SfAA President’s Column

November 1, 2011

By Merrill Eisenberg
University of Arizona

Merrill Eisenberg

The SfAA Board met in Denver on October 15-16, and I am happy to report that all is well with your Society! We are coming up on our 75th birthday in 2016, but we are nowhere near ready for retirement! In fact, we are very busy planning for “Beyond 75”.

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Occupy Wall Street, Consensus General Assembly and the Zapatistas: Into the American Zócalo

November 1, 2011

By Duncan Earle
Marymount College
By Jeanne Simonelli
Wake Forest University

With the emergence of the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement around the US, evolving from a small encampment near the financial center of global fiscal crisis, we are finally exposed, for the first time nationally, to the process well-developed by the rebels of Chiapas, Mexico: consensus governance. As with the Zapatista case, now almost a generation ago, major news outlets expressed frustration with the lack of a single, focused cause or demand—ignoring the real news story, which has to do with the process they have established and for which they have advocated. Those in the movement now have a space from which they can develop their own evolving “story” beyond the resonant slogans (e.g. “We are the 99%”) that themselves suggest a broad platform.  In the growth trajectory of OWS as a nascent social movement, the emphasis has been on the democratic process and equity of voice, based in an inclusive democratic consensus. Consensus also serves as the basic method of decision-making among the autonomous Maya communities that make up the Zapatista movement. It has been much discussed and analyzed in social movement and academic left literature, but rarely brought out into the public square—until now.

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Student Loan Fury at Occupy Wall Street: Anthropology’s Shadow World of Debt and Despair

November 1, 2011

By Brian McKenna
University of Michigan-Dearborn 

Brian McKenna

Young people in the U.S. now recognize that the university has become part of a ponzi scheme designed to place on students an unconscionable amount of debt while subjecting them under the power of commanding financial institutions for years after they graduate. Under this economic model of subservience, there is no future for young people.
Henry Giroux, Casino Capitalism and Higher Education, CounterPunch, October 31, 2011

“Students Ought Not Be a Means of Profit.” Nate Grant held a cardboard sign with this scrawled grievance as he sat cross-legged on a wall at the Occupy Wall Street encampment. So reported Geraldine Baum in the Los Angeles Times in October. Grant, 22, was an English major. Anthropology students know this grievance well. But universities do not highlight the issue in such stark terms. The media sometimes comes closer.

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Steamed Up About STEM, or What Good is Anthropology? A Gripping Tale of Academic Metamorphosis

November 1, 2011

By Paul L. Doughty
Distinguished Service Professor, Emeritus
Anthropology and Latin American Studies, University of Florida

Paul Doughty

The wireless lines of communication are burning up with scorching messages and replies to Florida governor Rick Scott’s remark that the state didn’t “need any more anthropologists.” The state’s anthropology students and faculties swung into action writing some brilliant rebuttals that flew through the ether as facebookings, tweets, emails, slideshows and editorials to spread the word about the importance and usefulness of our discipline. Four days after the debate was launched I noted that there were over 3 million “hits” on material online about the issue. Most of it was against Scott’s negative assertion. All the state’s major newspapers carried stories and letters to the editor about it. Anthropology was “in the news” and one of my geographer friends exclaimed his envy at the publicity we were receiving.

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Letter to Governor Scott (from the President of the Society for Applied Anthropology)

November 1, 2011

October 25, 2011

Office of Governor Rick Scott
State of Florida
The Capitol
400 S. Monroe St.
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0001

Dear Governor Scott,

By now you have received many letters regarding your remarks about the utility of pursuing a degree in anthropology. As a parent, I understand your personal frustration at having paid a small fortune for your daughter to pursue an undergraduate degree in anthropology, only to find that there are few entry-level employment opportunities for positions labeled “anthropologist.” But as the President of the Society for Applied Anthropology (SfAA) I am compelled point out that there are thousands of anthropologists who are employed in a wide variety of situations where they apply the principles of human behavior and interaction, gleaned through an anthropological perspective, to current day social, economic, environmental and health problems. Many of these individuals have been trained in the excellent programs of universities in Florida. Their current job title may not be “anthropologist,” but their anthropological training is essential to the work that they do.

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