When Florida Gov. Rick Scott singled out anthropology degrees as job market losers, maybe he had some inside knowledge. It turns out his daughter, Jordan Kandah, has an anthropology degree from Virginia's College of William & Mary.
Commenting this week about the need to steer students toward degrees with better job prospects, Scott said, "You want to use your tax dollars to educate more people who can't get jobs in anthropology?"
Kandah did not go to work in the field of anthropology. She was a special education teacher before enrolling recently in a Masters of Business Administration program.
Scott spokesman Brian Burgess said Wednesday the governor wasn't knocking anthropologists, just making the point that there's a high demand for graduates with engineering, mathematics, science and technology degrees.
In line with what we laid out in our last article, we have prepared for the public the relevant video clips, audio clips, PowerPoint slides, and transcript involving remarks made by Dr. Christopher A. King, Social Science Director of the U.S. Army’s Human Terrain System, at a public conference hosted by Case Western Reserve University School of Law, Institute for Global Security Law and Policy, on September 23, 2011, along with comments made in response by Dr. David H. Price.
What is especially troubling, however, is that Case Western Reserve University's School of Law is acting against academics and the wider public as a proxy censor for the U.S. Army, using whatever argument is conveniently at hand. Please remember that Dr. Christopher A. King is a government official, performing in his public capacities as a representative of the U.S. Army's Human Terrain System, at an event which Case Western Reserve University's School of Law confirmed in its email to Dr. Forte was a public event. Being a public event, and Dr. King being a public official, performing in an official capacity, it is therefore the case that no expectation of either confidentiality or privacy can be attached to his utterances. Even the very PowerPoint slides shown by Dr. King are all marked with the label: "UNCLASSIFIED" without any qualification (such as "Not for Distribution")--there is your "media release". Not even a mountain of signed or unsigned media releases, however, can change the fact that we are free to publish his statements, without impediment.
Young people in the U.S. now recognize that the university has become part of a ponzi scheme designed to place on students an unconscionable amount of debt while subjecting them under the power of commanding financial institutions for years after they graduate. Under this economic model of subservience, there is no future for young people.
Henry Giroux, Casino Capitalism and Higher Education, CounterPunch, October 31, 2011
“Students Ought Not Be a Means of Profit,” Nate Grant scrawled on a cardboard sign as he sat cross-legged on a wall at the Occupy Wall Street encampment (Baum 2011). Grant, 22, was an English major.
Anthropology students know this grievance well. But universities do not highlight the issue in such stark terms. The media sometimes comes closer.
Patrick Buehler, 20, is a case in point. In an October 9 Pittsburg Post-Gazette article, Buehler revealed that, as a junior in anthropology, he currently holds $60,000 in debt and expects to owe $80,000 upon graduation. “I’ve wondered if going to college is still worth it. Will I be able to pay back all those loans?” (Grant 2011)
Not if he’s anthropologist David Cook.
PBS Newshour found Cook in Colorado washing trash cans, at $9 an hour, to support his wife and young son. Together with his wife they owe $60,000 in student loans. Two years after receiving a B.A. from Georgia State University, Cook was profiled on the December 3, 2010 broadcast. “I don’t want to seem ungrateful,” he told PBS, “I just feel like I devoted years of my life and thousands of dollars into developing specialized skills that I’m not using (Solman 2010).”
“Between 2000 and 2009, earnings for grads with just a bachelor’s degree fell by 15 percent. Yet public college tuitions rose 63 percent,” PBS noted (Solman 2010).
Why then, they seem to be asking, would anyone be so crazy as to major in English or anthropology?
It’s not just a question for students studying “the science of man.” In 1960 relatively few graduates had student loans to speak of. Today over 70 million Americans have them. The total U.S. student loan debt will exceed a trillion dollars for the first time this year, going beyond credit card debt, according to USA Today (2011). Banks engage in the same kinds of predatory lending with students as they performed with desperate mortgage seekers when they dispensed liar’s loans with great zeal. That helped trigger the Financial Meltdown of 2008. As is now well known, the state bailed out the banks but abandoned the debtors. Overwhelmed, tens of thousands have taken to the streets in the Occupation Movement. It’s a kind of festival of public pedagogy where youth are performing the educational work that academics have long ignored.
Some government officials are listening, even if they are taking away the wrong message.
