Anthropology, Science, and the AAA Long-Range Plan: What Really Happened

Nicholas Wade in the NY Times article Anthropology a Science? Statement Deepens a Rift has brought the controversy over the American Anthropological Association dropping “science” from its long-range plan back into the public eye.

The decision has reopened a long-simmering tension between researchers in science-based anthropological disciplines — including archaeologists, physical anthropologists and some cultural anthropologists — and members of the profession who study race, ethnicity and gender and see themselves as advocates for native peoples or human rights.

I already covered the controversy in my post Anthropology, Science and Public Understanding, where I also provide an up-to-date list of reactions to the controversy – including reactions to Wade’s NYT article. So look there for my points about the changes in the AAA long-range plan and the different takes anthropologists have had. Because today I want to provide a more accurate recounting of the controversy than Wade presents, and also defend anthropology.

Why Did the Controversy Explode? An Internal Process Gone Public

Nicholas Wade paints the explosion in light of the “bitter tribal warfare after the more politically active group attacked work on the Yanomamo people of Venezuela and Brazil by Napoleon Chagnon, a science-oriented anthropologist, and James Neel, a medical geneticist.”

This is not an apt reading of what actually happened. The issues that prompted this debate are both more mundane and more central to the present state of anthropology than some “tribal warfare” trope. Indeed, in the more than 50 reactions to the AAA decision, the el Dorado controversy has been a minor sidenote, when mentioned at all.

The blow-up over the dropping of “science” began as a two-step process: (1) a new document created through an internal process became public, and (2) initial reactions on the Internet fueled a broader controversy through polarizing takes on the meaning of that document.

As I understand it, the leadership of the American Anthropological Association made the decision to update the association’s long-term plan, which was last revised in 1983. As the AAA officers wrote in the subsequent public release of the plan (after the controversy had erupted):

Our AAA long-range plan needed updating in order to address the changing composition of the profession and the needs of the AAA membership. At its November 20 meeting in New Orleans, the Executive Board specified, concretized, and enlarged its operational roadmap for investing the Association’s resources towards a sustainable future. Section leadership was consulted prior to the New Orleans Annual Meeting, and the Executive Board acted.

To summarize: A long-range planning committee worked on revisions to the overall plan. The revised plan was then sent to section heads – the different sub-organizations within the AAA – as an internal document. Here information is not clear. I have seen claims that not all section heads received the new document. I have also not heard that there was any feedback by section heads on the long-range document prior to the AAAs. [Update: See this comment for a thorough accounting on what happened.] In any case, the section heads were consulted, and the long-range planning committee then presented the revised document to the Executive Board during the AAAs. Accepting that the proper internal processes had been followed, the Executive Board voted to accept the plan.

The changes in the AAA long-range plan would likely have remained largely internal. The only “news” about it was an email sent by the president of the Society for Anthropological Sciences to its members as well as to the AAA protesting the removal of all mention of science and potential loss of support from AAA members. The email was sent on Tuesday, November 23rd, two days after the AAA meetings ended in New Orleans

On November 30th, Inside Higher Ed published an article entitled “Anthropology without Science.” Though Peter Wood’s piece in The Chronicle of Higher Education came the day before, and another article on Anthropologists Debate Whether ‘Science’ Is a Part of Their Mission also appeared in the Chronicle on the 30th, this Inside Higher Ed piece is really what kicked off the controversy in a public fashion. Barbara King tweeted about it, and the article was then projected widely by others, and the label of #aaafail appeared. It was also the piece the AAA leadership reacted to, as it is the first of two pieces mentioned by the AAA officers in their public statement about the controversy.

Why did this Inside Higher Ed piece kick off such a controversy? Largely because it framed the changes as reflecting a polarizing debate within the field of anthropology, and then used two blog posts to generate this perception of enormous opposition within the field.

