(This email from “Laurence Dousset”:http://www.pacific-credo.net/staff_pages/index.php?id=1 has been making the rounds. The idea of there being no anthropology at CNRS is shocking to me. The petition is “here”:/wp-content/image-upload/saveanthropologyatCNRSpetition.rtf (in both French and English — my English translation is abysmal but there you go) and you can mail it firstname.lastname@example.org )
I thought you might be interested to know that Anthropology currently has a hard lif in France. Indeed, since end of last year, the CNRS [National Center For Scientific Research], our major research institution employing nation-wide about 150 anthropologists (about 50% of all institutionally employed anthropologists in France) is considering eliminating the discipline from its research topics. The strategy is to incorporate anthropologists within the history section in a first step, where they will become a minority, and where, in a second step, they will progressively disappear from the scene.
Pushed by stereotypical views of anthropology as being only “contemporary history”, neglecting our theoretical apparatus and what makes us particularly different – long term fieldwork – anthropology is seen as having no proper object of research anymore (everything is globalised, they tend to say, forgetting local persisting or emergent identities), and as being too much divided among its own “troops”.
As you can imagine, there is strong resistance to this movement in France, and many institutions, such as the EHESS where I am employed, have not yet taken up these points of view (and will hopefully not in the near future). But in the long run, if the CNRS simply deletes an entire discipline from its scope, other institutions will follow.
We are asking social scientists to participate as widely as possible in our protest movement. I have therefore enclosed a petition that circulates in France and now internationally. We would greatly appreciate if you would consider filling the petition and sending it back as quickly as possible.