September 2, 2021
Sharon B. Gmelch
Dr. Sharon Gmelch, University of San Francisco and Union College, gives an illustrated talk about her return to Ireland to interview Irish Travellers, an indigenous nomadic minority group, and about the changes that have occurred in their culture since her first field work among them in 1971-72. The use of fieldwork photographs taken by George Gmelch proved to be an effective way to get Travellers to reflect on their changed lives. The results of this research were published in 2014 as Irish Travellers: An Unsettled Life. A documentary film was also made about Sharon and George’s return research.
Sharon Bohn Gmelch earned a PhD in cultural anthropology at the University of California at Santa Barbara. Her interests include visual anthropology, gender, ethnicity, and tourism. She is the author of ten books, including Nan: The Life of an Irish Travelling Woman (1986/91), which was a finalist for anthropology’s Margaret Mead award, and The Tlingit Encounter with Photography (2008). She also co-produced an ethnographic film on the Tlingit. She has conducted research in Ireland, Barbados, Alaska, and the Napa Valley, and published Tasting the Good Life: Wine Tourism in the Napa Valley (2011, with George Gmelch). Her most recent book is In the Field: Life and Work in Cultural Anthropology (2018, with George Gmelch).
The year 2010 marked the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Association of Senior Anthropologists (ASA) as part of the American Anthropological Association (AAA). The late William B Schwab (see obituary) was the first president of ASA. In Anthropology Newsletter, May 1990, Professor Schwab reported the organization of ASA at the 1989 AAA annual meeting in Washington (see ASA founding story).
According to AAA office records, ASA was accepted as a “unit” of the AAA at the AAA Executive Committee meeting of May 13-14, 1990, and became a “section” of AAA in 1994.
Richard Lobban has written a personal remembrance of former president Schwab especially for ASA. Read Now
Please read the full article here
History Seen through the Annual Meetings of the American Anthropological Association, 1955-2005, Project Muse Website
Herbert S. Lewis
There are those who celebrate the radical transformation of anthropology, those who mourn it, and those for whom it is unknown ancient history. The world of cultural and social anthropology was turned upside down long ago, but this great transformation has not begun to be documented.1 In this chapter I want to offer a brief account of when and under what circumstances the momentous changes that produced a radically different discipline began.
The Association of Senior Anthropologists sponsored a session for the 2004 annual meeting of the AAA with the title “The 1960s Radical Restructuring of Anthropology: The Making of Anthropology as We Know It.” In the abstract, Paul Doughty asked, “To what degree did the 60s counter-culture zeitgeist contribute” to the “restructuring of anthropology[?].”
I contend that it had everything to do with the transformation of American anthropology. Without the ’60s as we knew and lived them, ours would be a very different intellectual and professional world. I shall attempt to document this claim through a chronological investigation of the programs of the annual meetings of the AAA, especially through the crucial years from 1965 to the early 1970s, drawing upon the programs and abstracts of those years as well as on my own memory of the events and the zeitgeist. But first I must briefly characterize the nature of the major transformations that I will discuss.
There have been many aspects to the restructurings and transformations of American anthropology over the past four decades; of course, not the least of which is the remarkable growth in the size of the field and the degree of diversification this has entailed. But the ones that I want to focus on involve both the practice of cultural anthropology (social anthropology, ethnology, ethnography) and an ethos, a mentalité, a mindset, a general disposition. Anthropology and anthropologists have been profoundly affected by the same forces that have influenced so much of American, European, and world intellectual life, of course-those we sometimes abbreviate as “the posts.” But these developments have taken a special form in our case.
This practice and this mindset are not universal but they do pervade the work of many contemporary anthropologists and have come to characterize the field at its commanding heights. Whereas until the mid-1960s American anthropology-the four-field variety-was conceived of as an “objective” (“positivistic”) science, since anthropology’s newest revolution the very notions of positivism, objectivity, and science itself are not only questioned but are-in some quarters-considered impossibilities at best, lies and tools of hegemonic domination at worst.2 Consequently, the nature of research, the character of publication, and the tone of much public discourse in anthropology, has to a considerable extent shifted, from one of putatively, perhaps mistakenly, disinterested and nonjudgmental scholarship to one of open engagement, judgment, and, sometimes, unabashed partisanship.3
Pre-1960s anthropologists have been criticized for their failure to deal with issues of conflict and inequality; current anthropology is obsessed with these. The prevalence of domination, oppression, resistance, victimhood, violence, and suffering is inescapable today in anthropology. This is evident everywhere from introductory courses (see, e.g., Columbia and the University of California-Berkeley [Lewis 2008b]) to the pages of the leading journals and books. The interrogation of hegemonic discourses, and discussions of “race,” gender, sexuality, the body, and identity, resulting in the unmasking of unpleasantness and unhappiness, has been raised to a dominant position.4 The ubiquity of domination and oppression has become foundational for a good portion of social and cultural anthropology, and our field serves as one more site for the “hermeneutics of suspicion,” along with literary theory, critical theory, cultural studies, postcolonial studies, certain forms of feminist theory, and other cognate trends.5
Nor is this merely a matter of the choice of topic and the framework for analysis; from the very beginning, critical anthropologists trained their sights on the moral failings of the field itself, and they were joined enthusiastically by many writers from outside the discipline. As a result we have long lived within a “culture of self-accusation and self-doubt” (Gregor and Gross 2004:696).
On the one hand the very nature of the field is questioned and considerable effort is expended on the discovery of anthropological malefactors and wrongdoing throughout history. (Just consider Darkness in El Dorado [e.g., Tierney 2000; Borofsky 2005], the Great Kalahari Debate [Kuper 1993], or the tormented tale of the Tasaday [Headland 1992].) On the other hand our students must worry constantly about their own possible “complicity,” and question whether the central activity of ethnographic fieldwork-let alone the publication of the results-is not itself immoral. The evidence for these claims is readily available in our journals, newsletters, the catalogs of leading publishers, course listings, and-as I shall demonstrate-the programs and abstracts of the annual meetings of the American Anthropological Association. It would be tiresome to list examples; all one needs to do is peruse the tables of contents of our journals over the past few years. American Ethnologist, Cultural Anthropology, Anthropological Quarterly, Critique of Anthropology, or the catalogs of the leading university publishers or Routledge and Blackwell are but a few.6 If one were to judge by the letters, debates, and short articles in Anthropology Newsletter one might get the impression that the profession of anthropology has become in large measure an arena of politics and politicized discourse. Above all, the reality of these powerful agonistic and antagonistic strains is most apparent in the sessions and the papers of recent annual meetings of the American Anthropological Association, especially those of the past decade. In this paper I shall document trends and crucial moments in this historic shift by looking at programs of the annual meetings of the American Anthropological Association from 1955 to 1974.
The Revolution in Anthropology
The great changes in American anthropology were set in motion for reasons that are exogenous to the discipline: they followed as a direct result of the events and crises of the 1960s.7 Anthropology is only one of a number of academic fields and intellectual pursuits to be affected in this way, of course, but it may be that anthropology has been the most deeply, drastically, and permanently altered. The upheavals of the second half of the 1960s, above all the war in Vietnam, the epic struggles of the civil rights movement, the growth of feminist activism and theory, and identity politics in general led directly to the nature of today’s anthropology through their impact on college and university campuses in that period.8
Let me briefly catalog a few of the events and developments of that era because it is easy to forget, and there may be some readers not old enough to remember. The war in Vietnam, of course, affected the greatest number of students-between the war on the TV screen, military service for hundreds of thousands of young men and active and passive “draft-dodging” for millions of others; the exciting-sometimes inspiring, sometimes dispiriting-demonstrations, and the organizations against the draft and the war. There was a sense of solidarity within the generation and of alienation from the older generation and “society” at large. There was the excitement and the not infrequent shock of the conflicts with the police, state troopers, and National Guard, topped off by the killings at Kent State. And there were bombs, such as those that blew up Sterling Hall in Madison and destroyed the bomb makers and several buildings in Greenwich Village.
On the theoretical and intellectual side, it was (almost) a natural consequence that students with their consciousness raised would doubt what their elders said and taught and would be attracted to “Third World solidarity,” Marxism, anti-colonialism, anti-capitalism, anti-bourgeoisie-ism, and-in a remarkable display of misunderstanding and selfdeception-” worker solidarity.” How could the students who traveled from Berkeley and Wisconsin and Columbia to Paris to participate in the events of the exciting summer of 1968 have failed to pick up some of the French infection? The Americans gave advice on tactics to use against the police and the French gave advice on tactics to use against their professors.
Bernard E. Brown (1974:209-211) describes the prevailing ideologies of the protesters in Paris in the summer of 1968. Aside from the “orthodox Marxists-including Trotskyists and Maoists” there was the ideology of “anarcho-surrealism,” which he describes as “the ideology of total, unyielding resistance to modernization in all of its aspects. Every feature of modern society is repudiated, or called into question . . . : the centralized state, hierarchy, bureaucracy, division of labor, science, technology, assembly lines, urban living, rationality, and organization.” The latter represents the ideological and political context for the “rise” of Foucault, with his repudiation of the notion of “normality” of any sort. The Marxist and the “anarcho-surrealist” perspectives continue their contest in anthropology as in current scholarship more generally.9
There was the impact of the civil rights movement, on both Black students and white. Some “sat in,” some went on “freedom rides,” and many more watched the events on television. They saw the speeches of demagogic politicians such as George Wallace, Orval Faubus, and Lester Maddox, and the actions of the police with their dogs, as well as the angry white southerners in general.10 There was the bombing by segregationists that took the lives of four little girls in a Sunday school class in a church in Birmingham, Alabama and the murders of civil rights activists Medgar Evers; Viola Liuzzo; and the young James Chaney, Michael Schwerner, and Andrew Goodman (who had entered Queens College in pursuit of a graduate degree in anthropology).11 These killings were topped off by the assassination of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968.
