One Does Not Simply…Write About Anthropology

My Time as a Graduate Student

Academic Genealogy

on April 22, 2013

UWF anthropology genealogy - culturalWhen we think about genealogy, the first think that  usually comes to mind is kinship tree of family. Which is all well in good, but have you ever thought about you academic genealogy? Who your professors studied under? And who those professors studied under and so forth? In anthropology, we talk about so much the “gods of anthropology” that it seems so far off in the past when we read about them. But in reality, we are not that far away if we map it out.

For this week’s Avant-Garde Challenge in Presenting Anthropology, a fellow cultural anthro student and I came up with the idea to do an academic genealogy of our professors. This project went from just focusing on the cultural professors to the whole department. The idea originated from t-shirts that my undergrad created with the genealogy of the Anthropology Department of UMW and one of our professors fro UWF had been thinking about putting a department genealogy together. We also were Amanda L genealogygetting sick of just talking about archaeology in the class, so we wanted to come up with something that would present cultural anthropology. Although it pertains mostly to the student at UWF, you can realize how closely academically related you are to Boas or some of the other big names in anthropology. As anthropologist, we do pride ourselves on our academic lineages and it’s cool to know that you may be just a generation or so away from some big names in the discipline.

In addition to the cultural genealogies, Amanda and I mapped out our personal genealogies. We decided to just focus our genealogies on our Masters Thesis Committee. Amanda did her bachelors at UWF as well, so her professors remained pretty much the same. Mine, however, has the addition of my undergraduate mentor on my thesis committee, Dr. Margaret Huber. Dr. Huber was a studenttina genaelogy of Rodney Needham which makes my lineages from both sides of oceans, Bronislaw Malinowski and Franz Boas. Which is pretty good. Through Dr. Huber I am the great great granddaughter of Malinowski and the great great granddaughter of Franz Boas. Amanda is the great, great, great graddaughter of Boas through Dr. Robert Philen’s lineage. (I think I got that right) Overall, it is just pretty damn cool.

It is important to keep in mind with genealogies that the vertical lines are decedents to/from and the horizontal lines are relationship to. Not everyone is an academic sibling to the other, but there are many who are because they studied under the same individual. For example, Amanda and I are academic siblings of each other because we are both studying under Dr. Robert Philen and Dr. Kristina Killgrove. But we are not siblings when it comes to Dr. Huber, I was her student. Hopefully that makes sense.

What do you think? Do you think that it is important to know your academic lineage? I believe it is important to know where you came from personally and academically. This heritage that we have in anthropology allows us to calm an identity within the discipline that many other disciplines do not have the pleasure of. Genealogies also allows us to remember those who have pasted and have made an ever lasting impression upon us. Although many of us have similar lineages, but it is the experiences and influences from our academic elders that defines who we are. For instance, my undergraduate program had 3 very different anthropological perceptive (structuralism, post modern, and functionalist) and although I loved and was influenced by all 3, the most influential was Dr. Huber and her structuralism. Regardless, it is important to know where we came from and to be proud that you may be a decedent from Franz Boas. I challenge you to construct your own academic genealogy and see who you are related to.

This is UWF Staff genealogy.  If you are the student, you are EGO.

UWF staff-anthropology

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