Some [anthropologists] also say privately that this conflict marks the latest in a running cycle of perceived exclusions among the heterodox discipline… More fundamentally, the dispute has brought to light how little common ground is shared by anthropologists who span a wide array of sub-specialties.

The journalist Dan Berrett then used a November 25th blog post on the Psychology Today network, Alice Dreger’s “No Science, Please. We’re Anthropologists.”, to highlight the science side: her post “distinguished between ‘fluff-head cultural anthropological types who think science is just another way of knowing’ and those who pay closer attention to hard data — and follow that data wherever they lead.”

Berrett then used Recycled Mind’s November 26th Views from the ANThill: Anthropology as Science post to emphasize the opposition that Dreger advanced. This post “argued that continuing to use the term ‘science’ in the association’s mission statement had become a concern because it maintained ‘the colonizing, privileging, superior positionality of anthropology that continues to plague the discipline’.”

Opposition? No. A Field Moving Forward

Wade’s NY Times article largely repeats this trope of opposition.

Dr. Peregrine… said in an interview that the dropping of the references to science “just blows the top off” the tensions between the two factions… He attributed what he viewed as an attack on science to two influences within anthropology. One is that of so-called critical anthropologists, who see anthropology as an arm of colonialism and therefore something that should be done away with. The other is the postmodernist critique of the authority of science. “Much of this is like creationism in that it is based on the rejection of rational argument and thought.”

Is this true? No. Examining anthropology as part of colonialism is simply good history – that is how the field came to be, and that history has had a negative legacy that anthropologists have fought hard to overcome. And post-modern critiques have permitted us to understand the limits of science and also to understand better how science plays out in public discourse and ideologies – like equating post-modernism as a scholarly movement with creationism.

As Lance Gravlee just tweeted, “Leave it to Nicholas Wade to pit ‘science-based anthropological disciplines’ in opposition to study of race.” It is precisely the mix of science and critical thought about race that has been at the center of anthropological work since the days of Franz Boas. As testament to this synthetic mixture, the American Anthropological Association recently developed the important public project on “RACE: Are We So Different?

Since that Inside Higher Ed piece, I see the controversy as playing out in this way. Anthropologists who are part of the AAA organization have led an online discussion on science and our vision for anthropology that has been inclusive and productive. People outside the organization and the discipline continue to hype the “tribal warfare” trope of a divided and embattled discipline, while also playing up the headline grabbing but wrong notion that “anthropologists are rejecting science.”

I don’t have time to demonstrate this in-depth today. So the briefest of evidence, the latest comment on the Inside Higher Ed piece is by Catherine Lutz, who is most definitely a critical anthropologist. She wrote on December 8th:

Most departments of anthropology happily work together each day with a diversity of members, some of whom take more humanistic approaches and some of whom take more scientific ones. All of them aspire to rigor and rarely disparage either their colleagues in biochemistry or their colleagues in French literature for not understanding the worlds that they choose to study…

And hopefully anyone perusing these comments looking for a representation of “how most anthropologists think” about these issues will not confuse the often quite polemical and angry sentiments posted here with the cooperative and collegial field of anthropology as a whole.

Update: I go on to demonstrate the inclusiveness of anthropologists writing about the controversy, with an emphasis on both science and culture, in the post Anthropology after the “Science” Controversy: We’re Moving Ahead

Update: The American Anthropological Association has just released a new statement, What Is Anthropology? It includes the specific lines:

To understand the full sweep and complexity of cultures across all of human history, anthropology draws and builds upon knowledge from the social and biological sciences as well as the humanities and physical sciences.

Update: The AAA has also released AAA Responds to Public Controversy Over Science in Anthropology:

Some recent media coverage, including an article in the New York Times, has portrayed anthropology as divided between those who practice it as a science and those who do not, and has given the mistaken impression that the American Anthropological Association (AAA) Executive Board believes that science no longer has a place in anthropology. On the contrary, the Executive Board recognizes and endorses the crucial place of the scientific method in much anthropological research. To clarify its position the Executive Board is publicly releasing the document “What Is Anthropology?” that was, together with the new Long-Range Plan, approved at the AAA’s annual meeting last month.

