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Indiana Jones is to Anthropology as Fred Flintstone is to Neolithic Life

Below is a copy of the Letter to the Editor of the New York Times Magazine by President Mullings in response to the recent article by Emily Eakin.

To the Editor,

While we recognize that the figure of Indiana Jones is attractive, it is about as useful for understanding anthropology as Fred Flintstone is for understanding life in the Neolithic. Your article perpetuates an outdated and narrow stereotype of our profession. The 11,000 members of the American Anthropological Association alone actually spend their time doing a vast array of things. Today’s anthropologists can be found in such diverse endeavors as leading the World Bank, designing health care for areas devastated by disaster, or researching  the causes of the 2008 recession or the deaths of 100 boys in a defunct reform school in Florida. The  representation of a field paralyzed by  debates about  ‘science, ’ vs. ‘advocacy ’ is similarly inaccurate, given the non-polarized ways most anthropologists today understand ‘science’, ‘advocacy’ and the nature of the field. The article also misses one of Napoleon Chagnon’s lasting legacies to our field: the reminder to engage in constant reflection about anthropological ethics. The American Anthropological Association recently did just that, releasing its new Statement on Ethics: Principles of Professional Responsibility in October 2012. Finally, we consider lively debate neither dangerous nor self-serving: it is a key to knowledge.

Leith Mullings
President
American Anthropological Association
Distinguished Professor
Graduate Center, City University of New York

Earth Day Roundup

On this Earth Day, we’re celebrating anthropologists!  Many anthropologists have been newsmakers lately, so here is a media round up to add to your weekend read:

An article of interest to be featured this Sunday, April 24th in the New York Times Magazine, Obama’s Young Mother Abroad.

And, no Earth Day would be complete without a few ideas of how you could celebrate the earth’s special day. With the assistance of the Anthropology and Environment Section, here are a few things you can do to celebrate Earth Day!

  • Make tonight a movie night! Pick up an eco-flick to watch with your family and friends. Need some film ideas? Click here.
  • Pick 5 for Your Environment – An EPA challenge to take five simple steps to make changes where you live.
  • Eat locally grown foods! Anthropology students at Arkansas Tech University are serving up locally produced foods and mapping the local, sustainable  foodshed.

Anthropologists have amply documented that meaningful lives are lived on low-energy budgets.
-Thomas Love (Linfield College)

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