ASA December 2010 AN Column

ASA December 2010 AN Column
Paul L. Doughty, Contributing Editor and Secretary

I write this amid an abundance of general excitement: the fall elections with fact-less analyses, avalanches of cash and the rejection by many of fact for fiction; war and bombings, disaster frustrations and frauds, murderous drug cartels and their victims; and then, finally something to cheer for other than sports—the Chilean mine rescues. As millions of people around the world found joy in watching miners emerge from the “earth capsule” to be embraced by family members and Chileans became enraptured by a sense of comradeship, I couldn’t help but reflect on Walter Goldschmidt’s last book, The Bridge to Humanity: How Affect Hunger Trumps the Selfish Gene.

As in almost all disasters, when peril and affliction are shared, community cohesion is significantly revived, concern for the other manifested, affection expressed and acted on. Communities become engaged across societal divisions in common cause. But it is difficult to build on this base, perpetuating the positive and constructive social values that provide succor during crises that can enable a society to become better in collectively resolving serious problems. Yet, those not closely involved slip away to other matters, and the situation may inspire some to take advantage of societal plight. In our day, the latest “breaking news” often takes us on paths of trivial pursuit, a distraction from problems that diverts attention from important affairs. Such management of the public recalls both George Orwell’s 1984 prolies and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World of pleasurable distraction and manipulation; both were written in the context of the worldwide depression of the 1930s.

Viewing US public affairs today, one feels and sees disagreement and divisions criss-crossing through the cultural and social fabric as a perverse weave, a herringbone pattern gone awry. In a scientific and scholarly sense this panorama of human behavior is a banquet table set for the anthropologist and those in other social sciences. Do we have the theoretical, methodological and applied tools to analyze, explain and promote understanding of these phenomena, and moreover, do we have the commitment and willingness to utilize this knowledge on behalf of the common welfare, across the boundaries of culture, power and faith?

Over the past several years, I have perceived a significant shift in anthropological perspectives, from the old essentially “hands off” approach to today’s focus on engagement in resolving the many cultural dilemmas of conflict, well-being, respect, exploitation and domination that confront people everywhere. A cursory review of American Anthropologist (AA) through AnthroSource indicates that as the Great Depression sank its roots into society, many colleagues in the early 1930s seemed not to involve themselves professionally in that arena. But interest in acculturation grew and Ralph Linton’s famous article in American Mercury (1937), “One Hundred Percent American,” began to raise public awareness of global connections. He had already used much of that article in his landmark text, The Study of Man (1936). We may take note that 1936 was the “breakout” year for a modernizing anthropology as the “Memorandum on the Study of Acculturation” by Redfield, Linton and Herskovits (AA, 1936) had the effect of giving permission to research cultural change in all its dimensions, and not just using the ethnographic present approach that was so dominant in our past.

Thus the business of understanding the other continues and fits well into current issues and affairs as we again develop xenophobic fears inspired by confrontations with people whose societies we fail to understand. Could the need for a tight bond between the theoretical and applied branches of our discipline be more acute than it is today? Or, the need to put our research-derived findings into the public arena to aid all of us in coping with a conflicted world of 6.6 billion people?

Along this theme, our ASA book documenting some of the changes that greatly enlarged the scope of the discipline in the post–World War II era, Expanding American Anthropology 1945–1980 (forthcoming, University of Alabama Press) was advertised at the meetings and will be available shortly. The book contains 22 chapters based on papers given at recent ASA sessions that cover a wide range of topics.

ASA April 2010 AN Column

Anthropology News • April 2010 • Volume 51 • Issue 4
Paul L Doughty, Contributing Editor

Anthropologists Crash the Headlines

It is always interesting to find that an anthropological colleague has gained fame by becoming a headliner in the public media. In that domain, the late Margaret Mead had no contemporary peers and she has become an icon outside the discipline as well as in it. I could first identify with this “close to fame” phenomenon in the mid-1950s when as a graduate student I watched my University of Pennsylvania professors Carleton Coon, Alfred Kidder and others match wits on the CBS program “What in the World,” identifying unusual artifacts from the Penn Museum.