This was, of course, the time of the “counter-culture,” with Paul Goodman Growing Up Absurd (1960), Charles A. Reich greening America (1970), Timothy Leary and the early Baba Ram Dass stoning America (“Turn on, tune in, drop out”), as well as of the new musical cultures created by Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, the Beatles (and John Lennon alone), the Grateful Dead, the Rolling Stones and so many more.12
Add the sexual revolution to this and it was one exhilarating time. To be young was very heaven!-unless it was hell. These were the “years of hope” that turned into the “days of rage” (Gitlin ), and there was a terrible sense of betrayal as peaceful demonstrations and intellectual arguments, begun in hope, were met with resistance and even violence. There was a natural progression from sit-ins, lie-ins, teach-ins, and other peaceful demonstrations to more violent actions and much more radical rhetoric and organization. Student demonstrations led to Students for a Democratic Society and then the Weathermen, and from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference) and Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee to threatening demonstrations, with non-negotiable demands for Black studies and Black dormitories; and then came the Black Panthers. These are the years also of “La Raza” the growth of Chicano activism, strikes and grape boycotts, as well as of new Indian organizations, of the American Indian Movement, and Custer Died for Your Sins (Deloria 1969).
The continuing Cold War threatened nuclear annihilation, and antinuclear and peace demonstrations led by women were held in Britain and elsewhere. The rapidly growing feminist movement influenced every aspect of academia as young women with raised consciousness moved into academic positions in greater numbers, often at the forefront of new trends.
Some of our students were in the forefront of these movements, and most were affected by them. The legacies of those days-of anger, suspicion, disappointment, and the sense of betrayal-led directly to many of the key discourses of anthropology today. While some older members of the profession participated in “the radical turn,” it was the university students who were most affected. Possibly this development is obvious to a crowd of “seniors” (the paper was delivered at a session organized by the Association of Senior Anthropologists), but I haven’t seen it discussed explicitly with reference to anthropology and I think it is worth investigating.13
Tracking the Transformation through the Annual Meetings
The annual meetings of the AAA are an excellent source for gauging the state of the field at any given time because they are more or less open to all serious practitioners, including both established professionals in and out of academia, and, increasingly, graduate students. They offer a much larger sample and yet a more limited and bounded universe than do the corpus of books and articles published over the same period. They are much better than textbooks for this purpose, of course, because textbooks must present common denominator conventional wisdom of a field rather than what people are doing research on and writing about at the moment.14
The papers and sessions at the annual meetings offer a timelier barometer because the lag between the proposal for a paper and its presentation is less than a year. This is certainly not true of journal articles and books, which also present the problem of editorial selection and peer reviews. The journals can only represent a much smaller part of the work being done in the profession at any time, and they are presided over by editors and editorial boards with their own points of view, determining to some extent what is timely and cutting edge. A sampling of the programs of the AAA meetings obviates these problems.
The most obvious and easily acknowledged fact about the changes in anthropology over this half century is the growth in size and scope of the discipline. It required a scant 6 pages to list the 22 sessions and the 120 or so papers on the program for the 1955 meetings.15 The program for the 2005 meetings consists of 258 much larger pages and features about 3,400 presenters in perhaps 550 sessions. The changes in substance, ethos, and outlook on display at the annual meetings have not been discussed, however. Here is a brief look at one of the most striking changes.
Boston, 1955, vs. Chicago, Atlanta, and Washington, 2003-05
The AAA in 1955 met jointly with the American Association of Physical Anthropology, the American Ethnological Society, the Society for American Archeology, and the Society for Applied Anthropology.16 The sessions for cultural anthropology carried such simple and basic titles as “Culture and Personality”; “Primitive Law”; “Culture Change”; “Theory and Method”; “Kinship”; “Anthropology and Public Health”; “Value Systems”; “American Indian Acculturation and Culture Change”; “Ethno-musicology”; “Recent Developments in Ethnolinguistics”; “Psycholinguistics”; “Glottochronology”; “Religion”; “Dryland Asia: Man, 206 The Radical Transformation of Anthropology Culture, and Environment”; “Political Organization”; “Culture Historical Theory”; and “General Ethnology.”
The titles of the papers tended to be bland as well, and almost totally lacking in subtitles: “State Formation in Negro Africa,” “Cloth in the Social Context of the Inca State,” “Chukchi Trade,” “Survival of the Soul on Truk,” “Bachiga Social Structure,” “Marital Stability and the Mother-Child Relationship on Yap,” and “A Case of Event-centered Observation: Epiphany in Abyssinia”-a rather long title for those days.
The simplicity-almost naïveté-of the titles of sessions and papers in 1955 contrasts starkly with ones from 2003 through 2005. Consider, for example, sessions such as “Suffering and Belonging: Displacement and the Production of Idioms of Pain and Resilience” (03-0-055);17 “Symbols of Division and Markers of (Dis)order: Gated Communities as Fortified Spaces in a Neo-colonial World” (03-053); “Demystifying Policy and Praxis: Writing the Last Chapter” (04-2-025); “Storming the Ivory Tower: Anthropology and the Re-imagination of the Academy” (04-2-048); “Good Missionary, Bad Missionary: Rethinking the Missionary Position in the Americas” (04-2-026); “‘Immaterial Labor’ Revisited: Ethnographies of Transnational Labor, Sex, and Desire” (04-1-121); “Victims, Perpetrators and Narratives of Violence: Negotiating Past Conflicts in the Making of Present Communities” (05-4-066); “Anthropologists and Their Subjects: Challenges to Anthropological Practices in the Maya Area” (04-1-122); “Enduring Inequalities: Violence, Memory, Social Suffering and the Body in Contemporary Latin America” (05-2-034); “Subaltern Groups, Power, and Memory in the Americas” (05-2-041); “Biomedicalized Bodies and the Body Politic in Philadelphia” (05-2-127); and, more simply, “Disciplining Motherhood” (03-0-054); and “Memories of Violence” (05-4-017). The titles of individual papers in the sessions are likely to be even longer and more vivid, promising deconstructions and revelations of domination, violence, resistance, or suffering.
This is just the smallest selection of such sessions. On only two pages of the 2003 abstracts (36-37), seven out of eight sessions are of this sort. A few words from their titles impart some of the extent and tone of the change: “terrified world,” “displacement and violence,” “neoliberal economic discourse,” “sex tourism,” “fear and loathing,” “decolonizing.”
The topic index in the programs, based on “key words supplied by the authors” is another source offering a crude indication of the interests of today’s anthropologist. The most popular terms are readily visible. In 2003 these clustered in the general areas of politics, violence, and power; identity, subjectivity, gender, sexuality, etc.; and globalization, transnationalism modernity. These are crude and impressionistic counts, but they give a rough but reasonable indication of what is of interest these days.
If we look at the history of the annual meetings of the AAA we can trace the rapid and increasing introduction of politicized concerns and the escalation of anger year after year. In the next section I shall briefly touch on some of the political developments between 1965 and 1973.
The Immediate Social and Political Context of the 1960s
American military involvement in Vietnam began on a small scale, almost unnoticed, in 1962, and slowly grew over the next three years. By 1964 it had hit the headlines and the televisions screens and in 1965 there were the first teach-ins and sit-in demonstrations on university campuses.18 From this point on there was an escalation (a word that gained popularity at this time) on both the war front and the home front (see Maraniss 2003 for a parallel history, set in October 1967, with the home front represented by the “Dow Day” demonstrations at University of Wisconsin-Madison and the war front by terrible combat in Vietnam). As the war got bloodier and bloodier and its futility more and more evident, so the anti-war activity on college campuses became more and more passionate and violent.
During the same years the continuing struggle for civil and human rights by African Americans also reached a new level of activity, prominence, and passion. Rosa Parks had refused to move to the back of the bus in late 1955, leading to the Montgomery bus boycott, and young people had started the sit-in protests in the South in 1960. The “freedom rides” started in 1961, and by 1963 police brutality became obvious to the world; Medgar Evers was murdered; and Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I have a dream” speech before 250 thousand people at the March on Washington assembly on the Mall in Washington. In 1964 the three young civil rights workers were murdered and secretly buried in Philadelphia, Mississippi, and 1965 was marked by such dramatic events as the Selma to Montgomery (Alabama) march and the brutality of the Montgomery police seen all over the world on television. The increasingly visible and popular Malcolm X was assassinated. And there were major urban uprisings (also called riots) in African American sections of America’s great cities: in 1964 in Harlem and Bedford-Stuyvesant, 1965 in the Watts section of Los Angeles, and in Detroit in 1967.
African American students were angry, mobilized, and increasingly organized (e.g., the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee) and often made common cause with white students concerned about the war and civil rights. The American Indian Movement was born in Minneapolis in 1968 and gained prominence when a group of its members took over and occupied the fabled island prison, Alcatraz (1969-71), which was followed by 1973’s ten-week occupation and siege at the town of Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge Oglala Lakota reservation in South Dakota. La Raza and the United Farm Workers movement, led by César Chavez and Dolores Huerta, among others, were visible to activists by 1963 but really hit the headlines with the 1965 Great Delano Grape Strike, when good people everywhere were urged to forego buying and eating grapes.
The Berkeley Free Speech Movement, begun in 1964 by students who had been working in the south on civil rights projects, disrupted the Berkeley campus and annoyed Governor Pat Brown. They set a very high standard for later student causes, with sit-ins, lie-ins, great rallies, arrests, Joan Baez and (later) Phil Ochs, James Baldwin, James Foreman, the civil rights leader, and the independent journalist I.F. Stone.19
The issues that were of greatest importance to women, who made up a good proportion of the community of anthropologists even then, were gaining prominence at the same moment, and the women’s liberation movement was in motion. Bella Abzug helped organize Women Strike for Peace in 1961; Betty Friedan published The Feminine Mystique in 1963 and founded the National Organization of Women in 1966; the “Women’s Strike for Equality” took place in 1970. The literature exploded with such books as Kate Millett’s Sexual Politics (1970) and many others-although the books of Evelyn Reed, such as Woman’s Evolution from Matriarchal Clan to Patriarchal Family (1975), that drew heavily on Marx and Engels and the trope of cultural evolution, did not appear until the mid-1970s, along with such important works of feminist anthropology and women’s studies as Rosaldo and Lamphere’s Woman, Culture, and Society (1974).
