Anthropology and public debates
(University of Vienna)
Paper short abstract:
My contribution addresses the issue of anthropologists’ public presence. I ask to what extent is anthropologists’ growing presence in the mass media related to their decreasing chances of finding an academic position how "anthropological" is the view they offer on the public fora?
Paper long abstract:
My short contribution aims at discussing the issue of (young) anthropologists' public presence - in the form of newspaper articles, TV and radio appearances, invited blogs, to name some. In recent years, a growing number of anthropologists has been invited to provide a commentary of ongoing events and social problems. On the one hand, such an interest in anthropology seems more than welcomed, but on the other hand it brings about many consequences which, in my view, are rarely reflected upon. I would like to pose three questions regarding the anthropologists' public presence. First: are anthropologists able to offer a more nuanced view on public issues or, quite the contrary, they are forced to simplify and reduce complexities, making their stories more "readable" and providing clear-cut opinions? Second: what is the interrelation between public appearances and anthropological practice? And third: to what extent is young anthropologists' growing presence in the media related to their decreasing chances of finding an academic position and continuing on scholarly research? I hope that these questions will lead to an interesting discussion and comparisons. Certainly, the dynamics of this phenomenon differs from country to country and so do the stands of anthropologists. While some, such as Thomas H. Eriksen, call for the anthropology's "public presence", others remain skeptical about the discipline's public engagement.
Anthropology as a vocation and occupation