The esoteric in anthropology has long fascinated the public and attracted media attention. Thus, through Internet communiqués from our fearless ASA leader, Tony Paredes, this headline from the New York Times (October 22, 1902) was called to my attention: “ANTHROPOLOGISTS IN DISPUTE: Lively Controversy Over Coining the Word ‘Amerind’: The discussion evoked such terms as “hybrid” “mongrel” and “monster”—Toscanelli Letters declared to be forgeries.”

Participants at the International Congress of Amercanists heard the word from JD McGuire, and at once, Franz Boas, Frederick Starr and others opposed its use. The word “Amerind” was introduced by Major John Wesley Powell, founder of the Bureau of American Ethnology (BAE), and according to WJ McGee of the BAE, the term was being used by “one half of ethnology students.” Discussion then wandered to Columbus, and a European participant was quoted by the Times as saying “Columbus, ze bold seaman, he simply say, ‘I show you ze shortest way to India where grow ze spice…” All the news that’s fit to print, ad captandum vulgus, so to speak.

Even as we fast forward to our “era” of high speed communications and Google I wonder if we can ever escape “the exotic” image of anthropology, concerned only with strange “others” or explaining what some take to be “obvious.” Thus, Nancy Banks-Smith, writing in The Guardian (July 21, 1988) noted: “Anthropology is the science which tells us that people are the same the whole world over—except when they are different.” Well sort of, I guess. Back when I was teaching Cultural Anthropology 101, I refused to use textbooks with exotic cover photographs of the “other” with filed teeth or a bone through the nose. I wanted facilitate the students’ being able to apply what I was saying to themselves and not just to illustrate strangeness. All that of course is now moot, what with tattoos and tongue, belly button and genital “jewelry,” as many of our kids may have become “the other!” Occasionally however, “the media” do find us appropriate sources for understanding life and its problems. Thus my colleague Gerald Murray was called upon for some comments about the Haitian disaster by Newsweek. Others also have been tapped for professional information and analysis: Paul Farmer (and his NGO, Partners in Health) is often featured for his past and current efforts in Haiti, and Mark Schuller contributed an important analysis of Haitian conditions in “Uncertain Ground: Haiti’s Earthquake and its Aftermath” (Huffington Post, February 15, 2010). Bill Beeman’s contributions regarding Iran are especially noteworthy through his book The Great Satan vs the Mad Mullahs, and also through his frequent blog posts and press releases dealing with Middle Eastern affairs. I discovered ASA member Bryan Page, as interviewed for Discovery News, on a site called Alltop. That is just one of dozens of such sites that feature anthropologically informed coverage. Other key sites, for those interested, include (with posts in English, German and Norwegian) and the AAA website, blog and Twitter feed.

The initial example indicated that although it is nice and prestigious to be quoted in the New York Times, problems in communication do arise. However, the larger difficulty with contemporary self-generated “new media” output is the sheer amount of it and its dispersal across every “corner” of the Internet, making it a challenge to utilize and, in many cases, evaluate. I find myself bookmarking more interesting sites every day. Where will it end? What happened to that convenient box of 3×5 index cards? The answers to these and other of “life’s persistent questions” for senior anthropologists are explored annually at the AAA meeting. We hope to see you there this November in New Orleans.

ASA November 2010 AN Column

ASA November 2010 AN Column
Paul L. Doughty, Contributing Editor and Secretary

The New Orleans AAA Meeting

The word is that this will be a large gathering of anthropologists on our return to “the big easy,” an old reference to the city that seems inappropriate for this time and context. Apparently we are all ready with a record number of total papers registered. Last time the annual meeting was in New Orleans Polly and I helped celebrate the 100th anniversary of AAA with president Don Brenneis et al and indulged in a faux Mardi Gras festival amidst the traditional paraphernalia and music. There was also a rather unique event at that meeting, an anthropological musical skit with Phil Bock presenting his “Anthro Anthem” about getting a job and hiring practices. I don’t think the CD went gold however.

