[URBANTH-L]The Temp-Scholar Market, Follow-up Remarks

Angela Jancius jancius at ohio.edu
Wed May 9 03:31:11 EDT 2007

I'd like to thank everyone for their messages of support, and 
for this very interesting discussion.

SUNTA's Past President, Bob Rotenberg, would like to set up 
a listserv or blog focusing on the issue of contingent faculty. Bob 
will notify us with an announcement when something is prepared.  
It's clear from this discussion that we've only peeled the first 
layer of the onion.

A few closing remarks ...

I was impressed by the completely international dimension of 
contributions.  The increase of Ph.D.s, the corporatizing university, 
and the continued nationalization and internationalization of the 
academic labor market has led to a large surplus of anthropology 
Ph.D.s, despite retiring baby boomers and the expectation that all 
young people should attend college. In alignment with this, niche-
marketed hiring practices give preference to Ph.D.s who are
just the right theoretical and geographic match, to the demise, 
perhaps, of the holistic thinkers and good writers, and all of the 
talented young scholars whose ideas and aspirations just weren't 
on a search committee's radar. Elite school hiring practices are 
an exception, here.  But then, just as a Berkeley Ph.D.'s application 
to an open-enrollment university might be dismissed as "inauthentic," 
so too, the non-elite school Ph.D. knows her application to the Ivory 
Tower will likely fall into the recycling bin, unread.  In 1893 Franz 
Boas illustrated "the genius of all races" at the Chicago World Fair.  
But in 2007, we're further than ever from celebrating the genius 
of every individual human being.  Schools and programs dedicate 
an enormous effort to the recruitment of "a better pool" of students.  
Likewise, as both Thompson and Poblocki note, faculty are now
earmarked as either low-wage workhorses or very well-paid 
superstars. And in the midst of the rat race, Nancy Anderson's 
insistence that she is not "white trash," and without potential, falls 
on deaf ears. And it becomes neither the government's, nor the 
university's, nor her mentor's, responsibility that, in order to prove 
her potential, she has taken out $136,000 in student loans. The 
blame is squarely placed on Nancy's own shoulders, for having 
gambled for the dream of self-realization, when the stakes were 
too high.

What makes anthropology so inspiring, to me, is that the 
discipline tends to attract people who want to "make the world 
a better place."  We teach people to think outside of the box. 
But have you ever tried to emulate Paulo Freire in a lecture 
course with 200 students and no t.a.?  I cannot entirely blame 
students for citing Wikipedia as their main source on research 
reports, or demanding spoon fed knowledge in the form of 
illustrated textbooks and bulleted visuals.  For they are only 
following cues.  And the visiting or adjunct professor must succumb, 
because to do otherwise (or to fall ill, or have a death in the family, 
or a wise-cracking athlete in row thirty-six) could lead to poor 
student evaluations, and the end of one's teaching career.  
Anthropologists pay attention to the flow of metaphors and 
cultural norms in daily life.  When I observe the proliferation of 
the temp-scholar market, I think of Donald Trump's reality show, 
The Apprentice, and recognize discomforting parallels. 

Thanks again for all of your responses.   

Angela Jancius

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