Monday, November 08, 2004

Birthing Pains

....The first breath of life......

So why The Angry Anthropologist? For decades anthropologists, especially cultural anthropologists, have had to fight misleading public images of their discipline, replete with popular notions of corduroy-wrapped professors nestled in comfortable offices, and never-ending salary checks. The reality is quite different. We have made important contribution to the fields of marketing, advertising, economics, development, public planning, and public health, and have even moved into business. Contrary to whatever documentary was recently aired on PBS, the vast majority of us are not physical anthropologists, or are endlessly seeking funding grants for obscure projects. We work in a variety of disciplines, and bring our expertise to bear on important questions of the day.

For some years now, friends and colleagues have asked for my imput on popular debates in economics, culture, and public policy as a professionally trained cultural anthropologist (specifically with a background in economic anthropology, cognitive anthropology, and social network analysis). They have always found my opinions interesting, even if they disagree with them. All the better for public discourse. This small corner of cyberspace will extend that "coffee table" talk to those of you who don't park yourself at Peets Coffee and Tea every morning.

In addition, the "angry" part comes into play with the misuse and misunderstanding of basic anthropological methods. Many well-trained social scientists have attempted to apply the expertise of cultural anthropologists to their own fields, but with poor results. As a methodology wonk, this drives me up the wall. I also intend to point out the foibles of these folks from time to time. Fie on them, and misologists in general.

Finally, if you want to take a look at how anthropology mighty contibute to recent discussions in the public realm, consult Grant McCracken's work at Cultureby.

Talk with you all soon.

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