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

By Susan R. Trencher | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 10
Power Brokers Go Broke

Sol Tax, . . . where are you? Margaret Mead . . . where are you? Walter Goldschmidt . . . where are you? To recommend that the American Anthropological Association commission investigations of socially significant problems, and publish them in its journal, becomes a lonely trip. ( Schlesier Newsletter 1976[ 3]:2)

There is one last turning point to the present--the shift away from academic opulence to the period of austerity that brought about the demise of the counter-culture movement and that suddenly found students turning away from the Arcadian promise that anthropology offered and to the practicalities of the service professions. ( Goldschmidt 1984:171)

By the middle of the 1970s, it was clear that a newly perceived crisis was shaping American life and Anthropology. Already split along generational and political lines, shifts in the American economy exacerbated old divisions in Anthropology between academic and non-academic anthropologists, and created new barriers between employed and unemployed anthropologists.

One of the most telling articles of the 1970s ( D'Andrade et al. 1975), marked institutional recognition of the difficulty in finding academic employment. D'Andrade et al. predicted that there would be long-term shortages for anthropologists seeking academic employment. But for many recent graduates, D'Andrade et al.'s article merely affirmed trends which they had already been struggling with for several years. The generation to which fieldwork ethnographers belonged was the first to be caught in the downward spiral in employment since the 1940s, a spiral which D'Andrade et al. argued would get worse. 1 Within the Association there was an abrupt turn from

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