During this same period, through the 1960s and into the 1970s, the political struggles of peoples under colonial rule came to the notice of the politically aware public, and many young anthropologists paid particular attention. It was the decade in which the great majority of the colonies in Africa gained their independence-but there were continuing struggles (sometime armed ones) against the Portuguese colonial rulers in Angola, Mozambique, and Portuguese Guinea (Guinea-Bissau today); as well as in British Central Africa (Nyasaland, Northern and Southern Rhodesia); Algeria; and, of course, South Africa. This was the social and political context of the meetings of the AAA from the mid-1960s; one could say that the rebellions within anthropology that ensued were over-determined.
Investigation of the AAA programs from 1955 to 1961 reveals no hint of what was to come, but as early as 1962, Margaret Mead presided at a luncheon on “Research on Conditions of Disarmament and Peace” (in the immediate wake of the Women’s Strike for Peace in 1961). In 1963 there was a session on “The Culture of Poverty,” with only two papers (by Richard Slobodin and D. P. Sinha),20 and John Collier, who had been Commissioner of Indian Affairs during the New Deal era, chaired a panel on “Indians of the US-The Right and Possibility of Self-Determination.” At least two of the participants, D’Arcy McNickle and George Heron, were Indians themselves; other participants included Nancy O. Lurie, and Sol Tax. (The number of sessions had grown to seventy by this year-but there were no discussants.)
The course of events that brought us to our current situation may have begun in Denver in 1965, when Marshall Sahlins, so often at the forefront of new developments, delivered a scathing attack on the misbegotten and stillborn “Project Camelot” and on the idea that any anthropologists might be associated with covert research anywhere in the world on behalf of American political interests. Project Camelot was dealt with extensively in The Rise and Fall of Project Camelot (Horowitz 1967), and that volume includes the paper delivered by Sahlins at the meetings. The Camelot Affair was an immediate sensation and became a symbol for the involvement of anthropologists in covert research. Its stain has continued to sully the reputation of anthropology-even though no anthropologists were actually engaged in this research.21
At the Denver meetings there were also two sessions on Southeast Asian studies that might not have been noticed by anyone but specialists. One of them, “Symposium on the Future Roles of Tribal Peoples in the Nations of Southeast Asia,” dealt with a topic that would soon be politically and militarily important. There was also a session dedicated to “The Role of the Anthropologist in the Study of Complex Societies” that included Bernard Fall, a French journalist and social scientist, then at Howard University, whose paper was titled, “Social Science Field Research under Conditions of Political Upheaval.” Fall would soon be one of the best-known and widely published experts on the war in Vietnam; he opened our eyes to much that was wrong with it.22
The meetings in 1966 featured the plenary presentation of the “Beals Report,” motivated by the revelation of Project Camelot the year before. It was feared that harm might befall the people we studied as a result of the activities of anthropologists who worked for agencies of the United States or other powers, and that all anthropologists might be suspect when they sought to do research outside the United States. Ralph Beals was commissioned to do a survey of researchers in the field to gauge their attitudes and experiences and the seriousness of the potential dangers. The report led to the establishment of the AAA’s Committee on Ethics (see Hill 1987 for a brief summary and sources; and Trencher 2000:117-22 for a fuller account. See also Hancock’s more critical view in Wax 2008).
After the revelations came the resolutions, and the era of fierce verbal political wars that were fought in the trenches of the AAA business meetings had begun. There had been major battles over political resolutions a few years earlier (most notably on the equality of races in 1960 and disarmament in 1961) but these sessions became more numerous and seemed to assume greater importance about 1966. In those days the meetings were very well attended, especially when, in 1968, the vote was extended to all members, including students, and not just “fellows.” The meetings became longer, and much more bitter, as the crises deepened and the issues multiplied.
According to Walter Goldschmidt (1984:168-169), just 11 resolutions were passed between 1946 and 1966, but from 1967 to 1980 there were 140! (See Trencher 2000:105-139 for a more detailed account.) All these resolutions were in favor of equality, against discrimination (race, gender, and ethnic), against war, against the war in Vietnam in particular and American foreign policy in general. The first of many resolutions against the war in Vietnam was passed in Pittsburgh in 1966.23
The program for the 1967 meetings would suggest that not that much had changed in the field since 1955, except perhaps for greater sophistication in the same approaches, and more concern with “modern” and complex societies and cultural phenomena. But there were eight papers in the session on “Psychedelic Anthropology,” which seems significant; and a symposium, “The Anthropology of War,” went on for nine hours, from 2:00 PM until 11:00 PM. Organized by Morton H. Fried, Marvin Harris, and Robert F. Murphy, it featured sixteen presenters and discussants, as well as eight fifteen-minute general discussions. It was a sign of the times, and the papers were published a year later (Fried et al. 1968).
There was a key moment at the Southwestern States Anthropological Association in March 1967. That was where Kathleen Gough first presented her paper, best known as “Anthropology and Imperialism.” This little piece is the locus classicus of the assertion that anthropology is the child and/or handmaiden of imperialism. Its influence has been enormous.24
By 1968 it is evident (with hindsight) that change was in the air. Here are a few examples of 1968 symposia: Number 9, “Symposium on the Vanishing Savage,” included Bernard Fontana’s “Savage Anthropologists and Unvanishing Indians in the American Southwest.” Here is the last sentence of Fontana’s abstract: “Ethnologists need to divest themselves of the savagery in their souls and to write modern ethnographies which take the total range of culture-borrowed or not-into account.” The gauntlet had been thrown down.
There was growing interest in “Poverty and Social Disorder,” and in urban anthropology, ethnicity and “national identities in the modern Middle East.” Charles Valentine reported on “Ethnography in an Urban American Black Ghetto,” and Councill Taylor organized an “Experimental Session: The Development of a Black Curriculum in Anthropological Studies.”25
Sol Tax also organized an “Experimental Session: American Indian Hunting and Fishing Rights.” And there was a “Symposium on Hallucinogens and Shamanism,” organized by Michael Harner, with the participation of Carlos Castaneda.
At the annual meetings in New Orleans in 1969 the experience of four or five years of campus demonstrations finally came home to the AAA. A group calling itself “The Radical Caucus within the AAA” appeared and issued a set of proposed resolutions to be considered by the AAA. The leaders apparently thought there might be trouble because they issued a page of instructions on what to do in case of medical emergencies-those requiring ambulances and those not-and in case of legal problems (“If you should witness an arrest of a colleague or other person do not interfere or intrude yourself into the process”).
The Radical Caucus’s statement accompanying their “Proposed Resolutions” contains a preamble regarding the relationship of anthropology to imperial and colonial powers and policies; notes the relationship between “the large capitalist corporations” and imperialism; notes the conflict between these and “the needs of most of our own people and of the people of the so-called ‘under-developed’ world.” It deplores the need for anthropologists to get their livelihood and research funds from such tainted sources. It proposes that “we can serve the needs of the subjugated and exploited people we study” by “exposing and fighting U.S. imperialism, on campus and in the profession.”
The “Implementation” portion of the Radical Caucus’s resolutions calls for AAA members 1) “not [to] engage in contract research for the U.S. government [or] for U.S. business corporations or their foundations”; 2) “not engage in any ‘defense,’ ‘defense’-related, or foreign or domestic counter-insurgency research, contract or otherwise”; and 3) not engage in any secret or classified research.”
There is also a resolution against the October 1968 killing of university students in Mexico, and they “condemn the Administration of the National School of Anthropology and History for its acts of repression.” There are four more, one of which calls for the creation of “an Ad Hoc Committee to investigate internal and external colonialism and imperialism. This committee shall report its findings to members throughout the year.”
In the meantime certain elders of the Establishment had prepared resolutions of their own. Margaret Mead prepared one in support of UNESCO efforts for the protection of the biosphere and for their “efforts to include the social sciences within these expanded responsibilities for the conservation of the environment.” Sam Stanley introduced one on behalf of the “Native people (Aleut, Eskimo and Indian) of Alaska” urging “the Federal Government to protect the rights and equities of the Native citizens of Alaska against the desires of powerful interest groups who wish to benefit from the land and its products.” (There is more.) Dell Hymes and George Foster jointly sponsored two resolutions. One urged the AAA to recognize the significance and legitimacy of anthropological studies of contemporary American society. Entering students increasingly want to do such studies and they are “essential to the advancement of anthropology as a science and to the well being of the society.” After the appropriate preamble their second resolution reads, “therefore be it resolved that the AAA urges vigorous recruitment of students of Black, Chicano, American Indian, Asian and other backgrounds into anthropology in universities and colleges, and vigorous efforts to hire and facilitate the careers of such persons in the profession.”
Two of Paul G. Hahn’s resolutions called for the AAA to state its opposition to increasing military involvement in Latin America and for it to affirm its understanding that “to this time no scientifically acceptable research conducted by any organization, group, or individual has demonstrated any correlation between race and intelligence or any intellectual differences between races.”
The roster of academic sessions is interesting as well. The times they were a-changing-a bit. There was a “Symposium on the Contexts of Violence” (very tame by today’s standards), and Margaret Mead and Edward Storey organized an “Experimental Session: ‘Going Hungry’-The Problem of ‘going hungry’ in America.” They called it “an action session directed to the contexts in which spokesmen for the poor conceive the problem.” The “open panel” would include presentations by “indigenous spokesmen” and many others concerned with and knowledgeable about the problem of hunger in America. Mead participated in another “Experimental Session on Women in the Professions.”