“We don’t need . . . .more anthropologists in this state”
On October 10, Florida Governor Rick Scott threatened to move state funding away from the liberal arts and into more “practical fields.” The Republican asked, “You want to use your tax dollars to educate more people who can’t get jobs in anthropology?”
Scott argued specifically that something like anthropology was not worthy of public support “because, you know, we don’t need a lot more anthropologists in the state. It’s a great degree if people want to get it, but we don’t need them here. I want to spend our dollars giving people science, technology, engineering, math degrees. That’s what our kids need to focus all their time and attention on. Those type of degrees. So when they get out of school, they can get a job.”
These responses were timely. But collectively, a much more critical approach is called for. We need a frank defense of higher education, and anthropology, as civic guardians against Scott’s version of market fundamentalism whereby “institutions [like universities] that were meant to limit human suffering and misfortune [and to] protect the public from the excesses of the market have either been weakened or abolished,” (Giroux 2011b:1). Scott has proposed slashing Medicaid by almost $4 billion, laying off 6,700 employees, cutting education by $4.8 billion and phasing out the corporate income tax entirely. Anthropology is valuable as a public good and a site of social struggle against Scott’s version of higher education as a lynchpin in the global economy.
The response must take on “the most oppressive debt in U.S. history” directly (Collinge 2009). It’s not students’ fault but the fault of neoliberal policies promoted by Scott and his allies. We need to convert private pain into a public issue, not relegate it to the shadows, in shame. Curiously, I could find no local reporter — in the midst of this national story — who asked about University of South Florida’s debt loads for anthropology students. It’s a fair question.
It was a question asked by a New York reporter, Amanda Fairbanks, inadvertently. Writing in the Huffington Post on November 2, Fairbanks found Erik de Jesus, a junior at the University of South Florida protesting on Occupy Wall Street. She noted that de Jesus expects to have $40,000 in student loan debt come graduation day. “Tuition is going up and the quality of education isn’t getting better,” he told Fairbanks, “I see this as an opportunity to do something about it.”
It is fitting that a USF student travelled to New York for the protest. Other USF students likely joined him. In fact, the OWS is being led, in part, by an anthropologist, David Graeber. Graeber has coincidentally just written a spellbinding book on debt (Graeber 2011). He was the subject of an interview with Amy Goodman on OWS’s meanings and purposes. He’s asking for debt forgiveness for America’s poor (Goodman 2011).
“What the ruling class wants are technicians”
What kinds of jobs are BA, MA and Ph.D. graduates getting? What are their debt burdens? We do not have good longitudinal research (including a randomized survey sample) on this topic. However, in 2009, the AAA conducted the first of its kind (non-randomized) survey of M.A. graduates in anthropology to evaluate their job success, among other variables. There were 758 respondents. Over 75% strongly or somewhat agreed that their degree plays a significant role in their overall career satisfaction.
This initiative is important. Future research should query randomized samples of graduates and be supplemented with structured interviews. Everyone should be asked about their debt burdens. And, following de Jesus and Graeber respondents should be asked questions about how the larger culture of neoliberalism constrains their professional duties on the job. As Henry Giroux points out, with only 27% of faculty on a tenure track or full time position, faculty are contingent and able to be fired at will. “When coupled with right wing attacks. . .many non-tenured faculty begin to censor themselves in their classes (Giroux 2011b).”
Survey respondents might be asked about the plague of censorship and self-censorship in their jobs as adjunct professors, government workers or consultants (Nocella 2010).
This point is of enormous import. Activism (broadly defined) is the sine qua non of anthropology in this neoliberal age. As Robert Lawless puts it, ” The last thing the current ruling class wants is a group of people trained to think critically, i.e., question the structure and conventions propagated by the ruling classes. . . .what the ruling class wants are technicians. ”
“When practiced properly,” David Price reminds us, “anthropology is a threatening science (Price 2004:29).” It doesn’t always pay well. In fact Graeber is doing his present job with OWS for free. It is notable that Graeber was fired from Yale’s anthropology department, in part, because of his activism.
Anthropologists Speak their Minds (with Pseudonym Protection)
Victims of Neoliberalism
[The bankers have succeeded] in transforming a huge majority of men and women, old and young, into a race of debtors . . . [debtors] experience the horrors of misery and indignity. . .the terror of being excluded and condemned to ‘social redundancy’ and otherwise consigned to being human waste.”
Zygmunt Bauman, Living on Borrowed Time (2010:20)
John Smith (a pseudonym, as are all below) is an adjunct professor at a Southern University and owes $125,000 total for his three degrees: BA, MA, and PHD in anthropology.