For those of us who have not returned to this city since 2002 AN has provided us with a list of “must-see” and party places like old times. I’m sure as well, that many will be interested in doing some professional observing in the city recovering from the disaster. One FAQ almost lost among suggested activities concerns visitors who wish to help in some way, besides just by leaving their dollars behind. The state Lt. Governor heads an “official organization that matches volunteer opportunities with volunteers, called Volunteer Louisiana” ( that features a famous quote from Margaret Mead. Nevertheless, there appears to be little that we might due in our spare time during these five days except create an “impact” by our presence as we let “Laissez les bons temps rouler…Let the good times roll.”

The ASA “signature” events: These will again include an excellent session, “Return to the Natives” with 14 participants including, JoAnn Glittenberg, James Sabela, Wayne Dye, Marjorie Schweitzer, Eileen Kane, Anthony Paredes, Alice Kehoe, Susan Kenyon, Maria Cattell, Myrdene Anderson, Barbara Joans, Paul Doughty and JoAllyn Archambault. This is on Thursday morning from 8 to 11:45. Second on the program is the Board, Business and Member Luncheon held from 12 noon to 2pm at the Monteleone Hotel at 214 Royal St. at the edge of the French Quarter, about three blocks from the Sheraton. There we will enjoy a collegial meal and discuss ASA initiatives regarding Senior AAA dues, plans for 2011, and other matters. Consult our website for details. On the ASA website you will also find back editions of this column, our session program, and news of interest from members and other ASA materials.

The ASA Book. Although it was mentioned in the October column, it feels good to highlight it again. The University of Alabama Press will publish EXPANDING AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGY 1945-1980: A GENERATION REFLECTS based on our past sessions. We look forward to seeing it.

Anthropological Notes. This summer, the International Herald Tribune caught my eye with this news: “High in the Himalayas, a marital custom vanishes.” Polyandry almost gone? How will we be able to teach about types of kinship? And then there was this news, also in the IHT, that the “Iroquois side stuck in U.S. limbo over visa dispute.” The Iroquois Confederacy engaged the State Department with its attempts to use Tribal Passports instead of U.S. ones in order to participate in the world lacrosse games. These items of classic anthropological interest were apparently not reported in the major U.S. news media. But wait, in last year’s AAA meeting, not one paper title or abstract referred to “kinship” or “polyandry” or “Iroquois” so maybe these formerly favorite topics have vanished from anthropological interest as well! In Gainesville Florida we experienced the brouhaha surrounding the misadventures of a local cult, the ironically named “Dove Outreach Center,” whose leader Terry Jones made headlines everywhere and inflamed passions in the Muslim world. It is over and nothing happened other than the noise made by the hundreds of media representatives who came, then silently slipped away. Oh yes, in 2009 our AAA program records nothing under the words such as, “revitalization,” movement or religious cult, either.

We encourage all engaged anthropologists “indulging in retirement” to join us again in pursuing those professional activities we enjoy. Although being “retired” is not a criterion for joining ASA, it is well to note that there are over 800 members of AAA who fit that category. If that describes you and if you are involved in anthropology, we would be delighted to welcome you as a member.

Retiree responses to 2009 Annual Meeting evaluation survey
These are tabulations of retiree responses to follow- up survey evaluation of the 2009 Annual Meeting conducted electronically by AAA. Thirty-two (32) respondents identified themselves in the survey questionnaire as “retired,” constituting 23.5% of the 136 who registered at the “Retired” rate for the meeting. Total number of responses to the survey was 931, a response rate of approximately 18%.

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ASA March 2010 AN Column

Anthropology News • March 2010 • Volume 51 • Issue 3
Paul L Doughty, Contributing Editor

As I think about writing an abstract for the 2010 Annual Meeting on our session topic, “Old Friends: Revisiting Field Sites, Decades Later,” the horrific events in Haiti snap my attention back to other earthquakes in El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua and Peru that involved my work and disciplinary perspectives. Like many of us, my experiences were inadvertent events that caught me at the “right” place and moment. Given the nature of much anthropological work however, this is not surprising, nor should such episodes be foreign to our professional awareness and knowledge. Indeed, sociocultural breakdowns may occur in the aftermath of such catastrophes producing important cultural and political changes, as Anthony Wallace has thoroughly demonstrated. In cases like the Haitian tragedy, there are major consequences in the offing that will affect several nations, not only the Haitians. What is to be done?