Other sessions included “Symposium on the Encounter of Divergent Cultures with Cultures of Schools,” “Ethnographic Research in Black Communities,” “Student Movements,” “Masculinity and Femininity” (also rather tame compared to what would follow), and “Symposium on Structuralism and Semiotics.” These were new themes for our meetings.26
This year it seemed as though war had broken out between the generations. More accurately, it was a contest between young and old left on the one side versus the less radical liberals on the other. These were the meetings at which the bitterness of the “Thailand controversy” boiled over; they were the meetings of endless meetings and endless resolutions.
By overwhelming voice vote the membership of the AAA gave its blessings to all sexual relations of any kind among consenting adults, and the smell of pot was in the air.
The Thailand controversy was a four-sided affair: (1) There were several anthropologists who had been consulting with various committees and agencies associated ultimately with the U.S. Defense Department, dealing with peasant insurgency in Thailand; (2) A group of UCLA students belonging to the Student Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam had entered the office of one of these anthropologists, copied documents pertaining to those meetings, distributed them to other anthropologists known to be critical and activists; (3) There were many who supported the students; and (4) there were those more inclined to follow a committee, chaired by Margaret Mead that censured the students for their actions. It was a dramatic conflict that left many bad feelings. (See Trencher . For the case of the anthropologists and Thailand see a brief account by one of the accused [Hinton 2002] and contrast it with a book done as student thesis [Wakin 1992].)
This was also the year that a group of “insurgent” and younger anthropologists presented an alternative nominee for president of the association to compete with those nominations brought forward from the established nominations committee. Gerald Berreman was nominated by a group of five fellows, in accordance with a by-law, and he was pitted against the three nominated by the committee: Albert Spaulding, James Spuhler, and Anthony F. C. Wallace. The ensuing struggle, in which Berreman was defeated after the first two dropped out of the race, was another source of bitterness. (See Berreman [1971, 2003] for his accounts of the meetings; also Trencher 2000:124-125.)
Some of the panels on offer in 1969 also speak of the changing self-image and growing disaffection within our ranks. There was no. 32, “Symposium on Racism and Ethnocentrism in Anthropology,” featuring Vine Deloria’s “The Indian’s View of the Anthropologist,” which could not do much for the anthropological self-image. (“At present anthropologists are viewed with more than suspicion by Indian people; in many cases they have come to occupy the role of oppressor and obstacle to progress,” he writes in the abstract. And he named names.) Diane Lewis and Jack Stauder were in this session, and each would soon publish papers accusing anthropology of complicity with imperialism (D. Lewis 1973; Stauder 1972). The abstract for Audrey Smedley’s paper, “The History of Racism in Anthropology,” reads, “Many anthropologists silently acquiesce to the grossest distortions of history, to racist foreign and domestic policies and to refined academic racism running from Morton to Jensen to Coon. It is little wonder that anthropology today is accused of being inadequate and irrelevant.”
At the same hour (!), Margaret Mead and Philleo Nash were participating in no. 17, “Symposium on Anthropology and the American Indian: Did Custer Die for Our Sins?” There were to be “Indian Discussants.” Mead’s take is a little different from Deloria’s. The title and abstract read, “The American Indian as a Significant Determinant of American Anthropological Style”: A discussion of the way in which respect for the different cultures of American Indian groups has influenced the way in which anthropologists have approached American Indians, as colleagues in the respectful study of the past. The emphasis on the integrity of the culture rather than the interest in racial differences or minority status in the wider society has meant that anthropologists are now finding themselves in arrears in their attention to Indians as persons.27
In session no. 62, “Symposium on Epistemological Foundations for Cultural Anthropology: Critical Reflections on Analytic Methods,” organized by Johannes Fabian and Bob Scholte, Fabian presented “Two Theses Concerning Ethnographic Objectivity.” These are (1) that objectivity lies “in the foundation (Bergrundung) of human intersubjectivity[; and] (2) Objectivity in anthropological investigations is attained by entering a context of communicative interaction through the one medium which (primarily) represents and constitutes such a context: language.” Bob Scholte introduced “The Phenomenological Critique of Structuralism” and argued for “the superior value of self-critical and self-reflective alternatives to mere scientific methods and analytic techniques” (apparently published as Scholte 1970; cf. Scholte 1972). These appear to be innovations that year.
1971-New York City
The trends begun earlier deepened and widened here. For the first time there were panels that were explicitly Marxian in approach. And it should be noted that the participants in these panels were generally not drawn from the rebellious youth but from established elders. Here are a few selections from the abstracts:
- 101-Symposium: The Genesis of Proletarian Consciousness
Participants will discuss the conditions that give rise to proletarian consciousness and the consequences in political action.
- 402-Symposium: Marx I: Science, History and Materialism
These data will be presented and interpreted in ways the authors feel conventional anthropology has neglected, and the historical reasons for the shortcomings of current anthropology will be examined. The overall focus is a critical appraisal of contemporary anthropology and, given the continuing need for sound method and theory in the social sciences, the symposium suggests Marxist alternatives.
- 502-Symposium: Marx II: Anthropology and Imperialism
The emphasis will be on scrutiny of the view-long held as an anthropological assumption-that underdevelopment is a local, attitudinal, and aboriginal problem. There will be an explicit justification of an internationalist, class-based, whole system approach to problems of modern social evolution.
- 202-Symposium: Anthropologists Look at the Study of Women
The female anthropologist concerned with her own liberation and with the status of women in society has special research opportunities which we have only begun to explore. [Participants include Women’s Studies Collective (Stanford) “Power strategies and sex roles.” Esther Newton and Shirley Walton’s paper: “The personal is political: Consciousness raising and Personal change in the women’s liberation movement.]
- 311-Symposium: Ethnocentrism in Anthropology: Can Our Discipline Be Decolonized?
[An attempt] to identify hidden ethnocentrism and racistic assumption(s) which vitiate the conclusions of the study and distort the basis upon which sound understanding and meaningful relations could develop between people of both continents. We will also attempt to examine the contribution anthropologists make to the “rationale” and legitimacy of internal colonialism within the United States.
- 413-Studying Upward: Theory and Method.
How is it possible to study more powerful people in depth? How does the anthropologist relate to such people? [Laura Nader introduced her theme at this session (Nader 1972).]
There were two big symposia (nos. 214, 314) on “Studies of Bushman Hunter-Gatherers.” These were evidently attempts by those researchers who had participated in the extensive multi-disciplinary studies of the “!Kung Bushmen groups,” begun in 1963, to present their various research findings jointly. It was still the days of Edenic innocence before the Fall-The Great Kalahari Debate of the 1990s (Kuper 1993).
These few examples can’t do justice to the variety of topics and approaches represented in the meetings of 1971, or to the extent of the growth in specialization and apparent sophistication as our numbers grew and we collectively widened our experience and knowledge. (As befits meetings in New York City there was an increase in sessions concerned with urban studies and ethnicity.) It does reflect the particular trend of the growth of politicization and suspicion of establishments and established ways.
Pierre Maranda, president of the Canadian Sociology and Anthropology Association, opened the program for the Toronto meetings with an innovation, “A Message of Welcome.” The question that heads his comments is “‘Universals’ or Imperialism?” He asks, “Is our endeavor [to find universals] an act of covert intellectual imperialism?” He notes that African, Asian and other anthropologists from groups which have previously more often been the observed rather than the observers, are now increasing in number. They give us a unique opportunity. They challenge anthropology at many different levels, for not only must we hear other people’s descriptions of the rest of mankind, including ourselves, but we must still more urgently hear them on anthropology itself.
There were five sessions, with the general title “Anthropology and Anti-Imperialism.” The most striking paper in session 107, “Workshop on Anti-imperialist Teaching,” seems to have been that of William Leap, “Linguistics as an Imperialist Science.” According to the abstract, “This paper describes teaching a linguistics course which treats linguistic theory as ideology serving imperialism” and specifically, “sociolinguistic theory as a racist science; grammatical theory as a response to ‘picturesque’ constructions.” Ethnolinguistics is examined and found to be “stressing how different and, implicitly, how primitive other languages can be.” Karen Sacks discussed an introductory cultural anthropology course with a materialist view of culture and history, but she regretted that the students are still left with a good bit of social distance between themselves and the rest of the world. This she ascribes to the harmful effects of cultural relativism and racism in anthropology, according to the abstract.
Session 201, “Contemporary Political Struggles of Tribal Peoples,” was to include activists on behalf of “tribal peoples” from the American Indian Movement, Akwesasne, Alberta, Australian Aboriginal Black Panther Party, and “representatives of Afro-Asian liberation movements based in Montreal, Toronto, and New York.”
In session 207, “Divide and Rule: Racism, Sexism and other Deadly 218 The Radical Transformation of Anthropology Games,” Helen Matthews Lewis “explores the ways in which the family and wider kinship systems are used as instruments of colonial domination in the southern Appalachian mountains,” and Rafael Cintron Ortiz wrote of the school in Puerto Rico “as an agent of colonial rule and capitalist exploitation” (Ortiz 1972).
In session 307), “Marx I: Critique of Theory,” John Moore, in “American Anthropology as Ideology” reports that “anthropologists have served as the high priests of secular humanism. In so doing they have been ideologically constrained by a high cosmology which has been exclusively capitalist and imperialist.” He goes on to say, “Another old idea carried forward by anthropology is the concept ‘primitive,’ which serves to mask the real relationships existing between American society and the peoples studied by anthropologists” (1971.)
(407) “Marx II: Analyses of Imperialism.” This symposium was to stress “various mechanisms of penetration and domination developed historically as well as contemporaneously by colonial and imperial systems,” questioning “the anthropological assumption that underdevelopment is an attitudinal problem.” Instead they emphasized a “class-based and international approach to modern social change.” Notions of “internal colonialism,” “the world capitalist system,” and “dependency” were emphasized in these papers. The discussants were Bernard Mogubane, and outspoken critic of anthropological writing on Africa (1967, 1971) and Kathleen Gough.
