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Letter to the Editor of Forbes Magazine

Below is a copy of the Letter to the Editor of  Forbes by AAA President Leith Mullings:

October 31, 2012

Forbes Magazine
60 5th Avenue
New York, NY 10011-8868

To the Editor:

The American Anthropological Association read with concern Forbes’ recent article entitled “The 10 Worst College Majors.” Concluding that anthropology/archeology is “the worst choice of college major in economic terms” because other undergraduate majors earn a higher salary at graduation is less like comparing apples to oranges than comparing aardvarks to toaster ovens.

First, an undergraduate degree is sufficient to be credentialed as, say, a professional engineer, but professional anthropologists/archeologists require a graduate degree for most entry-level positions. Anthropologists/archeologists with those credentials have a much better than average job outlook, with a 50% higher than average growth in jobs between 2010-2020 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Further, many business, law and medical schools encourage applicants to obtain an undergraduate degree in anthropology as good preparation for their programs.

Assessing whether contexts for comparison are equivalent is one of the skills anthropologists teach, and the American Anthropological Association regrets that it is one Forbes has not learned.


Leith Mullings

American Anthropological Association

Calling All Anthropologists: We Need a Photo of You!

The American Anthropological Association seeks photos of anthropologists in “the field” for use in the new website, This is Anthropology. We hope to collect a wide variety of images of anthropologists in action who represent the breadth of our field and the diversity of our discipline.

K Fine-Dare interviewing Pablo Gomez Semanate at family festival, Barrio San Enrique de Velasco, 2009. Photo courtesy Byron Dare.*

Submission Details

  • We seek photos that primarily feature an anthropologist, although other additional individuals present in the photo are allowable if the submitter has permission to use the image in this way.
  • Photos should be in .JPG or .TIFF format. We recommend submitting high-resolution images, up to 5MB.
  • Photos can be submitted online at: http://www.aaanet.org/customcf/anthro_pics/index.cfm.
  • The deadline for consideration is 5pm on Friday, July 27, 2012.

About the New Site

This is Anthropology, designed primarily for a lay audience of students and parents, features information about anthropology, about anthropological careers, the skills we use and how to become an anthropologist. It also features the ability for anthropologists themselves to make profiles and use an interactive map to list projects, affiliations and the schools they attended.


Please contact Jason Miller at jemille3@mail.usf.edu.

*This select photo and a corresponding article were published in Anthropology News (52:5), official newspaper of the American Anthropological Association.

AAA Interns Share Their Experiences on Living and Working in the Nation’s Capital

This summer, AAA is hosting two interns: Melissa Campbell-McIntosh and Juliana Bennington. In this blog post, Melissa shares her feelings about her first week in Washington, DC.

Hi, my name is Melissa and I am one of the two interns selected to work for the American Anthropological Association (AAA) this summer. I would like to start by briefly introducing myself. I am entering into my senior year at Saint Mary’s College of California in Moraga, CA, located in the beautiful San Francisco Bay Area. My major is Anthropology with a concentration in Archaeology. I am particularly interested in Maritime Archaeology, Collections Management, and Cultural Resource Management. I have worked for the past two years as an assistant to the Archivist at my school. This has allowed me to apply my scholarly interests in a practical setting.

Once I heard of the internship being offered by the AAA in partnership with the Underwater Archaeology Branch (UAB) of the Naval History & Heritage Command (NHHC), I knew I had to apply. I was confident that I was well qualified for this opportunity; however, I was not going to allow myself to get my hopes up until I knew for sure. I had never applied for an internship before and I figured at the very least I would walk away from this with some much needed practice in applying for future internships or research grants. Getting my congratulatory e-mail was one of the most thrilling experiences, second only to being accepted at Saint Mary’s.

Being accepted to this program brings with it a fair amount of pressure. Working for the AAA and the UAB entails representing these organizations, my school, the Anthropology Department, and my professors. I also wish to use this experience to enrich my knowledge base and gain more skills I can use in the future.

Since arriving in Washington, D.C and beginning my internship on July 6, 2011, I have been exposed to a wide variety of tasks and experiences. Working at the AAA offices has afforded me the opportunity to utilize social media outlets to promote my passion for all things Anthropology. This experience has allowed me to bring awareness to the processes of governmental funding which can greatly impact scientific research within the social sciences.

The other portion of my internship takes place at the Navy Yards where I work with Archaeologists and Conservationists at the Underwater Archaeology Branch of the Naval History & Heritage Command. This organization is responsible for acting in stewardship of all naval aircraft and vessel wreck sites that remain underwater and for preserving and housing all artifacts that have been excavated. Excavations of sites are only undertaken when intervention is required to preserve artifacts that are under threat; this can be due to environmental instability or human interference of the site.

I have been able to assist in the inventory of artifacts, conservation of artifacts, and promotion of the projects that are currently underway using social media outlets. On Monday July 18, I will be headed out to the field for the first time. The UAB is excavating the USS Scorpion, a War of 1812 ship that is located beneath the Pawtuxet River in Maryland. I will be able to aid the divers from atop a research barge and document any artifacts that are brought to the surface. Once the excavation team returns to base we will begin processing the artifacts to ensure that proper conservation methods are initiated immediately.

