“I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by the Academic Jobs Wiki”

The anthropology blog Savage Minds interviewed me last week on my career, the crisis in higher education and the role of anthropology in public life. An excerpt below, on grad students and the job market:

Graduate students live in constant fear. Some of this fear is justified, like the fear of not finding a job. But the fear of unemployment leads to a host of other fears, and you end up with a climate of conformity, timidity, and sycophantic emulation. Intellectual inquiry is suppressed as “unmarketable”, interdisciplinary research is marked as disloyal, public engagement is decried as “unserious”, and critical views are written anonymously lest a search committee find them. I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by the Academic Jobs Wiki.

The cult mentality of academia not only curtails intellectual freedom, but hurts graduate students in a personal way. They internalize systemic failure as individual failure, in part because they have sacrificed their own beliefs and ideas to placate market values. The irony is that an academic market this corrupt and over-saturated has no values. Do not sacrifice your integrity to a lottery — even if you are among the few who can afford to buy tickets until you win.

Check out the full interview at Savage Minds.

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9 Responses to “I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by the Academic Jobs Wiki”

  1. Erstwhile Anthropologist says:

    How does this issue of the loss of quality anthropologists and academic exploitation relate to issues of racism in anthropology (i.e. its ‘white public space’ issues) and sexual harassment/assault/abuse and gender discrimination (as acknowledged by the AAA’s recent ‘zero tolerance’ statement)?

  2. Erstwhile Anthropologist says:

    Also, and especially in light of the most recent Anthropologies issue on confronting racism, it seems to me that you, Ryan Anderson, and Kate Clancy et al. are all talking about different facets of a co-constituting problem: abuse and/of power in the academy. How can such abuses ever be eradicated in an institution which is fundamentally about and produced through the valorization of *hierarchy* (a structural logic which makes I nearly impossible not to exploit someone: because the disappearance of the adjunct crisis wouldn’t mean the disappearance of race/gender/color/class discrimination). So what to do? Especially in anthropology.

  3. Erstwhile Anthropologist says:

    Let us also be honest about how race and gender factor into Sarah’s words above, excerpted from the Savage Minds interview. The ways in which some, because of race/color/gender, are always expected to defer to the white and male authority of the academy, and not ‘complain’ to much, or frankly challenge inequality, exploitation and abuse: especially not in anthropology, where ‘studying up’ is not supposed to entail things like black feminist anthropologists studying the behavior of elite whites. It would be nice if even here we could be honest about such dynamics, and how the academic culture of fear and ‘white public space’ shuts down such engagements cum interventions.

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