The abstract for session 507, “China: The Socialist Transformation,” reads “How transformations at the level of consciousness and in the socioeconomic base influence one another is related to processes of change and development.”
After the Toronto meetings of 1972, after four years of alarms and excursions, and emotional and intellectual turmoil, succeeding meetings seemed to quiet down a bit. There were more people and more sessions, more specialization and new topics, but not as much politicized excitement, apparently. In 1973 in New Orleans (again) there were six panels with the general title “Anthropology and Anti-imperialism,” but these seem rather routinized. The same is true of Mexico City in 1974, where there was a session on monopoly capitalism and two with Marx in the title (“Race, Ethnicity, Class and Marxism-the Native’s View;” and “Marxist Approaches to archeological research”). But if the tone of the revolution was a bit less strident in these years, the concerns remained and the course was set that would bring us to the type of anthropology that prevails now.
After the Sixties
It is clear from the evidence I have presented, as well as from the accompanying literature of the period (Gough 1968; Hymes et al. 1972; Asad et al. 1973; Cf., e.g., Silverman 2005) that the uprising in anthropology was motivated by political and ethical concerns rather than by Kuhnian anomalies in a “normal” science’s paradigms (Kuhn 1962). From the beginning a major part this rebellion was directed at the perceived ethical and political failings of the field itself, as well as at more general evils in American society such as racism, the war in Vietnam, the unequal treatment of women, capitalism, and the plight of migrant laborers and the poor. The most significant external intellectual influences on the earliest phase of the great transformation came from Marxist and feminist theory, but before long there would be a head-spinning profusion of new ideas drawn directly from Europe or through the importation of these notions from other fields in the American universities, most notably from literary studies. By the end of the 1970s the “home-grown” concerns of anthropologists were cross-fertilized with influences from abroad and from “the literary turn” in an atmosphere of the acceptance of blurred genres; the era of the “posts” in anthropology had begun.
One discourse after another was brought forward to challenge the “establishment” and all institutions. The early angry and inchoate approaches to anti-colonial and anti-racist discourse were succeeded by more formal ideas: Marxist, structural-Marxist, critical anthropology, dependency theory, and world systems. There was the interpretive-reflexive move, the assault on fieldwork (Rabinow 1977; Dwyer 1982; and Crapanzano 1980; see also Trencher 2000), followed by deconstruction, Derrida, “the crisis of representation,” “the death of the author,” the Frankfurt School, Foucault, and the rejection of all grand narratives and all the pretensions and dangers of science and the pursuit of “truth.”
Edward Said (1978), inspired by Foucault, brought down the greatest obloquy on the very enterprise of studying “other cultures,” and by the beginning of early 1980s anthropology was operating in the age of the posts, along with students of literature: post-modernism, post-structuralism, and post-colonialism, in tune with critical literary theory and cultural studies. Early feminist theory moved beyond Wollstonecraft, Woolf, Beauvoir, and homegrown anthropological approaches; and with some inspiration from Foucault and others fostered sex and gender studies and queer and LGBT theory. These mesh well with post-colonial, subaltern, Diaspora, hybridity, and “whiteness” studies. And by now there are fewer and fewer ideas and less and less knowledge in the discipline derived from “anthropology” as more and more has been imported from these other sources-sources that know not what anthropology once knew: the peoples of the world.
In the era of blurred genres, anthropologists increasingly took their inspiration from thinkers completely innocent of the many and varied ways of humankind, whose thought was tailored to European intellectual trends and needs. Many current anthropologists are more the heirs of Nietzsche, Heidegger, Foucault, Marx, and Engels (the last two learned their anthropology from Lewis Henry Morgan, cultural evolutionist), and from many others who knew neither Boas nor Malinowski nor ever looked upon one of those peoples that ethnographers routinely live among and may devote many years to knowing.
By the mid-1970s many of the rebellious graduate students were teaching; by the mid-1980s they were tenured and well placed; by the mid-1990s they were in charge of the levers of power in departments, journals, granting agencies, the AAA. And the gap, the yawning chasm, between their ideas, aims, values, attitudes, knowledge, and what went on in anthropology before 1965 is vast. They would not-perhaps could not-pass on the knowledge, ideas, understandings of, and respect for, the achievements of earlier anthropology. Forgotten are the roots of the discipline, the accomplishments, the common knowledge and common sense of the past, and the considerable body of ethnography and ideas it produced before the revolutions of 1968. Where histories of theory are still taught (perhaps against the wishes of the students), they are more likely to feature Marx, Durkheim, and Weber than Boas and Malinowski. Anthropology’s past has been consigned to oblivion.
I have argued in this paper that current American cultural (social) anthropology has moved very-very-far from its disciplinary, intellectual, and institutional origins in the past forty years, and that a major tendency in this newer anthropology is a fascination and preoccupation with evil in culture and society. I contend that the notion of “domination” has become foundational for a field that is supposed to have rejected all foundations and that the hermeneutics of suspicion is, for many, the basis for analysis.
Secondly, I contend that this radical change in the nature of American anthropology grew directly out of a particular moment in American history, as the result of the turmoil in American society and culture during the late 1960s and the early 1970s. I maintain, furthermore, that the shape that the discipline has taken is a logical outcome of the overwhelming concerns of the students and other rebels of that era, whether they were moved by the plight of the Vietnamese and the American youth who were sent to fight them, or of the colonial and former colonial peoples of Africa, Asia, and Latin America, or about justice and civil and women’s rights, sexual liberation, identity politics, or pervasive poverty in America. I admire and honor the origins of this revolution but I cannot say the same for its outcome and aftermath.
Finally, I have tried to document these contentions by showing when and where new, engagée, and politicized topics, themes, and approaches were first introduced into anthropological discourse by looking at the widest and most accessible arena for the presentation of our ideas and research, the annual meetings. I hope that this will add a new dimension of understanding about how we got where we are today.
This paper was prepared for the rescheduled 2004 AAA non-meetings at Atlanta, for the session organized by the Association of Senior Anthropologists: “The 1960s Radical Restructuring of Anthropology: The Making of Anthropology As We Know It.” I want to thank the reader for useful recommendations for improvements and for support of this attempt to document key developments in the recent history of North American anthropology.
- It is remarkable that a movement that has depended so much on a critique of everything in the past should be so uncritical of its own and so lacking in curiosity and desire to document it as history. The only original study I am aware of is Susan Trencher’s (2000). Thomas Patterson offers a very brief and partial view of developments from 1974 to 2000 in his general history (2001). Sydel Silverman’s contribution to Barth et al.’s One Discipline, Four Ways: British, German, French, and American Anthropology (2005) contains a section on “Rebellions and Reinventions (1970-1990)” that briefly discusses certain significant publications from that period.
- The critique of the practice of combining “the four fields” into one discipline is expressed most acutely by Ian Hodder, Sylvia Yanagisako, and the editors (Segal and Yanagisako 2005).
- As a reviewer for this paper notes, such a sweeping statement calls for documentation. I hope that there will be sufficient evidence in the rest of the paper, but I would also refer (immodestly) to some of my recent papers noted in the references section for more.
- An ever-present theme, sometimes in the background, sometimes the foreground, is the moral failure of the older, pre-transformation, anthropology.
- “Term coined in the 1970s by the French philosopher Paul Ricoeur for a method of interpretation which assumes that the literal or surface-level meaning of a text (including the Bible) is an effort to conceal the political interests which are served by the text. The purpose of interpretation is to strip off the concealment, unmasking those interests” (Glossary of Biblical Interpretation, http://www-english.tamu.edu/pers/fac/myers/hermeneutical_lexicon, accessed June 18, 2009).
- Current Anthropology, Ethnology, and Journal of Anthropological Research as journals that publish articles of interest to more than just cultural or social anthropology, are somewhat less devoted to these themes.
- With apologies to Ian Jarvie, who long ago published a book with this section’s title, in a more innocent age.
- A number of books give rich accounts of the events of these years, with considerable attention to university campuses. See, for example, Bates (1992); Buhle (1990); Caute (1988); Gitlin (1993); Maraniss (2003); and Rohrbaugh (1989). Books by Irwin and Debi Unger (1988) and Mark Kurlansky (2004) explicitly relate where we are now to “1968”-shorthand for the annus mirabilis-or annus horribilis-depending.
- Back in the United States the guru for many was Herbert Marcuse, with his version of repressive tolerance as expressed in One-Dimensional Man (1964), but the New Left and the Students for a Democratic Society had other important political heroes as well, such as Che Guevara, Fidel Castro, and Mao Tse-tung.
- These three were, respectively, the governors of Alabama, Arkansas, and Georgia. The first two made well-publicized attempts to try to resist efforts at school integration in their states and Maddox, as a restaurant owner (before becoming governor) grabbed headlines by refusing to let Black activists enter his restaurant, greeting them with supporters wielding ax handles.
- Medgar Evers, a Black veteran of World War II, was an activist who was shot to death in 1964; Cheney, Schwerner, and Goodman were students from the north, one Black and two white, who went to Mississippi to help register Black voters during the “Freedom Summer” of 1964. They were murdered by the members of the Ku Klux Klan. Viola Liuzzo, an activist from Michigan, was helping drive people home after the third “Selma to Montgomery March” for voting rights (March 25, 1965) when she was also gunned down in her car by Klan members.
- Paul Goodman, a sociologist, was an early voice articulating youthful disaffection with American society as well as a supporter of student Left politics (at first), and an advocate of bisexuality. Charles Reich was a Yale professor of law who fell for the “youth culture” in a big way and wrote an extended paean of praise to it (1970). His effusive style can be sampled in the abstract to his article in the New Yorker: http://www.newyorker.com/archive/1970/09/26/1970_09_26_042_TNY_CARDS_000298460 (accessed June 18, 2009; note also Berreman’s use of “greening” ). Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert (later known as Baba Ram Dass) were ardent advocates of hallucinogenic and other mind-altering drugs and were very much part of the countercultural scene, especially the mystical and spiritual side. The musical heroes need no annotation.
