I am not a right leaning one either. I feel compelled to mention this due to a bizarre claim made by Hugh Gusterson in an article he wrote for Foreign Policy Magazine. Heres a partial quote related to anthropologists accepting funding from the Pentagon:
“Some will be concerned that the Pentagon will seek to bend their research agenda to its own needs, interfering with their academic freedom. Still others will be nervous that colleagues will shun them. But many will refuse simply on principle: Anthropology is, by many measures, the academy’s most left-leaning discipline, and many people become anthropologists out of a visceral sympathy for the kinds of people who all too often show up as war’s collateral damage. Applying for Pentagon funding is as unthinkable for such people as applying for a Planned Parenthood grant would be for someone at Bob Jones University. One thousand anthropologists have already signed a pledge not to accept Pentagon funding for counterinsurgency work in the Middle East.”
Ok, let’s be clear. I don’t recall any poll or surveys going around inquiring to the political leanings of anthropologists, so I am not sure where the data is coming from that Anthropology is the most left leaning discipline.
Now, would Hugh LIKE it to be the most left leaning “discipline”, it sure looks that way to me. Why is it that the most ardent left leaner’s want to destroy real anthropology for the rest of us? Hugh, you adorable nut-job you. Just go ahead, toss in the towel and tell your students that Anthropology in your view is not an academic dicipline of any kind but a political ideology that can only be talked about by those that pass a special litmus test to ensure they are true believers. If you can agree to that, the rest of us can get on with repairing the damage of post-modernism and try to drag cultural anthropology back into a respected academic and applied subject again. Its supposed to be a real dicipline, not an ideology or (as it has become in recent times) poorly done literary criticism.
Do I think there are more liberals than conservatives in anthropology, sure… but thats a gut feel, not fact. In addition, I have never bothered to ask. I don’t care about someone’s political views. I care about good work. Many people seem to be able to do this without a political agenda.
I really wish the madcap “capitalism is evil, I care about the oppressed, Marxism is the best Idea” nut jobs would kindly get on with putting those ideas into practice in some oppressed community or country. Its pretty easy to make grand statements when you are in a safe air conditioned classroom and office typing. But its the classic applied / academic rift.. some people do the work, other people criticize from a safe, tenured distance enjoying all the privileges that they will never ever take the physical risks or pains to help others attain. Sweet deal for you.