Early Man-natural history Museum

How ‘They’ Hijacked Anthropology

Perhaps the greatest shift in any academic field in the past 30 or 40 years has been in anthropology. Call it an epistemological paradigm shift away from science. Three main influences led to this shift: One was the morphing of symbolic anthropology into interpretive anthropology under the influence of Clifford Geertz, who distanced himself from […]

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How Anthropology Was Corrupted and Killed

The knock against anthropologists used to be that they were all relativists.  Not anymore.  Many anthropologists today are hardcore moral absolutists.  The members of the American Anthropological Association are busy voting (until May 31) on a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. The proposed resolution jumps off in its first sentence in universalist language, claiming that […]

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A Harvard Apologist for China’s One-Child Brutality

The phrase “dominant narrative” is a sure sign that a postmodern, anti-Western or anti-male story line is about two seconds away. It appears early in a flattering Harvard Gazette profile of Susan Greenhalgh, “the newest professor of anthropology in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences” at Harvard. The profiler, Katie Koch of the Harvard Gazette […]

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A Footnote to the Anthropology Debate

As noted in my December 1 essay here, Rigoberta’s Revenge, the American Anthropological Association stuck a stick in a hornet’s nest with its recent decision to remove the word “science” from its long range planning document. Stung by the resulting swarm of criticism, the AAA’s four officer’s have now issued a statement claiming the entire […]

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Rigoberta’s Revenge: The Implosion Of Anthropology

One of my professors in college defined an anthropologist as “a sociologist in a tent.” His comment was not a compliment — he was a sociologist — but it was true in ways that he did not have in mind. Anthropology has always been a big tent, including as it does what one anthropologist calls […]

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Opening Old Wounds

An unusually bitter academic argument of 2000 came up again at the American Anthropological Association annual convention in Philadelphia. At issue was the long and famous (critics would say, notorious) work of Napoleon Chagnon among the Yanomamo Indians of the Amazon rain forest in Brazil and Venezuela. The Yanomomi are not among the most endearing […]

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Work With The U.S. Military? Not If You’re An Anthropologist

The good news is that the American Anthropological Association (AAA), which wound up its annual meeting last week in San Francisco, did not go the whole hog and endorse the idea that it’s unethical for an anthropologist to consult for the U.S. military—even though that is exactly what many of the AAA’s 11,000 members, mostly […]

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Anthropology’s Holy Trinity

Karl Marx did everyone a huge favor when he announced that all history was the history of class struggle because then it was simple to analyze anything and everything confidently and crisply. But in Anthropology a new holy explanatory trinity has emerged to replace the good old simple one: Race/Class/Gender. You can barely refer to […]

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