(I’ve been thinking about this issue for a while but recently talked about it with my colleagues in the anthro department here at UH Manoa who really added a lot, so thanks to them for that!)
When David Weinberger wrote that the Internet was “a world of first drafts”, he wasn’t specifically thinking about academic publishing, but he should have been. There is a paradox at the heart of how scholars (or at least anthropologists) communicate with each other: the more time and energy you spend trying to write something true and important, the less people will read it.
Sure, sometimes “culture” can tell us a lot about human behavior and differences. But there are also times when arguments based upon the concept of culture can obscure just as much as they reveal.
Right now I am in the middle of going through all of my interviews, making notes, and looking for themes I can draw from for my dissertation. Things are coming along. I figured I’d share some of what I am doing…sort of let you in on the process as I work through it. If you don’t already know, my research is about the conflicts over tourism development on the East Cape region of Baja California Sur. These conflicts are, in part, about development. Or, more specifically, about what type of development people want to see happen in the region. Some of the area’s residents are in favor of large scale development, some root for something along the lines of “sustainable development,” and still others basically don’t want to see *anything* change at all. I worked in a small coastal community in the heart of the East Cape, a place where land ownership is one of the most critical issues. Read more…
Lots of things to read, but not much time to post about each one. So, why not post some snippets, links, and comments? Ok, I will then.
1. Check out this important post by Kate Clancy about harassment and abuse in anthropological fieldwork. Here’s the intro:
It was getting late, the student center all but deserted. My old friend and I had a table to ourselves, awkwardly wedged among the chairs that had been set in a circle for an invited talk I had just given to some undergraduates about issues for women in science.
My friend alluded to having a challenging field site. Her face, which was usually open and bright, with a smile so infectious and delighted and thoroughly optimistic you couldn’t help but love her, was subdued, careful. She talked around it for a while. Then she told me of her sexual assault in the field. Read more…
There hasn’t been an Around the Web Digest since the Savage Minds home site went down and we had to set up its temporary digs here. That means we’re over due for a round-up of February and March! You can receive (semi-)daily links via our twitter accnt @savageminds or by liking our Facebook page. If you’ve seen something around the web that you’d like to share with the Savage Minds community, mention us in a tweet with the link. You can also email me at [email@example.com].
Here’s a sample of what we’ve been reading. To the links!
- The African Diaspora in the Indian Ocean World. An online exhibition from the NYPL. /KF
- Nostalgic Americana of Ram truck Superbowl commercial ignores the immigrant face of farming today. //MT
- Lakota kids go to Afghanistan, make skateboards. Awesomeness ensues. //MT
- “We ask that you not call us professor” /KF
- Anthropologist Michele Rivkin-Fish likens N. Carolina gov. to Soviets on higher ed & jobs //MT
- “No more half-measures!” A call for Open Access and rapid change in the AAA’s publication portfolio. //MT
- “Register & Read” program lets you freely view, but not download, 3 JSTOR articles every 2 weeks. //MT
- Honoring natural selection’s most baffling creations. Go home, evolution, you are drunk. /KF
- “I want to aid in spreading the message [that cultural anthropology] should be extirpated from the academy” /KF
- “After reviewing the… data, I’m even more surprised …at how Diamond treats the ethnographic record” /KF
- If @bfister is involved with this journal than it will rock. – Rx
- Taíno descendants nurture their indigenous roots. //MT Read more…
Check out this interview with Sarah Kendzior about life after the PhD. A lot to think about. And a lot that many people do not want to talk about. Here’s my favorite quote:
What I realized during my year on the job market is that having a traditional academic career is not as important to me as participating meaningfully in public life—and that the former actually precludes the latter. If I had an academic job, all my work would be behind a paywall. I would lose my audience and my integrity—because I would be working only for myself, only to meet tenure requirements, and I like to engage with the world. I speak to the public.
The Times Literary Supplement recently ran a longish review by Ira Bashkow of Jared Diamond’s The World Until Yesterday. Ira is a very close friend of mine and so I can’t really claim to objective, but I think anyone who reads the review will find that it’s one of the most substantive and anthropological takes on Diamond’s book that has been published.
Shaxson, Nicholas. Treasure Islands: Uncovering the Damage of Offshore Banking and Tax Havens. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.
Before the Cypress bailout fizzles out of the news cycle I think its worth spotlighting Nicholas Shaxson’s excellent Treasure Islands. In this book Shaxson examines the history, organization, and ethnography of ‘offshore’ as a phenomenon — not just particularly tax havens (although there is a lot of that) but the entire global syndrome of places created to remove accountability and transparency in finance and business.
One of the questions we asked in our surveys of adjuncts and post-adjuncts was about the nature of post-graduation support from one’s mentor and alma mater. I wondered whether any advisers cut former advisees off at some point; i.e. would anyone cut a student off from letters of recommendation after a few unsuccessful years on the job market? And, along opposite lines, I wondered if any institutions gave alumni more than letters of recommendation.
The long and short of it is that no, no one in our pool of respondents had encountered committee members who cut them off from letters of recommendation. But for most alumni, that’s about all they can count on. A few respondents reported being able to adjunct to greater or lesser degrees in their home departments; one respondent claimed that his or her dissertation advisers bought him or her a new car (free cars would really increase the value of a Ph.D.!). And there also seems to be a lot of commiserating and emotional support for the jobless. But that doesn’t seem to get anyone very far.
Open Access (OA) has always been an issue that the contributors to Savage Minds have covered thoroughly. When I joined the SM crew, I too joined the chorus singing the praises of OA and calling for change in our publishing regimes. I spent a lot of time over the past year or so writing about OA issues. It was always OA this, and OA that, and on and on. I am sure many of you got sick of it all. But I haven’t written about it much over the past couple of months. There’s a reason for this. After some recent experiences, and a lot of reflection about academic publishing, I have completely changed my position about open access. In fact, I think the whole push for OA is a waste of time, if not a complete delusion.
About six months ago I decided to look into internships and other opportunities within the academic publishing field. Out of pure luck, I managed to land a pretty sweet three month gig with one of the top academic publishers here in North America. This is part of the reason why I haven’t been posting much on SM, and why I specifically gave all the OA stuff a bit of a rest. I was intrigued and also a bit skeptical about this chance at getting a closer look at the inner-workings of the publishing world. Due to a disclosure agreement with this publishing company, I cannot tell you which one I worked with. But I can tell you that this experience is what really changed my mind about all this open access business.* And I can also tell you that the coffee they gave us was *not* from 7-11. It was amazing. I didn’t even have to add a bunch of Coffeemate to make it drinkable. Amazing! But I am getting off point. Sorry.
Here are a few of the unforgettable lessons I learned. Read more…
If you’ve spent any time perusing web forums you’ve encountered the phrase “RTFM” which stands for “Read the fucking manual.” This invariably offends the initial poster who, rightfully (IMHO), points out that if the documentation was clearer they never would have taken the time to register for a web forum and post their question in the first place. The problem with most documentation is that it only makes sense if you already know the answer. People who write documentation have a hard time putting themselves in the mindset of the people for whom the documentation is actually written.
This is not a trivial insight. Read more…