“I’ve been able to get them on a reduced payment from the $1700 per month that I was supposed to pay to $151 a month based on my low income,” he told me. “I am being paid an adjunct wage of $3000 per class. ‘There just isn’t any money to pay you more than this.’ I am told. At four classes per semester that comes to $24,000 per year. At this rate, I am saddled with debt that I will never pay off. I can’t qualify for a home, or additional credit card. Haven’t tried to get a new vehicle, but I’ve driven my truck for 14 years.”
“I knew academia would be tough, but who would have guessed that I would be making less than my 20 year-old nephew with a GED who services the interior of commercial aircraft and makes $32,000 per year? I’m completely beside myself. I’ve taken another job as a research assistant to make ends meet, but it inhibits my ability to research and write my own work. Of course, with no publications and no time to write, I’m not a very good candidate for other positions elsewhere. It’s a catch 22 that has me very, very distressed. Quite honestly, I feel totally exploited, which is ironic since I teach about the exploitative nature of globalization and the neoliberal model. I feel like an idiot for thinking that I could get a living wage as an anthropologist.”
First in her Family to get a Ph.D.
Her family Has no Money
Another anthropologist, Elizabeth Beeker, is a graduate student about to defend her dissertation.
“I have at least $75,000 worth of school debt from undergraduate, a post-bacc, and graduate school. I think with the undergraduate and post-bacc I had no idea what I was getting into. After, I couldn’t repay because I wasn’t making enough money. I think the amount so much more than the base amount I borrowed because of compounding interest rates.! If we could get rid of compounding interest rates that would be a big help. I didn’t borrow much for grad school, but I did borrow some.
“I’m terrified of the debt. It often keeps me up at night thinking about it. I don’t make enough now as a part-time lecturer to pay the debt and I’m just about to defend. I’m terrified about not getting a job that pays enough. . . .I’m worried about being able to buy a house and care for my daughter with this debt and in this economy.
She adds an important class perspective. “My family has no money. I’ll be the first person to get a Ph.D. But I’ve had no family help for school expenses. My undergrad was paid for by some scholarships, but mostly school loans. I didn’t think it would be a big deal or didn’t envision I would have problems paying it back. I see other grad students who have family help. So if we were both making 1,250 a month as a TA or RA or something, they could actually get their needs met because they had supplemental income. Whereas I was unable to.”
Her testimony highlights how working class students are being filtered out of anthropology. As Bauman underscores, “In the last eight years. . .the overall debt of college students, the future political, economic and spiritual elite of the nation, doubled. Students have been forced/encouraged to live on credit – to spend money which at best they might hope to earn many years later. . .The training in the art of ‘living in debt’, and living in debt permanently, has been incorporated into the curriculum of national education.”
Living with Her Parents
“I’m personally sitting on nearly $70K in student loan debt.” Mary Guilford told me. “My undergraduate degrees are in Anthropology and Political Science, and I received a recent Master’s Degree in Social Planning. I blame myself as much as my degree choices for now being unemployed, unemployable, and desperate for anything I can get. It seems a bachelors degree in anthropology in the U.S. gets you very little, other than qualified to work with people in some capacity. Trying to explain it to potential employers is an entirely different nightmare. They recognize the human aspect but not the intricacies that an anthropology degree gives you. Nor does it seem that the U.S. truly respects the degree, as everything is so market driven economics, that the human aspect goes untouched unless it is included in some way to make more money.”
“Now I sit with an advanced degree, a desire to help shape and change my communities, a debt burden so large that I am living with my parents who survive on one income and have serious health problems, unable to contribute to their household, or even my own well-being. I chose anthropology in the hopes that I would someday be able to make a significant contribution to my fellow man whether it be via research or community development work . . . . Social programs in the United States keep getting thrown to the wolves and set on the back-burner until the day comes when they are finally recognized as the heart and soul of the government, communities and society. Until then I sit daily at my local coffee shop with a $1.50 endless coffee cup, applying for season retail positions, temporary administrative work, and applying overseas to any company I can think of who would be interested in someone [like me].”
“It’s ironic that I went to college in order to make a difference in this world we live and instead am sitting here writing about my plight. Suffering blow after blow to my ego, my wallet and my family.”
No Children in Their Future?
Christina Stewart is currently in graduate school getting her Ph.D. in archaeology.
