Mirrored Images: American Anthropology and American Culture, 1960-1980

By Susan R. Trencher | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 9
Anthropologists Go to War . . . with Themselves

Between 1967 and 1980, anthropologists passed more than 100 resolutions in the AAA. In retrospect, American anthropologist Walter Goldschmidt ( 1984:169), a witness to the proceedings of Anthropology since the 1930s, assessed this activity within the Association as "a sudden burst of concern with public issues which involved both memorializing others and bringing our own house into conformity with a consistent voice favoring equality and opposing discrimination and prejudice." While in 1946 a major reorganization of the AAA cleared the way for the passage of resolutions by the membership, only eleven resolutions had been passed prior to 1966. Thirty- five of these resolutions were passed between 1968 and 1969, evidence of the heightened concerns and activity of the time.

The overwhelming majority of the resolutions proposed and passed by the Association from the late 1960s through the early 1970s (more than 140) "favored equality" by demanding full rights and privileges for various groups within American society. These groups (identified by gender, race, ethnicity, age, and sexual preference, for example) were seen as powerless or relatively less powerful. There was no identification within this discussion of who the powerful group(s) were (i.e., those that the less powerful groups were relatively less powerful than). However, the majority of the membership of the Association in the early 1960s were "older" (anthropologists trained prior to World War II), white, and male. Until 1968, full membership in the Association was restricted to Fellows (anthropologists working in the discipline who were nominated by other anthropologists working in the discipline and voted on by members, that is, other Fellows). It was this group that "granted" equality to others, through full membership rights which were extended to students, without nomination by others. 1

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