[URBANTH-L]temp jobs vs. "the anthropologist as hero"

susan mazur susanmazur at hotmail.com
Sat May 5 12:05:45 EDT 2007

Fantastic conversation, everybody.
I'd add, that there are personal reasons for getting a PhD, which may well outweigh economic ones. I personally put myself through school, with much of my BA being funded by my then-employers in Silicon Valley. Having gained skills, experience, and a social network in marketing (which I maintain to this day) I felt relatively safe in going to graduate school, even though my then-advisor told me to go to law school instead ("You'd make a fabulous litigator.") I wanted the PhD to prove to myself that I could finish what I started. I used to say, "It doesn't matter if I blow my head off the day after I get my doctorate - they'll have to announce the funeral of DR Susan Mazur." 
I did get (some) funding, and I won prestigious fellowships, but I still ended up w 50G in student loans. Relatively cheap, BTW, I met someone who had already racked up 60Gs and wasn't even finished with his master's (and there was a great article recently about what a cash cow THOSE are). 
What gets interesting is how much we then buy into the schtick of academia. I entered with nary a thought in my head of becoming a professor. I wanted to work in applied anthro, and go into government, NGOs, whatever (all touted as places anthros make careers). Yet somewhere along the line I started 'chasing the bunny' of tenure like a whipped greyhound. Feeling like a failure even though I calculated the odds of getting a job at every stage along the way and the news was grim.
It was only last year, when what I had essentially been told was a sure bet fell through (much like Angela's story) at a place I didn't even want to be, that I started to really ask myself, "How did I get here?" (cue Talking Heads). 
To finish, yes, I am adjuncting, no I don't mind it so much seeing as I am in SoCal and the pay is decent (anybody get that newletter from the Dept of Education recently?) and I get to teach upper division courses with about as much regularity as anyone else. My husband's job provides health insurance, and the state of CA provides a pension and other retirement bennies. I also started my own consulting firm (www.indiciaconsulting.com) and I figure I may as well continue to make my own path, seeing as five years on the job market has nothing to show for it but some very close calls at some very good schools. I quip, "Every year I find myself getting rejected by better and better schhols!"
But as of this Fall? I am off the market. If they want me, they'll have to come and find me. 
I can't play Charlie Brown to their Lucy any longer. 
PS - I have attached an oped I submitted to LA Times on this issue. 
  Susan Mazur-Stommen, Ph.D. www.susanmazur.com 951.687.8661 "It's gonna get nerd nasty." Amanda on Ugly Betty

> From: jancius at ohio.edu> To: urbanth-l at lists.ysu.edu> Date: Fri, 4 May 2007 14:08:27 -0400> Subject: [URBANTH-L]temp jobs vs. "the anthropologist as hero"> > In the below message, Dani emphasizes a wonderful point - that the nomadic > "temp-job" market pulls people away from what drew them into anthropology > in the first place -- a desire to have a positive social impact. In the past > two years, I've been doing research and advocacy work with prisoners, and > funding it out of pocket (www.prisonersolidarity.org). When I lose this job > and leave the region, my advocacy work unfortunately also ends. What do > senior faculty who are activist-anthropologists think about the trend that > Dani describes below?> -------------------------------------------------> > From: Dani Kranz <moewe at gmx.li>> > I was really, really touched by your mail. And I was not surprised by > Dimitra's response.> > I am myself in the last steps of finishing up my PhD in St Andrews, and have > been self-financing throughout, as most of my friends who entered PhD > programs in the UK. On that matter, Susan is right that the matter of > finances needs to be appreciated much more. Being on the brink of bankruptcy > throughout is nerve wrecking, fear inducing and frustrating.> > I have been asking myself especially on the last few months why I'm pursuing > this degree - taking all of the risks to maybe never get into academia, or > on one or two year contracts, at the same time being forced to work outside > academia as market analyst to make ends meet (one could say as an applied > anthropologist, though I shy away from this).. But the risk is not what > actually bothers me - besides a lucky two of my friends, all of us work in > jobs we were either not trained for or just do in order to make ends meet > (that goes alike for my friends in Germany, Britain, Israel, the US and > various other countries). What bothers me much more is that I am not sure if > what I am doing will ever have any effect on any social policy as I'd hoped > for. As you, I have been working with a group of people I do care about a > lot and for very personal reasons, Jews in Germany. I gave a paper last week > which looks at what happens when a dual citizen (Germany and Israel) enters > Germany, where he is then just counted as a German, with all connotations > that carries. That as a descendant of German Jews who fled Germany his > family history and thus the passing on of any tradition or German language > is notably different from millions of 'other' Germans is not appreciated in > the legal framework, besides the reinstatement of the citizenship that is > part of the constitution. During my fieldwork, I managed to get him on a > German language course, and left all papers that could help people like him > with one my participants - if I was not to have an impact on social policy, > I wanted at least to give back, and help as much as I could. It is these > moments I realized that make me do what I'm doing, and pursue this degree. > It's the hope that maybe I will manage to change things and make this world, > idealistic as it might sound, a better place. Not going into grad school and > giving into the 'forces of the market' I know I would have regretted, it > would have made me feel dead. Margaret Mead I think it was once mentioned > that it takes a small group of determined individuals to make changes if > there are supposed to be any.> > Dani > > _______________________________________________> URBANTH-L mailing list> URBANTH-L at lists.ysu.edu> http://lists.ysu.edu/mailman/listinfo.cgi/urbanth-l

More information about the URBANTH-L mailing list