“My husband and I fell in love in middle school (believe it or not!) and have been together for fourteen years. We married right out of high school and started college together. We grew up in rural [Southern Midwest], in quite poor families. Though I was the valedictorian of my class and my husband was historian of his class, scholarships were minimal and rare. We worked full-time or part-time jobs while we were in college, but the money we made was never enough. We had to take out loans to help cover our costs.”
“Then I got sick. We had no insurance, for we couldn’t afford it on our income. And the prescription costs and medical bills were piling up. We took out private student loans to help pay for these bills and the tuition and books and other costs that were putting us in the hole, not realizing at the time that after we had signed the papers for the loans, promising to pay for them, that the origination fee for these loans was around 100% of the cost of the loan. So, a loan that originally cost $10,000 without interest ended up costing us $20,000, still without interest taken into account. And there was nothing we could do about it.”
So, now that I am in graduate school, and I am still having to take out student loans just to get by in graduate school and help pay back these private student loans I took out as an undergraduate (yes, using loans to pay back loans, for there is no other way), my student loan debt is well over $100,000 and so is my husband’s. We see no hope for the future. No promise of children. Vacations. Retirement. It’s just not in our future.”
Widening the Lens
No longer seen as a public good or a site of social struggle, higher education is increasingly viewed as a credential mill for success in the global economy.
Henry Giroux (2011b:12)
Anthropologists must reflect hard on Henry Giroux’s challenge to “take back higher education.” The discipline cannot fall into the neoliberal trap, laid out by Florida Governor Richard Scott, of justifying anthropology in terms of its value in market terms. Indeed, too many jobs serve the very pernicious social order that is driving the public sphere and social state into ruin.
And yet, a job is life.
Clearly then, many questions are left unanswered about the job/loan dialectic for de Jesus and platoons of other anthropology students across the country. And for us all. I asked a recent undergraduate anthropology class of 32 students and found that about 70% expected debts over $20,000. This included two students anticipating debts over $30,000 and one over $40,000. We do not have a good accounting of the total debt load within anthropology. We need it.
We must fight to release students and professors (how many are still in deep debt?) from this burden. Tamara Draut, author of Strapped: Why America’s 20- and 30- Somethings Can’t Get Ahead (Draut 2006) asks, “How can the government justify charging students nearly 7 percent while it charges the banks nothing (Draut 2011)?”
Universities were once viewed as laboratories for free inquiry and debate. Today they are under siege from privatizers, ideologues, anxious college administrators. . .and the banks.
It’s time to return universities to faculty. And it’s time to provide our youth with a fresh start in life, unburdened by debt peonage to Wall Street.
Brian McKenna lives in Michigan. He can be reached at:email@example.com
A version of this article was originally published in the Society for Applied Anthropology Newsletter, Vol. 22:4, November 2011. Tim Wallace, editor. http://www.sfaa.net/newsletter/nov11nl.pdf
Baum, Geraldine (2011) Student loans add to angst at Occupy Wall Street. Los Angeles Times, Oct. 25.
Bauman, Zygmunt (2010) Living on Borrowed Time. (Cambridge,UK: Polity).
Brown, Jeffrey (2011) Is a College Diploma worth the Soaring Student Debt? PBS Newshour, May 27. (http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/business/jan-june11/college_05-27.html)
Cauchon, Dennis (2011) Student loans outstanding will exceed $1 trillion this year. USA Today, October 25.
Dinh, Linh (2011) Banks, Pentagon and Academic Pusilanimousness. CounterPunch, November 24.
Draut, Tamara (2006) Strapped: Why America’s 20- and 30- Somethings Can’t Get Ahead (New York: Doubleday).
Draut, Tamara (2011) Occupy College. Nation, November 14, Pp 22,23.
Fairbanks, Amanda (2011) Occupy Colleges: Student Supporters of Occupy Wall Street Plan Third Act of Support. Huffington Post, November 2.
Fiske, Shirley J., Linda A. Bennett, Patricia Ensworth, Terry Redding, and Keri Brondo. 2010. The Changing Face of Anthropology: Anthropology Masters Reflect on Education, Careers, and Professional Organizations. AAA/CoPAPIA 2009 Anthropology MA Career Survey. Arlington, VA: American Anthropological Association.
Giroux, Henry (2011) Casino Capitalism and Higher Education. CounterPunch, October 31.
Giroux, Henry (2011Beyond the Limits of Neoliberal Higher Education: Global Youth Resistance and the American/British Divide. Truthout, November 8.
