One Does Not Simply…Write About Anthropology

My Time as a Graduate Student

Public Anthropology

on January 28, 2013

Should Anthropology be in the public? And if so, how much of anthropology should be publicized?

The answer is, why not? The ways of communication have expanded and the popularization of  the uses of social media has proven to have helped expand the discipline of anthropology, and it has only been recently that all these types of communication has come into existence. Many academics, as well as myself, have been behind on the times. Although it is still very much in it’s infancy, it is quickly spreading and developing through a younger generation of academics. It has given way to embracing the discipline of anthropologists and being an anthropologist. The project: This is Anthropology, has done just that. Besides the recent response to the governor of Florida’, Rick Scott, has claimed the uselessness of anthropology. The goal is to spread and educate how effective, influential  and what is being done through the use of anthropology throughout the world. And that is what we should be using social media, as an education tool.

As anthropologists, we have all heard the same questions and statements made by the ‘uneducated’ public about anthropology. Most people think we have study insects or dinosaurs or aliens….and we just shake our fists the fantasies of Tomb Raider, Indiana Jones, and Bones for the way we are portrayed to the public. There is just a lack of general knowledge to individuals outside of the discipline. It is not the public’s fault, but it is really our own. We should be providing the public with the knowledge. (Although there are those people who are too far out there about aliens and archaeology who are beyond our help) If you think about it, where does the public get their information? Television shows and the internet, whether the information is correct or not, it is the main source of gathering and receiving information. TV shows like Ancient Aliens, The Aquatic Ape….these may seem far fetched ideas to us but the individuals who present this information have the power and influence over the information that is being spread and received by the public.  People are innately curious about themselves, their pasts, and of other cultures. Thus is why many of us joined the discipline. Why not use the same tactics to spread information about our research?

Public Anthropology gives us a sense of purpose to be able to reach out across the boundaries and spread ideas as well as bring individuals together. We are anthropologists and there is a need for embracing the discipline for not only ourselves but for others as well. The new generation of anthropologists need to have inspiration and influences in the right direction to be successful. When I was an undergraduate at UMW, the Anthropology Department was struggling to stay at the university as a major discipline. Much for the same reason of the statement of Rick Scott, there is a sense that anthropology is a useless major and an academic dead-end. Every year the university faces the same struggle and is always being threatened on the cutting block. Cutting the program would lead to loss of not only jobs of the professors but also a loss of potential anthropologists. Do we really want this fate for anthropology? To struggle at university of a sense of identity? I really don’t want to see this happen at UMW or any university.

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