President Virginia Dominguez quite rightly put out a statement calling attention to some of our connections and professional roles that could develop in response to these occurrences. As it happens, anthropologists have long had a relationship with Haiti, including the pioneering Haitian anthropologist Jean Price-Mars, Melville J Herskovits, Roger Bastide, Zora Neale Hurston, Katherine Dunham, Sidney Mintz, Remy Bastien, Richard Schaedel, Alfred Metraux, Paul Farmer and my Florida colleague Gerald Murray, among many others. Virginia Dominguez calls for us to become professionally involved in this vast and complex disaster. Murray pointed out to me that very few in the discipline have the ability to apply their science as such in the immediate context of the cataclysm. In the long-term recovery, however, a broad spectrum of problematic conditions will inevitably require the kind of input we can supply, if we are so moved to go beyond the academic sphere. I, for one, hope that we will accept these challenges because we can make important contributions. To put this in a larger context, as of this submission (January 15) none of our “sister” associations in sociology, political science, psychology or geography had issued a statement like that by Dominguez.

Here we go again! We will continue to build upon our increasingly popular invited sessions at the annual AAA meeting, this year in New Orleans. Our innovative program chair, Alice Kehoe, is putting together a session sure to capture the interest of dozens of members. If you are interested, contact Alice at akehoe@ or 3014 N Shepard Ave, Milwaukee WI 53211-3436 (414/962-5937) by the March 15 deadline.

Meanwhile, your hard-working, fast emailing, in-touch officers have been following through on our well-attended annual business meeting decisions. Meeting in a “sumptuous” private room in a fine Philadelphia restaurant, we agreed to forward our concerns over the high dues rates charged emeritus and retired members as a resolution to the Section Assembly, which has subsequently agreed to forward it to the AAA Executive Board. With all the “whereases” aside, we agreed: “Be it resolved that emeritus and retired members be encouraged to continue their roles in the AAA recognizing their status in a manner that includes a significant reduction in yearly dues commensurate with those of other professional organizations.” We await the board’s action on this matter.

Meanwhile, our vigilant treasurer, Margo Smith, reported that we now have the most members ever, 169, an increase of 18% since last spring! This increase is the result of a concerted effort by “this administration” to bring in as many of the hundreds of retired and emeritus AAA members out there. Be reminded that there are no age or retirement criteria for membership, however, and attendance at our annual meeting reflects a broad interest. Plan to join us to help anthropology keep the past in contemporary context.

ASA February 2010 AN Column

Anthropology News • February 2010 • Volume 51 • Issue 2
Paul L Doughty, Contributing Editor

In light of all that has been happening over the course of the past six months or so in this country, the following contribution from Alice Kehoe “on stupidity” could possibly assist understanding.

On Stupidity
By Alice Kehoe

Franz Boas received a request, in July 1931, for examples of human stupidity. Walter B Pitkin, preparing the manuscript A Short Introduction to the History of Human Stupidity, explained to Boas that many of the examples he had pursued turned out not to evidence stupidity, thus he sought many more cases, hoping Boas could provide a few. Boas responded to Pitkin’s letter; the book appeared the next year, 1932, published by Simon and Schuster. At 574 pages with a dense detailed index, it is hardly “Stupidity for Dummies.” Bertrand Russell had sent comments on the “psychic mechanism of stupidity,” but Boas is invoked as the authority denying any “deep inner connection” between race and language, or culture and language: “A culture, as Boas correctly maintains, flows from innumerable influences…” Pitkin then asserts a version of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, that grammar exerts an unconscious effect upon a speaker’s thinking. It is a jolt to turn the page and find he continues with extended discussion of the intellectual limitations of Chinese, African American and other people, directly contrary to Boas’ statement.

