[URBANTH-L]contributions to AN

Elzbieta Gozdziak emg27 at georgetown.edu
Wed Sep 28 10:54:59 EDT 2005

The editors of  Anthropology News are looking for contributions to the 
Views on Policy series for the Dec  edition of AN on the 
evolution/intelligent design debate.  Please submit your entries to 
Elzbieta Gozdziak at emg27 at georgetown.edu by October 15th.

Debating Evolution

 New York Times, Washington Post, New Republic and many other major 
popular newspapers and magazines have lead with headlines in past months 
on the evolution debate, the history of evolution litigation and recent 
trials about the teaching of evolution and intelligent design.   Clearly 
this treads on anthropologists' ground.   But as the debate continues to 
heat up, AN asks readers to submit not only their views on the teaching 
of evolution, but to contribute to a Views on Policy series that seeks 
to understand what is underpinning current debate and litigation on 
evolution/intelligent design/creationism and how these debates and 
trials play out?  Submissions should be 800-1000 words and emailed to 
slathrop at aaanet.org by Oct 25, 2005.

 Particular questions include (but are not limited to) the following:

 Much of the rhetoric in evolution debates boil down to assumed 
boundaries between "science" and "religion."  Furthermore, in evolution 
litigation, courts in the US base much on interpretations of the US 
Constitution's "Establishment Clause," particularly what now gets tagged 
as "separation of Church and State."   How can anthropologists provide 
insight to this rhetoric and constitutional clause and the history of 
their interpretations?   Also, how might cross-cultural research shed 
light on these events in occurring in the US?

 How should anthropologists analyze the powerful role of the state in 
determining how humans understand the world?  Courts and legislatures in 
the US are trying to make laws and interpret laws that determine what 
will be taught in schools.  Evolutionists, intelligent design proponents 
and creationsists appear to be trying to sway this "public sphere."   
How might anthropologists' theorizing about private and public bring 
insight to these events?

 There is a lot of talk about "scientific literacy" and the lack of it 
in the US.  How might we best go about understanding scientific 
illiteracy and responding to it?  Also, why hasn't the popular media 
questioned the "religious literacy" of Americans?  Could it be that 
scientists and religious groups are both feeling marginalized in a new 
US public culture?  What are most Americans literate in?  Furthermore, 
are museums still successful in educating the public?  Interestingly the 
creationists adopted evolutionists' practice of communicating their 
knowledge through a museum with the opening of the Creation Museum near 
Cincinnati, Ohio.  Furthermore, evolutionist and intelligent design 
proponents have developed other centers for education and advocacy.  How 
should these developments be best understood?  And should anthropology 
continue to take a public education and advocacy stand on these issues?

 In thinking about how evolution debates play out in real lives, would 
it be fair to say that some of this is based not only in science and 
politics but ritual?  For instance, Richard Sternberg, the previous 
editor of the /Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington/, was 
reported by the Wall Street Journal to be "outcasted" by the National 
Museum of Natural History where he worked after publishing intelligent 
design theorist Stephen Meyer's piece in the proceedings ("The Branding 
of a Heretic," January 28, 2005).  How might we think about the 
application of freedom of speech here?  Also how should we think about 
the role of editors and peer review?  On what criteria should editors 
and reviewers base their judgments of an argument?    And are some 
arguments only appropriate in some spaces and not others?  If we should 
maintain rigid boundaries between genre, why should we and how should we 
determine these? 

 Is "intelligent design" a hybrid theory of sorts or is it really only a 
secular mask for creationism as many evolutionists argue?  Even if it is 
a mask for creationism, why might the mask be necessary today?  

 Finally, would it be appropriate to trace these debates back to modern 
philosophy?   For example, how do past attempts to understand "natural 
law" underpin current understandings and empirical, rational/logical and 
faith-based attempts of understanding human origins or creation? 
Furthermore, what can anthropology say about narrating human origins 
cross-culturally?  And why might humans even really care about our 

Elzbieta M. Gozdziak, Ph.D.
Research Director
Editor, International Migration
Georgetown University
Harris Building
3300 Whitehaven St NW
Suite 3100
Washington, DC 20007
Tel: 202-687-2193
Fax: 202-687-2541 
e-mail: emg27 at georgetown.edu

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