“I do not carry such information in my mind since it is readily available in books. The value of a college education is not the learning of many facts but the training of the mind to think.”—Albert Einstein (via ersal)
—We’re not our skin of grime, we’re not our dread bleak dusty imageless locomotive, we’re all beautiful golden sunflowers inside, we’re blessed by our own seed & golden hairy naked accomplishment-bodies growing into mad black formal sunflowers in the sunset, spied on by our eyes under the shadow of the mad locomotive riverbank sunset Frisco hilly tincan evening sitdown vision.
As she opened a session here Thursday at the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association, Virginia R. Dominguez of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and president of the group, told those gathered here that “we don’t have to agree. Sometimes consensus is oppressive.” That was one kind of oppression that no one needed to worry about in this session.
The topic was the role of science within anthropology. And while most speakers were careful to say how much they respected one another, it didn’t take long for tensions to surface. Daniel Segal of Pitzer College suggested that the Society for Anthropological Sciences should be renamed the Society for Defensiveness About Science (or else be disbanded). Segal said that the entire AAA is about science, and that a subset shouldn’t claim the only expertise about science. Jonathan M. Marks of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte asked the audience, “Is there really an anti-science movement in anthropology or is that just a paranoid delusion?”
Others, however spoke about what they see as a strong anti-science movement within anthropology. Anthropologists talked about departments being divided, those who advocate more of an emphasis on biological or physical anthropology said that their views are too often ignored, and some scholars who said that they view themselves as neither pro-science nor anti-science spoke about being caught in crossfire.
One woman in the audience spoke of being criticized by some in her department as “not scientific enough” while others have told her that because she works in part on the issue of the evolution of behavior, “I must be a fascist.” She urged the discipline’s leaders to find ways to work together, and said that the split is affecting graduate admissions, hiring decisions and tenure evaluations. “People who start out trying to walk the middle ground are pulled in one or the other direction.”
Most here agreed that tensions over the exact role of the science and humanities roles in anthropology are hardly new. But many said that the revision of the anthropology association’s long-term plan last year left more people — especially those who identify with the sciences — thinking about these issues. The new plan left out the word “science” entirely – and that omission angered many.
The association’s board issued a statement a few weeks later affirming that science remains central to the discipline. And while that statement pleased some of those who had been upset about the new long-term plan, many have argued that the association needs to spend more time talking about these issues, and that led to Thursday’s session.
Peter Peregrine of Lawrence University, who as president of the Society for Anthropological Sciences was among the prominent critics of the way the long-term plan didn’t mention science, organized the session. And he said here that while some anthropologists have said that the debate over the long-term plan was just semantics, or that it was a false issue played up by journalists, he didn’t see it that way.
“A hornet’s nest was opened up,” he said. He said that he had never seen more anger on the part of anthropologists who identify with the discipline’s science traditions. “There was an explosion like I have never heard before,” he said.
While an anticolonial critique tends to be heavily influenced by the structures of colonialism that it wishes to reject and overthrow, a postcolonial critique downplays the seeming singularity and overwhelming overdeterminations of colonialism as a structure.
Emerging later in a context often of disillusionment, postcolonial thought recognizes that responsibility must now be located not only in the colonial legacy but also in the multiply opportunistic and often selfish practices by various indigenous agents with competing claims.
”—Gaurav Desai, Subject to Colonialism (via gardant)
“Science is the key to our future, and if you don’t believe in science, then you’re holding everybody back. And it’s fine if you as an adult want to run around pretending or claiming that you don’t believe in evolution, but if we educate a generation of people who don’t believe in science, that’s a recipe for disaster. We talk about the Internet. That comes from science. Weather forecasting. That comes from science. The main idea in all of biology is evolution. To not teach it to our young people is wrong.”—Bill Nye (via cwnl)