Giroux, Henry (2007) University in Chains. (Boulder: Paradigm Publishers).
Luzer, Daniel (2011) Rick Scott’s Anthropology Problem. Washington Monthly, October 14.
Melendez, Barbara (2011) Anthropologists on the Offensive. University of South Florida News, Oct. 12.
Noble, Charlotte (2011) This is Anthropology (Prez (http://prezi.com/vmvomt3sj3fd/this-is- anthropology/)
Nocella II, Anthony J., Steven Best, and Peter McLaren, eds. (2010) Academic Repression: Reflections from the Academic-Industrial Complex. Oakland CA: AK.
Price, David (2011) Weaponizing Anthropology Social Science in Service of the Militarized State. (Oakland CA: AK).
Solman, Paul (2010) Malemployed College Graduates Cope with Discouragement. PBS Newshour, December 6.
Marc J. Swartz, an American anthropologist and founding faculty member of the anthropology department at UC San Diego, died Dec. 14. He was 80 years old.
Swartz dedicated his career to the study of the influence of culture over various aspects of human interaction, including the sources and maintenance of political power, social status, aggression, sexuality and medical beliefs. “He believed that human cultures were defined by common understandings that were shared, transmitted, prescriptive and morally forceful. He disputed the casual use of the word ‘culture’ to refer to artifacts or behaviors. To him, culture was what’s in your head,” said David K. Jordan, UC San Diego professor emeritus of anthropology and a longtime friend and colleague to Swartz.
In addition to many scholarly papers, he wrote and edited a number of books, including The Way the World Is, Local Level Politics, Political Anthropology (with Victor Turner and Arthur Tuden) and, with David K. Jordan, Culture, the anthropological perspective, Personality and the Cultural Construction of Society and a textbook, Anthropology: Perspective on Humanity.
Swartz was born on Halloween in 1931 in Omaha, Nebraska. He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Audrey; his brother, Steve; his sons William, of San Francisco, Matthew, of McLean, Virginia and Robert, of Arlington, Virginia; and four grandchildren.
Release courtesy UC San Diego
The Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute (HCRI) at the University of Manchester is inspired by the need to conduct rigorous research and to support postgraduate training on the impact and outcomes of contemporary and historical crises.
This programme is driven by a desire to inform and support policy and decision makers, to optimise joint working between partner organisations, and to foster increased accountability within a knowledge gathering framework. Bringing together the disciplines of medicine and the humanities to achieve these aims, the HCRI will facilitate improvements in crisis response on a global scale whilst providing a much needed centre of excellence for all concerned with emergencies and conflicts.
The Institute is developing a novel configuration for research and teaching which will uniquely associate practitioners, non-governmental organisation (NGO) partners, theoreticians, policy makers and analysts in sustained intellectual engagement. Combining a targeted programme of research with the provision of timely analysis on current emergencies, the institute will seek to develop new methodologies in the emerging field of humanitarian and conflict response research.
The course will appeal to graduates from a variety of backgrounds, including: anthropology, sociology, economics, politics, geography, law and development studies. It will provide the necessary training to enable students to seek employment with NGOs (such as Oxfam and Save the Children Fund), international agencies (such as the World Health Organisation and the World Food Programme) and the civil service (such as the UK Department for International Development). It will also provide a useful stepping stone for those seeking to undertake doctoral research in international development.
Over the last ten years, global aspirations to reduce the suffering of the "bottom billion" have led to unprecedented attention on international development. International agencies, governments and NGOs are working more intensely than ever before to deliver appropriate policies and interventions.
Anthropology has played a key role in the emergence of new perspectives on humanitarian assistance and the livelihoods of populations caught up in extreme circumstances such as famines, natural disasters and wars.
On the one hand, this has led to a radical re-thinking of what has been happening, but on the other hand, it has led to anthropologists sometimes playing controversial roles in agendas associated with the "war on terror".
This course examines these contemporary issues and debates, and explores their implications. It also sets them in the context of anthropology as a discipline. In so doing, students will discover how the apparent insights and skills of anthropologists have a long history associated with ethnographic work on economics, education, health, deprivation and conceptions of suffering dating back to the origins of the discipline.
For questions about the degree itself prior to and during application contact the School of Social Sciences:
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For applications already submitted.