- For examples, see the autobiographical comments by Donald Donham (1990) and Thomas G. Patterson (2001) on their student days.
- Interestingly, a look at a half dozen of the major texts currently in use for introductory general and cultural anthropology confirms that most of the material and basic ideas in them are derived from the period before the transformation. Some of the language has been tailored to suit today’s needs and fashions, but, typically, except for a few pages presenting the “post” era in sections on theory, and perhaps something on reflexivity in fieldwork and ethnography, Gramsci, Foucault, Lacan, and Deleuze might as well not have written.
- 1955 has been chosen for the excellent reason that it was the first one I attended, and I still have the program. Furthermore, 1955-2005 makes a nice round number. Incidentally, only one of the sessions in 1955 included a “Discussant.” There were two in 1956.
- This togetherness seems to have lasted for only a few more years. By 1960 the other societies seem to have gone off on their own, a sign of increasing size and diversity of knowledge and interests within the discipline, presumably.
- In this paragraph, numbers in parentheses indicate conference year and session number; e.g., (03-053) denotes the fifty-third session of the 2003 meeting.
- The first teach-in in the nation took place on March 24, 1965, at the University of Michigan. Two anthropologists, Eric Wolf and-once again-Marshall Sahlins, played key roles. The second took place at the University of Wisconsin-Madison one week later, on April 1. I am proud to say that an anthropologist was among the half-dozen organizers (but too modest to say who it was).
- See http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/FSM/chron.html (accessed June 18, 2009). The I.F. Stone Newsletter was a rare source in which to find out about the early phase of the war, before it was officially recognized and had been discovered by the mainstream media.
- There was an almost immediate negative reaction to Oscar Lewis’s idea of “the culture of poverty” (1959, for example), but at this time it seemed worth exploring. For early critiques see Valentine (1968b); Leacock (1971); and Ryan (1971).
- Although this scandal would always be recalled as a case of anthropologists engaged in secret research on behalf of the U.S. government, it was actually intended as a project for political scientists and perhaps sociologists, not anthropologists. It was never put into effect because one anthropologist, learning of the project, spoke of it indiscreetly. Word got out, outrage ensued, and the whole field still has “Project Camelot” hung around its neck. The facts have not only been forgotten-they were never checked. (For citations and a brief critique see James N. Hill 1987; also Deitchman 1976:285-86.)
- At the same session Edward Bruner gave a talk on “Revolutions and political upheavals: some Consequences for Anthropology” and in another Dwight Heath spoke of “The Aymara Indians and Bolivia’s Revolutions.”
- The resolution read, in part, we condemn the use of napalm, chemical defoliants, harmful gasses, bombing, torture and killing of prisoners of war and political prisoners, and the intentional or deliberate policies of genocide. . . . These methods of warfare deeply offend human nature. [This last point is one that some anthropologists thought was not sufficiently proven scientifically.] We ask that all governments put an end to their use at once and proceed as rapidly as possible to a peaceful settlement of the war in Vietnam. (Trencher 2000:129; see 129-34 for discussion of the debate on this issue.)
- This paper was published at least three times with at least two different titles. On the cover of Monthly Review (1968) her paper was billed as “Anthropology: Child of Imperialism.”
- This was a few months after the University of Wisconsin-Madison had its “Black Students’ strike” and the faculty assembly had voted to institute an Afro-American studies program.
- It would require too much space to list the names and the papers of participants here, but if anyone is interested in these they are welcome to contact me and I shall be happy to supply them.
- This statement will probably occasion snickers today, but in view of some of the debates that have followed since Mead wrote this, it suggests that as was so often the case, Margaret Mead was way out front on this issue, too. (Most of the papers from this session were published in 1973. See references.)
American Anthropological Association. 1955. Program of the 54th Annual Meeting, Boston, November 17-19.
—. 1962. Program of the 61st Annual Meeting, Chicago, November 15-18.
—. 1963. Program of the 62nd Annual Meeting, San Francisco, November 21-24.
—. 1965a. Abstracts of the 64th Annual Meeting, Denver, November 18-21.
—. 1965b. Program of the 64th Annual Meeting, Denver, November 18-21.
—. 1966. Program of the 65th Annual Meeting, Pittsburgh, November 17-20.
—. 1967. Program of the 66th Annual Meeting, Washington DC, November 30-December 3.
—. 1968a. Abstracts of the 67th Annual Meeting, Seattle, November 21-24.
—. 1968b. Program of the 67th Annual Meeting, Seattle, November 21-24.
—. 1969. Program of the Papers Delivered at the 67th Annual Meeting, American Anthropological Association, Seattle.
—. 1970. Program of the 69th Annual Meeting, San Diego, November 19-22.
—. 1971. Program of the 70th Annual Meeting, New York, November 18-21.
—. 1972a. Abstracts of the 71st Annual Meeting, Toronto, November 29-December 3.
—. 1972b. Program of the 71st Annual Meeting, Toronto, November 29-December 3.
—. 1973a. Anthropology and the American Indian: Report of a Symposium. San Francisco: The Indian Historian Press.
—. 1973b. Program of the 72nd Annual Meeting, New Orleans, November 28-December 2.
—. 1974. Program of the 73rd Annual Meeting, Mexico City, November 19-24.
—. 2003. Abstracts of the 102nd Annual Meeting, Chicago, November 19-23.
—. 2003. Program of the 102nd Annual Meeting, Chicago, November 19-23.
—. 2004. Abstracts of the 103rd Annual Meeting, Atlanta, December 15-18.
—. 2004. Program of the 103rd Annual Meeting, Atlanta, December 15-18.
—. 2005. Program of the 104th Annual Meeting, Washington DC, November 30-December 4.
Armstrong, Robert G. 1955. State Formation in Negro Africa. Paper presented at the 54th Annual Meeting, American Anthropological Association, Boston.
Asad, Talal. 1973. Anthropology and the Colonial Encounter. New York: Ithaca Press.
Bates, Tom. 1992. Rads: The 1970 Bombing of the Army Math Research Center at the University of Wisconsin and Its Aftermath. New York: Harper Collins.
Beals, Ralph L. 1966. Beals Report. Paper presented at a plenary session of the 65th Annual Meeting, American Anthropological Association, Pittsburgh.
Berreman, Gerald D. 1971. The Greening of the American Anthropological Association. (Address to the Council, AAA, 69th Annual Meetings, San Diego, November 19, 1970.) Critical Anthropology 1:100-104.
—. 2003. Ethics versus “Realism” in Anthropology: Redux. In Ethics and the Profession of Anthropology. 2nd edition. Carolyn Fluehr-Lobban, ed. Pp. 51-83. Walnut Creek CA: Altamira Press.
Borofsky, Robert. 2005. Yanomami: The Fierce Controversy and What We Can Learn from It. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Brown, Bernard. 1974. Protest in Paris: Anatomy of a Revolt. Morristown NJ: General Learning Press.
Bruner, Edward M. 1965. Revolutions and Political Upheavals: Some Consequences for Anthropology. Paper presented at the 64th Annual Meeting, American Anthropological Association, Denver.
Buhle, Paul, ed. 1990. History and the New Left: Madison, Wisconsin, 1950-1970. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
Castaneda, Carlos. 1968. The Didactic Uses of Hallucenogenic Plants: An Examination of a System of Teaching [Yaqui: Mexico]. Paper presented at the 67th Annual Meeting, American Anthropological Association, Seattle.
Caute, David. 1988. The Year of the Barricades: A Journey through 1968. New York: Harper and Row.
Crapanzano, Vincent. 1980. Tuhami: Portrait of a Moroccan. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Deitchman, Seymour J. 1976. The Best-laid Schemes: A Tale of Social Research and Bureaucracy. Cambridge MA: MIT Press.
Deloria, Vine, Jr. 1969. Custer Died for Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto. New York: Avon Books.
—. 1970. The Indian’s View of the Anthropologist. Paper presented at the 69th Annual Meeting, American Anthropological Association, San Diego.
Donham, Donald L. 1990. History, Power, Ideology: Central Issues in Marxism and Anthropology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Dwyer, Kevin. 1982. Moroccan Dialogues: Anthropology in Question. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
Edel, May M. 1955. Bachiga Social Structure. Paper presented at the 54th Annual Meeting, American Anthropological Association, Boston.
Fabian, Johannes. 1970. Two Theses Concerning Ethnographic Objectivity. Paper presented at the 69th Annual Meeting, American Anthropological Association, San Diego.
Fall, Bernard B. 1965. Social Science Field Research under Conditions of Political Upheaval. Paper presented at the 65th Annual Meeting, American Anthropological Association, Denver.
Fontana, Bernard L. 1968. Savage Anthropologists and the Unvanishing Indians in the American Southwest. Paper presented at the 67th Annual Meeting, American Anthropological Association, Seattle.
Fried, Morton H., Marvin Harris, and Robert F. Murphy. 1968. War: The Anthropology of Armed Conflict and Aggression. Garden City NY: Natural History Press.
Friedan, Betty. 1963. The Feminine Mystique. New York: W. W. Norton.
Gitlin, Todd. 1993 . The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage. Rev. edition. New York: Bantam Books.
Goldschmidt, Walter. 1984. The Cultural Paradigm in the Post-War World. In Social Contexts of American Ethnology. June Helm, ed. Pp. 164-184. Washington DC: American Anthropological Association.
Goodenough, Ward H. 1955. Survival of the Soul on Truk: A Functional Interpretation. Paper presented at the 54th Annual Meeting, American Anthropological Association, Boston.
Goodman, Paul. 1960. Growing Up Absurd: Problems of Youth in the Organized System. New York: Random House.
Gough, Kathleen. 1968. Anthropology and Imperialism. Monthly Review 19:12-27.
