Major changes at AAA

One problem about living in Hawai’i is that you are about 5 hours behind most mainland readers of SM and in a strange temporal relationship with the rest of planet. As a result I felt a little bad that scooped us on the recent news about the AAA. I guess SM is turning into the old man of the anthropological blogosphere in the face of more agile contenders.

Like most people who have read the announcement, what bothered me was not so much the AAA’s admission — finally — of its own futility. In fact, its recognition of the dire state of employment for contingent faculty and others was more frank and clear-eyed than I thought the AAA was capable of. No, what really bothered me was the US$400 I just shelled out to join the organization and attend the conference. And what of AnthroSource, the dodo of online content, now that its last keepers have finally gone belly up?

At any rate this is big news — anyone have any responses while the official AAA blog takes its sweet time owning up to these latest developments?


Alex Golub is an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. His book Leviathans at The Gold Mine has been published by Duke University Press. You can contact him at

13 thoughts on “Major changes at AAA

  1. The new york times has a story on this too http:\\\breakingnews\9283.1002938.htm

    I’m not surprised, but I called the AAA and tried to get them to refund my membership dues, and would recommend others give it a try too, but when I called, they gave me more details on this story but claimed that my dues could not be refunded as all AAA memberships and Association assets have been transferred into a holding account being managed by the Society for Applied Anthropology.

  2. The news story left out archaeology, which is also out of things to do. All the sites have been bulldozed and covered by WalMart, or else destroyed by military bombing. All of the artifacts have been sold to wealthy private collectors through Sotheby’s and eBay. According to Foucault, though, we can now turn to excavating knowledge.

  3. Yes, but archaeology still has Indiana Jones as its publicity agent…somehow it will do o.k. Cultural Anthropology used to have Margaret Mead, but that was a long time ago!

  4. Well, while I never expect to scoop SM Rex, I do have to admit: We have some very…very… iffy photos of some fieldwork done in the 1970’s titled “The Ethnography of Brothels in Washington, D.C.” that led to this exclusive interview with the leadership.

  5. Librarians nationwide also hailed the move for freeing up an enormous amount of space in the countries libraries which is now expected to be used for coffee and pastry kiosks.

    Quoted for awesome truth.

  6. Did you guys not see the date this was published? Seems like I’m one of the few academics who got that it was April Fool’s Day and a great prank.

  7. No, no. No April’s Fool Day. This is dead serious. Recently I had begun to suspect we were up for a wake up call like this, being forced to get off our lazy bums and smell the proverbial coffee. I had been having bad dreams, anticipating the need to buy something like “Derivatives for Dummies” and begin the long hard slog toward a more stable and promising career horizon.

  8. A quantitative evaluator, a qualitative evaluator, and a normal person are waiting for a bus. The normal person suddenly shouts, “Watch out, the bus is out of control and heading right for us! We will surely be killed!”
    Without looking up from his newspaper, the quantitative evaluator calmly responds, “That is an awfully strong causal claim you are making. There is anecdotal evidence to suggest that buses can kill people, but the research does not bear this out. People ride buses all the time and they are rarely killed by them. The correlation between riding buses and being killed by them is very nearly zero. I defy you to produce any credible evidence that buses pose a significant danger. It would really be an extraordinary thing if we were killed by a bus. I wouldn’t worry.”

    Dismayed, the normal person starts gesticulating and shouting, “But there is a bus! A particular bus! That bus! And it is heading directly toward some particular people! Us! And I am quite certain that it will hit us, and if it hits us it will undoubtedly kill us!”

    At this point the qualitative evaluator, who was observing this exchange from a safe distance, interjects, “What exactly do you mean by bus? After all, we all construct our own understanding of that very fluid concept. For some, the bus is a mere machine, for others it is what connects them to their work, their school, the ones they love. I mean, have you ever sat down and really considered the bus-ness of it all? It is quite immense, I assure you. I hope I am not being too forward, but may I be a critical friend for just a moment? I don’t think you’ve really thought this whole bus thing out. It would be a pity to go about pushing the sort of simple linear logic that connects something as conceptually complex as a bus to an outcome as one dimensional as death.”

    Very dismayed, the normal person runs away screaming, the bus collides with the quantitative and qualitative evaluators, and it kills both instantly.

    Very, very dismayed, the normal person begins pleading with a bystander, “I told them the bus would kill them. The bus did kill them. I feel awful.”

    To which the bystander replies, “Tut tut, my good man. I am a statistician and I can tell you for a fact that with a sample size of 2 and no proper control group, how could we possibly conclude that it was the bus that did them in?”

  9. One problem about living in Hawai’i is that you are about 5 hours behind most mainland readers of SM and in a strange temporal relationship with the rest of planet.

    Just hope Ben doesn’t move the island.

  10. The truth! it burns like fire!

    Embarrassed graduate students have just started telling people they’re “social historians”, “human geographers”, or just mumbling under their breath when asked about their field of research.

  11. I just want to say that I actually predicted this in an essay in an old issue of AnthroNews about 6 years ago, but any record of it have been destroyed by the AAA. Sneaky bastards!
    I predicted that this would happen, because I had been running out of questions to answer, and knew the end would be near.

  12. “In this dissertation I apply Arthur Kleinman’s “eight questions” model of enculturating the illness experience to Afghans who have had limbs blown off by Predator drones. Can this be considered a culture-bound syndrome?”

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