Sunday, February 5, 2012

Where are/is our ambassador? Where is our Margaret Mead?

Who is speaking out for anthropology in the public arena today? I can remember a one time when Margaret Mead was the voice and face of American Anthropology. For those who did not attended the 2010 AAA meetings in New Orleans, Dr. Jeremy Sabloff raised this question.

At the 109th Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association in New Orleans, LA Dr. Jeramy Sabloff from the Santa Fe Institute. gave the Distinguished Lecture. His lecture was entitled "The Circulation of Ideas: Anthropology and Public Outreach" was delivered on Friday, November 19.

Dr. Sabloff is introduced by AAA President Virginia R. Dominguez.

2010 AAA Distinguished Lecture: "The Circulation of Ideas: Anthropology and Public Outreach" by Dr. Jeremy Sabloff, Santa Fe Ins at the American Anthropological Assn. from Vimeo.

This is an excellent and timely statement about the issues facing the Anthropological profession and making it relevant to society at large. The insular nature of academic anthropology and reluctance to stand up for and take action on the issues, many seem to feel, are critical and only weakens the brand and influence of what should the prince/ess of the social sciences. Trans-disciplinary is the appropriate word for the potential contribution anthropology can make. For the past thirty years, the opportunity has been there and still in 2010 we are talking about it, rather than having done anything about lending our insight to the public understanding of the problems and solutions of building a planetary socio-cultural system.


L. Dwyer said...

Thank you so very much for this point! Not just Mead but also Leakey reached out to share research passions and insights with ordinary people. Mead spoke clearly and without jargon, and she at least appeared to respect the "ordinary" American as much as the people with whom she worked. To reach out, this respect for members of a general audience is fundamental. The physical sciences have numerous outreach programs to reach the general public. The time of a Mead may be behind in this media period, but we definately need outreach in a way that respects and understands the perspectives and concerns of ordinary Americans.

Barry R. Bainton, PhD, MBA said...

I am very happy that there is someone out there who appreciates what our founders and their disciples tried to do to promote anthropology. We all stand on the shoulders of those who came before. It is when we forget that that we loss our footing. Thanks for the comment.

Helga Vierich said...

thank you for posting this. I did applied work with an international agricultural research institute in the 1980's. I have also been trying to engage evolutionary biologists and psychologists on various discussion forums, as I am becoming increasingly upset over the fact that the idea of our species evolving with constant warfare has become axiomatic outside of anthropology and even among some archaeologists. I did fieldwork among a group of Kalahari foragers (Richard Lee was my supervisor) and then did a lot of applied work.

I agree that we need to get anthropological findings and current research into the public discussion. We cannot let it stand that the likes of Richard Dawkins dares to proclaim in a public context, that anthropology is hostile to evolutionary theory. We also have to deal more openly with the likes of Lawrence Keeley.