Tel +44 (0)1895 265265
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For general enquiries, including how to apply: Email firstname.lastname@example.org
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Built into the architecture of western societies and their socio-cultural and economic structures is a cumulative bias towards certain groups and worldviews over others. This bias resides in supposedly objective categories, knowledge, and laws that cloak the workings of power.
For example, this bias can be seen in a racially-slanted legal system, the sexual division of labour, wage inequality, and the guise of supposedly neutral government policies and decision-making. For those interested in social change, one particular method for engaging such power is “social justice.
Social justice is a term that seems common-sensical. Many of us are familiar with the term through the local political party the Movement for Social Justice (MSJ). Others may remember the term from various historical labour and civil rights battles or perhaps liberation theology in Latin America and other religious connections including the life of St Thomas Aquinas, Catholic social teaching, or ancient Hindu society.
For some social justice is a dirty term, an impediment to unrestrained economic growth as the sole purpose behind modern society. It suggests a redistribution of resources. As such, most neoliberals and neoclassical economists—not to mention moral relativists—recoil at its claims to scientific and intellectual relevance. Their criticism is often that social justice is about brainwashing people rather than good education.
Yet their ideas are as man-made, politically biased and brainwashing as any social justice discourse. Anthropologists are often advocates of social justice. This is an outcome of their research. As the rich and powerful are generally loath to be subjects of anthropological research, anthropologists often do long-term research with the less powerful. This type of fieldwork means anthropologists are well-placed to offer perspectives on social justice.
Many take issue with organisations that propose and dictate a singular notion of social justice. That sort of paternalistic, top-down approach anthropologists consider problematic. Any definition should be open to contribution, modification, and change from below, not least because social justice issues are contextual, multiple and intersected. There is not one social justice issue; there are many.
If one dictates to others what social justice is then it becomes no different from other top-down, hierarchical relationships. It becomes about what small groups of the powerful deem important. In this sense, social justice is neither self-explanatory or to be mistaken for an older, narrower concept defined as the “distributive paradigm” that spoke of “colour-blind society.”
Some key features of social justice anthropologists might include are self-reflexivity, critical listening, inclusive politics, social change, and teaching. Again, such a definition is not fixed in stone; it is to be tweaked and added to.
And this is the important point: political groups that speak about social justice in the singular can often exacerbate issues of social justice rather than solve them. The issues they deem need tackling will get tackled—say, workers’ rights—but the issues of other groups will be ignored or deemed less important—say, women’s or homosexual rights.
Social justice, then, is not something to be forced on people, but rather, it is a skill set for looking at problems of difference in society and offering potential solutions. In education terms, it is about producing problem-solvers, empathetic individuals who make connections to the world around them and propose solutions.
Anthropologists understand power through a variety of approaches. The simplest is that power is multi-dimensional and operates over us in visible, hidden and invisible ways. For example, visible power is about making and enforcing rules. Hidden power excludes groups and sets the agenda of legitimate discussion while invisible power is about shaping meaning, values, and what is normal.
In order to negotiate with power, groups and individuals must respond across all levels. By entering into the political process, the Movement for Social Change is a response and strategy to deal with visible power by building collective power.
Yet for social justice to work it also has to confront, engage and negotiate with hidden power by organising communities around common concerns and legitimising the issues of excluded groups, while on the invisible level it must build individual and collective power through popular education, empowerment and critical thinking that raises the consciousness, political awareness and collaboration between people to fight for and establish their rights.
Social change, then, isn’t just about getting the Government to effect structural changes. It is also about getting into the hearts and minds of individuals, providing them with understanding of the workings of multiple, intersecting and concurrent power structures which are local but tied to non-local systems.
• Dylan Kerrigan is an anthropologist at UWI, St Augustine
The School of Humanities and Social Sciences
The School of Humanities and Social Sciences has patterned their liberal arts programs after those found at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The degree programs are designed to train leaders in all aspects of society by providing a well-rounded education in social sciences, humanities, and sciences. The school prepares the student for the intellectual challenges that they will encounter in their life and career, regardless of their choice of profession. Today in most developed nations a liberal arts education is considered essential preparation for a career in business, government, education, the military – indeed, for any profession that requires advanced training. A liberal arts education constitutes the basic intellectual preparation for any form of high-level work, and provides the basis for more advanced training in other fields from mathematics or medicine to anthropology, philosophy, or teaching.
Acting Vice Dean at JSC Nazarbayev University
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I am a very broadly trained anthropologist with expertise in a diverse array of archaeological methods and theories.My interests involve the articulation of material culture with social identity, innovation, the non-linear flow of culture hisotories, and the landscape.