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27 Responses to Anthropology, Science, and the AAA Long-Range Plan: What Really Happened

  1. For a political-economy dimension to the debate that needs to be considered, I recommend Paul Manning’s comment on Savage Minds, which starts out:

    “I think it’s charming that anyone on either side believes that these epistemological debates (1) are consequential at the level of the discipline and (2) are being carried on in good faith in any case. The marxist in me, which is also the empiricist in me, has never seen these debates rise except within internal labor markets (departments) as part of highly-interested battles over resources and control of departments. My data from comparing notes with colleagues in departments in which these debates rage shows ‘scientifically’ that epistemological debates are the superstructure, or really just a fluff or mummery or window-dressing for battles over control of the resources.”

    http://savageminds.org/2010/12/01/why-anthropology-is-true-even-if-it-is-not-science/#comment-703266

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  2. KBHC says:

    Well done, Daniel! And I had the exact same thought as Lance Gravlee when I read Nicholas Wade’s article — and in fact it was Lance’s work, and a few others, that came to mind when I read it as easy examples of where Wade was wrong. I do wish Wade had actually done some research and looked at the many blog posts written on the topic (like those in your great round-up) before setting up a useless, even problematic, dichotomy.

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  4. Peter Peregrine says:

    I want to clarify a couple of items in your post.

    You write: “As I understand it, the leadership of the American Anthropological Association made the decision to update the association’s long-term plan, which was last revised in 1983.” This is inaccurate. The Association’s mission statement was last revised in 1983 during the re-organization of the Association. The long-range plan is revised frequently. Until recently there was a long-range planning committee elected by the membership, but the Executive Board now does the planning itself. Until this revision, the long-range plan has begun with the Association mission statement (which is a part of the by-laws), and used it as the base for guiding the organization into the future. It was this mission statement that was changed–the one that starts the long-range plan.

    You write: “A long-range planning committee worked on revisions to the overall plan.” This was an internal Board activity. While there once was a long-range planning committee, it no longer exists. The Board creates and revises the long-range plan itself.

    You write: “The revised plan was then sent to section heads – the different sub-organizations within the AAA – as an internal document. Here information is not clear. I have seen claims that not all section heads received the new document. I have also not heard that there was any feedback by section heads on the long-range document prior to the AAAs. In any case, the section heads were consulted,” This is not completely accurate. The revised plan was sent to the Section Assembly listserv in late October as an information item, not for input or approval. I know other Section Presidents do not recall seeing this document, but it came among other action items and thus may have easily been overlooked. The Section Assembly was not consulted, it was informed of the changes.

    You write: “The changes in the AAA long-range plan would likely have remained largely internal. The only “news” about it was an email sent by the president of the Society for Anthropological Sciences to its members as well as to the AAA protesting the removal of all mention of science and potential loss of support from AAA members. ” This is a bit misleading. There was considerable discussion of this at the meeting (at least among the people I hang out with). Both the Society for Anthropological Sciences and the Evolutionary Anthropology Society discussed this at their general business meetings. Thus the “news” was already circulating widely on Nov. 20.

    Finally, I want to say that my sense of why this exploded in the way it has is not because of press exaggerations, but because the issue touched a raw nerve in the discipline and that is the stuff of news.

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  8. Rick Feinberg says:

    Colleagues,

    As someone who has been involved in these conversations in the AAA, I can say that the Times article is grossly misleading, if not an outright misrepresentation! First, bear in mind that the statement in question is not the statement of purpose of the AAA, or of anthropology as a profession. It is the mission statement of the AAA’s long-range planning committee. The AAA’s executive board, which decided to reword the old LRPC mission statement includes practitioners of “anthropological science” as well as other approaches, and they all agreed to the new wording. The reason for rewording the mission statement was not to make scientists feel unwelcome, but to make colleagues who approach the discipline from a humanities perspective more comfortable. In other words, it was intended to make the association more, not less inclusive. It’s true that the word, “science” was deleted, but it was replaced with specific reference to the things that anthropologists do, which include scientific as well as humanities-oriented pursuits. Also, note that while the word, “science” does not appear in the revised statement, neither do the words, “humanities,” “critical,” or “post-modern.”