Boas’ colleague James McKeen Cattell is acknowledged by Stanford professor David Starr Jordan for providing material for a slightly earlier book, The Higher Foolishness (Bobbs-Merrill, 1927). Jordan invents the term “sciosophy,” or “shadow wisdom,” to contrast with “science,” noting that the Greek root skia is also the root for skiouros, “squirrel” (squirrels shade themselves with their tails). The title he takes from Israel Zangwill, and from Edwin Grant Conklin the definition that it is “thinking wishly.” Pitkin calls his work “the epitome of morology,” listing a litany of moronic pronouncements including, on the economy, Hoover and his Secretary of Commerce, Robert Lamont, assuring the nation in 1930 that “Decline has Ceased.” Considering the vast and constant display of stupidity, Pitkin was surprised that the New York Public Library had “only a few short essays, skits, verses, and rather feeble jokes” cataloged as Stupidity. His learned friends were of little help. He did locate two German tomes, Aus der Geschichte der menschlichen Dummheit (Kemmerich 1912) and Über die Dummheit: eine Umschau im Gebiete menschlicher Unzalanglichkeit (Löwenfeld 1921). A generation after Pitkin and Jordan, writer Paul Tabori published The Natural Science of Stupidity (Chilton 1959). His many examples are drawn from European history, and are pleasanter to read than Pitkin’s grossly racist assertions. Tabori concludes his 263-page book, “THE END … but there is … NO END TO HUMAN STUPIDITY.”


Along with many colleagues, I learned at the recent annual AAA meeting that none of us, despite scientific pretensions to the contrary, is exempt from this human proclivity. Ample evidence reveals that “morologists” are on the loose everywhere, in print and on the airwaves. Nevertheless, many colleagues in the social sciences safeguard against detection by employing arcane, convoluted and verbose modes of expression that discourage critical analysis by anyone beyond a tribal circle of followers.

Quite a different experience benefited a large and diverse group of attendees at the 2009 ASA session, “Anthropologists Do the Strangest Things,” who heard a set of excellent papers. Among them was Jim Peacock’s review of his successful efforts to help “globalize” North Carolina’s K-12 education statewide, beginning 15 years ago (Grounded Globalism: How the US South Embraces the World, 2007). The effort reached thousands of students and teachers, broadening their cultural and social horizons. He lamented that anthropologists by and large did not seem interested in these efforts, a fact that once again points to the crying need for putting anthropological skills and knowledge to constructive public use. Oh, by the way, on Facebook I received an urgent message that Franz Boas wanted me to confirm that I was his friend! I didn’t waste a minute in responding, yes. It is worth remembering that our founder did not shrink from addressing public issues with anthropological knowledge either.

Finally, ASA is organizing stimulating sessions for the 2010 annual meeting with the topic: “Old Friends: Revisiting Field Sites, Decades Later.” Papers should describe going back to one’s early fieldwork sites, discussing changes and what hasn’t changed—theory implications welcomed. Contact ASA Program Chair Alice Kehoe ( or any of our other officers for information.

ASA January 2010 AN Column

Anthropology News • January 2010 • Volume 51 • Issue 1
Paul L Doughty, Contributing Editor

Who Are We?
By J Anthony Paredes (ASA President)

As I write this in November 2009, Paul Doughty is off to the South Seas. Literally! So, I am sitting in for him. May he and Polly enjoy a wonderful, adventurous escape.

In his December column, Paul told us that Walter Goldschmidt has become—of all things— a blogger at age 96. That’s quite an inspiration for us “young seniors” (now an acknowledged demographic category). But who exactly are “senior anthropologists” and how many are there? Our ASA bylaws are cagily vague on the subject. Membership is open to any AAA member who supports the purpose of ASA, which is “to create a sense of community among senior anthropologists and to further their interests and concerns.” Back in October, member Joel Halpern ( inquired via email, “Do there exist any databases concerning retired anthropologists?” Paul replied that roughly 500 AAA members are registered as retired, but AAA does not collect age data, so “…the only way to get at that info is by the date listed for receiving the PhD, but of course, that is not age, or retirement status.” I took up the challenge and did some “advanced” searches of the 2009–10 AAA Guide, which also includes many anthropologists who are not AAA members but are affiliated with participating organizations.