Education Management industry
August 2012 – Present (5 months) Astana
Education Management industry
June 2011 – Present (1 year 7 months)
Founding member of Department of Sociology and Anthropology at new university with plans to become premier research and teaching institution of Central Asia.
Educational Institution; 1001-5000 employees; Higher Education industry
August 2007 – June 2011 (3 years 11 months)
Government Agency; 10,001+ employees; Government Administration industry
May 1999 – August 1999 (4 months)
Archaeologist I for Ashley National Forest. Vernal, UT Ranger Station.
Responsible for organizing documents relevant to Dutch John Privitization Project and preparing final report.
1999 – 2010
1995 – 1999
Activities and Societies: Phi Beta Kappa, Undergraduate Anthropology Association, French Club, Delta Force, Sunflower House, Food Not Bombs
Tribal Social Theory, Ethnogenesis and Social Innovation, Culture Contact, Non-State Warfare, Cultural Ecology, Semiotic Theory, Ethnicity, Gender, Prehistoric North America, Great Plains Culture History
American Anthropological Association, Society for American Archaeology, Central States Anthropological Society, Professional Archaeologists of Kansas, Nebraska Association of Professional Archaeologists
2010 Excellence in Teaching Award - CMU College of Humanities and Social and Behavioral Sciences
2010 Volunteers are Central Award - CMU Volunteer Center
2006 Roy A. Rappaport Award for Innovative Teaching – University of Michigan Dept of Anthropology
2005–2006 National Science Foundation Dissertation Improvement Grant - Tribal Expansion and Social Boundary Maintenance: Oneota’s Far-Western Edge in the Vicinity of the Swantek Site, Central Nebraska
2004–2005 James B. Griffin Fellowship in Archaeology
2001 –2004 National Science Foundation Graduate Student Research Fellowship
1999-2002 LSA Regents’ Fellowship- Rackham Graduate School, University of Michigan
1999 Betty Wahlstedt Award- University of Kansas
1999 Carol D Clark Award- KU Department of Anthropology
1998-1999 Harley S. Nelson Scholarship- KU Department of Anthropology
1998 Mark Kappelman Award- KU Department of Anthropology
1998 J. M. Young Opportunity Award- KU Honors Center
In 2008, he initiated the Project on Islam in Eurasia, which entails research on the current changes in the role of Islam in Eurasian (post-Communist) societies, as well as seeks to foster a better public understanding and better policy-making on the issues related to Islam's important role in the region.
From 2000 to 2003, he held the position of the first President of the Central Eurasian Studies Society, an international scholarly association supporting the enhancement of research in the social sciences and humanities focused on the region from the Black Sea to Mongolia. He continued to lead the organization as Director of the Secretariat, which was hosted by Harvard until 2007, when it made its first migration to Miami University of Ohio (see: http://www.cess.muohio.edu). Under his leadership, the society was established and grew to over 1,500 members in over 60 countries. Its 2003 conference, hosted by Harvard, attracted nearly 500 panelists with altogether over 800 attendees.
He is editor of the «Central Eurasian Studies World Wide» website (http://cesww.fas.harvard.edu) and of the Central-Eurasia-L Announcement List for Central Eurasian Studies (http://cesww.fas.harvard.edu/ces_cel.html).
Current and Recent Courses:
Anthropology 1668: Muslims in the Lands of the “Militant Godless”: Post-Socialism, Religion and Identity (Fall 2009)
Anthropology 1660: What is Islam?: Anthropological Perspectives (Spring 2010)
Islamic Civilizations 160: The Meanings of Islam in Central Asia
Anthropology 1930. Culture Wars in Eurasia
Anthropology 2865. Islamic Eurasia and the Anthropology of Post-Socialism
Government 1286: The Politics of Identity in Central Asia
Government 2204: Radicalization of Islam in the Former Communist World
Islamic Civilizations 125: History and Culture of the Islamic Peoples of the Former Soviet Union
Dr. John Schoeberlein, Director
Harvard Program on Central Asia and the Caucasus
Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies
1730 Cambridge Street, Room S-320
Cambridge, MA 02138 USA
Tel.: +1/617-495-4338 Program: +1/617-496-2643
E-mail: schoeber (at) fas.harvard.edu
At 74, Chagnon may be this country’s best-known living anthropologist; he is certainly its most maligned. His monograph, “Yanomamö: The Fierce People,” which has sold nearly a million copies since it was first published in 1968, established him as a serious scientist in the swashbuckling mode — “I looked up and gasped when I saw a dozen burly, naked, filthy, hideous men staring at us down the shafts of their drawn arrows!” — but it also embroiled him in controversy.