    The authoritative statement on the AAA’s position regarding the role of science can be found on the association’s website under the heading, “What is Anthropology?” The text that follows says, “Anthropology is the study of humans, past and present. To understand the full sweep and complexity of cultures across all of human history, anthropology draws and builds upon knowledge from the social and biological sciences as well as the humanities and physical sciences.”

    Given the EB’s intentions and the kinds of input it received while revising the LRPC’s mission statement, its members were surprised at the strong negative reaction from some scientifically-oriented colleagues. Clearly the proposed rewording communicated an unintended message and, for that reason, there has been renewed conversation in the AAA’s leadership, including the Section Assembly, on which I serve. On December 2nd, Alec Barker, who is president of the Council for Museum Anthropology and convener-elect of the Section Assembly, posted the following message to the SA listserv:

    Because the SA represents all 38 sections of the AAA, it has a unique (and uniquely powerful) kind of voice. When we speak together we have an authority that the EB alone, or the Association as a whole, cannot match precisely because we represent the discipline in all its variety. When every section speaks together it implies a unanimity that the Association can never pretend to reflect, and I recommend we use this to our advantage.

    We have, from my point of view, two issues which demand our attention, and together they clearly illustrate the challenges facing AAA. On the one hand is the revised wording of the LRP, which eliminates any reference to science. On the other we have the NRC rankings, which–whatever their merits or flaws as rankings of individual programs–presume that Anthropology is a social science and hence only journal articles should be counted toward research productivity, with books and monographs not counted. One is perceived as turning its back on science, the other turns its back on anything except science narrowly defined.

    Both are objectionable. Both humanistic and scientific approaches have characterized Anthropology from its inception, and this should be viewed as one of the discipline’s greatest scholarly strengths.

    I would respectfully suggest two related courses of action. First, I suggest that we unanimously reject the NRC logic regarding publications as misguided and not reflective of any of the 38 sections comprising the AAA or the discipline as a whole. Personally I would reject–as a scientist–the idea that books and monographs do not advance scientific scholarship in Anthropology. But more importantly, I think we should take this as an opportunity to stand together and formally state that Anthropology includes and should include both scientific and humanistic modes of scholarship. Insisting that only scientific approaches have validity (as the NRC logic does) is inappropriate, and we should, as a group, state this clearly.

    Second, and conversely, I suggest that we unanimously ask the EB to revise the LRP to reflect the value of both scientific and humanistic approaches to the discipline. While doubtless the intention was to be inclusive, dropping science from the statement has the opposite effect. Few could credibly argue that scholars eschewing scientific approaches feel rejected, marginalized or unwelcomed by the Association. But it is true, for better or worse, that many scholars adopting such approaches do feel rejected, marginalized and unwelcome, and this demonstrably weakens the Association by minimizing the number of these anthropologists who maintain AAA membership.

    Again, I am specifically asking that we adopt these measures by unanimous consent. While the role of the Section Assembly is still evolving its ability to express the will of the Association–across its diverse membership–is one of its most powerful attributes. I urge us to use it. Whatever our epistemological and methodological positions, we must agree that there is significant scholarship performed by colleagues holding other positions, and we have both the ability and, I submit, the responsibility to express that view in our uniquely powerful way.