Entering “emer” and “ret” in the “position title” field (some titles are abbreviated in the Guide) yielded the names of 775 emeritus/ emerita/retired anthropologists. That’s nearly 8% of the approximately 10,000 people in the AAA Guide. The lists do not include, of course, retired anthropologists not affiliated with an institution or organization in the Guide, especially the growing numbers of private sector and government anthropology retirees. Mere lists of names from the AAA Guide don’t tell us much about the demographics of retirees, but perhaps they could provide a starting point for a survey to answer intriguing questions about the role of retirees in anthropology, which Joel Halpern suggested in a later message.

Another correspondent, Philip Singer (, is taking a different, more ethnographic approach to finding out about us. He has submitted a grant proposal (at age 84— another inspiration!) for doing a series of videotaped conversations with senior anthropologists addressing “the question of the relationship between professional anthropological identity and personal identity at the end stage of life.” Many senior anthropologists have not retired. To find them I pursued the year-of-PhD tack Paul suggested (even though that does not include masters’ degree professional anthropologists, of which there are increasing numbers, especially in archaeology). For the 1960s and early 1970s, average age at completion of PhD was assumed to be about 28 (cf, AAA’s Fellow Newsletter, April 1962). Taking age of eligibility for Medicare (age 65) as a reasonable demarcation for “senior” status in society at-large, by my calculation the newest crop of “senior anthropologists” received their PhDs in 1972. There are 150 of them listed in the Guide (by contrast, my 1969 cohort has only 109 listed). The Guide lists a total of 942 individuals who received the PhD before 1972, including 121 from the 1950s.

This doesn’t tell us much about who (or what) senior anthropologists are, but it does tell us there are a lot of us—certainly many more than the 150 or so who belong to ASA. It might even help explain the delightful statistic that AAA webmaster Lisa Myers passed along the other day: Between January 1 and November 12, 2009, there were 2,209 hits on the ASA website. All these numbers, incomplete as they might be, also suggest that as longevity increases, “seniors” will become an ever more significant demographic segment of anthropology. And, one hopes, seniors will become an even more vital and potent intellectual (and political?) force within the discipline. By the way, using the year-of-PhD measure, 96-year-old Walter Goldschmidt with his 1942 PhD is not the most senior anthropologist in the Guide. There are two listed who received their degrees before he did. Go look.

Closing note: neither “emerita” nor “blogger” are in my 2005 computer’s spell check dictionary. As computer technology plows ahead much is left in its wake, but it must move ever faster to catch up with what’s ahead.

ASA November 2009 AN Column

Anthropology News • November 2009 • Volume 50 • Issue 8
Paul L Doughty, Contributing Editor

How We Compare, Then and Now
As the annual meeting draws close we trust that ASA will be well represented in Philadelphia. We encourage you take part in our invited session on Thursday morning (December 3), followed by the annual Members Business and Board Luncheon at McCormick & Schmick’s Restaurant at noon. The meeting always brings questions about ASA, so I thought it would be interesting to review what the ASA founders said about our section’s goals.

In the March 1991 ASA column, by then editor Louana Lackey, ASA President William Schwab enumerated the ambitious aims of ASA as follows: (1) aid senior anthropologists continue to make scientific contributions; (2) help senior anthropologists pursue research through grants and contracts; (3) help senior anthropologists publish scientific data; (4) help senior anthropologists attend and participate in scientific meetings and associations; (5) plan and organize scientific sessions for the AAA and other related associations; (6) establish a listing of senior anthropologists; (7) establish an occupational, job and area registry for senior anthropologists; (8) create a list of available lectures and activities for senior anthropologists; (9) create a secretarial bureau to aid senior anthropologists; (10) correlate the studies of senior anthropologists and bring together cultural, physical, linguistic and archeological anthropologists; (11) petition for change in university customs and rules concerning senior anthropologists with regard to grants, status, office space and secretarial help; and (12) seek grants to accomplish the above goals. Of this ambitious list, we have done fairly well with numbers 1, 4, 5 and 10, and a little with number 3. The other goals listed are now either a function of the AAA, beyond our capacity as a section, or no longer central concerns.

