Granted, the title’s controversial and overstated. But it got your attention, right? That’s called “contrarian marketing.” Humor me. You’ll see where I’m coming from. For full disclosure’s sake, you should know that I that started in religious anthropology, before moving into business anthropology, facilitating my own marketing committee, and approaching AAA with new marketing ideas.
So, how did I learn that “nobody gives a damn” about anthropology?
2009. Gainesville, FL. Dove World Outreach Ministries, an aggressive evangelical church, had gotten vandalized after causing larger-than-usual uproar in UF’s Turlington Plaza. Concerned about escalating violence, UF hosted a meeting to discuss countermeasures. As an anthropologist with years of experience among Turlington’s evangelicals, I came to speak as an expert opinion. I delivered a well-thought-out presentation, only to get dismissed as such: “You’re an anthropologist? Don’t you study bugs or something?” The following year, Dove World hosted International Burn a Koran Day, which incited deadly riots.
“Nobody gives a damn” about anthropology, because nobody knows what it is.
To varying degrees, other anthropologists understand this challenge. I’ve read similar woes in journals like American Anthropologist, and on blogs like Savage Minds. When Gov. Rick Scott criticized anthropology schools, USF responded with a presentation titled “This is Anthropology,” inescapably suggesting that people don’t already know what anthropology is. However, from a marketer’s perspective, a title like “This is Anthropology” only earns the attention of people who’re already interested in anthropology. Despite its thousands of views, Google reveals that “This is Anthropology’s” most relevant backlinks come from other anthropology websites. Essentially, it’s a presentation made by anthropologists, popular among other anthropologists.
So what can be done? Well, I'd like to discuss that here in the OAC forum. What do you think we can do?
For starters, I believe that anthropology needs mainstream interest, so we should market toward non-anthropologists. I’ve already conducted some market research, and deigned a tactic that motivates professors of *other subjects* to teach students about anthropology. Access my research, FOR ANYBODY TO CARE ABOUT ANTHROPOLOGY, THEY’LL NEED TO KNOW WHAT IT IS! for free via http://www.ashkuff.com/foranybodytocare More importantly, we should coordinate our efforts to bring anthropology mainstream, so email me at email@example.com --- I get lots of email, so get my attention with the subject line “I GIVE A DAMN.”
--- regards, Ashkuff
Yes, yes, and yes.
That's something I struggle with, myself, when I write for non-anthropological audiences. I know all these cool words and concepts, and I want to throw them around to sound properly "anthropological," but I know how alienating that becomes.
I even wrote an AAA article about that at http://blog.aaanet.org/2012/01/17/what-anthropologists-do-and-what-...
As for the smallish overlap between anthro and hard science? You have a point. That said, there are plenty of SPECTACULARLY UNSCIENTIFIC disciplines that're doing just fine: journalism and history chief among them. So I'm not convinced that lax science is the problem.
--- Ashkuff | www.ashkuff.com | How to use anthropology, in business and ADVENTURE!!!!
Larry Stout said:
All academic "disciplines" (much of what passes for scholarship is better described as indiscipline) gravitate both consciously and unconsciously towards increasing arcaneness. Obscurity of lexicon, along with credential checks, discourages commonsense criticism and dilution of the ranks by the "uninitiated". To me, an outsider, it seems that many anthropologists customarily meander in their theorizing and writing from something proferred as "science" ("hard" science and anthropology have precious little overlap, I think) and what I'll describe as missionary work or crusading. The "science" part puts off the common man, and the missionary part puts off those who seek to discern "harder" science. Often, I'm afraid, scholarly rectitude is judged by the copiousness of cited publications (this applies as well to "harder" science). In short, academic disciplines tend to close ranks and become self-contained and self-perpetuating; although they often are self-critical, the criticism decidedly stops short of self-destruction, and what may be termed "larger questions" (e.g., causality, human "agency", epistemology, objectivity) are routinely just ignored.