    As of December 8th, 24 sections had already weighed in supporting Barker’s two points. These include sections ranging from the Society for Humanistic Anthropology to the Society for Anthropological Science (led by Peter Peregrine, who is specifically mentioned in the Times article). No section has objected to anything in Barker’s statements. We don’t know yet what the EB will do, but my impression from statements by AAA president Virginia Dominguez and SA convener Vilma Santiago-Irizarry is that they will continue to look for wording that reflects our disciplinary colleagues’ broad consensus. In short, rather than demonstrating anthropology’s fragmentation, this episode has brought our profession together with a sense of common purpose in a way that, frankly, I have not previously seen during my time in this business!

    Rick Feinberg
    Professor of Anthropology
    Kent State University

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  9. Mary L. Gray says:

    Hello,
    I wanted to pipe in with some clarifications: I was the presiding Section Assembly Convenor of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) this past year (my stint ran from 2008-2010, with 2 years before that as Convenor-Elect). The SA Convenor is a voting member of the AAA’s Executive Board and elected by the heads of the 38 Sections that represent the membership of the AAA (joining the AAA requires membership in at least one of these Sections). The Society for Anthropological Sciences is one of the AAA’s 38 Sections (representing about 240 members of the 10,000 plus members of the Association).

    The AAA Executive Board has spent the past year and half consulting with a subset of the Executive Board and reaching out to anthropologists reflecting the breadth and depth of the Association’s practice and scholarship as it revised the EB’s long range plan. The revisions did not happen quickly or under the darkness of night. The list of anthropologists involved in the revision process included: 4 practicing anthropologists, 2 biological anthropologists, and 2 additional archaeologists, with practicing and medical anthropologists represented on the original subcommittee charged with overhauling the document.

    On October 20, 2010, I sent a draft copy of the AAA EB’s long-range planning Mission Statement to the Section Assembly Listserv (all 38 Section Leaders are subscribed to this list and we use it for official business of the SA). I sent it with the following subject line: “announcements and final call for SA biz mtg agenda items” and, in the message, said the following: “[the AAA President Virginia Dominguez] and a number of EB members recently revised the EB’s long-range planning Mission Statement to better reflect the AAA’s efforts to take part in a global conversation and exchange of anthropological work. I’ve attached the final draft here. It will go to the EB at the [New Orleans] Meetings for final adoption. If you have any questions or comments that you would like me to present on the SA’s behalf regarding this Statement, please send them directly to me [or the Listserv] and I will present them in the SA Convenor’s Report to the EB at the Meetings.” The understanding on the Listserv is that all Section Leaders are asked to check in with their own Section boards and chime in if they have any concerns, questions, or comments they’d like brought to the SA and/or EB’s attention.

    Four of the 38 Section Leaders responded to the query for comments on the Long Range Plan draft document. The Society for Anthropological Sciences (SAS) raised several concerns (#1, that the document seemed to break from the AAA’s Mission Statement and should require a broader Association-wide discussion; #2, that reference to non-human primates were removed from the document; #3, removal of mention of diversity of anthropology students; and #4, removal of a phrase about emphasizing integration and synthesis in Objective #1 of the document). In a follow up email, SAS’ President, Peter Peregrine, did add that what concerned him most was the removal of the word “science” itself and the focus on “public understanding” in the document. The 3 other Section leaders’ responses either echoed SAS’ concerns, noting their own concerns about the balance of internal vs. external focus of the Long Range Plan (are we about tending to anthropologists or speaking to the broader public about anthropology?) and how far we could stretch a shared understanding of “our discipline” without referencing “science” as we move forward with the shared goal of advancing anthropological knowledge.

    Prior to the Meetings, I did not receive any requests for placing discussion of the long range plan draft on the Section Assembly’s own Business Meeting Agenda. The messages I received from the SA, as I responded to the 4 comments posted about the Long Range Plan, conveyed support and appreciation that I would bring these perspectives to the AAA EB’s discussion of the final document. The responses on the list did not suggest that there was any storm brewing or that people felt like they needed more time to block the adoption of this internal document.

