[URBANTH-L]Another article on the Temp-Scholar market

Nance andenance at comcast.net
Sat May 5 15:51:08 EDT 2007

Hi all,

Prepare, this is a long email as I have a lot to say about this issue.  S=
ome may apply to you and some may piss you off.  Either way, I encourage =
your responses.  Thanks to those of you who will actually read it and I a=
m sorry to all, but specifically skimmers or the uninterested for filling=
 up your inbox. =20

I would like to offer the perspective of one with only a Master's in Cult=
ural Anthropology.  Although I qualify for teaching positions at a number=
 of community colleges, I have to compete with many unfunded, or under-fu=
nded graduate students who are willing to drive 2 hours to teach, daily a=
nd work for peanuts.  I too was willing to work for peanuts, but was not =
given the opportunity outside of being a research assistant for my mentor=
 as a graduate student.  I was not hired due to the overflowing pool of a=
pplicants who are either more qualified, or will work for less - and who =
are often both, more qualified and will work for less.  The job market fo=
r an MA is very difficult as I am not only competing with the grad studen=
ts, but I am also competing with PhDs who are grossly underemployed.=20

As for earning an M.A., I did so through more sweat and tears than many o=
f my cohort.  Despite dyslexia and dyscalcula, I kept to my spirit and ov=
ercame many insults and demoralizations by certain faculty members who I =
recognized felt that the only reason I was in the program was due to a qu=
ota, or a "dumbing down of the program.  I was told by one professor to q=
uit thinking about a PhD and go get a job.  He stated that I had too much=
 debt to continue on this path, especially since he did not expect me to =
make it in academia.  He added that I was too immature to handle the pres=
sure of a PhD.  This was not the first time I experienced this sort of sn=
obbery.  After all, I was passed along in school to the 5th grade when fi=
nally a teacher recognized that I could not read.  I also have had to end=
ure the stereotype experienced by many Native Appalachians, aka "hillbill=
ies, mountain folks, poor white trash," and the list continues (I have cr=
eated a corrective response to these stereotype
s with the self classification of "poor white recycled").  The education =
system in my state was ranked number 49 the last I heard and probably sti=
ll is in bottom five.  While many teachers in this area are foreign and o=
f course sympathetic to "these people," they are indeed influenced by the=
 stereotype and often rationalize their efforts based on the "generationa=
l poverty" excuse.  While I know full well that my college career was an =
anomaly as it was never expected of me to attend college, I proved otherw=

As the market for the anthropologist (esp. cultural anthropologists) seem=
s to be limited, I am constantly getting emails about archaeology positio=
ns and the need for cultural resource management positions.  This flood o=
f positions makes me only wish I had focused on cultural resource managem=
ent and learned to dig a square hole.  I have learned that while I am not=
 a professional cultural anthropologists being paid, recognized, publishe=
d, etc. as such, I am a practicing cultural anthropologist working under =
the disguise of a social worker/investigator.  I took the first job that =
was offered to me after a year and a half of applying to everything (from=
 pharmaceutical rep positions to the FBI).  I did lots of crying and peri=
ods of self doubt.  I worked full time with three employers, and applying=
 and accepting food stamps and going without any health care.  I know tha=
t the only way I was able to attend college was due to the Federal Financ=
ial Aid Program or FFSA.  Since neither of my p
arents were high school graduates, I was able to receive funding.  Since =
the TAs and Profs have to report back on those students receiving aid, it=
 was obvious to the snobocracy, that I was a local who would at best, gra=
duate.  Very little effort was made to support my efforts.  In fact, the =
only place that I ever received any feed back on my academic performance =
(grammar, mentoring, etc) was from the African and African American Studi=
es program.  This was the only place in which I received any quality inst=
ruction on how to correct errors in my writing as an undergraduate.  With=
 class sizes so large, the attention I received was limited, but I lost p=
oints for misspelled words on a hand written essay exam.  In my English c=
lasses, this was never the case.  The major difference here was the quali=
ty of the instructors.  In the A&AA Studies program, I was educated by ex=
perienced tenured faculty who demanded more from their students.  This pr=
ogram did not have grad students at its disposa
l and given the history of the program, the faculty members from a variet=
y of departments who cross-lectured in this program, genuinely invested i=
n these students.   The English classes I took were taught by first year =
graduate students.  In the A&AA program,  I was often the only white girl=
, but I felt that in these classes, I actually was welcomed and treated a=
s a person deserving of a chance.  I also felt jealous of this particular=
 student body as I could see that there were some very dedicated professo=
rs actually wanting to educate their students -- an experience I rarely f=
elt outside of this program.  Also, my hillbilly status was never an issu=
e or under-tone as not having a right to be there.