In the same article, professor emerita Lucile E St Hoyme pointed out that retirees faced many financial challenges to their ability to remain active anthropologists upon reaching emeritus status. In particular she observed that changes made by the IRS regarding deductible expenses were especially onerous. The IRS decision two decades ago, St Hoyme said, would deny seniors financial incentives to continue their work, resulting in professional discouragement and a loss of valuable research—a policy that is “penny wise and pound foolish” in her words. But wait a minute! Couldn’t we say the same of the AAA dues structure as applying to retired members?

When one looks at other social science associations, retiree dues rates are dramatically different from ours. For example, the American Sociological Association charges retirees $44 for yearly dues; the American Psychological Association cuts rates after 25 years of membership, setting them at $0 after four years of retirement; the American Political Science Association offers two payment levels based on income, of $61 or $37 per year. And what are the AAA retiree annual dues? They range from $132 for those with income below $25,000, to $300 for those earning over $150,000. I worry about how many of the upcoming generation of a thousand “boomer” retirees will want to continue paying at current rates. There is an anticipatory solution to this dilemma, which relatively few have taken advantage of, but which I encourage. By becoming a Life Member, one can pay a large initial rate up front and receive a long-term benefit. In my case, at the urging of my prescient spouse I paid the (then) great sum of $600 in the late 1970s and never looked back.

ASA October 2009 AN Column

Anthropology News • October 2009 • Volume 50 • Issue 7
Paul L Doughty, Contributing Editor

Conspiracy in the Making? The ASA Connection
What does the anthropological community expect of retiring members? Philanthropy? Silence? Fade out? Disappearance? A former student of mine recently wrote to ask my advice about his upcoming retirement and professional options. In addition to requiring planning, this is something that produces great joy for many, but may cause confusion and consternation for others.

In the extreme, the end of one’s formal professional career may raise issues like those produced in the so-called health care debate, dominated by unfounded fear and hysteria: As senior anthropologists, are our careers doomed? If so, who serves on the AAA career “death panels”? And what about senior anthropologists’ university pensions and AAA insurance—will they cut ours off when names are dropped from university listings? Or is it our money they are after as “donations”—to be used for others who aren’t so generous? Why should we give support to a professional association when our professional careers seem “over”? Obviously all seniors should get their protest signs and bullhorns ready to demand answers at the AAA Annual Meeting—or, I suppose we could take a slightly more positive approach and attend to stay engaged with our disciplinary community, to see friends and colleagues, and to continue learning about current work in the field.

At this year’s meeting, ASA will be joined in its invited session, “Anthropologists Do the Strangest Things,” by the Society for the Anthropology of North America (SANA). This event, the first in history, takes place on December 3, 8:00– 10:00 am in room 413 at the Marriott. Barbara Joans will chair the session for six distinguished presenters and a discussant. We trust that there will be seating for all seeking to listen. You’ll get an inkling of the feelings of Edward González- Tennant, Barbara Joans, Stanley Newman, Jennifer Brown, J Bryan Page and Jim Peacock as reflected in their paper titles: “Pirate Philosophy, Counter- Mapping, and Post-Racial Protest”; “Becoming a Girl Again: Anthropology in Court”; “Human Behavior in Disasters”; “Beyond the Savage and the Primitive”; “Music and Marihuana”; and “Grounded Globalism.”

Following the invited session, the famous ASA “Invited” Members Board and Business Luncheon takes place on Thursday at noon “off site” at the well-known McCormick & Schmick restaurant, located at 1 South Broad St, three blocks from the Marriott. We look forward to having ASA members and “wannabes” join with colleagues in good conversation, some ASA business and a fine repast—an ASA member benefit!

There is more! Some of you may have noticed that at the Philadelphia meeting ASA will have a joint roundtable discussion with the National Association of Student Anthropologists (NASA). Scheduled for Friday at 4:00 pm in the Grand Ballroom Salon with the suggestive title “Alternate Generation Solidarity,” this collective endeavor is certain to raise fear among ruling elites. Think of it: young rebels and old “free” radicals together! And that is not all! We are also in league with the Association of Indigenous Anthropologists (AIA) in supporting their roundtable session on Friday at 10:15 am in room 413 (the same room as our joint session with SANA).

