Saturday, May 21, 2005

Oh anthropology

I still consider myself an anthropologist, although I'm not always sure that's correct.

My BA was in anthropology - in the tradition of culture area studies and equal attention to the four sub-disciplines. My MA was in the same kind of anthropology, although my thesis focussed on Andean archaeology and ethnohistory. My PhD is in sociology, although most of what I do draws on social studies of science & technology and cultural studies. I continue to be grateful that I took so many science classes - especially in the biological sciences - but I've never taken a statistics class. And throughout these twelve years of schooling, I found constant companionship in philosophy, history, architecture and art.

So what's the relevance of all this? To be honest, I'm not sure. But I think it demonstrates the possibility of an inter-disciplinary education within the traditional confines of disciplines and faculties. When computer science PhD students are snapping up anthropology books left and right, it's not without good reason that anthropologists try to protect their field and credentials. But I wonder if we stop to consider how incredibly inter-disciplinary our own field has always been?

In the end, I think it's the specifically holistic and contextual approaches of anthropology that still encourage and allow me to identify with the discipline. Even though all sorts of anthropologists would distance themselves from my work, there is still room for me and my research within this domain - and I can't say that about any other.

Current reading: Savage Minds and Digital Genres


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