Back to the job market - One hurdle I found while trying to make ends mee=
t is that having an MA is actually a curse.  I received dozens of rejecti=
ons letters stating that I was over qualified for their position.  I rece=
ived fewer rejection letters stating that I was under-qualified, but that=
 they had elected to go with someone with more experience.  In other word=
s, a PhD.  While a GRA in grad school, I worked on the side as a bartende=
r.  Bartending and other food service positions are what I lived on throu=
gh out undergrad.  After obtaining my grad degree, people would not hire =
me stating I was "too smart for them" as they assumed I would not stay an=
d be reliable.  I was often asked, "why do you want to work here?"  My an=
swer was 9 out of 10 times, I need a job and you are hiring.  Finally, I =
filled out an application at a hotel for an auditing position.  Yes, the =
dyslexic was applying for an auditing position - I was desperate!  I list=
ed my education on the application in a truthfu
l way, but as limited as possible.  I was actually hired.  I worked there=
 for 9 months until I finally was offered a position with the State of Te=

I was hired by the State of Tennessee to be a Case Manager I  (Child Prot=
ective Services Investigator) for the Department of Children's Services (=
publically they identify this position as a Case Manager so as not to see=
m too invasive, but really I am an investigator applying social work).  D=
espite having an MA in a field which has been consulted for much of the w=
ork, theories, applications the dept. uses, I was not offered the positio=
n that was mandated for those with Master's degrees a Case Manager II pos=
ition.  I did not care, as I took the job that only required a BA.  The j=
ob is exactly the same, only with a $300 a month pay difference.  My supe=
rvisor does not have a Master's degree and neither does her supervisor.  =
On many occasions, I have had to explain word usage to my supervisor.  Fo=
r example, when I wrote something like (John and Mary, dates of birth: xx=
xxxx and xxxxx, respectively.) I had to explain what "respectively" meant=
.  I have to thank my graduate school mentor fo
r being so hard on me with my grammar.  Although, I still struggle with w=
riting and reading in English, (vs Appalachian), I have superior writing =
skills to my co-workers.  In fact, I am the only Case Manager (despite be=
ing the lowest paid) who has not had to redo a report for the juvenile ju=
dge.  Some of my co-workers have to make corrections weekly.  Having had =
to read other's case recordings, I have found only disgust for the educat=
ion system in my state and a recognition of hardships people face with an=
 inadequate education, one in which the state universities perpetuate.  H=
aving said this, it is quite shocking that the teaching positions at coll=
eges and universities that reach the most students, especially those who =
may not finish UG and will certainly not go to grad school, are filed by =
those with incomplete educations, the graduate students.  It is not to sa=
y that they are not capable, it is to point out that as an attempt to use=
 cheap labor, the universities are hiring not o
n qualifications and experience, but on supply and demand principles.  Be=
cause there is someone who is willing to work for peanuts out of understo=
od desperation, the universities and colleges by default lower their expe=
ctations and therefore lower the quality of education their student body =
receives.  Furthermore, the GTAs are far less supported when a student ch=
allenges their authority to assign grades, enforce rules, and expect more=
 of the students.  Since the GTA does not want to loose funding, she or h=
e is more willing to be relaxed in their standards so that the student ev=
aluations will be positive and thus ensure another year of funding. =20

As is, I am actually happy in my position with the State.  If I do someth=
ing wrong, I am in a position to always blame the higher ups with less fo=
rmal education.  I know that when I have to make a "genogram" that it is =
actually a "kinship chart." I know that the quick investigations are actu=
ally rapid ethnographic fieldwork that is at a micro level.  I also know =
that I am not just identifying a problem, but doing so with offering supp=
ort to families, and resources to help with the issue that brought on the=
 investigation and any thing else the family identifies as a need.  There=
 are down sides to it as well as sometimes the legal stuff is frustrating=
 and all that is available is "band-aiding the problem" as we lowbies at =
work call it as we know that the families who receive band-aids will be b=
ack with in weeks for surgery.  I also know that while I am investigating=
 severe and sexual abuse against children, I am taking a stand for their =
rights as a child.  In this way, I am able to p
ractice in the area of human rights.  There are indeed times when I objec=
t to the policy that invades the private lives of those falsely accused, =
but in the end as many of these falsely accused admit and support, it is =
for the safety of the child that matters as they are without a voice.  Up=
on introduction to a family, I often get a door slammed in my face or cur=
sed out, but at the end of the process, I am always thanked by either the=
 children, or by a parent or other relative for helping a family in crisi=
s. =20

