As some may recall, my BA is in Anthropology, and I’ve never regretted that. Cultural anthro; physical anthro, with its calipers and scales, was too math-y, although of course we all did have to learn some of the basics of human morphology. When trying to suss out details of a tribe’s or settlement’s culture, you would, logically, want to know the division of labor, and what physical characteristics, if any, were correlated with particular tasks. When you’re talking about the Australopithecines, y’ can’t just ask ‘em or watch ‘em, you have to study their remains.
And yes I know that with very old bones, it can be hard to tell about gender.
Still, as a scholar, you want to KNOW!
But not any more. Now, physical anthropologists and archaeologists are refusing to identify by gender, bravely resisting the tyranny of assigned sex at death—because we can’t be sure with which gender dem bones may have identified in life.
I reckon they’re afraid that identifying skeletons as male or female might reinforce what they see as PRESENT cultural stereotypes.
So, as a scholar, they DON’T want to KNOW!
And I don’t understand it, I DO want to know, who wouldn’t want to know?—whether female warriors and male cross-dressing courtesans were, in the dark backward and abysm of time, ever as common as they are now.
I can hear Frederika DeLaguna, the head of the anthropology department when I was at Bryn Mawr, delivering her most withering condemnation of some undergraduate effort:
“That’s NOT. . Very. Scholarly.”
So an academic discipline that was already short on “science” has gone full bore stupid and completely unmoored itself from reality? Awesome. You know the old saying used to be that you never go full Rothbard. But now I must say that you should never go full Humanities.
What will be the law enforcement consequences?
After all, in all those crime TV shows & movies, the first thing the heroine says when being shown the skeleton of the long-dead victim is something like – Victim was a pubescent female. But now they can’t say that, in case the victim’s skeleton gets offended & sues.
O GOD Robert, I That movie!
BUT: no, let me defend my discipline. It’s kinda hard because the great body of its accumulated knowledge is…complete, and what has happened in the last recent decades is the weak laying hand on what the strong has done. Picking away at their monographs, “exposing” their alleged errors. You really can’t find an untouched isolated tribe or culture now, so anthropologists can’t just go live in a hut to do their fieldwork of “participant observation”. But that doesn’t take away from the great accomplishment of Malinowski, Mead, Boax, Benedict, even the “armchair anthropologists” like Kroeber and (especially) Frazer. When anthropologists did fieldwork even 50 years ago, they really took their lives in their hands. No cell phones or internet, no way to summon a quick extraction if things went bad, if the tribe they were studying suddenly started to see them as some kinda demon. Look what happened to Captain Cook! And even the ones like Frazer who primarily served to solicit and digest data—think how much we wouldn’t know if he hadn’t. (It is still okay to “mine” his great work “The Golden Bough” though of course you’re s’posed to be contemptuous of it cuz, y’know, he was white.)
My daughter ended up majoring in it too, at Penn, which like Bryn Mawr was one of the original institutions to support the discipline. I hafta say, I think it’s a great prep for law! But, sadly and maybe necessarily, most of what she studied I would call sociology rather than anthro.
Bottom line: I know stuff I never woulda picked up if I hadn’t majored in anthro. And that ,to me, is value.
That movie is awesome.
I know there is real value in anthropology, at least what it was. The study of human kind is a fascinating subject and you are right, it kind of is a great prep for law school. All of the humanities in fact have value just not how they are presented by the cultural marxists. You like anthropology as a good primer. Mine is history.
I love history too. And literature. But I decided not to concentrate on them in college cuz I could always read on my own.
Which I have spent the decades since then doing.
My treasure, stored in a bone casque of grey corrugated clay. [sigh].
The first two years of college for me was spent focusing on journalism. But my college “career” was rather unorthodox. I spent my early 20s bouncing around the various community colleges operated by the Dallas County Community College system, focusing on journalism. Was one class shy of an Associates in Lib Arts. Then I spent a couple of years with a national radio network as an audio producer and sometimes news anchor–I was really pursuing the Rush Limbaugh track as a career. Then I joined the Navy at 26 and through the Navy finally earned a BA from the American Military University. I then wasted half of my 911 GI Bill getting a worthless Masters in International Affairs and finished up my 911 GI Bill by going to law school. I was in the night program so it took 4 years. The final two years were paid for by student loans. During law school, I worked as a defense contractor covering everything from the Middle East to Russian defense industry analysis (this is how I know that all this bluster about Russia killing Ukraine and then marching on ALL of Europe is BS).
B R A V O !!! And as I said: still so young!
Young!! Darling you need to tell that to my body when my alarm goes off in the morning.
“ Don’t it always seem to go/That you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone?”…
No matter how you feel, dear Robert, you’ve got a reasonable expectation of 30 + , probably 40, years ahead of you that I don t have. I’ve got ten, fifteen maybe, but will they be with vigor? Only with luck. Wish me luck. As I do you.
Good luck Hyp. May the beauty of the world be enhanced by your presence for another 20 years, and, upon the close of those 20 years, may you be yet another of the many jewels in Christ’s kingdom in perpetuity–no 21-years-to-vest limitation.
I will not go quietly into that dying night, Hyp. None of us should.