Tuesday, 22 December 2015

More Anthropology Bullshit

       Anthropology is beyond parody these days. I don't know if young anthropologists realise how silly they look - I assume they don't, or they'd stop doing what they do.

      Take a look at some of these peculiar bits from a piece by University of Minnesota anthropologist Stuart McLean on the group anthropology blog, Savage Minds:
If anthropology too is an art, what kind of art is it? An amphibious and metamorphic one to be sure, an art that plays – with great absurdity and seriousness – at the interface between differentiated human worlds and at the theshold [sic] of their making and undoing. Far from being the holistically conceived study of humanity – as some would continue to have it – anthropology as a creative practice is marked by a constitutive inhumanity. [...]

As Saturday afternoon drew to a close, Rick, the festival’s Philosopher in Residence, asked Frog King whether he still subscribed to the view that Art is Life, Life is Art? Frog King – or was it Kwok Mang-ho, or both? – answered that he had once considered that to be the case – “But now I realize, Art is Frog.” Art is Frog. I can currently think of no better answer to the question: what is anthropology?
       I am convinced that nobody understands any of this, including the writer. It's just nonsense. And it's fairly typical of the insane bullshit you find among young anthropologists these days; the corporate culture of anthropology departments has turned them into bullshit-bots, incapable of expressing themselves clearly or even of having worthwhile ideas to express, clearly or otherwise. I know quite a few young anthropologists, of course, and they're not jabbering morons in person. They all struggled through bullshit like this when they were students, so they can identify and reject it. But there are powerful currents in the academy telling anthropologists not to do that, in the same way that junior employees in predatory corporate jobs know that what they're doing might be wrong but can't stop for fear of being pushed out.

       Anyway, if you can't think of a better answer to the question 'what is anthropology?' than 'Art is Frog', then perhaps you shouldn't be an anthropologist. And does anyone have an inkling what an 'amphibious and metamorphic' art might be?

       And, yes, this is a mean-spirited thing to post right before Christmas, but it really annoys me that a potentially valuable and worthwhile discipline is being turned into such a clown show, and in such a sanctimonious way. As I've said several times before, of course.


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