Although, I am accused of being a Social Worker, I am not.  I am, in the =
best way possible under the circumstances, applying anthropology.  For ex=
ample, I have been faced with a number of families that are refugees from=
 several countries in Africa.  I have had to remove children from these f=
amilies for physical abuse and for medical mal-treatment.  I have had to =
testify that cultural relativism is not an excuse for beating a child.  T=
his testimony was supported by the head representative of this refugee NG=
O as this behavior was not accepted back home despite the attorney's atte=
mpts to make it seem common practice to beat a child in this African coun=
try.  In this case, it was Liberia.  Another situation called on me to re=
fer back to my MA research on Obeah and later when at home and preparing =
for court,  look up info on Voodoo.  This refugee from Sierra Leon felt h=
er child had been sent an illness and that at the hospital her baby was g=
oing to die.  She stated that her neighbors had
 worked voodoo on her child.  This mother was very compliant and returned=
 to the hospital with her severely sick baby.  I was able to talk with he=
r about her fears.  I understood clearly her fear of having a "sent illne=
ss" and since I was not treating her like she was a devil worshiper, she =
was very honest with me.  I was faced with trying to delineate between a =
statements that my child takes the form of a snake, with statements that =
"voices tell me to keep feeding the baby and they told me to leave the ho=
spital," and that the "mattress was talking to me" and that "computers ar=
e trying to clone me."  While I have no doubt that the baby may have take=
n the form of a snake, "wiggling about, back and forth like a worm" as sh=
e stated, is related to voodoo, I had to figure out if a mattress talking=
 to her and the fear of cloning was voodoo.  In the end, this sweet lady =
was institutionalized for two weeks.  She is now out of hospital, has giv=
en birth to her second child, and her children=20
are healthy and living with her sister.  Unfortunately, this mother is il=
l, but is also now living with her sister and raising her children under =
the supervision of the relative.  I still receive random phone calls at 4=
 in the morning from this mother asking me how to turn on the heat, despi=
te having a relative in the next room.  Nonetheless, as there are many cr=
itics of the work CPS does, there are many rewards when you see a child g=
et a meal for the first time in days, a bath the first time in weeks, fre=
edom from a sexual predator for the first time in often years, go see a d=
octor for the first time since birth.  Unfortunately, in East Tennessee t=
here is a very high rate of child neglect/abuse and a very high rate of c=
hild sexual abuse.  Maybe this too is influenced by the stereotypes of Ap=
palachia and "generational poverty" which is often equated with "abuse, n=
eglect, incest, and ignorance," but then again, maybe our education syste=
m is mostly responsible. =20

Your thoughts and experiences?
Nancy R. Anderson M.A.=20

-------------- Original message --------------=20
From: "Angela Jancius" <jancius at ohio.edu>=20

> From: Radice, Martha=20
> Hallo there,=20
> Thanks for your powerful posting. Another striking element of how thing=
s work at=20
> the moment is the time factor - everyone is usually too busy 'keeping u=
p' to get=20
> together and fight for better working conditions, let alone an overhaul=
 of the=20
> system.=20
> You may be interested in this analysis of the new university research s=
> - the research capitalists v. the research proletariat.=20
> Harvie, D. (2000). Alienation, Class and Enclosure in UK Universities. =
> and Class(71), 103-132. http://www.le.ac.uk/ulmc/doc/dharvie_alienation=
> Some of Harvie's other work on the 'commons' and 'enclosure' of the uni=
> is avaiable for download from his staff webpage at Leicester=20
> http://www.le.ac.uk/ulmc/academics/dharvie.html He has some interesting=
> for resistance to neoliberal restructuring in the department and the cl=
> (although they don't necessarily get anyone tenure...).=20
> Best wishes,=20
> Martha Radice=20
> PhD candidate, Urban studies=20
> INRS Urbanisation, culture et soci=E9t=E9=20
> 385 rue Sherbrooke Est, Montr=E9al, QC, H2X 1E3=20
> T=E9l. (514) 499 4050=20
> T=E9l=E9c. (514) 499 4065=20
> Bureau 7102=20
> www.ucs.inrs.ca=20
> Page web personnelle http://www.aeucs.org/spip.php?auteur3=20
> _______________________________________________=20
> URBANTH-L mailing list=20
> URBANTH-L at lists.ysu.edu=20
> http://lists.ysu.edu/mailman/listinfo.cgi/urbanth-l=20

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