    I gathered up the SA Listserv’s comments and presented them to the AAA Executive Board at our Saturday Board Meeting. I felt that the final revision of the document (tweaked since it was circulated on the SA Listserv), discussed and approved at our Saturday EB meeting, addressed the concerns that stood out to me in the SA’s comments. I would like to think that if I’d paid closer attention to the tone of the Listserv I would’ve caught the deep concern Peter Peregrine later expressed in news coverage of the Long Range Plan document but, honestly, I just didn’t hear it when we discussed the item in October before the November Meetings. Listservs are not the best at conveying tone, either.

    To remind everyone, this document in no way changes the AAA’s written mission statement or Statement of Purpose. This document is the AAA Executive Board’s Long Range Planning (LRP) mission statement. It is a guiding document for the EB (meant to illume the path for EB conversations about the Association’s course on the horizon). I do recognize that some read this LRP statement as deviating from the AAA’s Mission Statement (but that was not my read of this document). I believe that AAA President Virginia Dominguez consulted a broad base of our colleagues and I, like her, felt the new document better reflected the shared goals of the Association and its members. I think the conversation about who feels marginalized by the new language in the document has been productive, overall, but I would also say that the process has involved the members and its elected leaders from the get-go. To claim otherwise is to assume that there is something “unrepresentative” about the AAA Executive Board and the SA leadership or my own leadership as the Section Assembly Convenor. I’d welcome a discussion on that front.

    Sincerely,
    Mary L. Gray
    Associate Professor
    Communication and Culture
    Indiana University

    Section Assembly Convenor, 2008-2010

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  10. James W. Dow says:

    I think that the EB of the AAA has some work ahead. I agree with Peter Peregrine that a top of has blown off. Anthropologists have been getting together and working together as friendly colleagues for a long time; however there are some explosive issues that are heating up. The one that I see at the moment is anthropology’s inability to evaluate narrative productions. There has been a turn toward producing “thick description,” and other forms of narrative in cultural anthropology. How is this to be evaluated by anthropological peers? The way that this is evaluated will have an effect on the whole field.
    Science has a well established set of criteria for evaluating scientific productions, but “textualism” does not. Scientific anthropologists are willing to tolerate narrative knowledge because it encodes meaningful and useful human experience and can enhance scientific research. I am not sure, but I suggest that cultural anthropologists working with narrative approaches are unable to tolerate scientific approaches. Many have not been well educated in science, and many fear having their work evaluated by scientific criteria. Rather than trying to eliminate science from the field of anthropology and get rid of the problem that way, it would be much better if they would work on developing their own clear meaningful criteria that could be used to judge the quality of their work, rather than referring to some vague ideas of public acceptance. The AAA could help solve this problem by encouraging the development of criteria that could be used to evaluate narrative in cultural anthropology.

    James W. Dow
    Professor Emeritus of Anthropology
    Oakland University

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  11. Advancing public understanding is fine goal to add to the LRP mission statement. I have as yet heard no arguments against inclusion, and mostly favourable impressions. However, it is not a suitable sole or even main goal for either a discipline or for a professional association, and that is the crux of the situation. This was, in fact, the subject of the resolution passed by the Society for Anthropological Sciences, not to reinsert the word science, but to come up with a statement that promoted the interests of the association and its members, as well as greater public understanding. Reinsertion of ‘science’ in the statement together with ‘humanities’, ‘literature’ and ‘art’ might be one way of doing this for some of the membership, but is not the only way. However, whatever is stated needs to have shape and meaning. ‘Knowledge discipline’ just doesn’t cut it – I don’t understand it – why should the public.

    There is no requirement that we advance knowledge to increase public understanding – there is more than enough knowledge from anthropology that the public does not understand to last a century or more. Indeed, there is little in the LRP mission statement about advancing knowledge at all, using any of the unstated alternative methods to science. Advancing public understanding is simply not ambitious enough to be a principle goal, nor does it require any form of anthropology or anthropologists, although anthropologists might be able to participate in this process, whatever it might be. And substituting ‘public understanding’ for ‘solving human problems’ is not an equitable exchange.