I would like to thank Saint Mary’s College and my professors for preparing me so well, I would not be where I am today if it were not for the remarkable educational experience I have had. I would also like to thank Damon Dozier and the entire staff at the AAA; I know that my future is much brighter now that I have been able to expand my horizon through gaining practical experience within a field which is so dear to me: Anthropology.

Elimination of “Linguistically Isolated” as Classification by the U.S. Census Bureau

AAA experts on Language and Social Justice from the Committee for Human Rights and the Society for Linguistic Anthropology have been working with the U.S. Census Bureau for several years to spur terminology change in the tabulation of household language data. As a result of our extensive communication with the U.S. Census Bureau, and with the support of the Census Advisory Committee on the Hispanic Population, the U.S. Census Bureau agreed to eliminate the phrase “linguistic isolation” from its products issued starting in 2011. In a recent letter, the Bureau writes, “We have changed the terminology to one that we feel is more descriptive and less stigmatizing. The phrase that will appear in all new products will be Households in which no one 14 and over speaks English only or speaks a language other than English at home and speaks English ‘very well.’

For the complete story, click here.

Anthropologists Speak Out in Protection of Academic Freedom

The American Anthropological Association (AAA) and its more than 11,000 members worldwide join the American Historical Association (AHA) and the larger social science community in deploring efforts to ask William Cronon to release his scholarly correspondence concerning recent events and debate regarding collective bargaining rights in Wisconsin.

Dr. Cronon is a well-respected academic, and is not only the incoming president of the American Historical Association, but is also a distinguished professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Social science, anthropology, and all of the humanities-related disciplines at large have always recognized the importance of using scholarship to explore our own times. Working within this rich tradition of academic freedom, Cronon has used his deep knowledge of American history to provide a much-needed panoramic context for the recent events in Wisconsin.  In doing this, he has enriched our understanding of present dialogues as well referencing the past to provide much needed historical, cultural and political perspective.

In demanding that the university supply copies of emails to and from Cronon that mention certain politicians and activities, some have encroached the sacred place of academic freedom and dangerously led this debate along the plane of partisan politics. As scholars and researchers, we assert that the right to intelligently criticize and critique current events, regardless of political affiliation, should remain sacrosanct and untouched by those who seek to gain political headway in the short term. A better approach would be to have his detractors challenge his historical account rather than publicly violate his civil and academic rights.

As we understand the statute, the purpose of the state’s Open Records Law is to promote informed public conversation. Anthropologists vigorously support the freedom of information act traditions of the United States of which this law is a part. In this case, however, we fear the law has been invoked to do the opposite: to find a pretext for discrediting a scholar who has taken a public position. This inquiry will damage, rather than promote, public conversation. It will discourage other scholars employed by public institutions from speaking out as citizen-scholars in their blogs, op-ed pieces, articles, books, and other writings.

We join with the AHA in calling on public-spirited individuals and organizations to denounce this assault on academic freedom. We further call on those who would challenge rightful scholarship to participate in a forthright and fair conversation about the issues Professor Cronon has raised.

As anthropologists, we welcome the opportunity to have this debate, and ask that those who would challenge Dr Cronon would meet us in a public sphere to intelligently and comprehensively discuss the issues at hand. We are ready and able to do so, and would hope those opposed to Dr Cronon’s approach would do so as well.  We look forward to a spirited dialogue.

Resources to Help AAA Members Thoughtfully Assist the People of Japan at this Time of Crisis

AAA’s section, the Society for East Asian Anthropology (SEAA) is actively in tune to the events and needs in Japan following the devastating earthquake, tsunami and the evolving nuclear danger. With the assistance of SEAA’s current president, Jennifer Robertson, AAA President Virginia R. Dominguez would like to make available to the entire membership the following resources: news sources, resources for finding people in Japan, donating funds, connecting with others, and otherwise finding ways to help the people of Japan. 

Click here for our most up-to-date list of resources.

In addition, AAA urges its members to consider consulting with our partners in the Japanese Society of Cultural Anthropology (JASCA) and the World Council of Anthropological Associations. Our JASCA colleagues will be especially thoughtful and well-informed, and it is to our collective advantage to seek their counsel.

Outside Japan, those among us who are specialists on Japan, disasters, science and technology, and environmental matters are already answering media questions and assisting in the ways their expertise equips them. Thank you for your work, your knowledge, and your guidance.

Other members should consider utilizing our still new AAA Writers Circle to contribute widely and anthropologically to public knowledge and analysis in the United States and indeed all the countries in which AAA members live. 

On behalf of all AAA members, President Dominguez sends our deepest condolences and expressions of concern to everyone in Japan, their family members and their friends.

Special Message from AAA President Dominguez for Japan

A special message from AAA President Dominguez for colleagues and friends in Japan:

Dear friends and colleagues in the WCAA,

I am truly distressed, as you no doubt also are, by the devastation in Japan and the continued terrible nuclear disaster potential there. I want to send condolences and the warmest regards of concern and collegiality to the Japanese association, all of its members, their families, students, and friends.

In sympathy and friendship (and on behalf of many thousands of your colleagues),

Virginia R. Dominguez
President, American Anthropological Association

There have been inquiries as to people who are interested in providing their technical assistance to Japan, the USAID website has a variety of agencies currently seeking support for assistance in Japan.


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