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