Although most of us are retired, one doesn’t have to be of any particular age to be part of ASA, just mature enough. Indeed, a number of our current members are still gathering regular paychecks. However, if even half of all retired AAA members (well over 500 persons) should make an appearance at the annual AAA Business Meeting asking about AAA group health care for example, it would be attention-getting. If these retirees joined ASA and came to our annual member luncheon we would need a ballroom. Why not?

Regardless of such speculation, we urge all those mature enough to join ASA for the paltry sum of $10 per annum dues. We welcome you to become an ASA member during the annual meeting at the AAA booth in the exhibit area, so you don’t forget to do it later on.

ASA January 2009 AN Column

Anthropology News • December 2009 • Volume 50 • Issue 9
Paul L Doughty, Contributing Editor

A Word in Your Ear
Last spring, I found myself on Facebook without full comprehension as to what was entailed. It was a virtual accident so to speak. The next morning I opened my email to discover that 70 people wanted to “be my friends.” Most of them I already thought were my friends, and some were folks I didn’t know or recognize. Their demand was that I “confirm” that fact— how off-putting is that! One learns from experience however, even in a “senior” fashion, but how much time does one really want to spend in front of the small flat screen?

That said, however, I thank Alice Kehoe for calling my attention to a recent Internet development of considerable interest to anthropologists in general and to seniors in particular. She referred me to a wonderful anthropological blog (that’s right, blog!) written by our own Walter Goldschmidt (http://waltergoldschmidt. I am not surprised by this so much as being immensely impressed and pleased for several reasons. The first is that being 96 years of age, Wally is still on the front burners of intellectual action as he has been throughout his anthropological career beginning in the 1930s. The second is that he is in the process of artfully and systematically reviewing his life in the context of anthropological thought and practice. Third, he is opening his work up for instant review, comment and dialogue with those who make comments or ask questions. Having avoided Internet babble as much as possible (I am seldom responsive to Facebook’s demands) I became familiar with blogging nevertheless through the reading of my daughter’s blog about her life in Sweden, a personal and family “voyage” over the past year or so. Along the way she quickly collected an amazing readership reaching over 7,000 from more than 60 countries—”my community” she called it. Since her unexpected death this past spring, those numbers have risen to over 10,000 readers from 90 countries! A friend soon discovered that the entire blog could be purchased as a nicely bound paperback for $10 for the 283 pages with many photographs—a marvelous family legacy indeed.

Thus, as one considers Goldschmidt’s growing contribution in this same vein but on a far broader canvas, one appreciates the fact that his productive enterprise should reach a very large audience both in the US and abroad, as indeed it already has. His “Nota Bene” at the start strikes home for many of us: “I shall offer presentation of a book of memoirs that I have long intended to write but am only now getting around to.” In view of the fact that most of us won’t be able to wait to be 96 before writing, the intellectual pathway he is following could signal a direction in which many of us could go right now as a method of getting our professional thoughts and information out to the discipline and beyond. It means, of course, resorting to a new format for self-publishing, a much denigrated action as it bypasses the rigors of editorial and peer review. Nevertheless it allows a kind of freedom and openness not otherwise available, and in the blog context such works are open to critical and collaborative comment, available for all to see.

But how much time do you want to allot to the small screen? Wally has already written (as of this writing on October 15) eleven entries since August with many more to go, but these can all be downloaded and printed; read in your easy chair, cited and commented upon. Here, perhaps, is an answer to making one’s back data and various observations available to others. The requirements for successful publishing haven’t changed of course: one must be an able and interesting author, with something of value to say to another generation.

Regarding such legacy issues, and this being the “giving season,” Louise Lamphere reminds me that there is a way to make an immediate contribution to the future generations of anthropologists without peer review or other hurdles. Rather than writing a memoir (which you might not “get around to”) you should consider a contribution to the AAA fellowship endowments. I am told that the minority fellowship endowment is close to reaching its goal, so a significant number of modest donations could firmly establish our first such award. Think about it.