    I do not think that the AAA EB made these changes with any intent to act against the interests of those in the Association that value methods leveraging science. But when it is nearly impossible to figure out what the revised statement is for, it does act against not only their interests, but the interests of all anthropologists, and the public.

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    • gregdowney says:

      An excellent point, Michael. The ‘public understanding’ phrase makes it sound like the organization is a public relations group or a public representative — I can understand the intent, but the wording’s not right. But I’m pleased to see the specifics of the SAS objection as some partisan voices have been using the SAS resistance to try to spark a flare up of an old and tired battle.

      Getting the words right is a real challenge here, but that’s what these sorts of statements need to do.

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  12. Herbert Lewis says:

    I am very disturbed by Daniel Lende’s nonchalant acceptance of one of the worst canards and excesses of the post-everything era: that “Examining anthropology as part of colonialism is simply good history – that is how the field came to be, and that history has had a negative legacy that anthropologists have fought hard to overcome.”

    Since Kathleen Gough’s shabby little claim to this effect in 1968 this has been a wonderful source of publication for a wide variety of literary folks and self-hating postie anthropologists but critical (in the sense of critically examining claims and propositions) examination of this cliche and (almost hegemonic) discourse show them to be remarkably overblown and unjust and self-defeating. It is certainly the case with American anthropology.

    It is time to rethink and reevaluate this harmful discourse and to begin to recognize and appreciate the contributions of our field, certainly since the days of Franz Boas more than a century ago.

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    • gregdowney says:

      Herbert, along these lines, I’ve gotten personally tired of this critique, even though there’s a grain of truth in it, because I’m tired of it getting used by other fields to just write anthropology off. In the past few years, I’ve heard of large introductory classes in a couple of adjacent fields just pounding on our field with this critique — no real explanation, moderation or sense of proportion — so that students come to me with this mantra: ‘Anthropology is colonialist and imperialist.’ Of course, the same could just as easily be said about the disciplinary homes of the critics.

      Along the same lines, at my previous employer, I would get students coming out of large, introductory REQUIRED courses learning that, because anthropologists were ‘cultural relativists,’ the anthropologists could not condemn what the Nazis did. As if the real problem with National Socialism was an excess of tolerance and relativism!

      In other words, I think our over-developed willingness to self critique, honed by several decades of intense self examination, gets exploited by other disciplines which are not nearly so scrupulous about discussing their own faults. I get tired of always being on the back foot, defending against outrageous accusations (like being anti-science) that seem to be fed by, perhaps well meaning, but certainly over-stated self criticisms from within the discipline. I would never advocate an amnesiac triumphalism in the field, but I’m tired of feeling like the guy in the relationship who’s willing to admit contributing to a communication problem only to have the other folks in the relationship take this as carte blanche to pile all the blame on me.

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      • Herbert Lewis says:

        Hi Greg,

        Thanks for the response. I’d love to continue the discussion–at an earlier hour. Perhaps even off line.

        tbc (Is that how modern folks say “to be continued”?)

        Herb

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  16. Neuroskeptic says:

    Wade has also been accused of misleading coverage of the Marc Hauser affair (by Gerry Altman, editor of Cognition), although it’s a complex issue and his earlier coverage was very good.

    See: http://neuroskeptic.blogspot.com/2010/10/marc-hauser-plot-thickens-solidifies.html

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  17. Elizabeth Marks says:

    Just read this now and wanted to drop a note of appreciation for the overview. Having been buried in a cloud of end of semester activities and then vacation after the AAA, I promised I’d catch up on the fuss surrounding this, and it is as I expected- largely drummed up by external forces. I’m a grad student relatively new to the discipline, and as a rather multidisciplinary individual myself I’ve never experienced any tension between the different subgroups of anthro I travel between.

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