Gregor, Thomas, and Daniel Gross. 2004. Guilt by Association: The Culture of Accusation and the American Anthropological Association’s Investigation of Darkness in El Dorado. American Anthropologist 106:687-698.
Hahn, Paul G. 1969. Resolutions Regarding Opposition to Military Involvement in Latin America and Affirming Lack of Correlation between Race and Intelligence. Paper presented at the 68th Annual Meeting, American Anthropological Association, New Orleans.
Hancock, Robert L. A. 2008. Afterword: Reconceptualizing Anthropology’s Historiography. In Anthropology at the Dawn of the Cold War: The Influence of Foundations, McCarthyism, and the CIA. Dustin M. Wax, ed. Pp. 166-178. London: Pluto Press.
Harner, Michael J. 1968. The Role of Hallucinogenic Plants in European Witchcraft. Paper presented at the 67th Annual Meeting, American Anthropological Association, Seattle.
Headland, Thomas N. 1992. The Tasaday Controversy: Assessing the Evidence. Washington, DC: American Anthropological Association.
Heath, Dwight B. 1965. The Aymara Indians and Bolivia’s Revolutions. Paper presented at the 64th Annual Meeting, American Anthropological Association, Denver.
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ASA May 2011 AN Column
Paul L. Doughty, Contributing Editor and Secretary
“Breaking News” for Anthropology
What fun! Springtime flowers, trees, birds and baseball arrived in Florida as I write in early March. It is hard to believe that another academic year slipped by. Beyond academe, stunning events occur on a daily, seemingly hourly basis. We are deluged with information, appropriately described as “breaking news” that often glues us to the TV screen. A small sample came via email from a colleague, Alice Kehoe, about a voracious Milwaukee sinkhole that was “eating a car!” At first I thought that her Wisconsin state governor did more than break the unions or be embarrassed by a prankster’s phone call.
Nevertheless, the car’s disappearance was simply a sideshow: many thousands had been angrily demonstrating in Madison, state senators were in hiding, and representatives of the “middle class” were occupying the state Capitol as nasty debates ensued.
That was a minor event compared to Egypt and Tunisia as dictators were pushed out of power, or forces in Libya were using mercenaries to retain power. The Afghan and Iraq wars had to compete with yet other events. My local newspaper featured grass fires consuming Oklahoma, bus passengers killed in a New York City accident, a coal mine blast in China killed 19 miners. Several deaths, rapes and robberies, and Charlie Sheen’s misadventures, were also reported in some detail. And then the “record breaking” Japanese earthquake and tsunami tumbled buildings and washed cars, houses and cities away, killing thousands and causing nuclear power plants to create their own headlines. The tsunami even pushed the Somali pirates and the Australian floods out of print.
This spring was a feast for bad news fans, whose preferred genre dominates the media. By actual count over four days, 62% of the all headlined items in my local newspaper consisted of bad happenings and of the remaining 38%, most referred to sports (“good stuff”) at 25% of the total news content. US readers are not alone in this proclivity as popular media elsewhere seems to have the same preoccupations. A journalism colleague reminded me, “bad news sells.”
Or is it that our civilization has a specialized “bad news culture” that functions to buoy the spirits of those depressed by the distasteful affairs and actions far away? People can feel and sympathize with the plight of victims, while being thankful it wasn’t them. Such sentiments induce some to make donations of assistance: by putting one’s left-over change in a relief fund box next to the restaurant or gas station cash register, any sense of “good fortune guilt” goes away.
A glance through our journals, like American Anthropologist, reveals a gradual increase through time in articles and books that analyze topics that might classify as bad news in contemporary society. The sea change discussed by Melissa Cheeker, David Vine and Alaka Wali (American Anthropologist 112) in their introduction to the new AA Public Anthropology section recognizes the trend to “regain, reinvigorate and institutionalize political and social engagement” of the discipline. Indeed, the first piece to appear there was David Price’s commentary “Blogging Anthropology” (American Anthropologist 112) discussing the fast breaking independent internet publishing world that is causing a sea change in print media everywhere. He notes that this popular domain has its quality problems in presentation, content and reliability as bloggers rapidly spin off in many topical directions.
All of these breaks with past tradition, topics and formalities clearly raise questions about the current nature of the discipline. The topics of societal change and the myriad of grievous problems produced must be addressed by us. See it as the second look at this issue, the first having been when we took up acculturation as a legitimate anthropological topic in 1936. That was followed by a proliferation of new topics, journals and associations that are reviewed in the forthcoming ASA publication, Expanding American Anthropology 1945-1980: A Generation Reflects (Kehoe and Doughty 2011). We continue to expand and may burst apart along the old four-field fault lines, with each having an applied and critical dimension with our numerous sections developing further variation to encompass the cultures and lives of seven billion people.
Think about it and have a productive anthropological summer. This column returns in October. Until then, look at our website for the ASA/AAA meetings details, and communicate with us at will via the internet: President, Herb Lewis (firstname.lastname@example.org), past-President Tony Paredes (email@example.com), new President-elect, Paula Rubel (firstname.lastname@example.org), Program Chair, Alice Kehoe, (email@example.com), Treasurer Margo Smith (mlsriplow@ msn.com) or Secretary/Contributing Editor Paul Doughty (firstname.lastname@example.org).
ASA April 2011 AN Column
Paul L. Doughty, Contributing Editor and Secretary
Where’s the Party? Anthropological Tradition Fades Away
By Herb Lewis and Paul Doughty
The theme for this year’s meeting in Montréal, “Traces, Tidemarks and Legacies” reminds us of a longstanding tradition at annual meetings that is vanishing. As seniors who attended our first AAA meetings in the mid-1950s we have a perspective on the longue duree of annual meetings. Many changes are evident but one that stands out is that the strong culture of numerous open parties in hotel rooms has disappeared almost completely, and thus, an institution serving numerous functions for (sociable) anthropologists of all ages. We are sad to say that the loss of this institution is symptomatic of other trends in our field and leaves us poorer.
Until a few years ago one could expect that, by Thursday of the annual meeting, someone would ask, “Where’s the party,” or confide, “Psst—Friday, after 9:00—Room 1524—Columbia.” Upon entering these smoke-filled rooms (in the really bad old days), as the evening wore on and refreshments remained, there might be 20–40 or more anthropologists, from students to some of the biggest names in the field gathered in heady conversation. Individuals constantly came and then went to another party, permitting a small room to host far more people than were evident at any one time.
Such parties were opportunities to meet new people, old friends, those whose works you had read—and perhaps those who had read your own works—and talk anthropology in open if crowded informality.
When the Florida anthropology department was in its second year offering doctoral degrees in 1973, it was Sol Kimball’s idea for UF faculty to invite people our students wanted and needed to meet. The first memorable party was aboard the famous Streetcar Named Desire rolling through New Orleans. Of course, as in any party, especially ones with plentiful alcoholic beverages, any subject might come up, and people wanted to make the most of this anthropological opportunity to participate in the culture of anthropology.
As young anthropologists we were pleased to meet our elders, and believe that, in later years, there were younger folk who rather enjoyed talking to us. We learned a great deal—often about fields other than our own—from such encounters. It was widely thought hoteliers appreciated anthropological parties because unlike other groups, “they drank a lot but didn’t break things,” according to George Peter Murdock in 1955 (as overheard by Lewis).
One could always go to another party and be welcome even if uninvited. Parties were informal; not listed in the official program or held in a section of a ballroom, with a cash bar. They might be paid for by departments or, more likely, by individual donations. A person with curiosity and stamina could go for hours meeting and talking—learning, making contacts and making friends—but no more, as far as we can see.
The institution of the party, its spirit and customs, evidently passed into history. Now there are early evening receptions announced in the program by specialized sections, limited to an hour or two at awkward times, competing with one’s dinner plans, and even the AAA Annual Business Meeting. There are small closed parties, by invitation only, and the easy camaraderie and opportunities of the old parties are lost. The three decades of the Florida party, like others, ceased, but people still ask, “where is the party?” And the social custom of having a live band dance, first introduced by President Francis Hsu in 1978, is gone as well. Remember “Dr Loco and the Rockin Jalapeño Band?”
We don’t know to what degree this development is due to the simple facts of demography–the vastly larger population of the meetings–but since we now have scores more institutions that could be hosting such parties to accommodate the greater masses, we don’t really believe it. We think it is symptomatic of the more specialized, more competitive and less sociable society in which we find ourselves these days. We happily recall the acquaintances, conversations, laughs and the lessons derived from these informal events and are sorry that younger anthropologists do not enjoy the same opportunities this tradition afforded. It faded away, never reaching legacy status, but remaining as just a trace of the past.
Find ASA on the section website or write: President Herb Lewis (email@example.com), President-elect Paula Rubel (firstname.lastname@example.org), past President Tony Paredes (email@example.com), Treasurer Margo Smith (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Secretary/Contributing Editor Paul Doughty (email@example.com).
ASA March 2011 AN Column
Paul L. Doughty, Contributing Editor and Secretary
The 2010 ASA session in New Orleans was well attended by an average of 40 colleagues throughout a fascinating morning-long encounter. The session, Return to the Natives, featured presenters James Sabella, T Walter Dye, Elaine Kane, Tony Paredes, Alice Kehoe, Susan Kenyon, Maria Cattell, Myrdene Anderson, Barbara Joans and this writer recounting their past experiences in light of their revisits after many years. Analysis of their return visits to research sites around the world provided our perceptive discussant JoAllyn Archambault ample material for discussion and audience participation.
At the annual members’ and business luncheon held at the Monteleone Hotel, outgoing president Tony Paredes started a new tradition as he presented ASA with an historic leather gavel after reviewing issues that concern us (see the February AN column). The now official ASA presidential gavel was passed to our new leader, Herb Lewis, followed immediately by Alice Kehoe’s dramatic delivery of a diploma de honor to our startled ex-president.
Then came the winter holidays with family visits and, living in Florida, we took trips to the Kennedy Space Center and Sea World to assuage our Swedish granddaughter’s curiosity.
