesekere controversy led to real intellectual progress that even the most skeptical of readers has to acknowledge. W hat made the difference and led to a more objective understanding of Cook's visit to Hawaii was that both sides examined the same basic data. For once, people weren't talking past one another. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ 2:7 Questions: W ho were the leading figures in the fifth and final trend, Postmodernism.? W hat types of questions did they ask? Did the anthropologists associated with this trend refine its key concepts, resolve problems raised by critics, or build a cumulative body of knowledge regarding certain locales? _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ 2:7 Short Answer: Postmodernism was prominent in anthropology from the late 1980s through the 1990s. It focused on the role of the knower (the anthropologist) in the known (ethnographic accounts). It explored the processes by which "others" the people that those anthropologists studied were presented in publications. In exploring this trend, we look at two general works closely associated with postmodernism Writing Culture (1986) edited by James Clifford and George Marcus and Anthropology as a Cultural Critique (1986) by George Marcus and Michael Fischer. A third book by Marilyn Strathern, The Gender of the Gift (1988), offers an ethnographic example of the approach. The authors of Writing Culture explore the rhetorical devices anthropologists apply in presenting their ethnographic materials. Marcus and Fischer call for experimentation in re-framing ethnographies, offering a range of possibilities that anthropologists might consider. Strathern examines how we represent others in our writing, especially the way we describe gender, exchange, and social units in Melanesian societies. The three works present much food for thought. But, as before, I am skeptical that the authors' collective efforts embody significant intellectual progress at least as defined in this chapter. 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 59 First, they don't directly build on each other, either ethnographically or analytically. Instead they collectively emphasize a potpourri of possibilities. The three books address similar concerns, but you would never know it from their texts. The authors in each book emphasize their own separate perspectives rather than engaging with each other's. Second, the underlying problems facing the Postmodernism trend are never addressed. W e are left to guess how to assess the experiments and positions various authors embrace if not in the standard disciplinary ways. The trend strives to create an impression that it is above the rhetorical politics it analyzes while, in fact, being very much a part of them. You get the feeling that the trend tried to have its cake (appear new, innovative, and unburdened with the discipline's old baggage) while eating it (strive for the same disciplinary status rewards and validation as others). Examining to what degree colleagues working within the same trend cite the above works, we observe the same pattern as before. Anthropologists referring to these figures' works appear less interested in constructively building on them than on simply citing them to demonstrate they are familiar with the relevant literature. There is the same "bump and go" citation pattern that restricts the refining of key concepts and the building of cumulative knowledge. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ 2:7 Longer Answer: For a trend that rebelled against broad master narratives and valued pastiche in ethnographic writing (drawing bits and pieces from here and there together into an anthropological account), the tenets of postmodernism appear relatively coherent. One repeatedly reads about "a crisis of representation" and "uncertainty about adequate means of describing social reality." There is an emphasis on reflexivity on "working into ethnographic texts a selfconscious account regarding the conditions of knowledge production as it is being produced." One hears repeated calls for intellectual experimentation in ethnographic writing. Postmodernism portrays itself as superseding modernism, but it would be more accurate to suggest that it amplifies selected modernist tendencies. One anthropologist shrewdly noted that "fragmentation, pastiche, and the juxtaposition of images and genres had been used [to question certain established W estern frames of reference since] . . . at least as early as Nietzsche's writings. In art, this trend was foreshadowed by French impressionism and then made explicit in cubist and surreal art." A prominent literary critic noted, "incompletion is the password to modernism . . . in modernism, form is not a perfect act but process and incessant revision." 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 60 In Writing Culture, editors James Clifford and George Marcus state that "by looking critically at one of the principal things ethnographers do that is, write . . . [the book seeks] to come to terms with the politics and poetics of cultural representation." Beyond a shared concern with the politics and poetics of cultural representation, the book's contributors move off in a number of directions. The best way to convey a sense of the book in a pastiche (postmodern) way is to quote a few passages from it. James Clifford: "The focus on text making and rhetoric serves to highlight the constructed, artificial nature of cultural accounts. . . . Ethnographic truths are . . . inherently partial committed and incomplete." Paul Rabinow: "W hen corridor talk about fieldwork becomes discourse, we learn a good deal. Moving the conditions of production of anthropological knowledge out of the domain of gossip where it remains the property of those around to hear it into that of knowledge would be a step in the right direction." George Marcus: "More is at stake than the mere de-mystification of past dominant conventions of representation. Rather, such a critique legitimates experimentation and a search for options in research and writing activity." Writing Culture may be a "benchmark publication," to quote one reviewer, but it has had more than its share of critics. Two criticisms are repeatedly heard. First, while acknowledging that the book opens new possibilities for analysis, critics wonder how to evaluate these possibilities. To emphasize the constructed nature of ethnographies and then step outside of this framework to objectively criticize the biases in certain ethnographic texts brings a critical question to the fore: W hat allows anthropologists to emphasize the constructed nature of ethnographies while, at the same time seeming to act as objective observers of these texts, specifying where and how they are biased? You can't have it both ways. W hy is a "postmodern perspective" not simply another construction, responding to another set of political structures? W hat makes a postmodern account objective and other accounts not? Second, despite the repeated focus on how authors construct ethnographic texts, little attention is paid to how indigenous informants construct their texts or assert their knowledge claims. W hat is intriguing about Marcus and Fisher's Anthropology as Cultural Critique, the second key text, is that, while it is strongly criticized by those not embracing postmodernism, it seems fairly conventional in both content and structure. One might divide the book into three parts. 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 61 (1) The first two chapters frame the book. Seeking to place the present "crisis of representation" in historical perspective, Marcus and Fisher write, "the current period, like the 1920s and the 1930s, . . . [is] one of acute awareness of the limits of our conceptual systems as systems." (2) The next two chapters offer a range of illustrative experimental texts: Chapter 3 examines ways to represent "the authentic differences of other cultural subjects . . . focusing on the person, the self, and the emotions." Chapter 4 takes "account of power relations and history within the context of their subjects' lives." (3) Chapters 5 and 6 focus on anthropology as a form of cultural critique: "The juxtaposing of alien customs to familiar ones, or the relativizing of taken-for-granted concepts . . . that lend certainty to our everyday life, has the effect of disorienting the reader and altering perception." Critical comments regarding Anthropology as Cultural Critique focus on the same problems highlighted in respect to Writing Culture. First, critics question how one evaluates the experimental ethnographies, if not in traditional ways. Marcus and Fisher list several standards for determining a "good ethnography" a sense of fieldwork conditions, effective "translation" across cultural boundaries, and holism. But these standards don't appease critics. One critic writes: "Like Marcus and Fischer, I believe that anthropology is and ought to constitute a kind of reflexive cultural critique; unlike them, I believe that such a critique must emanate from a holistic and explicit allegiance to scientific values." Critics charge that Marcus and Fisher frequently downplay the politics of their own ploys while emphasizing the political ploys of others. As the above critic phrased it, "postmodernists feel free to mythologize, criticize, and demystify `realist' arguments as hopelessly limited by the historical and cultural contingencies of their production while at the same time refusing to allow criticism of their own arguments on similar grounds." Second, many critics view postmodernism and the examples referred to in the book as forms of self-absorbed navel-gazing focused less on their informants than on the anthropologists themselves. To get a sense of how the trend played out ethnographically, let's to British anthropologist Marilyn Strathern's The Gender of the Gift. It brings us full circle to the gender issues that had concerned Margaret Mead decades before in the same region of the world, Melanesia. 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 62 A reviewer of The Gender of the Gift called the book "a brilliant, subversive, anticomparative analysis of what gender in Melanesia is not: it . . . reveals the fictions and hegemonic ethnocentrisms in our anthropological representations of the `other,' and questions our capacity to view the world from a perspective different than our own." The book focuses on three overlapping questions. First, Strathern asks, how do Melanesian senses of gender clarify our perceptions and misperceptions of gender? (Here she is emphasizing anthropology as cultural critique.) In Melanesia, she writes, "being `male' or being `female' emerges as a holistic unitary state under particular circumstances. In the one-is-many mode, each male or female form may be regarded as containing within it a suppressed composite identity." W e might assume that breasts belong to women and phalluses to men, she continues, but "if people say that phalluses were stolen from women or if a phallus is treated like a fetus, it is not at all clear that we can be so certain in our evaluation on the Melanesians behalf." Strathern writes: "As I have construed Melanesian ideas," "the person is revealed in the context of relationships . . . the relations that compose him or her [constitute] . . . an inherently multiple construct." Building on this theme, the second question asks how do Melanesian gift-oriented economies shape notions of gender domination in ways that diverge from those created in more commodityoriented economies like our own? "In a commodityoriented economy," Strathern writes, people "experience their interest . . . as a desire to appropriate goods; in a gift-oriented economy, the desire is to expand social relations." She suggests, despite assertions to the contrary, no permanent domination exists between men and women in Melanesian contexts. "Being active and passive are relative and momentary positions; in so far as the relevant categories of actors are `male' and `female' then either sex may be held to be a cause of the other's acts; and . . . vulnerable to the exploits of the other . . . The conclusion must be that these constructions do not entail relations of permanent domination." The third question asks how do we describe the dynamics of Melanesian sociality when they diverge from concepts, such as society, which W estern anthropologists employ? "The argument of this book," Strathern writes, "is that however useful the concept of society may be to analysis, we are not going to justify its use by appealing to indigenous [Melanesian] counterparts." "As I understand [the] Melanesian concept of sociality," she continues, "there is no indigenous supposition of a society that lies over or above or is inclusive of individual acts and unique events." 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 63 The Gender of the Gift has been generally praised. (Positioned as a study of gender relations, it seems to have escaped the negative reaction to postmodernism.) Still, one finds the same criticisms of it as with the other books. First, it isn't clear exactly how to evaluate Strathern's assertions. She doesn't provide a detailed cognitive analysis of a few or even one Melanesian group, so we are left pondering how to interpret her interpretations. She admits, "I have not presented Melanesian ideas but an analysis from the point of view of W estern anthropological and feminist preoccupations of what Melanesian ideas might look like if they were to appear in the form of those preoccupations." Second, while Strathern criticizes how W esterners essentialize the concepts of gender and society, it is clear she has her own set of essentialisms. For example, drawing from various Melanesian groups, she suggests a general Melanesian form of sociality and the aesthetic. But Melanesia, especially Papua New Guinea, is perhaps the most culturally diverse region in the world. W hat about the hundreds of Melanesian groups she does not discuss? Third, in reply to a set of reviews, Strathern admitted that "the book falls down. . . in its failure to be explicit about its interpretive methods." Again, we are left uncertain as to how we should assess her claims. One final time, we may ask: How should we view this trends major studies in terms of refining certain ideas and analytical tools or in terms of building cumulative knowledge? In a vague sort of way, especially if we are gracious in our assessment, we might perceive the books discussed as vaguely building on one another. Writing Culture sets the stage, so to speak, for the other books by suggesting that ethnographies might be analyzed as literary constructions. Anthropology as Cultural Critique offers a more systematic, programmatic accounting of postmodernism. It places postmodernism in historical context and presents a range of "experimental" texts that readers might consider following. The Gender of the Gift fleshes out the postmodern agenda ethnographically. It offers an in-depth analysis of Melanesian gender relations and how we, as W esterners, tend to distort them in describing them. I am skeptical as to the degree we can really view these studies as embodying significant intellectual progress, however. As in previous trends, the works discussed don't directly build on each other, either ethnographically or analytically. The contributors to Writing Culture, for example, don't deal with a specific ethnographic area in depth. They represent a potpourri of possibilities. Nor do the authors/editors of these works take particular note of each other's publications. Strathern's The Gender of the Gift, published two years after the others, doesn't cite either Writing Culture or Anthropology as Cultural Critique. W hile Clifford and Marcus list Anthropology as Cultural Critique, and Marcus and Fischer list Writing Culture in their bibliographies, neither cites the 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 64 other work in the text or footnotes. The absence of discussion (or even reference) to Clifford's well-known introductory chapter for Writing Culture in Anthropology as Cultural Critique is puzzling, since Marcus obviously knew the article. The three books address similar concerns. But the authors emphasize their own perspectives rather than engaging with each other's. Critical problems regarding the trend are never adequately addressed. To determine to what degree those citing the works of Clifford and Marcus, Marcus and Fischer, and Strathern intellectually engage with them, I examine, once more, citations five, ten, and fifteen years out from these three book's publication dates in some of the discipline's leading journals: the American Anthropologist, American Ethnologist, Current Anthropology, and Man. For the fifth journal, I chose one of postmodernism's leading forums, Cultural Anthropology (of which George Marcus was the founding editor). If we look at to what degree (of the total articles in which the trends three leading figures were cited) the authors of the articles made a sustained attempt to develop one of the figure's ideas through reinterpreting, building on, or criticizing their ideas involving at least three sentences of discussion of the specified author's work we get the following percentages: Clifford & Marcus (1986) 0% Marcus & Fischer (1986) 0% Strathern (1988) 7% The chart suggests that the anthropologists citing these authors' key works collectively appear less interested in constructively building on them than on using them to lend credence to their own accounts. Note that only in Strathern's case do any authors seek to seriously engage with her work in any depth. The tendency is to generally to simply cite these figures in passing the same "bump and go" strategy observed in other trends. ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ 2:8 Questions: The above account paints a somewhat negative picture of cultural anthropology's intellectual development over the past sixty-plus years. Are there any redeeming aspects you might highlight to make readers feel more positive? Is there more than gloom and doom here? _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 65 2:8 Short Answer: Clearly there is less progress than we might wish. But to say there has been limited intellectual progress in cultural anthropology over the past sixty-plus years doesn't mean there hasn't been any progress. W e saw progress in how Service built on the work of Sahlins and Steward in respect to levels of social integration. There was the Festschrift volume honoring Rappaport in which many authors addressed his work. W e also noted a number of anthropologists intellectually engaged with the work of Lvi-Strauss. And we saw progress develop from the Sahlins-Obeyesekere controversy surrounding Captain Cook in Hawaii. W e also saw anthropologists ask a slew of rather interesting questions. Few disciplines ask such wide-ranging questions in such interesting ways. In my opinion, the limited progress isn't because some of the figures referred are trying to purposely undermine the discipline. I know many of them personally, and can attest to that. Rather, the problem lies with certain disciplinary dynamics. I want to turn to these dynamics in the following two sections. I examine how, as a result of the ways accountability is measured and validity assessed, the chase for status takes the form it does and how this, in turn, leads to the enunciation of all sorts of exciting innovative ideas but little intellectual progress. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ 2:8 Longer Answer: W e have examined five trends dating from roughly 1935 to 2000: Culture and Personality, Cultural Ecology, Interpreting Myths, Symbols, and Rituals, The (Re)Turn to History, and Postmodernism. By the measures anthropologists generally use, there is clearly less progress than one might hope within cultural anthropology. Still, there has been some. In Cultural Ecology, we perceive progress in how Service built on Sahlins who built on Service in respect to levels of social integration. In the Festschrift honoring Rappaport, 50 percent of the volume's authors sought to specifically address his key work. (W hile the volume was in honor of him and, hence, presumably most authors would engage with his work, still it is noteworthy.) A number of anthropologists discuss at length Lvi-Strauss's work on mythology 19 percent of those citing LviStrauss in the sample dealt with his work for three or more sentences (the largest percentage in the sample for all the figures examined). And in the Sahlins-Obeyesekere controversy, we see the building of cumulative knowledge and the refining of key 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 66 concepts. Though there isn't the degree of progress one might wish for or some might claim for the field, there are signs of progress here and there. This should be acknowledged. W e also see that anthropologists ask a range of interesting questions. Let me briefly remind readers of various questions touched on in discussing the above trends: (a) the fluid nature of gender characterizations (Mead); (b) childhood-rearing patterns that may affect adult personality (Du Bois); (c) the range of personality patterns within a cultural group (W allace); (d) the value of evolutionary insights in understanding the development of groups (Sahlins and Service); (e) the evolution of human social organization through time (Service); (f) how ritual helps right environmental imbalances (Rappaport); (g) how the ecological/evolutionary perspective helps us understand a range of cultural phenomena that at first glance appear puzzling (Harris); (h) the mythic processes humans use to come to terms with contradictions in their social lives (Lvi-Strauss); (i) how ritual helps re-balance the social order in human societies (Turner); (j) how viewing cultural behavior as texts allows us to understand it in new ways (Geertz); (k) how the rise of capitalism shaped the treatment of prisoners in France (Foucault); (l) a reinterpretation of W estern/non-W estern interactions since 1492, emphasizing their interdependence (W olf); (m) how the interaction of ritual structures with historical events helps us understand non-W estern perceptions of Europeans (Sahlins); (n) by understanding the role of the knower in the ethnographic known we perceive the biases in our accounts of non-W estern groups (Clifford and Marcus); (o) in exploring innovative approaches to ethnography we gain new understandings of ourselves and those we study (Marcus and Fisher); and, returning to Mead's work, (p) how Western conceptions of gender differ from Melanesian conceptions and how this shapes our perceptions of Melanesian social relations (Strathern). Few disciplines offer such a broad array of intriguing propositions. The thoughtful, reflective questions anthropology generates seem to keep coming and coming. I certainly don't feel that the limited progress in cultural anthropology stems from certain anthropologists trying to consciously retard the discipline's development. I have interacted with many of those cited (i.e. Mead, Rappaport, Harris, LviStrauss, Geertz, Turner, W olf, Sahlins, Clifford, Marcus, Fischer, and Strathern). I can attest to their desire to see anthropology develop intellectually, and I understand that that the ones I haven't met hold the same view. The anthropologists discussed in this chapter all have their personal idiosyncrasies. But they are all well-meaning scholars concerned with developing the discipline. 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 67 To make sense of the problem, we need to understand the structural dynamics limiting intellectual progress within cultural anthropology. Until we understand these dynamics, we can only puzzle over why there has been less progress than hoped. Let's start with the form the status chase takes within anthropology. ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ 2:9 Questions: You refer at various points in the chapter to the ways that the chase for status operates. W hat do you mean by the chase for status? How has it limited intellectual progress within cultural anthropology? ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ 2:9 Short Answer: By status, I mean the recognition anthropologists receive from their colleagues for the ideas and data they produce, as well as the positions and power they accrue as a result of this recognition. In and of itself, the status chase is a positive process. It draws anthropologists to continually be productive even after tenure and promotion as they strive to move up the status hierarchy. Unfortunately, the form the status chase takes within anthropology encourages many, perhaps most, anthropologists to go off in their own separate directions. It provides anthropology with an innovative, entrepreneurial flair. But it means few build on the foundations of others. Most prefer to lay their own foundation hoping that others will build on it. Usually they don't. Junior anthropologists usually start their careers by referencing senior colleagues. But the strategy has limits. At some point these anthropologists need to make the transition to articulating their own ideas if they expect others to take them seriously, and to cite them. They need to show their innovative skills. Anthropologists strive to have colleagues acknowledge the value of their innovative ideas and insights. The problem is that many of one's peers are striving for the same recognition. So how do you get noticed above the crowd of strivers? Partly it's a matter of producing a lot of material. The more you publish, the more chance there is that you will be cited. Partly it is a matter of being an expert on a particular subject. Having a narrow specialty means you can be a big fish in a small pond though few beyond the specialty will recognize you. Partly it is a matter of serving colleagues' interests while pursuing your own. A framework is more likely to be embraced if it opens up new publishing opportunities for others. This is what happened with postmodernism. It allowed a new generation of scholars to articulate fresh perspectives without having to trudge through piles of publications written by their senior colleagues. 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 68 ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ 2:9 Longer Answer: The anthropological chase for status for recognition by one's peers, for citations from colleagues, for prominent positions within the discipline isn't a bad thing in and of itself. It has value. It motivates anthropologists to stay productive throughout their careers. One might "fall asleep" intellectually after gaining tenure or promotion to full professor without serious consequences. Some do, but most don't. The chase for recognition is a powerful force that drives anthropologists to remain productive throughout their careers. In looking at the anthropological drive for status, I am reminded of Max W eber's famous Protestantism and the Rise of Capitalism. In Calvinism, he suggests, "the question, Am I one of the elect? . . . sooner or later [arises] . . . for every believer. . . Favor in the sight of God is measured primarily . . . in terms of the importance of the goods produced." "Continuous, systematic work . . . . [was] the surest and most evident proof of rebirth and genuine faith." Like W eber's self-doubters, many anthropologists remain uncertain as to their status. Just look at the care lavished on their CVs, those lists of their talks, publications, and grants, and you realize how much anthropologists try to affirm their status through their activities. Everyone one is striving for the same elite status markers. The problem is that everyone can't be of elite status, because since status is relative not absolute. You are elite by being better than others. So how do you know when you've "has made it," especially when many of your peers are competing with you for more citations, more publications, more recognition? W ith each individual preferring his or her own assessment of who is up, and with status markers (and trends) changing through time, uncertainty surrounds "making it" in the discipline. To quote from Deborah Rhode's In Pursuit of Knowledge: Scholars, Status, and Academic Culture "The arms race for relative status has almost no winners and many losers. . . . Few academics will achieve true eminence as scholars, and even those who do typically find that there is always someone more distinguished." I don't know if Rhode's statement is true or not. but I lend some credence because I've heard it from different sources on different occasions. Even Clifford Geertz, one of the most recognized and read anthropologist within and outside the discipline during the late 1980s, indicated he felt under-cited by colleagues. The statement surprises many. After all, Geertz had higher status than many dream of. But no matter what your success in the status chase, uncertainty frequently remains. Ambiguities abound as to whether you've really made it and, if you have, for how long. 