I’m sure the subject has come up before, but here it goes again…..Does one need a PhD in Anthropology in order to be called an Anthropologist? Must you belong to an organization such as a university or government agency to say you are an Anthropologist? Can someone without a complete academic degree be called an anthropologist? “Free lance” Anthropology or independent Anthropology, is there such thing.
I say this because one of my co-workers suggested that in my presentations on inmate management I should mention what training I have in Anthropology (less than 100 hrs) and how through ethnography I formulate new concepts. Personally I would like to call them working hypostases’. I am told that this would add value to my presentation and to my message towards approaching incarceration through a different view.
If you are an academic or conducting any anthropological work without academic credentials, I would like to hear what you have to say.
To me the term Freelance Anthropologist conjures up images of the old style "anthropologists" (circa 17-19th centuries i.e. colonial era) who used other peoples first hand experiences and wrote articles about other cultures from the safety of their own home 1/2 the world away.
I realise your in the US so things will most probably be very different to Australia which is what I'm about to refer to.
Over here (Australia) to work as an Anthropologist you must have completed your Honours year (the 4th year of an Undergraduate degree) with Anthropology as your major. We have a 3 year degree system with an optional 4th year Honours. That is the very minimum legal requirement.
I may be wrong with this next bit but there are a few other Australians on here who know more than I do so they may correct me. From what I have seen not many actually work as Anthropologists until they are in their Masters degree. However there is nothing stopping an Undergraduate from working with Anthropologists supervisor to gain experience. I only know of 1 university in Australia that has an Undergraduate Fieldwork/Research unit in the Undergraduate degree, all the others wait until Honours or Masters level before introducing actual hands on work to the course.
It is obvious that a whole lot of anthropology today is tied up with the universities and most of our members have had some association with an anthropology program there. But this identification of the discipline with the academy is historically very recent, not much more than the second half of the twentieth century, in fact. Before that, many of the best-known anthropologists were attached to universities, but rarely to departments of anthropology as such and their audience was of necessity drawn from the wider public. They themselves were usually trained in another discipline and their students were missionaries, colonial administratros and the like. We often take as our point of reference the academic boom of the 1960s and 70s when anthropologists were able to publish books aimed at other specialists like themselves, including students tied to their courses. But this situation is already long gone and hardly a model for anthropology's survival and development in the twenty-first century.
When I founded the OAC with a group of friends, I knew that most of our members would be drawn from the universities, especially graduate students. And their needs are important. But equally, from previous experience I knew that the insitutional framework of the academy lays a dead hand on the language, norms and potential of such a network. I once founded a listserv called the amateur anthropological association (small-triple-a) with the motto "amateurs do it for love", meaning that we encouraged non -anthropologists to join and professionals and students to indulge their love for the subject in a free way. I believe that the fusion of a medieval guild model with modern bureacracy, which shapes so much of contemporary anthrpopology, cannot provide the basis for the discipline's future. This will have to come from making new connections with the general public, while harnessing the new social and technical possibilities of our era. The universities will remain crucial to that task, but not as a guild monopoly, since the internet doesn't like monopolies.
So I would say that the word 'anthropologist' could be taken in a formal and a substantive way. The first and currently dominant sense (Anthropologist) would be tied to the universities, as Michael suggests. The second sense would be more general (anthropologist) and refer to anyone who has a developed interest in the whole of humanity or in ethnography or whatever, regardless of formal training. Some of the people I have learned most from as an Anthropologist are at best anthropologists in the latter sense. I believe that Anthropology and anthropology can only grow by keeping exchanges flowing across the boundaries of the academic discipline. For that reason I welcome your initiative and hope that we might discuss here how that flexibility might be encouraged here at the OAC and elsewhere.
I hope that the OAC will be such a place for the seasoned and the novice from different walks of life to come together and exchange their knowledge, techniques and experiences.