It was also the end of a conflicted year from global to local issues, and also in AAA whose apparent reticence in lowering dues for all retired members (regardless of income level) and the blurring of the centrality of scientific research in the discipline has left many disenchanted. ASA will continue to seek dues relief for retirees as other social science associations provide their members.
Consequently I welcomed the opportunity to begin the new year in a positive vein, traveling to Santa Fe for a board meeting of the Chijnaya Foundation. An interesting, eclectic group met there, presided over by Ralph Bolton, its founder, ASA member and the 2010 recipient of the AAA Franz Boas Award. His connection to the altiplano Quechua community of Chijnaya in Puno, Peru began as a Peace Corps volunteer in 1962–65 and was renewed in 2003 when a community member emailed him, asking Ralph to return for a visit. This led to his organizing the foundation which since then has joined with the community in meeting its needs by helping carry out ten projects there and in nine other communities in the Lake Titicaca region, dealing with health, agricultural production, education and water supply (details are available at www.chijnayafoundation.com). How rewarding it is to see anthropological knowledge and skill put to use in an effective way.
All of this served as a reminder that the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps is this year, marking the innovative and challenging program that provided the vehicle for giving over 200,000 Americans the opportunity to learn first-hand about the diversity of human cultures while working to assist people in 139 countries (77 at present). When I helped evaluate the first PC groups in Peru in 1962–64 my thought was that although the PCVs could accomplish a variety of useful things in their two years, a major impact would be on the volunteers themselves and what they would do upon return. It can be argued that they were the major beneficiaries because for many, these were life-changing experiences leading into the field of anthropology (as happened to Bolton) or entered other social sciences and human service-oriented work. Over the years like many others, I often had former PCVs in class, as anthropology majors. It would be interesting to know how many in our profession entered it via this route. Perhaps we can find out.
In the meantime, ASA Program Chair Alice Kehoe has developed a two-session scenario for the 2011 AAA meeting. You should have received a notice of this on our listserv: one organized by Sue Kenyon (firstname.lastname@example.org) called “First Fieldwork,” the other organized by Leonard Plotnikov (email@example.com) and Paula Rubel (firstname.lastname@example.org) titled “Mentors of Your Mentors.” We may even qualify in terms of themes, according to the leitmotif of these annual meetings: Traces, Tidemarks and Legacies.
Alas, there are some things we cannot know, but if your questions apply to ASA, please contact President Herb Lewis (hslewis@ wisc.edu), past President Tony Paredes (janthonyparedes@ bellsouth.net), new President-elect, Paula Rubel (pgr4@ columbia.edu), Treasurer Margo Smith (email@example.com) or Secretary/Contributing Editor Paul Doughty (firstname.lastname@example.org).
ASA February 2011 AN Column
Paul L. Doughty, Contributing Editor and Secretary
ASA enjoyed an excellent 2010 session in New Orleans—interesting papers, strong attendance and a business luncheon. We plan to repeat this pattern in Montreal and to that end ASA Program Chair Alice Kehoe welcomes your ideas. Please watch our website at www.aaanet.org/sections/asa/index.cfm for plans and details. At the business meeting our new president, Herb Lewis, carefully accepted the historic gavel photo from Tony Paredes who reviews his term as president and disciplinary concerns below. An interesting history of our official gavel is found on our website.
Good-bye and Fare Well
By J Anthony Paredes
It’s been an invigorating two years as president. Thanks to the efforts of many, ASA has done a lot: (1) tidying up our bylaws; (2) makeover of our website (www.aaanet.org/sections/asa/index.cfm); (3) establishing a discussion list (email@example.com); (4) compiling a (near complete) list of past officers over our 20-year history; (5) superb annual meeting sessions; (6) nurturing ties to the Association of Indigenous Anthropologists and National Association of Student Anthropologists; (7) securing a publisher (University of Alabama Press) for the Kehoe and Doughty edited collection of ASA papers, Expanding Anthropology, 1945–1980: A Generation Reflects; (8) delicious luncheon business meetings; (9) dramatically expanded membership to more than 200 members. ASA also received a substantial gift from Philip Singer to support the collaborative project, The Final Participation Observation: Cultural Anthropologists Confront Their Mortality. It will produce several 60–90 minute videorecorded interviews to be donated to AAA. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
There have been disappointments, too. Despite our efforts and Section Assembly (SA) support, we did not persuade the AAA Executive Board to restore across-the-board retiree membership dues. For now, the ASA executive committee will see what comes of the EB’s review of the whole dues structure, prompted in part by our 2009 retiree-dues resolution.
Speaking of the SA, as a first-time section president I was surprised to see just how much they do. Having recently served on the AAA EB, I knew the SA is a significant force in AAA governance. Yet I still thought of the section system as a somewhat recent addition to AAA, despite being nearly 30 years old. From the inside, it is clear that the SA is an arena for many worthwhile debates. It may reflect the expanding bureaucracy of AAA, but a certain amount of bureaucracy is necessary as any organization grows and becomes more complex.
Along with that bureaucratization, I’ve been personally disturbed by the trend toward corporatization that I see in anthropology today. I took to heart President Eisenhower’s farewell address warning of the dangers of “the military industrial complex.” AAA seems laudably ever-alert to the “military” side of the equation: witness the AAA response to HTS. But, with its various partnerships and sponsorships, AAA sometimes seems to be slipping into the thrall of the industrial side—which nowadays resides as much in apps on your cell phone as in smokestacks along the skyline; witness AAA collaboration in EPIC.
Let me own up to my greatest failing as ASA president. I should have made a much bigger stink about the proposed changes to the AAA long-range plan deleting such words as “science,” “ethnological” and “human problems,” approved by the AAA Executive Board in November 2010. It turned my stomach. My only excuse is that the SA did not learn of this impending debacle until October 2010. I fired off a quick comment to the SA but assumed that there would be plenty of opportunity for open, spirited debate among the membership at large. How wrong I was. There is cause for hope. Some years ago after a similar fiasco in the Society for Applied Anthropology, we restored that organization’s original statement of purpose, crafted by the likes of Margaret Mead.
A final hopeful note: I’ve just finished reading two brilliant, erudite but blunt essays by our new president Herb Lewis (see our website and archive) documenting the dissembling, dismembered degeneration, dissolution, and dissipation of anthropology (my words, not his) during the past 45 years. Despite it all, Herb ends with an optimistic tone. Perhaps with Herb’s leadership ASA can help restore anthropology to its legitimate historic place as “the science of human differences and similarities” and along the way reclaim our moral center.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve ASA.
Tony (email@example.com) now graduates as an ordinary member of the ASA board to accompany President Herbert Lewis (firstname.lastname@example.org); President-Elect Paula Rubel (email@example.com); Treasurer Margo Smith (firstname.lastname@example.org); and Secretary and Editor Paul Doughty (email@example.com).
ASA January 2011 AN Column
Paul L. Doughty, Contributing Editor and Secretary
ASA Meets Its 21st New Year
I have a few New Year’s resolutions to make, but it is virtually impossible to decide about priorities. This column was due before the November AAA Annual Meeting and I just finished writing my paper for the ASA session—which I am sure will be (was) another great one.
In the process of writing my AAA paper about returning to my first research site in Peru, I discovered that the District of Huaylas has an informative website. Unable to return to this favorite Andean place in person during the past six years, the website proved useful. I felt as though I were virtually there, dancing in the streets during the July 8 fiesta and observing local events firsthand.
Tentative resolution 1: I resolve to take better advantage of this research opportunity, thereby avoiding expensive, non-deductible travel costs and perhaps a case of soroche, although I would miss having the traditional preventive cup of coca tea. As we open this door of new research capabilities, it is well to keep the origins and meaning of the virtual dimension in mind. According to the dictionary, “Virtual, adjective” refers to something that is “almost or nearly as described, but not completely or according to strict definition:” as in, the virtual absence of political reality. The word derives from “Middle English: from Medieval Latin virtualis, from Latin virtus, virtue (in the sense of possessing certain virtues,” ie, something good and useful) and thus the conflict between virtue and virtual is joined.
As it turns out, most of us are bereft of our former offices, support staff and other accoutrements of professional status, but we seniors may survive in this new milieu of virtual reality. Indeed, my virtual professional environment consists of a handy Mac laptop that allows me to re-create my professional modus operandi. In fact, my virtual desktop has come to resemble the real one I used to have, littered with files, odds and ends of messages, notes of future interest and other miscellany. Because of this uncanny recreation of my former reality, I continue to relive my past life, although retired.
Resolution 2: I hereby resolve to clean up the mess and properly file things in their rightful places, or put them in the virtual trash.
The next item on my virtual culture list has to do with ASA, the brave band of seniors who fearlessly declare their maturity once each year in the presence of vast numbers of others. This year our membership has achieved new heights. Nevertheless our interactions are attenuated by the conditions of our relationships. The November column, now on our webpage, was really virtual, apparently lost in the ether world, never reaching its virtuous destination in AN. What we had was virtual communication in the Internet mode of interaction, texting and writing in acronymic words, LOL. R u with me on this?
Resolution 3: Emphasize updating my skills in these virtual regards. I gotta stay young at heart and mind, although I’m not sure about texting. Nevertheless, as Tony Paredes “said” in email to our Alabama Press editor, “Don’t feel obliged to come [to the ASA luncheon], but it would be nice for the membership to put a human face on the press.” Well, our book is virtually in hard copy form.
There you have it. We just can’t seem to manage without that personal contact thing. How ironic is it that we can experience life in odd places through contrived TV reality shows, seeming “almost or nearly as described.” As I utilized this new source of long distance information for my paper the whole notion and importance of virtuality in our time became clear, sort of. How far can the new anthropology plunge into that almost real world of virtual field research, publishing, teaching, friendship, talking and community? And, how many of us have virtual pets (cyberpet, digipet) comforting us through these times?