In turning the Yanomami into the world’s most famous “unacculturated” tribe, Chagnon also turned the romantic image of the “noble savage” on its head. Far from living in harmony with one another, the tribe engaged in frequent chest-pounding duels and deadly inter-village raids; violence or threat of violence dominated social life. The Yanomami, he declared, “live in a state of chronic warfare.”
Chagnon was well cast for life in the field. A 26-year-old graduate student at the University of Michigan, he grew up poor in rural Port Austin, Mich., the second of 12 children. He was self-sufficient and handy with a shotgun — minimum requirements for surviving on jungle terrain where the nearest airstrip was several hours downstream by motorized canoe. “It’s the harshest environment in the world, physically speaking,” Kenneth Good, an anthropologist at New Jersey City University, who accompanied Chagnon to Venezuela in 1975 and eventually married a teenage Yanomami woman, told me. “I nearly died of malaria several times.”
Today, Chagnon’s own health is fragile. He had open-heart surgery in 2006 — “a likely consequence of the attacks on me,” he says — and suffers from a lung condition that keeps him tethered to a portable oxygen tank much of the time. Still, when I met him in January, at his home in a wooded subdivision near the University of Missouri in Columbia, where he and his wife, Carlene, had just moved so that he could take up a new position in the anthropology department, he had half a dozen pheasants in his freezer, quarry from a recent hunting expedition with his German shorthaired pointer, Darwin. “Pheasant breast on toast with butter is one of the more delicious breakfasts I’ve ever eaten,” he said solemnly.
What could have been fruitful academic debates became personal and nasty. It didn’t help that Chagnon could be arrogant and impolitic. “Oh, God, did we have some fights in the field,” says Raymond Hames, who accompanied him on the 1975 protein-challenge trip. “He’s pretty damn sure of himself.” Hames, who remains a close friend, says he and Chagnon “made it work out.” But this was not the case with others.
Kenneth Good was also on the trip and was delegated to study protein consumption at a village far upstream from Bisaasi-teri. Chagnon, he says, refused to give him a steel boat or replenish his anti-malaria pills and didn’t care that he capsized and was stranded without food for three days. “If he had behaved in a civil way, we could have been lifelong allies,” Good told me. (Chagnon says that Good’s demands were unreasonable: “He wasn’t civil to me from the very beginning. I took him into the most exciting field opportunity that existed in anthropology at the time, and he never even sent me a progress report.”)
By November, when the A.A.A. met for its annual meeting, the scandal had hit the press, and “Darkness in El Dorado” had been excerpted in The New Yorker and named a finalist for the National Book Award. Much of the coverage focused on Tierney’s most sensational charges regarding the 1968 measles epidemic.
In his galleys, Tierney speculated that Neel, who died in 2000, hoped to simulate a measles epidemic among the Yanomami as part of a genetics experiment. In the published book, this theory was no longer explicit — Tierney had made last-minute changes — but it was insinuated. “Measles,” Tierney wrote, “was tailor-made for experiments.” Moreover, Neel’s choice of vaccine, Edmonston B, “was a bold decision from a research perspective” because it “provided a model much closer to real measles than other, safer vaccines, in the attempt to resolve the great genetic question of selective adaptation.” Although he quoted a leading measles researcher emphatically denying that measles vaccine can transmit the virus, he nevertheless maintained that it was “unclear whether the Edmonston B became transmissible or not.” (This line was excised from the paperback edition.) Tierney repeatedly faulted the expedition’s members for putting their scientific objectives ahead of the tribe’s health. By vaccinating the Yanomami against measles, he maintained, Neel and Chagnon may have been responsible for needless illness and death.
The A.A.A.’s El Dorado task force was the most ambitious investigation to date but was undermined by a lack of due process. The group went so far as to interview Yanomami in Venezuela but, according to Chagnon, failed to give him an opportunity to respond to its verdicts. As Gregor and Gross put it, what the inquiry most clearly demonstrated was not Chagnon’s guilt or innocence but rather anthropology’s “culture of accusation,” a “tendency within the discipline to attack its own methods and practitioners.”