Stepping Down from Savage Minds

I’m sad to announce that I am leaving Savage Minds.

Long-time readers have noticed that I have posted less and less frequently over the years, with my last post being over two years ago now. Part of this is just that I’m busy — I’m the executive director of a fast-growing museum with too little staff and too little resources (your basic museum, that is…) and it leaves little time for “extracurricular” activities.

But more than that, as we’ve been discussing changing the name of the site, we’ve naturally also been discussing the future direction of the site, and it’s become more and more clear that I don’t really have much to contribute. When we started Savage Minds, our goal was to apply anthropological understandings to the world around us in a way that was accessible to the general lay reader. Over the years, as my colleagues have gone from grad students to junior faculty to tenured professors, and as we’ve added new members and visiting writers from across the field, the focus of the site has naturally changed. Today’s Savage Minds (and tomorrow’s Anthrodendum) functions far more as a watercooler for anthropologists, with discussions of AAA resolutions and internal review boards and publishing standards.

And that’s fine. The anthropology community obviously needs that kind of place, judging by the reception and accolades Savage Minds has received within the field. At its best, Savage Minds provides a forum for multi-vocal discussions of issues that deeply affect the discipline and our ability to do the work it demands.

That’s just not the kind of work I can play much of a role in. While I still teach an intro to anthro class every semester at the local community college, I simply cannot keep up with the literature in the field. Running a museum means keeping up with a whole different literature, dealing with security, facilities maintenance, retail practices, product development, staff training, legal compliance, financial record-keeping, conservation, cataloguing, text label design, and so on. Only a small percentage of my job, the part dealing with the actual content of our collection and the social contexts which produced it, draws on my anthropological training — and generally my work there deals with interpreting the history we represent for a general lay audience, not other academics and professionals.

So with a name change on the horizon, and all that it represents, now seems like a good time to make my exit. I’m proud to have been a founding member of Savage Minds and I’m proud of the contributions I’ve made to the site, and I’m proud of my fellow Minds for the work they’ve done to make Savage Minds an indispensable anthropological resource. When we set out to create this site, we felt that “blogging”, then a new phenomenon in the world, had an important role to play for anthropology, and I think the last 11 years have proven that feeling correct over and over.

Thank you to all the readers and to my fellow Minds for letting me be a part of Savage Minds. I look forward to watching the site continue to grow and evolve with the field. And if you’re ever in Las Vegas, be sure to drop by the Burlesque Hall of Fame (soon to be in it’s new home at 1027 South Main Street!) and say “hi”.

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