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 69 The result is that anthropologists continually publish, continually strive for further recognition. It may not feel pleasant for the people involved. But it does generate lots of publications. Those just entering the profession often find it to their benefit to cite senior faculty. In a way not unlike what the anthropologist George Frazer articulated in his famous classic, The Golden Bough, association with high-status professors allows others to claim some of that status for themselves. It gives junior faculty a step up the status hierarchy. It is also has a less mystical advantage. Senior figures within a specialty will often review a junior anthropologist's submission and pass judgment on it through the peer review process. It is a wise person who thinks ahead to consider who may review a paper and then is sure to have that individual suitably cited. In some ways, the subordinate position of those entering the profession is a continuation of their status as graduate students. Studying under a senior figure has the advantage of bringing recognition to oneself especially through reference letters the figure writes. But at some point the subordination needs to stop if an anthropologist is to move up the status hierarchy. You have to articulate your own visions, your own perspective backed by your own data. (The striving for originality isn't new to academia. Historian W illiam Clark dates it to the German Romantic Era of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.) How do you attain higher status? Having graduate students allows anthropologists to extend their sway. W e saw this in Chapter 1 with Franz Boas, who was able to intellectually dominate the discipline in the 1920s and 1930s by placing his students in various departments across the United States. But as we also saw with the examples of Kroeber, Steward, and W olf at the beginning of this chapter (under 2.4), students often seek to mark a sense of difference from their mentors. If you look closely at the citations that junior anthropologists make to the work of senior colleagues, you can often detect an early trend toward self-assertion. These junior anthropologists cite a prominent figure. But they also add their own twist, find a flaw in that figure's analysis based on their research data, or simply try to expand an analysis beyond the original figure's formulation. The further you move from being dependent on reference letters, the more often you start to articulate difference and independence, from your mentors. Mass helps advance one's disciplinary status. The more you publish, the more your name is seen in various publications, the more likely others will recognize it and refer to you. But again there is a problem. Since many are trying to publish as much and as fast as they can (or as required for promotion), your publications may get lost in the deluge. A lot of anthropologists are 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 70 producing a lot of material, which obviously lessens each one's chances of being noticed. Striving to write a plethora of publications also means many have little time to read beyond the focus of their own publishing efforts. This, too, makes it hard to be noticed. Being a faculty member in certain elite anthropology departments such as Michigan, Chicago, Berkeley, Harvard, or Arizona advances your status. A department's status raises that of a faculty member, and vice-versa. But there is a problem. Being in a high-status department may facilitate obtaining grants. It might facilitate getting more manuscripts published. But faculty members in these departments don't usually receive much recognition from departmental colleagues. These colleagues are caught up in their own status concerns and have their own agenda to promote. To really be recognized, you have to travel to lower-status departments and give talks. You have to get out and about to have your status recognized. Deborah Rhode offers an interesting example of how being in a high-status department can enhance one's publishing potential: "Researchers took twelve articles that had been published in the preceding two-and-a-half years and resubmitted them with minor changes to the same journals in which they had appeared; the authors' names were changed, they were given less prestigious institutional affiliations, and the opening paragraphs were slightly revised. Only three of the articles were recognized as resubmissions. The other nine previously published manuscripts went through the full review process, and eight were rejected, most of them for `serious methodological flaws.'" As Rhode observes, "the major research universities, which produce the vast majority of entry-level academics, have nothing close to the number of tenure-track positions necessary to employ them. As a consequence, new faculty end up at institutions less prestigious than the one they attended, or in part-time, provisional roles. Because scholarly status is derivative, it is often difficult for academics at less distinguished campuses to receive appropriate recognition for their achievements." As noted in the short answer, one way to move up the status ladder is to master a narrow niche (or sub-specialization). The value of knowing the material inside out and writing thoroughly on the subject is that anyone who wishes to refer to the specific topic needs to reference your work to be viewed as well read. The problem is that the niche may be so narrow, few are interested in it. So while you may be recognized for your specialty, few outside that specialty will cite your work. Despite various impediments, some clearly succeed in the status chase. Some come to intellectually dominate the discipline for a time. How do they do it? I don't have a complete answer, but let me suggest certain perceivable patterns. 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 71 Perhaps, the most critical element in advancing one's status is to create a framework that provides publishing opportunities for others. In advancing your career, you help others advance theirs. Postmodernism offers an example. Unlike many of the authors cited in this chapter, the key figures of postmodernism Marcus, Fischer, and Clifford belonged to relatively small departments. Marcus and Fisher, at the time they wrote Anthropology as a Cultural Critique, held positions at Rice; Clifford, at the time of Writing Culture, was in the History of Consciousness Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz. They didn't have the option of disseminating their ideas through graduate students at prestigious universities as, for example, Boas did. Instead, they applied a form of generational politics rarely used in anthropology establishing alliances with others of their approximate age set. This disrupted the established status system centered in high-status departments. Economic factors enhanced the strategy. Teachers in the 1980s couldn't guarantee their graduating students university positions. As a result, many students had an incentive to dismiss the "old" in seeking to create intellectual niches for themselves. Postmodernism opened up a wealth of new publishing opportunities, opportunities that wouldn't be available if junior faculty had followed existing trends. Anthropologists starting out their careers may articulate a broad, compelling vision. But they can't expect others to embrace it. A balancing act occurs between being senior enough to gain a listening from others but not too senior to be pigeonholed as old-fashioned. If we look again at the quotes at the beginning of this chapter (in 2.(1), they suggest that some trends aren't necessarily that new. They may constitute reframings of older ideas. That is what Andrew Abbot was referring to: "The young build their careers on forgetting and rediscovery, while the middle-aged are doomed to see the common sense of their graduate-school years refurbished and republished as brilliant new insights." Anthony W allace provided a telling image in describing the pattern: "Theory in cultural . . . anthropology is like slash-and-burn agriculture: after cultivating a field for a while, the natives move on to a new one and let the bush take over; then they return, slash and burn, and raise crops in the old field again." W e might note, in this regard, that the five discussed trends didn't occur randomly through time. There was a pattern to them centering on the two main ways anthropologists explain cultural behavior. First, one pole of the continuum is emphasized explaining cultural behavior in terms of mental/psychological (or idealistic) processes and then the other pole explaining 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 72 cultural behavior in terms of external, environmental (or materialistic) pressures. The two modes of explanation alternate with one another through time. It is almost as if focusing on one perspective for a decade or so leads anthropologists to pay closer attention to the other perspective. Culture and Personality emphasized the mental perspective, Cultural Ecology emphasized the environmental one, Myths, Symbols and Rituals returned to the mental perspective, then back to a more environmental perspective to a degree with the (Re)turn to History (especially with Foucault and W olf), and finally back to the mental perspective with Postmodernism. Summarizing, I would re-emphasize that the chase for status in anthropology need not, in and of itself, be negative. But the way status is defined in terms of innovating new perspectives, new frameworks means that anthropologists go off in all sorts of different directions. As we have seen, they rarely refine earlier concepts or build a cumulative body of objective knowledge. ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ 2:10 Question: You indicate that the anthropological chase for status isn't, in and of itself, negative. But you also state the status chase is the dynamic leading anthropologists to go off in all sorts of different directions, with the result that there is limited intellectual progress. W hat are you suggesting needs to change to correct the problem? ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ 2:10 Short Answer: I am suggesting that the problem doesn't lie with the status chase itself. I am suggesting the problem lies with the way accountability and validity are framed and how this, in turn, shapes the form chase for status takes. Anthropologists have a form of accountability. Anthropologists have to publish. And there is a rhetoric of validity you have to meet certain standards. But you rarely know for certain whether another anthropologist's data are valid. Most anthropologists fall back on citing the right sources to convey the validity of their arguments. These standards allow them to innovate as they wish without seriously worrying about validity or accountability. All they have to do ensure that their ideas get published in one of many possible journals and appear credible. The system, as it currently operates, advances the interests of those within the academic community individual academics, their departments, and their universities. It is a self-serving system. Despite the thousands of books and articles 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 73 published, it does little to advance the interests of the discipline as a whole or the broader society that frequently funds anthropology. The lack of transparency in the system is important. It means that people outside of academic life, puzzle over what it is going on within it. They can't effectively evaluate the value of what academics produce. The lack of transparency allows many anthropologists, if they choose, to pursue their own concerns and advance their own interests, without being beholden to those funding their academic pursuits. ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ 2:10 Longer Answer: The chase for status isn't the causes of anthropology's problems. Rather it is how the standards of accountability and validation are framed. The accountability standards are relatively weak and open to easy manipulation, allowing the status chase to go off in all sorts of divergent directions. In anthropology, accountability is framed in terms of publishing and being cited by others. You are generally assessed by the number of publications you publish in refereed journals and with university presses. W hen others cite your publications, this adds to your credibility. It indicates that publications are valued. In and of itself, there isn't anything wrong with accountability standards that perpetuate existing academic structures. After all, the standards maintain a certain level of publishing productivity. The problem is that these standards aren't what they may appear to be. To quote Deborah Rhode again: "Because academic reputation and rewards are increasingly dependent on publication, faculty have incentives to churn out tomes that will advance their careers regardless of whether they will also advance knowledge." As we saw with the five trends, the focus is on publishing papers and books rather than producing intellectual progress. The peer review process generally regulates what is published. A manuscript needs to be seen as an intellectual contribution to one or another topic. But that is a fairly loose criterion, and different anthropologists, as most journal editors know, may judge a manuscript in widely differing ways. The same is true of university press editors. There are no shared standards to guide authors, reviewers, and editors. It is mostly a matter of personal judgment. The standards are fairly open as we saw with the example cited by Rhode regarding the same articles being accepted at one time and rejected at another. 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 74 This has the positive aspect of allowing for a wide range of publications. It encourages junior anthropologists, in entrepreneurial fashion, to create new agenda, new publishing possibilities for themselves and others. It allows for constant innovation. The problem is there are few external reference points by which to judge a work, by which to assess the value of what is published. An ambiguity surrounds the assessment of anthropological data. Since few anthropologists revisit an earlier researcher's field site and ask the same or related questions, there is little objective data. To sidestep the problem, anthropologists focus on appearing credible. One need cite certain references. One's data should fit within an expected norm. It should seem "reasonable" to those familiar with the general ethnographic area. In biology, as in anthropology, few conduct restudies of earlier work. Biologists, as in anthropology, give the earlier researcher the benefit of the doubt. But there is one important difference. Biologists build on the earlier work. They make deductions, based on this earlier work, and see if these deductions turn out as expected. If they do, the earlier work is presumed confirmed. If they don't, the researchers search for an explanation. They may redo their work. Or they may question the earlier study that they built their work on leading to a redoing of the earlier study. Some anthropologists claim to practice a form of this. They study a variation of a problem with a different cultural group than in the original study. This usually takes the form of challenging the earlier study. The deduction is that since both field sites deal with human beings and humans generally share certain traits, the new research can act as a test of the earlier research. The problem with this assumption is that it flies in the face of accepted anthropological knowledge confirmed time and time again that people in different cultural groups often act differently. They may not. But this can't be assumed. It must be proven. Using one group to verify results in another group makes little sense given what we know about human diversity. Anthropologists need to challenge or confirm earlier research with the same cultural group, ideally in the same locale and contexts. W e saw this occur in the case of Robert Redfield and Oscar Lewis in respect to Tepoztlan and with Marshall Sahlins and Gananath Obeyesekere in respect to Cook's 1778-79 visit to Hawaii. In striving for innovative analyses, anthropologists frequently claim to "build" on earlier work while altering two variables both the location and the topic. If an anthropologist went back to the same field site as another anthropologist, or in moving to a different site addressed the same topic in the same exact way as the earlier anthropologist, we might gain a clear picture of how one study relates to another. But most anthropologists don't. 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 75 Anthropologists usually select a new locale, and chose for their research, a problem that is related to earlier work but is framed in a somewhat different manner. The result is that readers are often unsure how one study relates to another. There is a sense that if not "anything goes" then at least there is a lot of leeway regarding what one can and can't study, what one can and can't publish. An anthropologist may study almost anything the anthropologist wishes as long as the anthropologist can figure out a way to get it funded and published. It is a liberating feeling. It affirms (and enshrines) the anthropological concern with individual autonomy. But as this chapter emphasizes, it has drawbacks. The citation process is more disciplined. There are certain rules of the game to follow. If an anthropologist wants to appear credible, he or she should cite the relevant research related to the topic under study. During the review process, reviewers will often suggest additional references to read. W hat they tend to mean is that the author should cite this additional material in the publication. (My personal experience is that sometimes the additional material is relevant, sometimes it isn't. Still, it's always wise to cite it, because it avoids antagonizing potential reviewers.) Junior faculty find it in their interest to plan ahead in preparing a manuscript. Though the peer review process is usually "blind" that is, the author doesn't know who will review the manuscript the author often suggests reviewers to help overburdened editors. Other anthropologists, who have published on the general topic will likely be considered as well. As a result, an author often has a rough idea of who is likely to review a given manuscript. A wise author makes sure to cite these individuals' work positively. It is simple politics. Here is a less common rule of thumb: An author impresses readers by referring to the literature readers know, but also other literature they may not. Citing known or familiar references helps readers confirm the author's credibility. Readers assess how the author uses these works in relation to how they, themselves, would. But citing additional works that readers are unlikely to know adds intellectual power to the analysis. It suggests the author is widely read and, as a result, credible. I noted earlier in the chapter that most citations are of the "bump and go" variety. Anthropologists cite other anthropologists in token ways without intellectually engaging with their ideas. If an author extensively discusses another anthropologist's work in a critical manner, the other anthropologist probably won't be pleased. But citing others without threatening them is easy. It's safe. No one feels challenged, just acknowledged. There are serious flaws in assessing a work by the number of times it is cited. As Rhode notes, "there is no guarantee that authors have actually read the sources cited. Indeed, with technological advances, they need not even trouble to type them; 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 76 entire string citations can be electronically lifted from other publications. Nor does it follow that the sources listed establish the proposition for which they are cited. Even when someone checks the notes, it is generally to determine only whether particular authorities support the text, not whether they are reliable or respected among experts." She discusses a Carnegie Foundation study in which more than a third of the faculty believed their publications were mostly assessed in terms of quantity rather than quality. (At schools with doctoral programs, the figure was over 50 percent.) W hat we see with the existing standards of accountability is that originality and publication have become separated from systematically advancing knowledge. It represents the triumph of style over substance. To summarize, there is so much innovation in anthropology, so many possibilities generated, because the standards of accountability and validity not only allow it, they positively encourage it. They facilitate the chase for status to operate in a way that is liberating for those caught up in it and depressing for those assessing the discipline's progress. It is critical to note that there are clear winners to the status chase in its current form. Individuals are free to creatively strive, in an entrepreneurial way, for upward mobility. Gaining high status across a specialization, or better yet across the whole discipline, benefits more than just the individual anthropologist. Through the individual's association with a particular department, their status extends to the department, too. Increasing a department's status increases its ability to attract new graduate students and thereby produce new anthropologists. It strengthens the department vis--vis other university departments in the competition for resources and faculty positions. Having high-status individuals in high-status departments gives the university status vis--vis other universities. Added status allows universities to raise more money from various constituencies. The status chase in its present form is a winning formula for all three parties. Unfortunately, there are also losers in this process. I noted the form the status chase takes means that cultural anthropology makes limited intellectual progress in refining concepts and building cumulative, objective knowledge. Anthropology remains on a treadmill of exciting possibilities. The larger society funds much of anthropology. It pays many anthropologists' salaries, supports their research, and offers various publication venues. You might think that anthropologists, and academics more generally, would have to offer the larger society something in return for this support. They clearly offer a rhetoric of support. But primarily in applied anthropology do anthropologists actually serve the common good (rather than simply saying they are serving it). 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 77 The citation system with its breadth of references keeps outsiders from fully understanding the discipline's dynamics. Reading deeply in the discipline often confuses the uninitiated. They are overwhelmed by the names and references. They think they are supposed to know and understand all the citations. (They don't realize that the citations are being referred to mainly to enhance the author's credibility.) In this regard, Fred Rodell, a well-known commentator on legal scholarship, comments: "There are two things wrong with . . . [academic] writing. One is style. The other is substance." In assessing an anthropologist or an anthropology department, evaluators usually fall back on what anthropologists themselves emphasize the number of credible publications produced and the citations by colleagues of them. But while not fallacious, the statistics aren't not reliable, either. Outside evaluators may rely on assessments by other anthropologists. The problem with this is these anthropologists usually have an investment in perpetuating the system. They prefer to maintain the status structures that support their own status. Why rock the boat? The result is that the larger society doesn't usually grasp what is going on within anthropology. They perceive the excitement. They see the publications. But they lack a way to assess whether or not they are really getting a substantive return for their investment. They lack external reference points, external measurements, for insuring anthropology and anthropologists are serving the common good as they claim to be doing. W hat needs to be different? W e need alternative standards for accountability and validity to refocus the chase for status in more socially productive directions. W e need to reconnect originality and publishing with advancing knowledge and intellectual progress rather than letting them remain separate, with originality and publishing primarily serving the interests of those in the academy. W e need more transparency so outsiders can understand and assess the discipline's value. I discuss these in Chapter 4. But to set the stage for that discussion, I would suggest that instead of counting publications and citations, we might ask whether some idea, some publication, facilitates the solution of a significant social concern. It is a transparent standard. Anyone can make the assessment an individual, a set of funders, or the larger society through its elected representatives. Using a pragmatic standard whether something works in practice allows us to move away from the academic selfabsorption that pervades the discipline. It allows us to find a shared sense of value in a shared endeavor, addressing problems that really need addressing. ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 78 2:11 Question: This chapter highlights cultural anthropology's limited progress to date in terms of refining key concepts and building cumulative knowledge. It examines the disciplinary dynamics centering on the status chase and loose standards for accountability and validation that while rewarding groups within the university appear somewhat less positive when viewed in broader terms relating to the discipline and the larger society. W hat comes next? ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ 2:11 Short Answer: The next chapter highlights the ability of anthropology's two key methodological tools contextual and comparative analysis to address significant social concerns. The methodological tools, as we will see, have the potential to help improve the lives of millions of people around the world. ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 79 CHAPTER 3 DO YOU SERIOUSLY BELIEVE THAT ANTHROPOLOGY'S METHODOLOGICAL MAINSTAYS CONTEXTUAL AND COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS CAN HELP BETTER THE LIVES OF MILLIONS OF PEOPLE AROUND THE WORLD? 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 80 Overview: This chapter discusses the power of anthropology's two key methodical tools contextual and comparative analysis to better the lives of people around the world. It considers the questions raised in three case studies: (1) W hy have the billions of dollars allocated each year for foreign aid had such a limited impact? (2) W hat went wrong with U.S. efforts in Vietnam and in Iraq after 2003, leading to a significant loss of life and the wasting of billions? and (3) W hy does higher education cost so much today, yet yield such uncertain results? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________ 3:1 Questions: around the world? How does this chapter relate to the central themes of the book? Do you really think that anthropology's key methodological tools contextual and comparative analysis can help improve the lives of millions of people ____________________________________________________________________________________________________ 3:1 Answer: Chapter 1 provided an overview of what anthropology is; Chapter 2 presented a sense of the discipline's present limitations. This chapter discusses the potential of anthropology's key methodological tools contextual and comparative analysis to facilitate transparency and accountability in major institutions. It also emphasizes the power of comparative analysis to illuminate the "big picture" dynamics behind critical social concerns. W e live in an imperfect world in which power often trumps reason. Still, anthropologists and all who use the discipline's methodologies can help better the lives of millions. There is an awkwardness in the previous sentence's phrasing. The problem is that in recent years non-anthropologists have tended to make greater use of anthropology's key methodological tools than anthropologists have. It doesn't mean anthropologists can't apply their disciplinary methods to the problems discussed. But it does highlight that anthropology seems to have gotten off track, in a sense, focusing on narrow-niche disciplinary concerns rather than broader social problems. The following three case studies emphasize the real power of anthropology's methodological tools and hence the potential of anthropologists to address broad social problems. The first case study considers why the over two trillion dollars spent on foreign aid by the W est in recent decades the figure cited by W illiam Easterly in The White Man's Burden has been less successful than hoped in improving Third W orld living 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 81 standards. It uses contextual analysis to explore why good intentions seem frequently to fail in reducing poverty. It then turns to comparative analysis to offer ways for framing future aid efforts. In many aid projects, the real problem isn't with planners' good intentions but with the way accountability is defined. The focus is on spending money rather than on evaluating what does and doesn't work to help those in need. The second case study focuses on two American military involvements: the Vietnam W ar, and the U.S. government's efforts to transition Iraq toward a more democratic nation after the 2003 war. In both cases the American government emphasized military might over cultural understanding. This caused significant loss of life (in Vietnam), and wasted billions of dollars (in Vietnam and Iraq). W ith their skills in contextual analysis, anthropologists were in a position to provide information that could conceivably have reframed the American military strategy at a critical moment in the Vietnam W ar thereby saving thousands of lives. W e can only look back at this missed opportunity with regret. Using comparative analysis to provide a "big picture" perspective, the case study concludes with reflections on how and when anthropologists can bring transparency and accountability to military and administrative efforts gone awry. The third case study deals with American higher education. Using contextual analysis, it suggests why college costs so much and why students may graduate without the skills needed for successful careers. Using a comparison of Canadian and American systems of higher education, it suggests ways that students in both countries can navigate their educational systems to bring college costs down. The chapter concludes by reflecting on the ability of contextual and comparative analysis to foster greater transparency and, through this transparency, greater accountability in social institutions. It encourages those who apply anthropology's methodological tools to speak "truth to power" in ways that those with power can appreciate, not because they like what they are being told but because they realize they need to hear it. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________ 3:2 Question: In recent decades, the West has spent well over two trillion dollars in foreign aid with, at best, limited results. Certainly, the trillions of dollars spent emphasize the W est's good intentions. But the limited results suggest something is awry in how foreign aid is distributed. What would you suggest is the problem? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________ 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 82 3:2 Short Answer: Since the 1950s the W est has repeatedly committed itself to assisting Third W orld development. Using the example of Jeffrey Sachs (and his 2005 book The End to Poverty), the case study notes the dedication and commitment that many have brought to addressing Third W orld development. Things haven't turned out as hoped, but not from a want of caring. One difficulty with these efforts is they tend to look forward to the future rather than take account of what went wrong in the past. Sachs's call to end poverty is part of a long line of efforts at addressing Third W orld poverty. He tends to skim over earlier failures while emphasizing future possibilities. Using W illiam Easterly's 2006 book The White Man's Burden as a foil to Sachs, the case study turns to what tends to go wrong in aid programs. Easterly emphasizes the importance of finding out how specific projects operate on the ground. Funding agencies need greater feedback regarding what does and does not work, he says, and greater accountability by these agencies regarding outcomes produced. Instead of focusing on financial allocations to address this or that problem, the funding agencies need to focus on actual improvements among specific groups of people. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________ 3:2 Longer Answer: In his 2005 New York Times best seller The End of Poverty, scholar-activist Jeffrey Sachs challenges us to end Third W orld poverty in "our time." He suggests that the goal is possible given the resources at our command: "The wealth of the rich world, the power of today's vast storehouses of knowledge, and the declining fraction of the world that needs help to escape from poverty all make the end of poverty a realistic possibility by the year 2025." Ending global poverty, Sachs writes, "will require concerted actions by the rich countries as well as the poor. . . . The poor countries must take ending poverty seriously, and will have to devote a greater share of their national resources to cutting poverty rather than to war, corruption, and political infighting. The rich countries will need to move beyond the platitudes of helping the poor, and follow through on their repeated promises to deliver more help. All this is possible. Indeed, it is much more likely than it seems." He calls for "networks of mutual accountability . . . [to] run alongside the networks of financing." Sachs notes that the types of interventions he is suggesting, have a proven track record. He names "The Green Revolution in Asia," "The Eradication of Smallpox," "The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization," "The Campaign against Malaria," "The Control of African River Blindness," "The Eradication of Polio," "The Spread of Family Planning," "Export Processing Zones 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 83 in East Asia," and "The Mobile Phone Revolution in Bangladesh." In advocating a comprehensive plan that is "scaled up" to address extreme poverty defined as living on $1 per day per person he focuses on Africa where almost half the population lives in extreme poverty and moreover, in contrast to the rest of the world, is getting worse rather than better. But Sachs thinks the solution is at hand. It just needs to be applied on a broad, regional scale. Poverty will end, he writes, when foreign help, in the form of official development assistance (ODA), helps to jump-start the process of capital accumulation, economic growth, and rising household incomes. The foreign aid feeds into three channels. A little bit goes directly to households, mainly for humanitarian emergencies such as food aid in the midst of a drought. Much more goes directly to the budget to finance public investments, and some is also directed to private businesses (for example, farmers) through microfinance programs and other schemes in which external assistance directly finances private small businesses and farm improvements. If the foreign assistance is substantial enough, the capital stock rises sufficiently to lift households above subsistence. At that point, the poverty trap is broken . . . Growth becomes selfsustaining. The cost of such an endeavor? Sachs says that financial assistance would gradually increase from $135 billion in 2006 to roughly $195 billion in 2015, or about 0.44 to 0.54 percent of the rich W est's GNP (gross national product) and, importantly, less than the 0.7 percent of GNP these countries have already committed themselves to in supporting the United Nations Millennium Development Fund's goals. It sounds good. A number of reviews praise Sachs's courage and commitment. "Sachs writes as passionately as he speaks," a BusinessWeek reviewer notes. "The End of Poverty is superb when describing the dire circumstances of the 1 billion people subsisting on less than a dollar a day. It is hard not to share Sachs's anger after reading his firsthand reporting on the miserly W estern aid to African villages ravaged by AIDS, malaria, and hunger. At relatively little expense, Sachs insists, the W est could provide medicines and fertilizers that could save millions of lives annually." And yet there is a problem a problem that no amount of passionate prose can obscure: Many of Sachs's suggestions have been tried before with, at best, limited success. A Washington Post review observes: Sachs pays surprisingly little attention to the history of aid approaches and results. He seems unaware that his . . . plan is strikingly similar to the early ideas that inspired foreign aid in the 1950s and '60s. Just like Sachs, development 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 84 planners then identified countries caught in a "poverty trap," did an assessment of how much they would need to make a "big push" out of poverty and into growth, and called upon foreign aid to fill the "financing gap" between countries' own resources and needs. . . . Spending $2.3 trillion (measured in today's dollars) in aid over the past five decades has left the most aid-intensive regions, like Africa, wallowing in continued stagnation; it's fair to say this approach has not been a great success. Likewise, a New York Times review of Sachs states: Longtime experts in the field who read . . . [Sachs's] book may feel a strong sense of dj vu. They should. Much of Sachs's argument can be summed up in this passage from W alt W . Rostow's book The Stages of Economic Growth written in 1960: "The creation of the preconditions for takeoff was largely a matter of building social overhead capital -railways, ports and roads -- and of finding an economic setting in which a shift from agriculture and trade to manufacture was profitable." Sachs neglects to mention the extent to which the Rostow model dominated discussions of development in the 1950s, 60s and 70s. But in that era, waste and corruption fattened up United Nations agencies and recipient governments while doing very little for the poor. . . . Sachs's sales pitch has been made in the past, and the results were meager. Finally, The New Yorker review of Sachs's book notes: Back in the nineteen-fifties and sixties, many economists were confident that newly independent African countries, such as Ghana, Kenya, and Uganda, would be able to escape poverty if only W estern donors filled the "financing gap" between what they could afford and the resources they needed to invest in factories, roads, railways, and other forms of infrastructure. Once these nations developed modern industrial sectors, the thinking went, the rest of their economies would be pulled along. In a 1960 book, The Stages of Economic Growth, W. W. Rostow, an economic historian at M.I.T., popularized a version of this argument, saying that if underdeveloped nations doubled investment rates, they would soon "take off" into self-sustained growth. During the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations, in which Rostow served, America's foreign-aid budget reached an all-time high of 0.6 per cent of G.D.P. [Gross Domestic Product], and during the seventies and eighties significant amounts of aid continued to flow to poor countries. . . . [But] as W illiam Easterly, an economist formerly with the World Bank, has observed, many countries that received a significant amount of aid, such as Ghana, Zambia, Chad, and Zimbabwe, had economies that either failed to grow much or actually shrank. Meanwhile, a number of places that received very little foreign assistance, such as 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 85 Singapore, Hong Kong, and Malaysia, expanded rapidly. Looking at the overall record, there appears to be no statistical correlation between aid and growth. Clearly there is a need for assistance in developing countries. Sachs's book makes that clear. But how can we address the problem effectively? In The White Man's Burden (2005), Easterly suggests that, for aid to successfully achieve what it is being spent on, the donors need pay attention to two factors: (1) accountability independent evaluations of whether the aid is actually accomplishing what it is supposed to be accomplishing, and (2) feedback whether the people receiving the aid are getting what they need and want. He stresses the importance of paying attention to local contexts in allocating aid. Easterly draws a distinction between "planners" and "searchers." Planners such as Sachs, he suggests, emphasize the big plan; searchers focus on specific plans adapted to local conditions. Planners work from the top down; searchers from the bottom up. Planners focus on pleasing the clients who fund aid projects; searchers consider whether the aid helps those it is supposed to help. Easterly discusses the contexts in which granting agencies work. "As the awful examples in this [book] . . . illustrate, the official aid agencies simply don't know how to change bad governments into good governments with the apparatus of foreign aid. . . . To make matters worse, the aid agencies need the poor-country government, even a bad government, to fill the role of aid recipient to keep money flowing. . . . Since aid agencies need to please the electorate in rich countries, the agencies often strive to produce side effects for rich countries at the same time they are transforming the rest. . . . The United States requires recipients to spend the aid receipts on products from American companies for about three quarters of its aid. Other donor nations have similar restrictions. Significantly, the subtitle of Easterly's book is, Why the West's Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________ 3:3 Questions: How might contextual and comparative analysis, anthropology's core methodological tools, help address the problems surrounding foreign aid? Can anthropologists do something that moves beyond nice-sounding rhetoric to addressing concrete problems in concrete ways? Can they make a difference that actually makes a difference to those in need? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________ 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 86 3:3 Short Answer: Obviously, anthropologists don't have a magic wand they can wave to solve the problems of Third W orld development. But they can use contextual and comparative analysis to not only induce greater accountability by funding institutions but also offer insights on how to reframe aid projects so as to achieve greater success. Given that anthropologists conduct fieldwork in a range of Third W orld settings, they are well placed to assess what does and does not work on the ground in respect to aid projects. Using their skills in contextual analysis, anthropologists can facilitate transparency, so others know what is happening where. This section also offers a "big picture" perspective using comparative analysis to discuss factors limiting successful aid efforts. It draws on Paul Collier's The Bottom Billion (2007) to offer four insights regarding what has gone wrong with Third W orld development (relating to violent conflicts, natural resource traps, being landlocked, and corrupt governance) and presents three suggestions for setting things right (relating to military interventions, codes of conduct, and trading policies). In addition, the section questions the way accountability is presently framed. Accountability is evaluated in terms of the donor government's interests, not the needs of the people being helped. As a result, aid agencies often emphasize the appearance of doing good spending the money these governments allocate rather than achieving positive results. It keeps the agencies in business and lets the governments to feel they are addressing the problem. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________ 3:3 Longer Answer: Anthropologists can approach the problems surrounding foreign aid in two distinct ways. The first is having reporters on the ground who can provide funders with needed feedback regarding what is, and is not, working. Easterly emphasizes the importance of paying attention to local contexts of being searchers (in his terminology): "for aid agency staff . . . to listen to the poor [rather] than costing out a Big Plan." He stresses the importance of paying attention "to the searchers with knowledge of local conditions . . . and [getting] feedback from the poor. . . [regarding] all the variable and complicated answers to how to make aid work." Easterly suggests that academics anthropologists, for example, "could do public service by applying their techniques to evaluate the projects, programs, and approaches taken by aid agencies." Anthropologists could conduct fieldwork at aid sites, using contextual analysis to understand what actually works and why. People at the aid sites have this information and might, using email or cell phones, inform funding agencies regarding what is amiss. But anthropologists tend to have greater credibility with funding agencies and a better chance of being listened to. 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 87 The second way anthropologists might help approach the problems of foreign aid is by a comparative "big picture" analysis of why foreign aid has proved of limited success to date and how it might be made more successful. Paul Collier demonstrates what the comparative approach can achieve. Collier begins The Bottom Billion by observing that we often use outmoded models in speaking about Third W orld development. Forty years ago, he writes, the problem involved one billion relatively rich people arrayed against five billion relatively poor people. Today, there is a middle four billion with rising growth and per capita incomes. The problem, Collier asserts, is with the remaining billion people the "bottom billion" who are falling behind and, not infrequently, falling apart. Seventy percent of the bottom billion live in Africa (most of the rest in central Asia). Rather than belonging to the twenty-first century, their reality "is the fourteenth century: civil war, plague, ignorance." And yet Collier views their problems as fixable. "Change is going to have to come from within the societies of the bottom billion, but our own policies could make these efforts more likely to succeed, and so more likely to be undertaken." To ferret out the factors inhibiting development among the bottom billion, Collier compares what has gone amiss in various countries. He highlights four traps that these countries frequently fall into to varying degrees. (1) Having violent conflicts, usually in the form of civil wars but also in the form of coups. Collier calculates that the typical civil war costs a country roughly $64 billion. Given that two civil wars tend to start within the bottom-billion countries each year, he calculates the cost at over $100 billion per year for these conflicts. (2) Natural resource traps: the ability to export valuable natural resources (such as oil or diamonds). The royalties that accrue from these exports allow political leaders to ignore the demands of their countrymen. The leaders are freed from electoral accountability; they can establish systems of patronage that reinforce their power. Rather than spending the profits to develop their countries, they store this wealth in Swiss bank accounts. (3) Being landlocked, not having access to the sea and, and as a result, not being able to ship goods abroad easily. In contrast to Switzerland, for example, which uses the infrastructure of Germany, Italy, and France to ship its goods overseas, Uganda must depend on a single country with a less developed infrastructure, Kenya. (4) Poor, corrupt governance that prevents development from being successful. Collier notes that "the leaders of many of the poorest countries are themselves among the global super rich. They like things the way they are." And unfortunately, "many of the politicians and senior public officials in the countries of the bottom billion are villains." 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 88 In respect to the bottom billion, Collier writes: "Seventy-three percent . . . have been through civil war, 29 percent . . . are dominated by the politics of natural resource revenues, 30 percent are landlocked, resource-scarce, and in bad neighborhoods [i.e., with poor neighbors], and 76 percent have been through a prolonged period of bad governance and poor economic policies." Collier has an eye for the telling example. Laurent Kabila, who overthrew the corrupt government of Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire in 1997, famously told a journalist that all you needed to overthrow a government was "ten thousand dollars and a satellite phone." W hile a bit of an exaggeration, Kabila's point was that, given the poverty of Zaire, one could hire a mercenary army at relatively little cost. And the satellite phone? That was to establish contracts with key W estern extractors of Zaire's mineral resources. (America Mineral Fields signed a $1 billion agreement with Kabila to export zinc, cobalt, and diamonds.) Collier notes that foreign aid, even in its present form, has proved helpful to the bottom billion. He suggests it has added perhaps one percentage point to the yearly growth rate of these countries. "W ithout aid, cumulatively the countries of the bottom billion would have become much poorer . . . Aid has been a holding operation preventing things from falling apart." Having used a comparative perspective to address the problems these countries face, Collier offers three suggestions for increasing the effectiveness of foreign aid. First, he suggests limited, focused military interventions to restore order as well as prevent coups. Given the cost of civil wars, he argues, focused W estern interventions such as the British one carried out in Sierra Leone in 2000 with only a few hundred soldiers can stop destructive civil wars from tearing a country apart. And effective military intervention at the onset of the Rwandan genocide may have significantly reduced the number murdered. The threat of W estern intervention against illegal coups can provides a safe harbor for political leaders seeking to carry out development, since they wouldn't have to constantly worry about being overthrown. Second, Collier suggests the establishment of ethical, transparent codes of conduct for both the Western companies dealing with the bottom billion and for the countries themselves. He suggests such codes could make a significant difference, if they had teeth. For example, W estern companies could be sued in court for violating them and the countries refused aid when they failed to abide by them. "Resource revenues to the bottom billion are bigger than aid, and far more poorly used," Collier notes. "If we could raise the effectiveness of [how these] resource revenues [are spent] . . . the impact would be enormous." 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 89 Finally, W estern nations should revise their trading policies. A few decades ago, the bottom billion might have competed with Asian countries in respect to cheap labor. But now that China and India dominate the cheap labor market, people in the bottom billion are unable to compete. To solve the problem, Collier suggests giving the poorest countries a trading edge: "Goods and services exported from the bottom billion to the rich world markets . . . [would] pay lower tariffs than the same goods coming from Asia. . . . Privileging the bottom billion against low-income Asia is not just or fair; a more accurate word might be `expedient.'" The New York Times review of The Bottom Billion suggests that "Collier's is a better book than either Sachs's or Easterly's for two reasons. First, its analysis of the causes of poverty is more convincing. Second, its remedies are more plausible." W e might also use a comparative "big picture" perspective to examine foreign aid as a structural system. Quoting from a recent review in the Times Literary Supplement: "Because aid is politically accountable to W estern electorates which consume only the images and reports of its impact and not the real things there are few incentives to make it work better." If foreign aid really worked, many of the institutions supporting it would no longer be needed. To stay in business, aid agencies have an investment in aid working only partially seeming to address important problems without ever completely solving them. This is how Muhammad Yunus, the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner, phrased it in his Creating a World Without Poverty: "Many antipoverty efforts are funded by well-intentioned people in the developed countries, either through NGOs, government grants, or international aid agencies. It's sad to see much of this money being invested in ways that are wasteful. In many cases money that is supposed to help the poor ends up creating business for companies and organizations in the developed world training firms, suppliers of equipment and materials, consultants, advisers, and the like." Alex de W aals's Famine Crimes: Politics and the Disaster Relief Industry in Africa (1997) phrases the problem in stronger terms. "Most humanitarian aid to Africa, while useful in keeping aid agencies afloat, is, for the victims of war and famine, either useless or counter-productive. Not only has aid repeatedly fueled violence, it has also distracted attention from the human rights violations that often underpin famines and, by taking on a welfare role, served to remove the responsibility for preventing famine from governments." ____________________________________________________________________________________________________ 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 90 3:4 Questions: The Vietnam War occurred decades ago, before many of today's college students were born. W hy should it be relevant to readers today? The United States military won every set battle it fought against opposing Vietnamese forces and could overwhelm these forces at will in terms of technology and firepower, yet failed to win the war? W hat went wrong? W hat has the U. S. government learned from what went wrong in Vietnam? Did it repeat the same mistakes in Iraq? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________ 3:4 Short Answer: W hile the Vietnam War occurred before many of today's college students were born, the war was a deeply traumatic event for both the United States and Vietnam. More than 58,000 Americans and possibly two million Vietnamese died in the war. It divided the United States more than any war since the Civil War. The United States lost the war, but things have turned out fairly well for Vietnam. Three decades later, Vietnam is a united, capitalistically oriented country and an increasingly important trading partner for America. One might wonder whether in losing the war militarily, the United States eventually won it economically. Despite its overwhelming military superiority, the U.S. failed to win the war militarily because it didn't understand the people it was fighting. The U.S. pursued an inappropriate strategy that ultimately played to the opposing forces' strengths and to our weaknesses. The American military didn't understand key elements of Vietnamese history, and it failed to appreciate the motivation driving Vietnamese to oppose American forces. It instead focused on a traditional "search and destroy" military strategy of attrition when the Vietnamese could continually replace their losses and remain militarily effective despite punishing casualties. Unfortunately, the United States failed to learn from its mistakes in Vietnam, and displayed some of the same cultural unawareness in seeking to transition Iraq toward a more democratic nation in 2003-2004 after the Iraqi war. