Anthropologists in universities across the country are experiencing an unprecedented civil war over the very foundation of their field. The American Anthropological Association has decided to drop the word “science” from a associational statement — triggering outcries from science-oriented faculty who have long opposed the growth of anthropologists who study race, ethnicity, and gender from a more political perspective.
Physical anthropologists have struggled against what they viewed as a takeover of their field by faculty who often advocate for native peoples and study issues like ethnicity and gender that often fall under political science. The fight has been . . . well . . . tribal.
The association has long defined itself at advancing “anthropology as the science that studies humankind in all its aspects.” Now it proclaims “the purposes of the association shall be to advance public understanding of humankind in all its aspects.”
Peter Peregrine, president of the Society for Anthropological Sciences, put the change in zoological terms (a neutral choice): “Even if the board goes back to the old wording, the cat’s out of the bag and is running around clawing up the furniture.”
Source: NY Times