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________ 3:4 Longer Answer: The Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the Mall in W ashington, D.C. is one of the world's great memorials. W hen you visit, you frequently see people perhaps a woman holding a child or an elderly couple lovingly running their hands over one of the 58,256 names inscribed on the wall. A number of the three million people who visit the memorial 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 91 each year leave sentimental items for loved ones inscribed there. As you look at the names of the dead your see your own reflection, which creates a space that brings the past and the present together. I know of no other memorial that generates such emotion, or draws people to interact with it with such love and respect. W ith insight drawn from the passage of time it is now more than thirty years since the Vietnam War ended we might feel confused as to the great national purpose the United States was defending. Here is the problem. Today, Vietnam is a thriving exemplar of capitalism. W asn't the war about stopping the spread of communism? W asn't the war about drawing Vietnam into the capitalist orbit? The Economist describes what occurred after communist North Vietnam won the war in 1975 and took control of the whole country: In the 1980s Ho Chi Minh's successors . . . damaged the war-ravaged economy . . . by attempting to introduce real communism, collectivizing land ownership, and repressing private business. This caused the country to slide to the brink of famine. The collapse soon afterwards of its cold-war sponsor, the Soviet Union, added to the country's deep isolation and cut off the flow of rubles that had kept its economy going. Neighboring countries were inundated with desperate Vietnamese "boat people." Since then the country has been transformed by almost two decades of rapid but equitable growth, in which Vietnam has flung open its doors to the outside world and liberalized its economy. Over the past decade annual growth has averaged 7.5 percent. . . . An agricultural miracle has turned a country of 85m once barely able to feed itself into one of the world's main providers of farm produce. Vietnam has also become a big exporter of clothes, shoes, and furniture, soon to be joined by microchips when Intel opens its $1 billion factory outside Ho Chi Minh City. Imports of machinery are soaring. Exports plus imports equal 160 percent of GDP, making the economy one of the world's most open. . . . Vietnam's Communists conceded economic defeat 22 years ago, in the depths of a crisis, and brought in marketbased reforms called doi moi (renewal), similar to those Deng Xiaoping had introduced in China a few years earlier. As in China, it took time for the effects to show up, but over the past few years economic liberalization has been fostering rapid, poverty-reducing growth. The W orld Bank's representative in Vietnam, Ajay Chhibber, calls Vietnam a "poster child" of the benefits of market-oriented reforms. Not only does it comply with the catechism of the "W ashington Consensus" -- free enterprise, free trade, sensible state finances, and so on -- but it also ticks all the boxes for the 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 92 Millennium Development Goals, the UN's anti-poverty blueprint. . . . Vietnam has become the darling of foreign investors and multinationals. It makes one wonder what would have happened if the United States had NOT intervened. In addition to the 58,256 American deaths, perhaps more than two million Vietnamese died in the conflict. If this is where Vietnam ended up thirty years after the war a pillar of W estern capitalism and a significant American trading partner created with little American investment should the United States have spent over half a trillion dollars (in 2007 terms) assisting the South Vietnamese during the war? Forty-five years ago, that was not the way the United States government perceived the situation in South Vietnam. It viewed it, instead, in terms of falling dominoes. To quote Stanley Karnow's Vietnam: A History, the companion book to the 1983 PBS series on the war: "Presidents from Harry S. Truman through Richard M. Nixon had justified America's commitment to Vietnam as part of its policy to `contain' global Communism. They advanced the `domino theory,' submitting that defeat in Southeast Asia would topple the other nations of the region and even, as Lyndon Johnson warned, menace `the beaches of W aikiki.'" The perception was that instead of appeasing communism, the United States needed to drawn a line in the sand. The American struggle with communism was actually more subtle and complicated than falling dominoes. To quote Neil Sheehan's Pulitzer Prize-winning A Bright Shining Lie, the secretaries of state under U.S. Presidents Truman and Eisenhower were not naive enough to think they could export democracy to every nation on earth. . . . If American statesman saw a choice . . . they favored a democratic state or a reformist-minded dictatorship. Their high strategy was to organize the entire non-Communist world into a network of countries allied with or dependent on the United States. They wanted a tranquil array of nations protected by American military power, recognizing American leadership in international affairs, and integrated into an economic order where the dollar was the main currency of exchange and American business was preeminent. The United States didn't seek colonies as such . . . Americans were convinced that their imperial system did not victimize foreign peoples. `Enlightened self-interest' was the sole national egotism to which Americans would admit. The tragedy is that key American statesmen and the American public failed to grasp important dynamics of Vietnamese society. Here is how anthropologist Neil Jamieson phrases it in his Understanding Vietnam: Over two and a half million Americans went to Vietnam, and over 55,000 thousand . . . died there. . . . Yet our understanding of this tragic episode remains . . . I believe, in many respects simply wrong. W e have failed to understand 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 93 our experience [in Vietnam] because, then and now, we have ignored the perspectives of the people most deeply concerned with the war in which we became involved: The Vietnamese. . . . The images of Vietnam about which the controversy swirled in the United States arose from our own culture not from Vietnamese realities or perceptions. In his acclaimed 1972 book The Best and the Brightest, David Halberstam asks how so many intellectually astute individuals in the upper levels of the Kennedy and Johnson administrations could have gotten things so wrong. The short answer, he suggested, was that they were arrogant: "An administration which flaunted its intellectual superiority and superior academic credentials made the most critical of decisions with virtually no input from anyone who had any expertise on the recent history of that part of the world, and it in no way factored in the entire experience of the French Indochina W ar." Sheehan describes John Paul Vann, a respected, decorated military/civilian war hero, this way: Vann "knew nothing of the Vietnamese and their culture and history. He did not consider this ignorance any more of an impediment to effective action than his lack of knowledge of counter-guerrilla warfare. . . Vann was sure that he would be able to see what motivated the Vietnamese officers with whom he would be working and persuade them to do what was in their best interest and in the interest of the United States." In brief, experts feel that the U.S. lost the Vietnam W ar as a result of misunderstanding the cultural and historical contexts within which the war was being fought. As David Halberstam writes in The Making of a Quagmire, it was "a classic example of seeing the world the way we wanted to, instead of the way it was." The tragedy is that so many Americans and Vietnamese lost their lives as a result. W hat should the United States government have known about Vietnam? It should have been aware of three anthropological points that today may seem fairly obvious. First, global political movements such as communism aren't monolithic organizations with everyone marching to (or even hearing) the same drummer. A split between the two most powerful communist countries China and the Soviet Union was apparent in the 1960s. The Soviet Union, for example, refused to support China in the 1962 Sino-Indian war. In 1967 Red Guards besieged the Soviet Embassy in Beijing. In 1969 armed clashes broke out on the Sino-Soviet border. Rather than the Vietnamese working hand in glove with the Chinese, they had actually been at odds with them for over two thousand years. From 111 B.C. to 939 A.D., northern Vietnam was forced to be part of the Chinese empire. Revolts against Chinese domination erupted regularly. Perhaps most notable was the revolt led by Trung Trac and Trung Nhi in 40 A.D. The two 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 94 sisters became folklore heroines for their revolt, remembered still today in stories and songs. No reading of Vietnamese history could miss the tensions between the country and its giant neighbor to the north. Unfortunately, for much of the Vietnam War the American government viewed communists in these various countries as speaking with a shared voice, when in actuality they were speaking in divergent voices. It was only in the 1970s, when President Richard Nixon was trying to find an honorable exit from the war, that he began playing China off against the Soviet Union. Second, the United States government failed to realize that the leader of North Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh, was less concerned with embracing communism than with throwing off colonial domination and uniting the country. Ho perceived himself as fighting a war of independence something the United States, in another time or place, might have supported. Ho certainly tried to draw the United States into supporting his cause. In 1945, when he proclaimed Vietnam's independence from France, he quoted an excerpt from the American Declaration of Independence. Stanley Karnow writes, Ho Chi Minh in the 1940s and 1950s tried to "persuade the United States to underwrite his cause. . . . The United States might have plausibly encouraged Ho to emulate Marshal Tito, the Yugoslav Communist leader who was soon to defy Moscow." W rites Halberstam in The Making of a Quagmire: "In Indochina, a colonial war turned the nationalism of a proud people against the W est and into the hands of a very real enemy. That was the beginning of the downward cycle, for in those years when the W estern nations were powerful they might have channeled this nationalism into a relatively neutral force." Initially, American opposition to Ho Chi Minh had little to do with Vietnam. In seeking to strengthen France in Europe, the U.S. ended up supporting French colonial efforts in Indochina. It got drawn into supporting a weak ally in a colonial adventure that America, based on its own history, might have opposed. It's intriguing that at the very time the United States was supporting French imperialism, it was urging the dismantling of the British Empire, as Peter Clarke points out in The Last Thousand Days of the British Empire. Third, the United States failed to grasp North Vietnam's strategy for fighting the war. The U.S. military assumed it could carry out a conventional war of attrition against the north. Karnow writes: "Official U.S. communiqus and press reports . . . conveyed the idea that U.S. air strikes were devastating North Vietnam. . . On my initial trip to the region, I expected to see it in ruins. Yet Hanoi, Haiphong, and the nearby countryside were almost totally unscathed. I remembered General Curtis LeMay's thunderous cry to `Bomb them back into the Stone Age' but, scanning the north, I concluded that it had been in the Stone Age for decades." 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 95 W hat the United States failed to grasp was the dedication the North Vietnamese brought to their cause. They played the same game of attrition as the United States. But they were able to play it longer and harder. Quoting Karnow again: American strategists went astray by ascribing their own values to the communists. [General W illiam] W estmoreland, for one, was sure that he knew the threshold of their endurance. . . . Even after the war, he still seemed to have misunderstood the dimensions of their determination. "Any American commander who took the same vast losses as General Giap," he said, "would have been sacked overnight." But Giap, the brilliant North Vietnamese general, was not an American confronted by a strange people in a faraway land. His troops and their civilian supporters, fighting on their own soil, were convinced that their protracted struggle would ultimately wear away the patience of their foes. "W e were not strong enough to drive a half million American troops out of Vietnam, but that wasn't our aim," Giap explained to me. "W e sought to break the will of the American government to continue the conflict. W estmoreland was wrong to count on his superior firepower to grind us down. Our Soviet and Chinese comrades also failed to grasp our approach when they asked how many divisions we had in relation to the Americans, how we would cope with their technology, their artillery, their air attacks. We were waging a people's war [in the Vietnamese manner] . . . a total war in which every man, every woman, every unit, big or small, is sustained by a mobilized population. So America's sophisticated weapons, electronic devices, and the rest were to no avail. Despite its military power, America misgauged the limits of its power. In war there are two factors human beings and weapons. Ultimately, though, human beings are the decisive factor." Ironically, many U.S. officers concurred. "The American army and its South Vietnamese allies," wrote General Bruce Palmer after the war, "demonstrated a tendency to rely on superior firepower and technology rather than on professional skill and soldierly qualities. . . . [The Viet Cong] had an extraordinary ability to recuperate," wrote Palmer, "absorbing casualties in numbers unthinkable to us, replacing people, retraining and reindoctrinateing them, and then bouncing back." The American military won every battle it fought against the Communists, often inflicting tremendous losses. (In the 1968 Tet offensive, half of the Viet Cong's army was destroyed.) But as a Vietnamese colonel commented after the war, when these 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 96 facts were pointed out to him, "That may be so, but it is also irrelevant." The North Vietnamese could replace their losses just as fast as the Americans could cause them. W hat is not irrelevant for the point I am making is how particular Americans coped with this misunderstanding. They often deceived or, if you prefer, lied to themselves and others that they were winning the war. W riting about how Robert McNamara, the American Secretary of Defense, often seemed to have supporting statistics to emphasize that an American victory would soon be at hand, David Halberstam, in The Best and the Brightest, states: "McNamara had invented . . . [statistics], he dissembled even with the bureaucracy . . . It was part of his sense of service . . . it was all right to lie and dissemble for the right cause. It was part of service, loyalty to the President." So what did the United States government learn from its mistakes in Vietnam? One of the painful themes of the post-invasion literature on Iraq especially the Coalition Provisional Authority (C.P.A.) run in 2003-2004 by Paul "Jerry" Bremer is that, exactly as in Vietnam, the United States remained comparatively clueless as to the cultural and political contexts it was operating in. Rajiv Chandrasekaran, in Imperial Life in the Emerald City presents an account of how the United States administered Iraq during the year after the invasion. A reviewer of Chandrasekaran's book writes: "The C.P.A.'s recruitment policy would have shamed Tammany Hall. Loyalty to George W . Bush and the Republican Party was apparently the prime criterion for getting work in the C.P.A." For example, a man named John Agresto was recruited to rehabilitate Iraq's university system (with 22 campuses and more than 375,000 students). "Agresto had no background in post-conflict reconstruction and no experience in the Middle East," Chandrasekaran writes. "But Agresto was connected: . . . Vice President Dick Cheney's wife had worked with him at the National Endowment for the Humanities." James K. Haveman, a former community-health director for a Michigan Republican governor, attempted to revitalize the Iraq health system through a U.S.-inspired model involving private providers and copayments. All the while, Iraqi hospitals lacked essential medical equipment and were overwhelmed by the need to care for the wounded. A twenty-four-year old, Jay Hallen, with little knowledge of American stock markets and few if any courses in economics or finance, was put in charge of reopening the Baghdad stock market. He set up a stock market modeled after the New York Stock Exchange; but it didn't work as planned. W hen Chandrasekaran asked the Iraqi who took over the stock market after Hallen what would have happened if Hallen had not been assigned to the task, he replied: "W e would have opened months 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 97 earlier. [Hallen] had grand ideas but those ideas did not materialize." As a member of the C.P.A. confided to Chandrasekaran: "If this place succeeds, . . . it will be in spite of what we did, not because of it." ____________________________________________________________________________________________________ 3:5 Question: How might anthropologists have helped the United States military avoid losing thousands of lives and billions of dollars in pursuit of a failed cause? How might they help today in preventing the United States from repeating the mistakes it made in Vietnam and Iraq? You suggested in the introduction that anthropologists might, at a critical moment in the Vietnam War, have been in a position to alter the War's outcome. W hat are you referring to? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________ 3:5 Short Answer: In understanding what went wrong in Vietnam, we should start with a contextual analysis or really, the lack of one in respect to the dynamics of Vietnamese society. The United States was often fishing in the dark, trying to assist Vietnamese development and, more critically, struggling to understand why it couldn't win the war despite its tremendous military advantage and its infliction of enormous losses on the enemy. If key contextual information had been pushed to the fore regarding the opposing Vietnamese forces, there was a moment of opportunity when things could have turned out differently in Vietnam. Because few academics were studying Vietnam during the Vietnam W ar and fewer researching what was happening on the ground (versus what the military claimed was happening), the American public and policy planners lacked important information at a critical moment in the war. The "search and destroy" strategy that led to the build up of American troops and a steep rise in American casualties was based on the belief that the opposing Vietnamese couldn't absorb punishing losses indefinitely without declining in military effectiveness. W hat was ignored was the Vietnamese not only had the ability to absorb enormous losses but to renew and rebuild their armed forces. They could have endured the United States' war of attrition indefinitely. It turned out, the United States couldn't. The ability of the Vietnamese, particularly the North Vietnamese, to continue effectively fighting despite the American attrition strategy was not some secret fact. It could be readily determined (and in fact was) by estimating birthrates from records stored in French colonial archives. If this information had been provided to Congress in early 1965 as the American military began its military escalation, the way the debate over the escalation was framed might have been transformed from a hope that 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 98 the attrition strategy would work to an appreciation that, more than likely, it would fail. It is uncertain that this information alone would have changed American policy. But it is information, if enough members of Congress knew it, might have raised opposition to the attrition strategy. It is information, that if it became widely circulated in the public media might have forced a change in military strategy preventing the loss of thousands of American and Vietnamese lives. Taking a comparative perspective, we see in the errors made in Vietnam and Iraq, the failure of the American government to learn from its mistakes. Why was the United States less sensitive than it should have been to the cultural contexts in which it is operating? Basically, the United States military assumed technological dominance and military might would trump cultural understanding. In fact, it proved to be the other way around. Reflecting on these failures suggests a critical a role for anthropologists. They can facilitate greater transparency so people in positions of power can look behind the claims of this or that policy proponent and assess what is actually going on. Transparency can lead to accountability and accountability can lead to a change of policy. Anthropologists are not only wellversed in cultural contexts but they are independent of the American military with the ability to publicly challenge military claims. They can keep everyone, if not completely honest, at least relatively honest. Anthropologists can frame debates over strategy in comparative terms regarding what does and doesn't work within which contexts. They can speak truth to power in ways that those with power should realize they need listen to. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________ 3:5 Longer Answer: One of the striking points of the Vietnam War is how few academics actually studied Vietnam during this period. Fox Butterfield, in a review article for the New York Times Magazine notes that a "black hole" existed in the American academy with respect to Vietnam during the war. The New York Times conducted a survey in 1970 and found not a single scholar focusing on North Vietnam; fewer than thirty students were studying Vietnamese. One might argue that key political decision makers were not inclined to trust academic treatises during this period. But even if they had wanted to, there was little to guide them. In The Best and the Brightest, Halberstam noted that key government experts on Asia experts, had been pushed out of government during the anti-Communist campaigns of the 1950s and were never replaced. As a result, few in key administrative positions understood Vietnam or the Vietnamese. 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 99 Not having an on-the-ground understanding of what was working and what wasn't meant that United States spent billions of dollars trying to help and, by and large, being ineffective. Here is an example from Stanley Karnow's Vietnam: As long as the United States was willing to foot the bill for any given program, the Vietnamese rarely rejected it. The difficulty, however, was to measure results. Or, as a U.S. official in Saigon explained it to me . . . "Say, for instance, that we hand them a plan to distribute ten thousand radios to villages so that peasants can listen to Saigon propaganda broadcasts. They respond enthusiastically, and we deliver the radios. A few months later, when we inquire, they tell us what we want to hear: peasants are being converted to the government cause, and we're winning the war. But what had really happened? Have all the radios reached the villages, or have half of them been sold on the black market? Are peasants listening to Saigon or to Hanoi? W e don't know. . . . W e report progress to W ashington because W ashington demands progress." No transparency, not accountability. Just money spent to an uncertain end with uncertain results. Not having on-the-ground information meant that more than money was lost; so were thousands of lives. In the spring of 1965, General W estmoreland was eager to gain combat troops in order to conduct extensive "search and destroy" missions against the Viet Cong. As a precaution, W estmoreland and the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV) decided to do a study of the enemy's capacity to replace its loses (the point General Giap discussed above). David Halberstam writes: W hen Colonel W illiam Crossen, one of the top intelligence officers, put . . . [the report] together he was appalled: the number of men that Hanoi could send down the trails [into South Vietnam] without seriously damaging its defense at home was quite astonishing. . . . W hen Crossen came up with his final figure he could not believe it, so he checked it again, being even more conservative . . . and still he was staggered by what he found; the other side had an amazing capacity and capability of reinforcing. W hen he brought the study to W estmoreland's staff and showed the figure to a general there . . . "Jesus" said the general, "if we tell this to the people in W ashington we'll be out of the war tomorrow. W e'll have to revise [the figures] downward." So Crossen's figures were duly scaled down considerably . . . the staff intuitively protecting the commander from things he didn't want to see and didn't want to hear, never coming up with information which might challenge what a commander wanted to do at a given moment. The information the colonel collected wasn't top-secret intelligence. To collect it, you could simply examine Vietnamese birth records gathered by the colonial French administration from the 1930s and 1940s. 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 100 One might criticize Colonel Crossen for not reporting his figures to the United States Congress when the surge in troop strength was underway in early 1965. He was a soldier following orders and could conceivably have been court-marshaled for such an act. But a few tenured anthropologists could easily have checked Vietnamese birthrates in French colonial archives and, without any threat of being fired, made their data widely available to the U.S. Congress and to the world media. They could have made clear to all that W estmoreland's strategy was likely to not only fail but, in allowing the war to escalate as it did, cause thousands more American and hundreds of thousands more Vietnamese deaths. Using comparative analysis, we can explore the big picture of why the United States military proved ineffective in Vietnam and, to a lesser degree, in Iraq during 2003-2004. John Nagl, in Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife examines why the British army succeeded in fighting a communist insurgency in Malaysia, while the United States army failed in Vietnam. He observes, in explaining the difference, "the British army was a learning institution and the American army was not." He writes, "despite the efforts of a large number of officers on the ground who knew that the army's conventional approach was ineffective and was in fact counterproductive in many ways the U.S. Army continued to rely on a conventional approach to defeating the insurgents through an attrition-based search and destroy strategy. . . . Local forces have inherent advantages over outsiders in a counterinsurgency campaign. They can gain intelligence through the public support that naturally adheres to a nation's own armed forces. They don't need to allocate translators to combat patrols. They understand . . . tribal loyalties and family relationships. . . . It is perhaps only a slight exaggeration to suggest that, on their own, foreign forces can't defeat an insurgency; the best they can hope for is to create the conditions that will enable local forces to win it for them." The United States didn't use this strategy. The British did. The American military preferred to play to its military and technological strengths. The British, having less of a technological edge and a smaller force, were more adaptable. One of the hot topics being debated in anthropology today is whether anthropologists should participate in what are termed Human Terrain Systems, projects that embed social scientists in military units to assist them in understanding the cultural contexts within which U. S. military units are operating. Clearly the American government needs anthropological help. A look at the recently published Counterinsurgency Field Manual (2007) makes that obvious. If readers were ever in doubt as to the importance of anthropological understanding in military operations, they need only read the book's chapter on intelligence: "W hat makes intelligence analysis for [counterinsurgency] so distinct and so challenging is the amount of sociocultural information that must be gathered and 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 101 understood. . . . Truly grasping the operational environment requires commanders and staffs to devote at least as much effort to understanding the people they support as they do to understanding the enemy. All this information is essential to get at the root causes of the insurgency and to determine the best ways to combat it." But no matter how honest an anthropologist is, no matter who runs the program, no matter how little harm an anthropologist seeks to do to his informants, if the information is presented to a governmental bureaucrat and stays within the governmental bureaucracy without making the information widely available to the public it is at best dangerous and at worst destructive. Anthropologists shouldn't be "private contractors," hired out as researchers and educators to people who will use their knowledge to their own ends, for good or ill. As we saw with Colonel Crossen, it becomes a dance with the devil. Readers might note that The Counterinsurgency Field Manual is unambiguous: It places executive authority with "commanders and staffs." Anthropologists should play the role that journalists play, the role Rajiv Chandrasekaran played in respect to the Coalition Provisional Authority run by Bremer, bringing their understanding of local contexts to broader publics. Anthropologists need to make their studies public very public so a wide audience outside the governmental agencies affected can assess and discuss them. By letting others know what is happening in out-of-the-way places, beyond the ken of the general public and politicians, anthropologists can facilitate transparency and, through that transparency, a degree of accountability to government policy. It is a critical need and one anthropologists are well suited to fill, not only in terms of reporting the cultural contexts under which certain actions are being taken, but in framing their observations in a comparative way that allows others to grasp the broader dynamics at work. Speaking truth to power is an important role that anthropologists can fulfill. In presenting their observations and analyses to a wide public audience at critical historical moments, anthropologists can be the difference that makes a difference. It is a role the broader public can not only appreciate but honor. It can save billions of dollars and, more critically, thousands of lives. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________ 3:6 Questions: Students may find the wasting of billions of dollars of aid in foreign locales a bit abstract. Also, the Vietnam War represents another time in America history. Many students would like to know how anthropology's methodological mainstays contextual and comparative analysis can help address their own present-day concerns. 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 102 Can contextual analysis, for example, help students understand why college costs so much? Can it help students assess whether they are getting the skills they need to succeed in future careers? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________ 3:6 Short Answer: This third case study addresses these questions. Starting with the first question, the case study uses contextual analysis to discuss the changes that have occurred in recent decades regarding the financing of a college education and why college now costs so much. It examines student attrition rates, the declining value of the Pell Grants (that American students use to finance their educations), the increasing amount of student debt, and the declining ratio of teachers to non-teaching personal in universities. The key points made are that (1) American colleges today are augmenting, rather than resisting, the trend toward an increasing disparity between rich and poor. And (2) the reason a college education costs so much is because the market will bear it. It is a matter of supply (low) and demand (high) rather than being based on what colleges actually spend to educate students. In respect to the second question do students gain the skills they need to advance in their future careers? the answer is surprisingly unclear. Despite numerous assessments, there is little solid data on exactly what students learn in college. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________ 3:5 Longer Answer: Let me start with the positive news. There is no doubt that a college degree affects one's earning power. The U.S. Census Bureau News reported in 2005 that a "college degree nearly doubles annual earnings." A high school graduate, according the Census Bureau, earns $27,915 a year; a college graduate $51,206. In a forty-year career, a bachelor's degree will improve one's income by $931,640. (W ith an advanced degree, it is $1,867,480.) For most of the population, a college degree is the key to upward mobility. For those in the higher income brackets, it constitutes the key to remaining there. Taking a century-long perspective, we can see that colleges, once the province of the exclusive few, have become more inclusive. In 1900, only 2 percent of the population went to college. In 2000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 15 percent of the population had earned bachelor degrees and 21 percent of the population had taken college courses (but not completed a degree). If we limit ourselves to students of college age today, rather than the population as a whole, 36 percent have degrees. Sixty-three percent of high school graduates go straight on to college. 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 103 But unless you come from a family making over $200,000 a year, that's pretty much the limit to the good news. For several years now, college costs have risen faster than the rate of inflation. From 2003 through 2005, the cost of attending college rose 10 percent, 13 percent, and 7.1 percent respectively (with inflation averaging only a bit over 3 percent each year). U.S. News and World Report indicates tuition at a typical public university has risen almost tenfold in the last thirty years. The noted political scientist Andrew Hacker reports in the New York Review of Books that Stanford and Harvard, despite their enormous endowments, charge almost three times as much in real (i.e., noninflated) dollars as they did a generation ago. From 1970 to 1990, the average tuition at private universities rose 470 percent compared with the consumer price index of 280 percent. In 1980, covering college tuition took 26 percent of the median American family's income, in 2004, it took 56 percent. Until recently, students needed four years to complete a college degree. Now it takes them an average of five years at private universities and six at public ones. There is also the issue of attrition. "For decades, the college graduation rate has hovered around 50 percent" of those entering college, report the authors of Student Success in College. In 2006, U.S. News and World Report stated, "Nationally, the average six-year graduation rate for all students is 57 percent." That means that almost half of the students who start college and begin paying the steep expenses higher education entails don't get a college degree. There is also the question of how students fund their education. The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that during the 1970s a Pell Grant a non-repayable federal grant for students with lower incomes (defined as a family income of $40,000 today) covered 50-80 percent of a student's direct costs at a public university. Today it only covers about 30 percent. In the 1970s, 75 percent of federal aid came in grants and 25 percent in loans. Today that is roughly reversed: 63 percent of aid is in loans, 37 percent in grants. One might hope that, with their large endowments, the elite universities would take up the slack and fund large numbers of less affluent students. That turns out not to be the case. Andrew Hacker reports that "even the richest institutions expect that at least half their students will pay full tab." At Yale, only 10 percent of the students qualify for Pell Grants; at Princeton, it's only 8 percent. BusinessWeek reports that over the past five years, university endowments have grown by more than 10 percent on an annual basis but, in the same period, spending from them has been reduced by roughly 10 percent annually. In other words, 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 104 colleges are making more money through their endowments, but rather than helping needy students or defraying other expenses with that money, they are leaving it in their endowments to make a tidy tax-free profit (tax-free because they are "nonprofit" organizations). Many elite and elite-aspiring institutions have moved away from providing financial aid on the basis of need. It is now frequently used to attract affluent students. The New York Times quotes a researcher who has analyzed recent data collected by the College Board: "It's absolutely true that the biggest increase in institutional aid has been to the upper-income families." A reporter for the Chronicle of Higher Education notes that, from 1995 to 2003, research-oriented universities increased the financial aid they provide to students in the form of grants by 29 percent for students whose families made less than $20,000 a year. At the same time they increased by 186 percent the grants offered to students with family incomes over $100,000 a year. The New York Review of Books reports that one-third of American undergraduates work full-time jobs, and that over half of American undergraduates attend college part time (presumably working the rest of the time). CNNMoney.com indicates that the average debt for graduating seniors is now just under $20,000. A special report in BusinessWeek entitled "Thirty and Broke" summarizes the problem: Thirty years ago, when many of their parents attended school, it was entirely possible to get through college with modest family savings and steady work during the summers. Since the mid-1980s, though, tuition has been growing far faster than many families can afford. The price of public colleges, where about 80 percent of all students are enrolled, increased 28 percent in the past five years alone, far more than in any five-year period since 1975. At private colleges, the total cost increased 17 percent. Those figures, it should be noted, already take inflation into account. At the same time, outright grants have been shrinking as a proportion of total financial aid. "The costs of education are moving from the government to families, and in families from parents to kids," says Melanie E. Corrigan, associate director of national initiatives and analysis at the American Council on Education in W ashington. The result is that U.S. colleges are spurring, rather than resisting, the trend toward an increasing disparity between rich and poor. The Economist states, "America's great universities are increasingly reinforcing rather than reducing . . . educational inequalities." The director of the Education Trust observes, "Over all, the nation's top public universities are getting `whiter and richer,' even as high-school graduating classes grow more diverse." 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 105 W hat is the cause of these increased costs? Part of the increased cost at public universities results from the declining funds state governments provide their public universities. State funds now cover less than a third of the costs at most state universities. But did you know that perhaps three-fourths of many universities' payrolls consist of non-teaching personnel? As Andrew Hacker reports: "Statistics show that employees who aren't teachers make up 71 percent of Stanford's total payroll as do 73 percent at Columbia and 83 percent at Harvard. Many of these people do research. But even more are counselors, fund-raisers, grounds-keepers, lawyers, security personnel, admissions officers, or coaches." One of the authors in Declining by Degrees quotes from a letter written by a Middlebury College student that was published in the New York Times in 2004: "As a senior at Middlebury College, one of the nation's most expensive private colleges," Amichai Kilchevsky writes, "I have seen the comprehensive fee increase nearly $10,000 in four years to reach its current level of $40,400. If the rise in tuition was correlated with a rise in academic vigor, most students would accept the additional cost. This, unfortunately, isn't the case. Indeed, many colleges like Middlebury have used excess revenue to finance vast building projects, which, while aesthetically pleasing, do little to enhance the quality of a student's education." How are colleges able to keep it up? A reporter for the New York Times, quoting an expert at the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, provides a succinct answer. (Unless you are feeling particularly rich, you might not want to read this.) "There's a belief that high cost equals high quality," the expert observed. "Underlying all this is that more kids are graduating from high school every year, most of them want to go to college, and so it's a seller's market. Universities raise tuition because they can." Schools charge, says Hacker, "what the market will bear." W hat do students gain from the time and money spent on a college degree? The short answer is that we don't know. W rites Richard Hersh in Declining by Degrees: "Until now, no one has been able to measure with any accuracy what students actually learn during their four years on a campus." Hersh knows what he's talking about. He served as president of both Trinity College in Connecticut and Hobart and W illiam Smith Colleges in New York, as well as director of the Center for Moral Education at Harvard University. The most comprehensive analysis of the subject is a twovolume work by Ernest Pascarella and Patrick Terenzini entitled How College Affects Students. (The first volume in 1991 summarizes research up through the 1980s; the second volume covers more recent research.) Based on the analysis of literally thousands of studies, the authors conclude that as a result of college, 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 106 "students learn to think in more abstract, critical, complex and reflective ways; there is a general liberalization of values and attitudes combined with an increase in cultural and artistic interests and activities; progress is made toward the development of personal identities and more positive self-concepts; and there is an expansion and extension of interpersonal horizons, intellectual interests, individual autonomy, and general psychological maturity and well-being." Pascarella and Terenzini's conclusion that colleges promote intellectual and emotional growth sounds impressive. But there are two problems with this conclusion. First, the studies focus on what students gain during their years at college. They don't compare what students gain at college with a control group of individuals who didn't go to college. As a result, we don't know whether individuals who instead chose to work or simply live away from home, grew in the same manner in the areas cited. Did the changes occur because of college rather than resulted from natural increases in maturity, experiences in the work place, and/or from living away from home? W ithout control groups, we can't tell. Second, while few doubt that significant intellectual and emotional changes occur in most students who attend college especially when they live away from home Pascarella and Terenzini write "the gains made during the undergraduate years on various dimensions of academic learning and intellectual sophistication reflect only relative advantages of seniors over beginning students . . . College graduates as a group don't always perform particularly well in terms of absolute standards of knowledge acquisition or cognitive functioning." Derek Bok the former president of Harvard observes in Our Underachieving Colleges: "Most studies do show evidence of growth, but almost all the findings leave ample room for improvement. Even among the selective colleges that are ranked so highly . . . fewer than half of the recent graduates believe that college contributed `a great deal' to their competence in analytic and writing skills . . . Surveys of student progress . . . including writing, numeracy, and foreign language proficiency, indicate that only a minority of undergraduates improve substantially while some actually regress." Elsewhere in his book, which is subtitled A Candid Look at How Much Students Learn and Why They Should be Learning More, Bok writes: "Many seniors graduate without being able to write well enough to satisfy their [future] employers. Many can't reason clearly or perform competently in analyzing complex, nontechnical problems, even though faculties rank critical thinking as the primary goal of a college education." The New York Times recently reported that in a College Board survey of 120 leading corporations, one-third of the employees at 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 107 these corporations wrote poorly and, further, that these companies were spending billions of dollars on remedial training, including training for new employees straight out of college. The anthropologist Cathy Small, in her ethnography My Freshman Year: What a Professor Learned by Becoming a Student, writes: "W hile most students I interviewed readily admitted that they were in college to learn, they also made clear that classes, and work related to classes, were a minor part of what they were learning." More than anything, she observed, students learn time management skills how to balance various demands. "Most seniors will agree that they've forgotten much of what they learned from classes, even from the semester before," she writes. "Looking back on college, they will claim to have learned more about themselves, their abilities, and their relationships than about subject areas." ____________________________________________________________________________________________________ 3:7 Question: Having used contextual analysis to explain key dynamics shaping higher education, can you explain, using comparative analysis, how students can help transform the system reducing college costs, increasing educational effectiveness and, more broadly, bringing transparency and accountability to higher education? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________ 3:7 Short Answer: I start this section by discussing certain comparative analyses some may find controversial. They suggest that students can gain a quality education at many, perhaps most, institutions of higher learning. They need not attend elite schools charging elite prices. Most of the top executives of America's five hundred largest corporations, for example, went to less prestigious schools. That didn't keep those individuals from rising to top leadership positions. The section then goes on to compare Canada's more transparent system of higher education with that of the United States. The analysis offers ways for American and Canadian students to make informed decisions regarding which school they should attend at what price. In Canada, students have the ability to weigh what various Canadian schools provide versus what they cost. They can look behind the mystique projected by this or that school to judge which one best fits their intellectual interests and financial parameters. 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 108 Many American schools have the same information as their Canadian counterparts, but refuse to make this information public. They sidestep questions of transparency and accountability preferring instead to focus on self-serving claims of competence. By demanding the information most American schools have collected regarding what their students do and don't learn, and at what cost students can bring transparency and, through transparency, greater accountability to the American system of higher education. Students would be able to realistically assess which schools they should attend to gain the skills needed for a particular career. Anthropologists may not lead the charge for change. But in demonstrating how comparative analysis can bring transparency to the system of higher education, they can give the public the information and insights needed to initiate reforms making schools of higher education compete with one another based on costs and results rather than allowing these schools to sidestep accountability measures and, instead, draw students into competing with one another for entrance into their schools. Comparing Canadian and American higher education allows students and their parents to reframe who is competing with whom for what ends. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________ 3:7 Longer Answer: Here is a controversial insight based on the thousands of studies analyzed by Pascarella and Terenzini: "Clearly, the 3,000-plus postsecondary institutions in the United States differ substantially in size, [and] complexity. . . . Yet, with some notable exceptions, the weight of evidence . . . casts considerable doubt on the premise that the substantial structural, resource, and qualitative differences among postsecondary institutions produce correspondingly large differences in net educational effects on students. Rather, the great majority of postsecondary institutions appear to have surprisingly similar net impacts on student growth." Social critic Andrew Hacker makes the point this way: "I am . . . convinced that despite differences in endowment and faculty salaries, as good an education can be had at Coe College in Iowa, W hitman College in W ashington, and Knox College in Illinois as at brand-name schools like W illiams and Swarthmore." 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 109 Some readers may wish to dispute this conclusion. Yet, if various "brand-name schools" (to borrow Andrew Hacker's phrase) were interested in demonstrating that their added cost resulted in added value, one would think they would be open to cross-campus accountability studies that assess what students do and don't learn at various schools. Most elite schools strenuously opposed the efforts made by former Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings to carry out just such accountability studies. If there were tests that allowed students to compare what was gained at one school versus another in terms of both education and later employment, then schools would have to compete on cost and effectiveness, not just image, prestige, and mystique. Two educational researchers using controlled samples (so as to avoid differences in intellectual ability) report that "students who attended more selective colleges do not earn more than other students who . . . attended less selective colleges." (A recent Wall Street Journal article reaching a different conclusion did not use controlled samples and, hence, was likely measuring other variables.) The two researchers indicate that "the payoff to attending an elite college appears to be greater for students from more disadvantaged backgrounds." But as we have noted, few disadvantaged students currently go to elite colleges. This analysis fits with other data. To quote from a Hacker article in the New York Review of Books: Referring to a consulting firm's compendium of the educational backgrounds of CEOs at the nation's five hundred largest companies: "It turns out that only 13 of . . . [the CEOs] didn't attend or finish college. . . . Another 8 are heirs to family enterprises . . . leaving 479 who had completed college and more or less ascended on their own. Altogether, 68 of the 479 14 percent were graduates of 12 highly competitive colleges [such as Amherst, Brown, Harvard, Yale, and Stanford] . . .[The vast majority of the] chief executives went to less prestigious schools like W orcester Polytechnic, Marymount College, and Idaho State. . . . while an Ivy League degree may help in the early years of a career, its cachet tends to fade when more stringent tests are set." It will help to place these data from the American context in perspective by comparing higher education in the United States with higher education in Canada. The comparison offers food for thought. It also does more: It suggests a way for American students to confront the problems they face. Before discussing the operation of higher education in Canada, let me describe a few traits that Canada and the United States share. First, in both, individuals with a university degree possess a higher standard of living. W ith respect to income, 33 percent of those with a university degree in Canada and 30 percent in the United States make more than twice the median 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 110 income. In comparison to those with a high school degree, those with a university degree make 11 percent more in Canada and 8 percent in the United States. Second, paralleling the recent increased enrollments in the United States, Canada has also seen significant increases in university-bound students. Between 2000 and 2006, Canadian full-time university enrollment increased by 31 percent. Finally, the percentage of the Canadian population ages 25 to 34 that had university degrees in Canada in 2004 was 53 percent. Canada possesses the secondhighest percentage of university graduates in the world, just behind Russia. Until recently Canadian university tuition was significantly less than in the United States and importantly took significantly less of a family's after-tax income to pay for it. The problem Canadian higher education faces today is that between 1990 and 2003 tuition grew by 107 percent. This makes it more expensive than in the United States, especially when the present limited financial-aid packages are calculated into costs. Financial aid at Canadian universities hasn't kept pace with increases in tuition as closely as in the United States (which as we saw above, has not kept pace with need). During the early 1980s, Canada had a $2,000 funding advantage per student over the United States; in 2008, the United States had an $8,000 funding advantage per student. In 1980, provincial governments contributed 84 percent of the educational/research costs per student; today it is 66 percent. Government funding per student dropped from $17,900 in 1980 to $13,600 in 1990, and to $9,900 in 2006. Like in the United States, Canada has moved away from need-based financial aid. Canadian universities now provide almost 60 percent of their aid to families with above-median incomes. The amount of debt Canadian students owe at graduation has doubled in the 1990s. Today, the average debt of Canadian students who take out loans to finance their education is $24,000. The most interesting difference between Canada and the United States lies in the area of accountability. Most Canadian universities now use the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) to assess what students are learning at their universities. And the NSSE assessments are publicly available. Let me explain why this is important. How College Affects Students notes that assessing writing, reading, and critical thinking can be tricky. To get around the problem, the NSSE looks at the activities that studies suggest lead to the development of certain skills, and then asks if students are involved in those activities. By focusing on the learning processes that lead to skill 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 111 development, the NSSE sidesteps the complications that allow academics to argue over assessments (and avoid implementing them). To illustrate how NSSE works, let me quote from Student Success in College. (Note: two of the book's authors are involved with NSSE). "Voluminous research on college student development shows that the time and energy students devote to educationally purposeful activities is the single best predictor of their learning and personal development." NSSE assesses how much time and energy students are investing in "educationally purposeful activities" at their school. Student Success in College continues: "Certain institutional practices are known to lead to high levels of student engagement . . . [such as] student-faculty contact, cooperation among students, active learning, prompt feedback, time on task, high expectations, and respect for diverse talents and ways of learning." NSSE assesses in what form and to what degree these are occurring at a school. Unlike in the United States, all major Canadian universities are public institutions. That means they must follow "freedom of information" laws permitting access to governmental documents. This is why Maclean's, a popular weekly magazine in Canada, was able to gain access to the NSSE scores at most Canadian universities and publish them in their magazine. The ability of Maclean's magazine to publish cross-campus assessment data on learning outcomes at Canadian universities contrasts sharply with practices in the United States. W ith the help of the Commission on the Future of Higher Education, from 2006 through 2008, Secretary Spellings tried to bring cross-campus assessments to the American system of higher education. She largely failed, as a 2008 headline in The Chronicle of Higher Education confirms: "Spellings Campaign Runs Low on Time, and on the Power to Persuade." The article says: "Education Secretary Margaret Spellings has made another high-profile attempt to convince colleges that they risk painful government interventions if they don't improve the quality of their programs and help more students evaluate . . . them. With just six months until Ms. Spellings leaves office, colleges seem increasingly willing to keep taking that risk." Because many institutions of higher education in the United States are private, the federal government has limited power to draw them toward greater accountability. American institutions of higher education know this and, as a result, have generally resisted Spellings's efforts to establish cross-campus assessments. This one difference in the two systems having public access to NSSE scores means that significant educational reform is more likely in Canada than in the United States. The fact that Canadian universities can be compared with respect to what students do and don't learn at them gives reformers a yardstick to affect change. 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 112 How did Canadian universities get involved with NSSE? Bob Rae, the former premier of Ontario, found critical data missing from his 2005 review of post-secondary education in Ontario. His conclusion, quoting Maclean's, was "W e simply don't know enough about how we are doing or what others are doing." (This is the point Spellings emphasized.) Maclean's continues, "to this end, Rae recommended that all Ontario universities participate in the NSSE. All Ontario universities have done so over the past two years, and most universities in the rest of the country have joined them." The result is a reasonable assessment of learning outcomes at institutions of higher education across Canada. American students and parents trying to assess which colleges provide the best education at the lowest cost can only look at Canada with envy. Instead of vague prestige rankings in U.S. News and World Report or slick college promotional materials, Canadian students have clear objective data on which to base their financial and educational decisions. No other country, to my knowledge, has made such data so widely available to its citizens. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________ 3:8 Question: You have covered a number of subjects in a short space foreign aid, Vietnam, Iraq, and higher education. Could you summarize what role you perceive contextual and comparative analysis anthropology's key methodological tools can play in helping to improve the lives of millions of people around the world? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________ 3:8 Answer: Those who apply contextual and comparative analysis can rarely change the world by themselves, but they can facilitate change. Contextual analysis facilitates transparency, which, in turn, facilitates accountability. Investigating and understanding the contexts that shape beliefs and behaviors, making sense of private behaviors in public ways, allows those who apply contextual analysis to grasp what is going on behind the obscuring veils created by social institutions seeking to project positive public images. As we saw with respect to foreign aid, Vietnam, and Iraq, anthropologists can report on what is, and is not, working on the ground. And they can help others lift the veil obscuring higher education so students can understand how to bring college costs down. Anthropologists can speak truth to power (in Foucault's phrasing). As Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis famously said, "a little sunlight is the best disinfectant" for addressing social problems. W e saw the power of transparency in considering how 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 113 David Halberstam's The Best and the Brightest and The Making of a Quagmire, Neil Jamieson's Understanding Vietnam, Neil Sheehan's A Bright Shining Lie, and Stanley Karnow's Vietnam: A History allowed the American public to better understand the Vietnam War and why we lost it. One can't read Rajiv Chandrasekaran's Imperial Life in the Emerald City without questioning the managerial competence of the Coalition Provisional Authority that administered Iraq in 2003-2004. The same holds true regarding William Easterly's The White Man's Burden. Easterly's message is embedded in his book's subtitle: Why the West's Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good. Derek Bok's Our Underachieving Colleges, Richard Hersh and John Merrow's Declining by Degrees, and Andrew Hacker's articles in the New York Review of Books all make it clear there are "smoke and mirrors" regarding how institutions of higher education present themselves to the public. Perceiving what lies behind their mystique draws us to demand greater social accountability from them. Comparative analysis, especially when it is entwined with contextual analysis, allows readers to grasp the "big picture" dynamics that lie behind scores of specifics. It can suggest effective solutions to complex problems. As we saw in Paul Collier's The Bottom Billion, comparative analysis helps make sense of why foreign aid has not worked as well as it might. Comparing Vietnam and Iraq we grasp, as John Nagl did in Eating Soup With a Knife, the reasons the American military has been reluctant to focus on the cultural understandings it needed to be successful. And by comparing American and Canadian systems of higher education, Americans can envision what a system of accountability might look like and take steps toward it. At certain key historical moments anthropologists can do even more to facilitate change. If, as noted, anthropologists had provided the U.S. Congress and media in early 1965 with the fatal flaw behind the military escalation at the heart of W estmoreland's "search and destroy" attrition strategy, it isn't inconceivable it would have caused some to pause. And, even if it the escalation continued, a lot more people could have seen a lot sooner that it was doomed to fail. There are times in human affairs when putting the right information before the public makes a real difference. It can't necessarily be planned in advance. But an active, engaged anthropology dealing with the world's concerns can have such information at hand or compile it relatively quickly. In concluding this chapter, I want to emphasize, as I did above, that anthropologists need to reach out beyond policy makers to the broader public in their writings. To repeat the phrasing I used above, providing information solely to policy makers (who then use it at their discretion) can be a dance with the devil. To have credibility to really speak truth to power you can't be a 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 114 pawn of the powerful. You can't be in the pay of the powers that be. W ith their academic appointments and tenured positions, anthropologists can be respected, independent critics of the status quo. W hat I am suggesting isn't new. It draws on a debate in the 1920s between the journalist W alter Lippman and the philosopher-educator John Dewey regarding whether or not the general public should defer to the authority of experts or whether the public should be actively involved in advancing the common good. In 1922, W alter Lippman asserted that given the complexity of the problems that afflicted America, the general public was incapable of coming to reasoned, effective solutions. Lippman preferred, instead, a class of special experts a group of professionals who could sort through and order the mass of data relevant to a problem. They would present their analyses to decision makers who would then act on these professionals' advice. Dewey questioned Lippman's dependence on experts to order knowledge for others. For Dewey, professional social scientists should educate the broader public not just the decision makers about social issues. Rather than deferring to experts and expert opinion, the public should be actively engaged in deciding public issues. Building democratic communities, Dewey asserted, entailed the active involvement of citizens. "The union of social science, access to facts, and the art of literary presentation," Dewey wrote, "is not an easy thing to achieve. But its attainment seems to me the only genuine solution of the problem of an intelligent direction of social life." W e saw the problem of presenting information solely to decision makers in discussing the case of Colonel Crossen in Vietnam. There is no guarantee that the information the public needs to hear, rather than the information the decision makers want it to hear, will get through to the public. Under Lippman's scenario, professionals become bureaucrats of the system apparatchiks. Professionals, the prominent sociologist Eliot Friedson writes, should use their knowledge for the public good. They have "the duty to appraise what they do in light of . . . [the] larger good, a duty which licenses them to be more than passive servants of the state, of capital, of the firm, of the client . . . .[They should not be] mere technicians . . . [who] serve their patrons as . . . hired guns . . . [who] advise their patrons . . . but . . . don't . . . violate their wishes" ____________________________________________________________________________________________________ 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 115 3:9 Question: Having analyzed anthropology in respect to its social structure, its limitations, and its potential aren't you are fantasizing a bit in thinking that anthropology can become a more activist discipline that addresses important social problems in significant ways. Do you really think anthropology is up for this? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________ 3:9 Short Answer: The next chapter suggests that it's in many anthropologists' interest to address problems of broader concern. It also discusses five strategies for developing a more activist, engaged, public anthropology. Time will tell if anthropology can be drawn to change. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________ 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 116 CHAPTER 4 WHY A PUBLIC ANTHROPOLOGY? WHY NOW? 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 117 Overview: This chapter explores how to move anthropology from being focused primarily on disciplinary concerns such as those highlighted in Chapter 2 to focusing on broader issues, beyond the discipline, that involve the larger society. Phrased another way, the chapter considers how to move anthropology toward greater social accountability. ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ 4:1 Question: The final chapter of a book often tries to bring a book's themes together into a conclusion. Can you explain what you hope to achieve in this chapter? ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ 4:1 Answer: Chapter 1 discussed how anthropology is embedded in a social structure that shapes its beliefs and behaviors. Chapter 2 built on this point to consider how the loose standards of accountability and validation in cultural anthropology limited intellectual progress. Chapter 3 suggested that anthropology's methodological mainstays, contextual and comparative analysis can facilitate greater transparency and, through transparency, greater accountability in social institutions. This chapter considers how to move the anthropology embodied in Chapter 2 toward the anthropology embodied in Chapter 3. The chapter begins by discussing the chapter's title. Readers won't be surprised to learn that different people define "public anthropology," a term I coined, in slightly different ways. I would emphasize two senses of the term. The first fits with common usage today: Public anthropology addresses public problems in public ways. The second adds another meaning to "public": It involves transparency, opening up what is happening in the discipline to the broader society so people outside academia can appreciate public anthropology's potential for doing good. Turning to the "why now?" question, the chapter notes that public anthropology isn't the first to call for a more engaged anthropology. That call has been made repeatedly during the last century, but each time with limited success. Could this time around prove more successful? The only way to find out is to apply the book's insights and see if they help subvert the structures that are subverting public engagement. The chapter highlights three goals to aim for. First, it fosters a new form of accountability in which anthropologists are evaluated less by the number of their publications and more by the degree to which their publications help address social problems effectively. Second, it embraces greater transparency in the manner highlighted in Chapter 3. And third, in line with 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 118 the above goals, it calls for the revision of anthropology's existing ethical code. Instead of focusing on "do no harm," anthropologists more positively might embrace an ethical standard of doing demonstrable good. Through a discussion of three unsuccessful efforts at facilitating disciplinary change through traditional means, the chapter suggests it is now time to try new options. It makes little sense to keep failing in the same ways. Finally, the chapter describes the plans now taking shape to push for a more public anthropology. I stress the importance of developing media campaigns to garner public support. I refer to the Center for a Public Anthropology as a "social business" a self-financing force for doing good that allows anthropologists to be more than "talking heads" listened to by some, ignored by others. The developing Graduate Student Network strives to not only mobilize a new generation of students for public engagement but also subvert the discipline's existing top-down status system. And, in describing the California Series in Anthropology, it holds out a vision of what anthropology might become. W ill we succeed in increasing social engagement within the discipline this time around? I don't know. But we are coming at the challenge wiser than before. And if we fail, we can pick ourselves up wiser from the experience and try again. Bringing change takes persistence and time. ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ 4:2 Questions: W hat exactly is a public anthropology? Is it another nice-sounding rhetorical turn of phrase, or does it attempt to do something positive that helps people? ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ 4:2 Short Answer: Despite the term only being roughly ten years old, many have embraced it. Public Anthropology is now the name for an institute, lecture series, book series, and fellowship, as well as various graduate programs and classes across North America. Given the entrepreneurial flair for reframing other anthropologists' frames of reference noted in Chapter 2, readers will appreciate that different anthropologists refer to public anthropology in divergent ways. In coining the term for the California Series in Public Anthropology, I viewed public anthropology as addressing important social concerns in an engaging non-academic manner. I now also stress an additional sense of the term embodied in the phrasing of the book's title "a public anthropology" (rather than simply public anthropology). It refers to anthropology becoming more transparent, more public, and thereby facilitating greater accountability to the broader society. 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 119 ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ 4:2 Longer Answer: In the late 1990s, when searching for a name for the new book series that Naomi Schneider and I were developing at the University of California Press, I coined the phrase Public Anthropology because it seemed to represent a key goal of the series: addressing public problems in a public way. Public, in this sense, contrasted with traditional academic approaches and styles of presentation. The term has certainly caught on. A Google search using the phrase "public anthropology" yields more than 40,000 hits. Here is a sampling: there is an Institute of Public Anthropology at California State University, Fresno, a Public Anthropology Lecture Series at the University of W aterloo, a Public Anthropology Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the Field Museum (in Chicago), a Master Program in Public Anthropology at American University, a faculty focus in Public Anthropology at Tufts University, a forthcoming Public Anthropology Reviews section as well as a Public Anthropology Editor in the American Anthropologist, a joint University of Guelph/University of W aterloo Master's Degree in Public Issues Anthropology, a Public Anthropology Initiative at Duke University, a Public Anthropology Graduate Student W orking Group at the University of New Mexico, a conference "Toward a Public Anthropology" held at the University of North Carolina, a session entitled "Australian Anthropologists and Public Anthropology" at the Australian Anthropology Society's annual conference, and a Public Anthropology category for posts at Savage Minds (Notes and Queries in Anthropology -- A Group Blog). There are classes in Public Anthropology (with that title or a related phrasing) at various North American schools ranging from York University, to the University of Pennsylvania, to the University of California, Berkeley. The term is used in slightly different ways by different groups. In the M.A. program in Public Anthropology at American University "students explore the workings of culture, power and history in everyday life and acquire skills in critical inquiry, problem solving and public communication." A Tufts University web page states that "Public anthropology includes both civic engagement and public scholarship . . . in which we address audiences beyond academia. It is a publicly engaged anthropology at the intersection of theory and practice, of intellectual and ethical concerns, of the global and the local. A web page discussing the Public Anthropology Initiative at Duke University highlights three areas: "(1) training in public communication skills and community-based research; (2) collaborations . . . to address social problems; and (3) forums for critically reflecting upon lessons learned from public engagement" The Public Issues Anthropology joint program at the University of Guelph and the University of W aterloo, "explores the interface between anthropological knowledge and issues crucial to governance, public 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 120 discourse and civil society." And a 2010 American Anthropologist review section "will highlight anthropological work principally aimed at non-academic audiences." How do I define Public Anthropology? Today, I stress two senses of the term and a prefer the phrase "a Pubic Anthropology," as in the title of this book. The first sense of the term retains its original meaning of engaging important social concerns in a manner that broader audiences, beyond the discipline, can both understand and appreciate. If we distill the variations in the previous paragraph down to a shared core, they tend toward this meaning: moving anthropological perspectives into the public realm. W hy has public anthropology in this first sense been popular? To a certain degree the discipline feels isolated from the broader society. James Frazer's The Golden Bough, Margaret Mead's Coming of Age in Samoa, and Ruth Benedict's Patterns of Culture engaged a wide range of readers beyond the academy in stimulating, important ways during the first half of the twentieth century. That has changed. In 2000, writing in the discipline's monthly periodical, I commented: "I am not sure if I should laugh or cry in describing American anthropology's present public status. On the one hand, anthropology is wildly popular with the wider public. One reads about anthropologists in novels, sees them in movies. . . . [But] the citations of anthropologists in literature and the popular press [aren't] always positive. They appear . . . [as one anthropologist noted] to often `reinforce negative and derogatory stereotypes'." A New York Times report on the 1994 American Anthropological Association's annual meeting asked: "W ho else has been studying colic and spiritualism, sex and field work, and redneck angst?" W hat we have today, in Micaela di Leonardo's phrasing, is "anthropology without anthropologists." One of the present ironies of the field is that the most appreciated and best-selling anthropologically oriented books today are written by authors with little or no formal anthropological training: Anne Fadiman's The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickeled and Dimed, Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel. I perceive the popularity of public anthropology in this first sense as an effort to regain status and respect from the broader public. Public anthropology constitutes an effort to connect with those who embrace anthropological perspectives, but feel alienated from academically oriented anthropologists and their writings. The second sense of a public anthropology involves disciplinary transparency shining a public light on the dynamics discussed in Chapter 2. One of the main themes of that chapter is that cultural anthropology had turned in on itself because the 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 121 larger society remained mystified as to its operation. This second sense of "a public anthropology" encourages greater transparency and, through such transparency, greater accountability to those beyond the discipline. ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ 4:3 Questions: Can you explain the second part of the title "W hy Now?" W hat are you getting at with the question? ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ 4:3 Short Answer: It is critical to note that interest in a publicly engaged anthropology has waxed and waned repeatedly during the twentieth century. Again and again, there has been a call (under one name or another) for some form of public engagement. And again and again, after initial enthusiasm for the effort, it languishes and anthropologists returned to the narrow niche disciplinary questions and styles highlighted in Chapter 2. This repeated waxing and waning of interest suggests two important points. First, the current enthusiasm for public anthropology is only the most recent of many efforts to re-orient the discipline. One might uneasily wonder if the interest in public anthropology will like the trends discussed in the Chapter 2 fade within a few years. Second, the repeated waxing and waning of interest in public engagement suggests more is involved than simply trendiness. Public engagement is a trend that keeps coming back. But its repeated fading suggests there are structural forces at work that prevent public engagement from taking a central place within the discipline. "W hy Now?" raises this question: Do we now have the insights to prevent repeating the same pattern this time around? The answer is: maybe. There is only one way to learn if we can subvert the structures that subvert public engagement: That is, by trying. ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ 4:3 Longer Answer: Since at least the founding of the Bureau of Ethnology in 1879 under John W esley Powell, its first director, American anthropologists have sought to address the problems of real people suffering real problems beyond the discipline. Most noticeable perhaps in these early years was the work of James Mooney relating to the Ghost Dance Religion and the Massacre at W ounded Knee. The commitment to social engagement didn't abate once American anthropology was safely ensconced within university settings. In Chapter 1 I noted Boas's activist stands during the early 1900s. I also referred to the journal of Applied Anthropology 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 122 (later renamed Human Organization) being founded in 1941 with its commitment to "putting plans into operation . . . to take action in problems of human relations." Anthropologists were actively involved in the Allied war effort during W orld W ar II. Cora Du Bois, discussed in Chapter 2, played a prominent role in the Office of Strategic Services during the war, for example. Anthropologists coming out of the war years, wrote Margaret Mead, "had learned that their skills could be applied fruitfully to problems affecting modern societies and the deliberations of national governments and nation states." Applied anthropology was popular during this period. Among the prominent applied projects was the Coordinated Investigation of Micronesian Anthropology (CIMA). It represented "the largest research effort in the history of American anthropology." It involved roughly 10 percent of the American anthropological profession in fieldwork for the U.S. Navy (which administered Micronesia at the time.) Anthropologists such as Marvin Harris and Marshall Sahlins played prominent roles in establishing the first "teach-Ins" activist, public discussions held in university settings during the Vietnam War. They wrote prominent pieces in popular venues such as The Nation and Dissent. In the late 1980s, applied anthropology rose again to disciplinary prominence. W here in 1972, 88 percent of the new Ph.D.s were employed in academic settings and 12 percent in non-academic settings, in 1988, 54 percent were employed in nonacademic settings and only 46 percent in academic settings. The change in hiring patterns both symbolized and encouraged the push for increased public engagement. And yet, after a time all these efforts languished. The efforts of Boas, Harris, and Sahlins are still remembered today, but few people emulate them. The CIMA Navy project is a distant memory, mostly known through a book documenting it. The latest hiring figures for new Ph.D.s I have been able to find are for 1997. For that year, 71 percent of the hires were for academically related positions; 29 percent were for non-academic ones. So we should take the current enthusiasm for public anthropology with a grain of salt. True, there are more than 40,000 Google links today; but there were over 68,000 in 2007. Some of the classes, conferences, etc. noted in the links occurred some years ago. W hile new forms of public anthropology are coming to fruition (such as the American Anthropologist Review section and the Public Anthropology Institute), others may be diminishing in importance. Given the dynamics discussed in Chapter 2, this is pretty much what one would expect. Anthropological trends come and go. Public anthropology responds to a disciplinary concern for wanting to be recognized by the broader public. But it isn't clear that it is more than a passing hope. 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 123 The basic problem is that the periodic rekindling of efforts toward more public engagement is rarely focused on transforming the academic structures that limit public engagement. At the bureaucratic level, universities retain the distorted sense of "objectivity" described in Chapter 1 the sense of "objectivity" as an apolitical orientation. Despite rhetoric to the contrary, radical advocacy, especially if it might lead to structural reforms, is still discouraged. Just look at the criteria used for promotion and tenure, and you'll see how much public engagement is de-emphasized. Service to others is always there. (It scores public relations points with the broader public.) But service is usually low on the list, behind publications, research, and teaching. And, even at its low level of importance, there is often a "catch." Service is frequently defined to mean service to your department and your university rather than to the broader public beyond the university. Departmental accountability standards remain pretty much as described in Chapter 2 focused on publications and the degree to which they are cited. Being well published and well cited adds to your personal status. It leads to positions in higherstatus departments (which, as Rhode's study in Chapter 2 suggests, increases your chances of having more publications accepted). Having high-status faculty increased a department's status. It strengthens the department's ability to compete for resources and positions. A university with high-status individuals and departments increases its status vis--vis other universities and facilitates raising money from various constituencies. Given how these structures are entwined, each supporting the other, it seems clear why efforts at social engagement languish. There are too many structures lined up against it. The system works primarily for its current beneficiaries: individual faculty, departments, and universities. Since there is little transparency within the system, the broader public remains uncertain, at times mystified, as to what is happening within the discipline. The broader public frequently finds it difficult to make sense of anthropological publications. They seem so narrowly defined and written in such torturous ways, they are off-putting to general readers. Anthropologists once had to write in more decipherable terms for wider audiences if they wished to get their books published. (If a publisher can't be sure of selling more than a few hundred copies of a book, it doesn't make financial sense to produce it.) But with the enlarging of enrollments over the past several decades, anthropologists now have their own "captive" disciplinary audiences. The core of most university presses' sales are course adoptions. Students are required to buy the books assigned by their professors. Anthropologists can write for their colleagues who, if they like the book, will assign it in one of their classes. 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 124 And yet, despite all the odds stacked against it, public engagement repeatedly returns to excite the discipline. W hat gives? In Chapter 2, I referred to the work of Victor Turner in respect to "anti-structure." Turner highlighted "two alternative `models' for human interrelatedness, juxtaposed to one another. The first involved society as a structured, differentiated, and often hierarchical system of politico-legal-economic positions." The second opposed society's formal structures, instead emphasizing alternative, less conforming orientations. This second orientation he termed anti-structure. He wrote that "there would seem to be if one can use such a controversial term a human `need' to participate in both modalities." Public engagement isn't precisely the same as Turner's anti-structure, but resembles it in certain respects. It emphasizes a different system of accountability from standard disciplinary practice focusing on solutions that actually help the broader public cope with real problems (rather than on publications). It supports a different style of prose. General readers can grasp what is being said. And it focuses on actively addressing the world's problems rather than talking about addressing them. Ensconced in private, introverted departmental structures, anthropologists periodically long for greater recognition from the public. They tire of the inward-looking disciplinary strictures. They then reach out seeking to engage the public on its own terms (rather than on academic terms). But the effort doesn't persist. It can't persist. It lacks the structural support to be more than a momentary burst of enthusiasm. Once again, the academic structures close in. Public engagement languishes. People return to the academic grind, pursuing their separate interests in their separate ways with the original standards of accountability. The departmental and university bureaucracies continue to de-emphasize social advocacy, advocacy that might disrupt the status and financial dynamics that support them and their reputations. Here is the problem. If we assume perhaps temporarily, perhaps even hypothetically that the above anti-structural analysis and the analysis of the discipline's dynamics and potential (in Chapter 2 and 3) aren't totally off base, and that they there is something to them, we are faced with a question: Do we have enough information to transform the system to move it from the practices embodied in Chapter 2 or those described in Chapter 3? I honestly don't know. There's only one way to find out: to try these ideas out and see if they work. They may, they may not. But if we don't try, we'll never know if our understanding of the problem is correct, or how to improve our understanding if it isn't. In response to the question "why now?" my answer is, "why not now?" W e have disciplinary momentum. There is clear interest in increasing public engagement. W e have a number of interesting insights described in this and earlier chapters. As Chapter 3 emphasizes, there are certainly problems in the wider world that need to be addressed. The discipline's 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 125 methodological mainstays contextual and comparative analysis just might be the difference that makes the difference in alleviating some of these. Focusing on a common set of problems throughout the discipline would go far to alleviating the "originality" problem noted in Chapter 2. Everyone would not be going off in their own direction. People would be addressing the same problems, perhaps in some of the same locales. W e could make substantial intellectual progress building a more cumulative knowledge base, refining important concepts. Now is as good a time as any to try. W hat have we got to lose? ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ 4:4 Question: You have discussed the discipline's dynamics in various chapters and you have called for changing elements of the current system. Could you state clearly, in one place, exactly what you would like to see changed? ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ 4:4 Answer: This is perhaps the crucial question of the book, so I won't separate my answer into two parts, a short and longer one. Instead I'll try to explain what needs to change for a more public anthropology to take root First, anthropology needs a new form of accountability. Accountability certainly exists in anthropology. But, as noted, it is focused on publishing in respected forums usually peer-reviewed journals and university presses plus having these publications cited. The standards for accountability need to move outside the narrow confines of the university. The new standards should focus on whether an idea works in practice, whether it effectively addresses a particular problem. As a brief aside, let me note that philosophers of knowledge often refer to more than one theory of truth. A correspondence theory refers to the correspondence between an assertion and a set of facts in the real world. A coherence theory involves people agreeing on a certain point, that is, their assertions cohere with one another. A pragmatic theory of truth, the theory I wish to emphasize here, focuses on outcomes: Does something solve the problem at hand? Does it do what it claims to do? Does it work? Rather than focused on quantitative calculations writing X number of articles or being cited by Y many peers accountability would be phrased in a more qualitative, pragmatic manner. It would answer questions like these: W hat is the significance of the problem being addressed and to what degree does the author effectively address it? W hat is the outcome? Does the suggested solution work in addressing the problem? 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 126 Chapter 3 is full of examples embodying this alternative form of accountability. Remember the New York Times review of The Bottom Billion? "Collier's is a better book than either Sachs's or Easterly's for two reasons. First, its analysis of the causes of poverty is more convincing. Second, its remedies are more plausible." Many policy makers have praised the book and gained inspiration from it, including Lawrence Summers (Director of President Obama's National Economic Council) and Ernesto Zedillo (President of Mexico from 1994 to 2000). John Nagl's Eating Soup with a Knife became a key reference in re-writing the United States' Counterinsurgency Field Manual. W hether the new strategies articulated by Nagl and others work remains to be seen. But as Sarah Sewall wrote in her introduction to the University of Chicago Press's printing of the manual, the "counterinsurgency field manual challenges much of what is holy about the American way of war. It demands significant change and sacrifice to fight today's enemies honorably . . . Those who fail to see the manual as radical don't understand it." Helping to transform American military strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan to reduce senseless destruction and death, and to improve the living conditions for the people of both countries, is an important outcome as well. The value of focusing on outcomes is that they can be assessed. W hile the standard lacks the easy quantification of counting how many of this type of publications, how many of that, it is nonetheless measurable. For example, one could can ask for assessments by non-academics knowledgeable about the problem, in the manner that departments now get external reviews for individuals seeking tenure. How do those most familiar with a problem perceive the author's suggestions for fixing it? Originality would not be caught up in a numbers game of how many new ideas one can get published or cited. Instead, originality would be used to address a problem the way it os in the biological sciences: Does the person come up with an innovative way to solve the problem being addressed? Second, for new forms of accountability to succeed, there also needs to be greater transparency. W e can't have assertions simply accepted on trust, which too frequently occurs in cultural anthropology, as noted in Chapter 2. Chapter 3 highlighted how transparency leads to accountability. Making public to the world not just to the funding agencies what does and doesn't work in respect to the money these agencies spend pushes the agencies to focus on effective outcomes rather than on public relations statements touting their successes. The Report of the Commission on the Future of Higher Education produced for Secretary Spellings called "on higher education to shed some of its mystery and fundamentally prove the value it delivers." The broader public, outside of anthropology, outside of universities, needs to understand the dynamics highlighted in Chapter 2. The public funds anthropological research. But the publications produced mostly benefit individual faculty members, 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 127 anthropology departments, and their universities in the chase for status. They rarely benefit the large society or the discipline itself. There is a self-serving element to anthropological academics today. The more this is brought to public light, the better chance there is to move toward a new form of accountability based on solving problems rather than producing publications. Making anthropological accounts less jargon based and puzzling to non-anthropologists would help. Two basic questions anthropologists might keep in mind in writing for broad audiences are: (1) Is the problem addressed relevant to readers outside academic circles? (2) Is the problem addressed in a way that holds the reader's attention, that allows the reader to follow the ideas presented and assess them? One need only look at the books referred to in Chapter 3 for models to emulate. Keeping the public mystified as to what is being espoused in academic publications makes life easier for academics. They are relieved of having to be accountable to the broader public. But that position sidesteps an important question: W hy should the broader public fund anthropological research if it doesn't understand what it does or how effective it is? Third, there needs to be a different ethical standard within the discipline. The discipline needs to move from its focus on not doing harm to doing good to the accountability standard stressed above. Anthropology's goal of "doing no harm" was shaped by the context in which the discipline developed. As noted in Chapter 1, in visiting non-W estern locales, anthropologists stress they don't come to dominate; they come to understand and appreciate. The "don't harm" code embodies this ethos. Anthropologists seek to leave people unharmed and unexploited. But what happens when as occurs at most of the fieldwork sites now visited the people are already interacting with the W estern world and, to varying degrees, already exploited? W hat do anthropologists do then? Do they leave the people be, knowing they are not the source of the exploitation? Or do they try to help the people they are working with, and who are helping them with their fieldwork? W e might ask the same questions in respect to the funding agencies that provide anthropology with their research dollars. Is it enough for the anthropologists receiving this money to "repay" the funders and society by affirming they did no harm to the people they worked with? Or should funders and the general society expect something more positive that the anthropologists actually helped someone in some manner? The problem with the "do no harm" standard is that it is both out of date and self-serving. It is out of date in that it embodies a context in which anthropologists sought to differentiate themselves during the colonial era. It is self-serving in that it allows 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 128 them to avoid important moral obligations. When you ask people for help, you usually need to return the favor in some form. It is a basic social principle, articulated in a famous anthropological book by Marcel Mauss, The Gift. The academic opposition to the Vietnam W ar offers a poignant example of the problem with "do no harm." In Chapter 3, I referred to General W estmoreland's "search and destroy" attrition strategy. I also indicated that the information used to make the estimate wasn't top-secret data, but was readily available from French colonial archives relating to Vietnamese birthrates. Intent on "doing no harm", most academics, including most anthropologists, avoided any involvement with the war effort. (I noted the New York Times reported that in 1970 not one university-based scholar focused on North Vietnam and fewer than thirty students studied Vietnamese.) But a few safely tenured faculty could have checked Vietnamese birthrates and made the data available to the U.S. Congress without risk of being fired. In striving to "do no harm," American academics allowed a very serious harm to occur. Certainly, academics protested against the war. But why didn't they ever publicly counter the military's claims before the Congress and the media in 1965? It could have saved thousands upon thousands of lives. It would have proved more effective at stopping the war than the protests, which, despite making headlines, did little to reshape congressional positions in 1965. If there is real transparency regarding what anthropologists actually do in the field or what results from their publications, a change in ethical orientations might occur of its own accord. Right now, anthropologists can promise funding agencies and review boards that they will help address a particular problem in their research, but they can avoid doing so, if they so choose. Certainly the anthropologist might run into unexpected circumstances that affect delivering on a promised benefit to others. But none of this is made clear to funding agencies, review boards, or the general public before or, more importantly, after the research. In most circumstances, anthropologists are the only judges of whether their research produced positive good. Often, they aren't even asked. Whether that is because the presumed answer is yes or because the anthropologists will presumably provide a self-serving answer, I don't know. But the situation calls out for more transparency, more accountability. ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ 4:5 Questions: You have discussed helping others beyond the discipline. Could moving to a more publicly oriented anthropology personally help anthropologists as well? ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 129 4:5 Short Answer: Over the past five decades, professional autonomy has been seriously eroded in academia. Faculty today are subordinate to (and subordinated by) bureaucratic administrators within their universities. The solution is for faculty to build alliances with public groups beyond the university. An earlier sense of professionalism involved a clear trade -- for professional service to one's community, service that served the common good -- the community allowed professions to control their own affairs. W hen the bargain breaks down, as happened with the medical profession in the 1970s and 1980s when doctors dramatically raised their income levels without providing additional care to patients, the community steps in and imposes new rules on a profession. In a sense, this is what has happened with anthropologists. Not serving the common good in readily perceivable ways, university bureaucrats have stepped in and inserted a range of bureaucratic controls over them. To regain their professional autonomy, anthropologists can't rely on university bureaucrats. They need to renew their sense of service to the broader community so they can draw on the wider community's support in their drive for autonomy. In addressing the concerns of others, anthropologists can also address their own. ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ 4:5 Longer Answer: Readers might ask: Has there really been a decline in faculty autonomy and authority in recent years? Here is a sample of what various experts on higher education report. Philip Altbach, Director of the Center for International Higher Education at Boston College, notes that "the balance of power in many academic institutions has shifted from the faculty to administrators." George Keller, a professor of Higher Education Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, refers to the "increasing sway of the marketplace . . . over professional dominion . . . this shift [like various bureaucratic pressures] . . . tends to pull professors toward a . . . serving role and away from a commanding governing role where they design what the students should learn and how and when they can learn it." Berkeley educator Martin Trow writes: "There are important and disquieting changes in the culture of the university . . . a serious decline in morale among academics arising out of their increasing workloads and a general deprofessionalization of the university teacher . . . a loss of authority by the academic community and its committees. Control is shifting to increasingly powerful university administrators . . . and to the market through the commercialization of research and teaching." 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 130 Data from two reports recently described in The Chronicle of Higher Education emphasize this trend. The first refers to a "soon-to-be-published" report comparing the perceptions of college faculty from around the world (quoting the Chronicle): "Faculty members in the United States feel exceptionally powerless over their institutions' affairs, being less likely than their peers in nearly every nation to report having a big say over the selection of key administrators, the budget priorities of their institutions, or their own teaching loads." The American Academic: The State of the Higher Education Workforce 1997-2007 observes that more adjunct faculty and graduate students are taking over teaching responsibilities at schools and being paid at substandard wages for the jobs performed. The report indicates (again quoting the Chronicle) that "one of the most striking gains was among full-time administrators, whose numbers grew at almost twice the rate of growth for full-time tenured or tenure-track professors over the decade." Part-time employees, adjuncts, now teach 40-60 percent of the courses offered at universities. Course enrollments, not curricular needs, determine which courses are taught. W ithout curricular justification, administrators may drop departments that fail to bring in sufficient funding. A review of the report American Professors: A National Resource Imperiled indicates that "the visible signs of peril are a deterioration in faculty compensation in recent years, a slowing of faculty hiring, and increased reliance on non-tenure-track faculty." The factors behind this trend are complex. Many are beyond direct faculty control. But rather than submit to them, faculty can challenge them, can resist them. Faculty are far from powerless in this situation. To explain the source of their power, I need to place the problem within a historical context. The notion that certain groups had the authority to control the teaching and performance of particular services as well as regulate members' behavior as academics traditionally have affirmed for themselves stretches back to the guilds of medieval times. In various European towns from the twelfth to fifteenth centuries, guilds constituted associations that controlled the teaching and production of such crafts as the making of earthenware pots, the baking of bread, or the selling of particular goods. For the right to control a particular line of work, a guild paid a tax to the prince, king, or town council that controlled trade in the town. In nineteenth century England, service to others rather than payment to an authority became central to establishing professional authority. To quote the historian Daniel Duman: The ideal of service not only became a central creed of the professions in the nineteenth century, but it also permeated public opinion, . . . The new ideology based on service as a moral imperative provided an intellectual framework in 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 131 which the professions could become the essential service occupations without their members becoming a class of servants. The members of the learned professions used the ideal of service to buttress their claims to gentility. . . . The formula was clear: the professionalization process required that an occupation develop a body of technical knowledge, a system of training and testing of candidates, an ethical code, a professional association and an orientation, at least in theory, toward public service. The ideal of service also fulfilled a function for society. W ith the rise of industry and the apparent moral insufficiency of the old order, England was threatened by the creation of a society in which laissez-faire [or unregulated capitalism] would become a moral yardstick. For many of the social critics and novelists of the nineteenth century. . . it was apparent that some alternative to entrepreneurial society and values must be found. Nowhere, in any of the material on professions, does it state that professionals have the power to define their authority and service solely in their own terms, that is to say, without giving something back to the larger society. The larger society doesn't grant professionals autonomy and authority simply for "doing no harm." Professions gain their authority by delivering certain expertise to others in the form of needed services. To place the trend of declining faculty autonomy in perspective, we might turn to Eliot Freidson's analysis of medicine. (Freidson is a noted New York University medical sociologist who writes on the professions.) There is a lesson for the learning in Freidson's analysis. "At its prime in the 1950s," Freidson writes, "medicine was the most highly respected occupation in the United States, excepting only that of Supreme Court justice. The federal government was essentially passive in financing and organizing health care, restricting itself primarily to enforcing the recommendations of the organized profession." Physicians "were free to charge all that the pockets of their patients could yield and to decide how much charity or free care to provide to whom. . . . They were free to follow their own clinical judgment, for neither state licensing boards, state medical societies, nor local community colleagues examined their work." This changed in the 1970s. "Once federal health insurance had been established for the elderly . . . both the legislative and executive branches began to take active steps to control the increasing cost to taxpayers and to take some responsibility for the quality of the care paid for. . . . Having large sums of money at stake, large insurance companies . . . were not inclined to protect physicians' freedom to order whatever services they thought best and to bill whatever they had established as the going rate." 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 132 W ith the expansion of medical coverage and clear proof that some doctors were making oversized profits, physicians began losing their carte blanche control over the profession. W hile retaining a degree of public support, their professional autonomy is now more narrowly defined. Increasingly, consumer activists and governmental bureaucracies are placing limits on the medical profession's ability to control its practice. The medical profession's concern for the Hippocratic oath for "doing no harm" remains as strong as ever. But with a perceived decline in public service has come a real decline in professional autonomy. To avoid further erosion of faculty authority and autonomy, we in anthropology can learn from this example. It's true that college and university faculty never had the same sense of service as doctors. But that doesn't take away from the basic point: An alliance with the public, built on a renewed sense of service to those beyond the academy, would strengthen a faculty's ability to resist the bureaucratic forces aligned against it within the university. As noted, the public today is often puzzled by what transpires within universities. Many are angry at professors' seeming isolation and arrogance. Opening a dialogue with people at large addressing their concerns in ways they appreciate and value would help the broader public better understand the value of anthropology and the importance of allowing anthropologists their professional autonomy. I don't mean to be discouraging, but I'm not sure there are many other options. University administrators aren't eager to give up their newly gained power. And the pressures of the marketplace, which bureaucrats use to disempower faculty and empower themselves, aren't going away soon. The financial pressures could be reduced through an major influx of funding, as occurred during the 1950s and 1960s. But that isn't likely to happen anytime soon. Presently, enrollments are rising without corresponding increases in faculty. Instead, student-faculty ratios are rising along with the hiring of non-permanent adjunct teachers and the faculty's inability to control important academic matters. Opening a real dialog with the public could be a win-win situation. The public protects anthropology because it needs the insights the discipline offers, insights that bureaucrats don't provide. And in addressing public problems in insightful ways, anthropology flourishes as a profession with autonomy and authority. ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ 4:6 Questions: Given the academic structures arrayed against social engagement, you indicated earlier in the chapter that a public anthropology is likely to languish without outside support. Am I right in assuming that you don't believe individual interest as highlighted in the previous section by itself will bring greater social accountability to anthropology? More generally, are you suggesting traditional ways for facilitating change haven't worked and we need explore new options? 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 133 ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ 4:6 Short Answer: This section indeed affirms that, while individual interest is important, it won't by itself bring change. The traditional ways for bringing change building a gradually enlarging movement of individuals working toward a common goal and working within the system haven't been as successful as hoped. Three experiences lead me to these conclusions. The first experience involves offering rewards for increased public engagement. The hope, common to political campaigns, emphasized drawing people individually toward a desired goal until what was initially a small group of committed advocates becomes, in time, a large-scale movement. The California Series in Public Anthropology is well respected within the discipline. Having a book published in the series is an honor. Still, only perhaps 10 percent of the discipline seems interested in the series. The majority of anthropologists are focused on other concerns. I have concluded that whatever the value of modeling greater social accountability is on individual anthropologists, it is unlikely that a committed minority will change the uncommitted majority. Leaving everyone to do as they wish means critical change does not occur. The second experience involves trying to bring change from within anthropology. I examine the case of the Yanomami Controversy. The ultimate result of the controversy was, that while a number of anthropologists dedicated considerable amounts of energy to enforcing the American Anthropological Associations' code of ethics, they were never enforced. Under public pressure, the discipline took steps to address certain reputed ethical violations. Once the pressure subsided, however, so did the discipline's decisiveness. Everything returned to the status quo. Certain violations of the ethics code, though proven, were not publicly condemned. There is a sense today that the controversy almost never happened. W orking within the system, got one exhausted without achieving the desired ends. The third experience involves The Center for Public Anthropology's Community Action Website Project. The Project encourages students to consider ethical issues that lie at the interface of anthropology and the contemporary world. Following the pattern of Amnesty International, students write letters to key individuals encouraging them to take steps to resolve a particular ethical issue. In once sense, the Project has been successful. It has involved over 20,000 students from more than 60 Canadian and American schools. In another sense, it has not. It has sent letters to various individuals, some with over 800 student signatures, politely requesting the individual to follow through on a particular promise or specified government regulation. In each case, the individual replied. And, with one exception, the individuals refused the request. 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 134 The one successful case is instructive. Having failed to get an individual faculty member to respond positively, students wrote to the president of the professor's university. The president facilitated a positive outcome. There isn't much point in asking an individual to follow through on a promise or a regulation when the individual personally prefers not to. Much better to ask a highly placed administrator above that individual, who has much to lose from negative media publicity if that individual's behavior becomes known. This is a long-winded "short answer." But I hope readers will see why, after believing that the discipline could change individual by individual until the discipline as a whole changed, after believing that working within existing disciplinary structures was the way to go, and after asking individuals politely to enforce existing regulations, it became clear that we needed to explore new options. ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ 4:6 Longer Answer: Efforts to increase social engagement repeatedly languish because too many academic forces are aligned against it. Let me elaborate on the experiences that lead me to this conclusion. Each of the three experiences described below offers a lesson for the learning. (1) Moving individuals one at a time to change: Might significant change be brought about by encouraging individual anthropologists to gradually move toward greater social engagement in the hope that, over time, more and more of them will support this new paradigm? Let me explain the problem with this individual-based model of social change by referring to Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, one of the landmark books of the twentieth century. Kuhn suggests that scientific revolutions come about when a particular paradigm or framework for addressing an important set of problems is realized to be inadequate. A new paradigm arises that proves better at solving new problems (as well as the old ones) and gradually replaces the old paradigm. No French Revolution or storming of the Bastille erupts. Instead, writes Kuhn: Paradigm testing [or challenging of the existing paradigm] occurs only after persistent failure to solve a noteworthy puzzle has given rise to crisis. And even then it occurs only after the sense of crisis has evoked an alternative candidate for paradigm. . . . Testing occurs as part of the competition between two rival paradigms for the allegiance of the 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 135 scientific community. . . . Though a generation is sometimes required to effect the change, scientific communities have again and again been converted to new paradigms. There are two difficulties in applying Kuhn's model to anthropology. First, Kuhn views the normal state of science (between paradigm shifts) as focused on problem solving and progressing from one problem to another. But we saw in Chapter 2 that, while anthropologists address a whole array of interesting problems, they don't really "solve" them, except in a very narrow sense of the word. There is little progress because they tend to work on self-defined problems in self-selected locales. Second, Kuhn focuses on perspectives changing through time as various scientists see the new paradigm as better at solving certain problems and, as a result, offering a better path for advancing their careers. By contrast, I noted in Chapter 2 that many anthropologists advance their careers without changing the discipline's basic accountability and validation standards. The tendency to change trends over a ten- to twenty-year period without changing the discipline's central paradigm widens the potential for publication, making a basic paradigmatic shift unnecessary. At the heart of the difficulty is the individual-based model of change. Over time, Individuals gradually perceive one paradigm as better and embrace it. The problem for anthropology is that a minority of the discipline already embraces the perspective of a public anthropology; but, the minority can't draw the majority into embracing it as well. Let me offer a concrete example. The California Series in Public Anthropology encourages anthropologists to address major public concerns in ways that readers beyond the discipline find relevant. It has garnered prestige within the field of anthropology through the publication of a number of prominent scholars' work. As a way of expanding its efforts to address public concerns, the University of California Press, in association with the Center for a Public Anthropology, now sponsors an annual international competition that awards publishing contracts to the best graduate student (or pre-Ph.D.) as well as a best professional (or post-Ph.D.) proposal without requiring applicants as usually occurs to have completed a research project or specified manuscript. The post-Ph.D. category winner also receives $10,000. The winner in each category is selected based on (1) the public significance of the problem addressed, (2) the way the problem is approached, and (3) the author's ability to write for a public audience. The response to the competition has been positive. In 2008, four email "blasts" were sent out to over ten thousand individuals in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Roughly 6 percent of the addressees "clicked through" to key links to explore the email further . Since the usual click-through rate is 2 percent or less for email blasts, 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 136 this is impressive, particularly since it occurred four times in a row. In addition, the 2008 competition attracted 189 high-quality submissions. But wait. W hile 6 percent might be a comparatively large number and the number of submissions unusually high, the sample was over ten thousand. That means that only about 600 anthropologists were interested enough in the competition to click on a link to learn more about it. It also means that only about 2 percent of the individuals notified submitted a proposal. W hen examined from this perspective, the results are less impressive. Realistically, there seems to be little chance of the minority converting the majority toward a new disciplinary paradigm of engagement. The majority of anthropologists aren't terribly distressed by the limitations of the present system. They don't perceive the public anthropology paradigm as superior, if for no other reason than it doesn't significantly advance their career opportunities. (2) Encouraging change from within existing structures: Can one change existing disciplinary structures from within the structures themselves? As the following example illustrates, there is a strong tendency to persist with the status quo even when outside pressure is brought to bear. As the French saying has it, "Plus a change, plus c'est la mme chose" the more things change, the more they remain the same. This is what occurred in the case of the Yanomami controversy. (Readers unfamiliar with the Yanomami should note that they are among the best-known Amazonian Indian groups today through the writings of Napoleon Chagnon and the films of Timothy Asch.) The Yanomami controversy became public with the 2000 publication of Darkness in El Dorado: How Scientists and Journalists Devastated the Amazon by Patrick Tierney, a freelance journalist. Here is a sampling of what the media said. ABC News.com reported: "Another red-hot scientific scandal. This time anthropologists and geneticists are getting a noisy wakeup call." USA Today noted that the "face of anthropology stands riddled with charges that its practitioners engaged in genocide, criminality and scientific misconduct." Business Week noted: "Tierney makes a persuasive argument that anthropologists for several decades engaged in unethical practices." Because of this negative publicity, the American Anthropological Association felt forced to form a task force to assess Tierney's accusations. After much deliberation, the task force in a 2002 report decided that one set of accusations, directed against James Neel (sometimes called the father of modern genetics), were either disproved or left unresolved. The other set concerned the noted anthropologist Napoleon Chagnon. The task force left some of these accusations unresolved, but it did 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 137 agree that Chagnon had "violated Venezuelan laws . . . and involved him[self] in activities that endangered the health and wellbeing of the Yanomami." Though it condemned these violations publicly, the task force didn't suggest any punishment for them. The association's executive board accepted the task force's report with appreciation. In 2004, Thomas Gregor and Daniel Gross, two anthropological supporters of Chagnon, wrote an article in the American Anthropologist criticizing the task force's report in the strongest terms. Gregor and Gross called for a referendum to overturn the board's acceptance of the report. The referendum passed, wiping out the condemnation of Chagnon's behavior. More interesting than the result was the fact that only roughly 10 percent of the membership voted in the referendum despite the referendum's proponents and opponents working together sought broad participation in the referendum. Did the Yanomami controversy induce disciplinary change? Despite years of bitter disciplinary debate and the negative publicity relating to Tierney's accusations, there has been, basically, a reversion to the status quo. All that really changed was that, for a while, people talked about doing something about the violations or about the discipline's code of ethics. But no significant concrete change took place. Once the media moved on from the Yanomami controversy, anthropologists basically went back to their old ways. (3) Focusing on decision makers invested in a position: Following in the footsteps of Amnesty International, the 1977 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, students participating in The Center for a Public Anthropology's Community Action W ebsite Project use a "multiplier" effect to facilitate change. W here ten faculty seeking to bring to public light self-serving behavior might go unnoticed by the media, thousands of students bringing the same self-serving behavior to public light would more likely to attract attention. To date, the Community Action Website has been less successful than hoped. One letter-writing campaign, growing out of the Yanomami controversy, seeks the repatriation of Yanomami blood samples, stored in American laboratories, to the tribe. (The Yanomami want their deceased relatives' blood samples so their relatives can be properly buried. W ithout the return of the blood, the Yanomami believe that their relatives will be forced to roam this world in a suffering, shadowy state.) The second project encourages funding agencies and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to request public reports from the researchers they fund to specify, after their research, in what ways or to what degree the supported research benefited those studied. 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 138 Only President Graham Spanier of Pennsylvania State University responded positively to the students' letters. He passed the request on to the university's executive vice president and provost, who publicly committed the university to returning the blood samples. All the other requests received negative responses. Interestingly, the negative replies followed the same basic pattern. First, the letters affirmed the moral uprightness of the individual and/or institution. Examples that had nothing to do with the request were offered in this regard. Second, some detail in the request was questioned to cast doubt on the overall request. Sometimes it was tangential to the request itself; sometimes the challenge was vaguely worded so that it was unclear exactly what the concern was. Third, the replies affirmed in various phrases the letter writers' own ethical behavior regarding the discussed situation. And fourth, after expressing appreciation for the students' concern, they rejected their request. The Community Action Website's limited success to date suggests that more is needed than simply bringing private selfinterest to public light. The focus needs to be on attracting the right people's attention. Not all those who received the students' letters were open to change. That was clear in respect to the cultural anthropology program director for the National Science Foundation and the acting director for the Office for Human Research Protections, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In both cases, students were asking for the enforcement of existing regulations. But in personal conversations, these individuals seemed to pass over that point, preferring to stress their bureaucratic power to interpret the regulations as they saw fit. W e were talking past each other. Contrast these reactions with that of Pennsylvania's President Spanier. The difference in structural positions is critical. As university president, he wasn't involved in the problem the students were raising. It probably didn't matter to him one way or another whether the Yanomami blood samples were returned. But he was sensitive to the negative publicity his institution might incur if he didn't address the students' concern. The moral of the story? The Community Action W ebsite Project is more likely to succeed when it focuses on the people at the top who are most concerned with maintaining positive publicity for their organization. ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ 4:7 Question: Based on the insights drawn from various chapters in the book as well as the experiences highlighted in the previous section, how do you now plan to proceed? ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 139 4:7 Short Answer: Throughout this book, I have tried to address two audiences at once. Introductory students and the general public have been encouraged to focus on the short answers to questions. Advanced anthropology students and teachers have been encouraged to read the longer answers as well. But I should separate these two audiences, in outlining a strategy for the future. Introductory students and the general public presumably aren't committing themselves for the long haul to the years it may take to bring real change. Still, their help is essential. Let me highlight the role introductory students and the general public can play in this short answer section. In the longer answer I'll then move on to the role advanced anthropology students and teachers can play. To the introductory anthropology students reading this book, let me say this: Never doubt your importance in bringing about change. In a way, you are the driving force behind it. Since you aren't yet formally committed to the discipline, you are less committed to preserving the anthropological status quo. Through the Community Action W ebsite Project you facilitate the media campaigns that form the foundation of the strategy outlined below. Following the examples of Chapter 3, the op-ed pieces you write will prove central to increasing transparency and accountability. Because of your numbers and your wide networks beyond the discipline, you are able to facilitate change in ways few others can. Presumably you will take various introductory classes. People usually learn about a discipline by reading a text and memorizing facts. But helping to transform the discipline will teach you more about it than any introductory course. This book and the Community Action Website Project constitute an experiential way of learning. You learn by doing, and by facilitating change. Participating in this more experiential approach is a heady, exciting experience but then, anthropology is an exciting discipline. For the general public, the longer answer offers suggestive strategies for change. Skim or read through them at whatever speed you wish. Having come this far, you will see how I attempt to draw the book's various themes together. You, too, are critical to changing the discipline. By discussing its dynamics in public settings, you facilitate transparency. W ithout transparency there is no accountability, only self-serving assertions covered by an obscuring veil of rhetoric. Let me briefly list the five strategies to facilitate disciplinary change that are covered in the longer answer: (1) Create alternative structures to avoid depending on current structures to facilitate change. (2) Use status competitions to highlight model departments oriented toward social engagement. (3) Facilitate transparency so the broader public is able to understand the 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 140 discipline's dynamics and, through understanding them, encourage greater social accountability. (4) In seeking out help to facilitate change, work with individuals not directly tied to the problem being addressed. (5) Offer concrete examples of effective social engagement so anthropologists have models to guide them. ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ 4:7 Longer Answer: Uncertainty surrounds the five strategies described here. Some may work, some may not. But we will only learn which do by trying them out and the assessing the results. (1) Organize Create New Structures to Avoid Depending on Old Ones: One should not depend on structures one is seeking to reform to facilitate the reform. Creating new structures independent of those embedded in the existing system thus makes sense. The problem is, episodic pressure is ineffective, as we saw with the case of the Yanomami Controversy. W hatever structures are created need endure through time. That means the structures need to be financially stable. The Center for a Public Anthropology is in the midst of becoming what Muhammad Yunus, who won the Nobel Prize for his work with microloans, terms a "social business." Quoting Yunus, a social business is "operated in accordance with management principles just like a traditional . . . [business, but] a social business aims for full cost recovery . . . even as it concentrates on creating . . . services that provide a social benefit. It pursues this goal by charging a price or fee for the . . . services it creates." As the Center's director, I have a reasonable university salary; I don't need be paid. Directing the Center is simply part of my social service. The Center's main costs then involve website development and maintenance. These are winding down, now that most of the critical software for the Center's projects is written, so most of the funds collected from the Website Project can be used to fund the Center's projects. The goal is to avoid the pitfalls of many small non-profits that spend large amounts of energy requesting donations and exist on a financial shoestring. Yunus observes "there is a built-in ceiling to the reach and effectiveness of nonprofit organizations. The need to constantly raise funds from donors uses up the time and energy of nonprofit leaders, when they should be planning the growth and expansion of their programs." He suggests "the very nature of these organizations as defined by society makes . . . [it] virtually impossible" that many can make substantial progress in battling specific social problems. Another advantage of a social business is that unlike certain non-profits (referred to as "C3's" in the United States because of their specification in the 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 141 tax code), the Center is free to advocate and lobby at will. It isn't under any restrictions regarding what it can and can't do in terms of outreach, education, and mobilization. Being a social business allows the Center to retain its financial and political independence from the "powers that be" within the discipline. As noted in Chapter 3, Secretary Margaret Spellings encountered problems in trying to bring accountability to American universities because she depended on their goodwill in providing the data she needed to assess them. (She might have circumvented them by using the NSSE assessments and focusing on public universities.) The Center is in the process of establishing another structure, the Graduate Student Network for Public Anthropology. In the beginning it will involve a graduate student representative in most doctoral granting American anthropology departments. (Once established, it will widen the scope of the schools involved.) The Graduate Student Network will provide a support structure, reaching across schools, that encourages graduate students interested in public anthropology to not only collaborate with and support one another, but to organize their own public anthropology initiatives. Most of the trends discussed in Chapter 2 involved one or two departments pushing a particular perspective across the discipline through their graduate students. The model for this was Franz Boas, who came to dominate the discipline as his students gained faculty positions in many of the leading departments. Postmodernism sought an age-set alliance among junior faculty seeking to open up new publishing possibilities. The Graduate Student Network seeks to open up new publishing possibilities, new faculty positions, and new initiatives centered on public anthropology for a range of graduate students across a range of schools. W here junior faculty are often caught up in the politics of tenure having to please senior faculty who will pass on their applications graduate students are under less constraint in this regard. They are freer to facilitate change in their departments, across departments, and throughout the discipline as a whole. (2) Practicing Aikido Use Existing Structures to Facilitate Change: In aikido, you use the other person's momentum to your advantage. We can do the same thing here, by using the faculty/department status chase to facilitate change. I noted in Chapter 2 that the way the chase for status was framed limited intellectual progress. But I added that the fault wasn't in the status chase itself, but in the form it takes. So why not change the terms of the status chase to facilitate change? The Center for a Public Anthropology's Public Outreach Assessment uses status competitions between anthropology departments to encourage greater social engagement. The Assessment allows various individuals outside a particular 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 142 department to assess that department's public outreach efforts efforts to reach beyond the university to address public concerns. A preliminary, dry-run assessment was conducted in 2006 with full-time anthropology faculty. Each assessor was randomly assigned four graduate departments to examine. They then ranked these departments in terms of their public outreach. Of the 3,551 anthropologists offered a opportunity to participate, 1,428 did (slightly more than 40 percent). The rankings were sent to department chairs, deans, and university presidents. They were also published on the publicanthropology.org website. Having refined the assessment process, a more formal assessment will be conducted in Spring, 2010. The expectation is that from 2010 forward, the assessment will be conducted bi-annually. Unlike the 2006 dry run, where the assessors were only full-time anthropology professors, the 2010 and subsequent assessments will draw from both within and beyond the discipline to include not only anthropologists but members of the media, legislators, and public officials. The hope is that if those outside the academy participate in the assessment process, they may take an active interest in the Public Outreach Assessment's results. The preliminary Outreach Assessment proved moderately successful. As noted, roughly 40 percent of the full-time faculty participated. W hile low by certain voting standards, this is comparatively high for anthropology. (The American Anthropological Association has elected presidents with only approximately 7 percent of the membership voting. The highest participation rate the Association has ever achieved in a survey was 25 percent.) Some highly ranked departments made much of their rankings. Michigan State, for example, proclaims its number-one ranking on its departmental website. I know of one department in the University of California system that gained a new faculty position mostly because of its high public outreach ranking. Being highly ranked also attracted the notice of important university administrators (most notably Derek Bok, then acting president of Harvard University, and Robert Dynes, then President of the University of California System). (3) Opening Doors and Windows: This strategy builds on Justice Brandeis's quote that in public matters, "sunlight is the best disinfectant." The most important part of this strategy is a $30,000 per year media campaign to bring the Center's initiatives to public attention, starting in 2009-2010. The public is interested in academics addressing public concerns, but it's unwise to rely solely on free publicity, which is too uncertain. The yearly media campaigns will seek to broaden public interest in facilitating 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 143 accountability within anthropology. Reaching out to the public may also attract the attention of university administrators eager to advance the status of their universities. The first media campaign will be focused on the repatriation of the Yanomami blood. W here students involved in the W ebsite Project once wrote letters, in the Amnesty International pattern, the Project will switch to students writing editorial opinion pieces. I hope the op-ed pieces can be pushed across the Internet and related media to reach a broad, international audience. The media campaign will be entwined with the student's op-eds encouraging a multiplier effect with each supporting and complimenting the other's message. By itself, the Public Outreach Assessment Project's rankings may not bring significant change. But if the rankings are widely publicized through a media campaign, they might. The campaign will seek to put the assessment results in the hands of legislators, public officials, and the media. (Anthropology departments in public universities will have their rankings sent to members of their state legislatures.) (4) Moving From Top Down: The problem with the W ebsite Project in the past, as noted, was letters were directed to decision makers who didn't want to rock the bureaucratic boat with decisions they would be responsible for. The W ebsite Project is now redirecting its efforts to focus on officials at higher bureaucratic levels, officials concerned with the public image of their institutions. As we saw in the Pennsylvania State University example, its president had something to lose by having the problem the students' highlighted put before the state legislature and the general public. In contrast, the affected faculty member had no such concern. The president had little difficulty telling administrators below him to follow up on the request. There is reason to believe the pattern can be repeated again especially when supported by the $30,000/year media campaigns. (5) Modeling the Possible: The California Series in Public Anthropology will continue with its annual Public Anthropology Publishing Competitions. The hope is to move from the traditional model of publishing waiting for completed manuscripts to arrive to actively helping shape more socially conscious, publicly oriented manuscripts. Since the competition rewards the best proposed manuscripts (rather than completed ones), winning authors need not "cover their bets" by aiming at both academic as well as public audiences. They can focus on a public audience knowing they already have a contract in hand. Also the series editors can work with authors as they write their manuscripts. I hope the Series will become a model for what anthropologists can and should do in their publications. ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 144 4:8 Question: Journalists are often reminded to tell the reader what they are going to say, to say it, and then tell the reader what they have said. You outlined what you were going to tell the reader in the book's preface. In the book's four chapters you made the points you wished to make. Can you now briefly summarize what you told us, what are the critical points readers should take away from the book? ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ 4:8 Answer: The book's central point is that anthropology is embedded in certain structures that shape its dynamics. To date, these structures have limited the intellectual development of cultural anthropology (which constitutes two-thirds of the discipline). If the structures are altered to facilitate greater transparency and social accountability anthropology could become a more socially engaged discipline, helping to transform the world for the better (as outlined in Chapter 3). The book's underlying question is how to facilitate this change. W hile not discouraging efforts to bring incremental change individual by individual, the book asserts the need to involve the larger society in the transformation process to move from the rhetoric of social accountability to the practice of it. Let me review the key points of each chapter. Chapter 1 provided an overview of anthropology the social structure within which the discipline is embedded and the discipline's key methodological tools contextual and comparative analysis as well as its appealing vision of tolerance. Critical to the chapter was an analysis of how the social structure within which academic anthropology is embedded not only shapes the discipline's self-definition but also defines objectivity in terms of apolitical perspectives and limited social engagement. Positively, we saw the power of anthropologists such as Franz Boas, Margaret Mead, and Paul Farmer to address important social problems. The Chapter 2 suggested that cultural anthropology has made limited intellectual progress over the last sixty-plus years not a particularly popular notion to many anthropologists. As a result, the chapter spent considerable time detailing the data leading to that conclusion. (Still further data are provided in the footnotes.) After describing the ways anthropologists usually define disciplinary progress, it examined five popular trends dating from the 1930s up to 2000. It suggested in respect to the five trends examined, despite hundreds of publications and the spending of thousands of research dollars, they produced significantly less intellectual progress than hoped. In seeking to explain why this occurred, the chapter considered the disciplinary chase for status and how anthropologists often work the system to advance their careers. The problem, the chapter 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. Thomas, Sarah - thoma197@unr.nevada.edu 145 suggested, didn't lie with the status chase per se, but with the loose accountability and validation standards within the discipline. They encourage an entrepreneurial flair that generates a number of exciting possibilities but little cumulative progress. Chapter 3 suggested that anthropology's methodological mainstays contextual and comparative analysis could play important roles in addressing important social problems. Different readers presumably were intrigued by different possibilities. W hether you were concerned about spending trillions of dollars on foreign aid with mixed results, the loss of thousands upon thousands of American and Vietnamese lives, and/or the high cost of higher education today, anthropology's two central methodologies offered ways to insightfully and effectively address the issue involved. Anthropology by itself, the chapter noted, can't force change. But it can speak truth to power in ways that serve the common good increasing transparency and thereby enforcing greater social accountability in important institutions. Chapter 4 reflects on how to facilitate disciplinary change striving to move anthropology from the intellectual styles discussed in Chapter 2 to those referred to in Chapter 3. On a positive note, the chapter indicates the concept of a public anthropology has been embraced by many. Less positively, the chapter observes that public anthropology is but one of many repeated efforts at social engagement which, to date, have languished after initially enthusiasm for them. The question, given the academic structures poised against social engagement, is this: Can public anthropology break out of this waxing and waning pattern? Maybe, suggests the chapter. It offers five strategies for trying to break free of the structures that benefit some certain individuals, departments, and universities but not the larger society nor the discipline of anthropology. The chapter offers an uncertain hope. But it also offers a commitment. Change takes learning from past experiences and innovating until the problems are overcome. It takes persistence. It takes time. Certainly the Center and those who support this change agenda would appreciate your help (see, for example, the Center's W ebsite Project at www.publicanthropology.net). W orking together, we might well bring the change so desperately needed for the good of the larger society as well as the discipline. 7752672691, 7757811231 2860 San Gabriel 89423 This document is licensed, for viewing and commenting only, to Sarah Thomas. The terms of the license forbid Sarah Thomas from distributing this document to others or making this document publicly viewable or available. ...
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