Posts by John L. Jackson Jr.
January 14, 2010, 10:48 AM ET
There are many reasonable people (and even some otherwise unreasonable ones) who would maintain that Pat Robertson's take on the recent earthquake in Haiti need not be dignified with a response. I understand that point, and I see where its adherents are coming from. But we are fooling ourselves if we think that Robertson's position represents an isolated analytical island way off somewhere by itself, with no implications for the rest of us. We ignore him at our own peril, especially since there are many people ("religious" or not) who accept his basic premises without question. So, I do feel like a few words are in order about the significance of his supernatural claims about divine justice.
One thing to note is that the political "fringe" is no longer as fringe as it might once have seemed. I received about 10 messages (via Twitter, e-mail, and Facebook) about Robertson's comments with...Read More
January 13, 2010, 09:00 AM ET
Katherine Sender, the associate dean of graduate studies and an associate professor at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, writes:
At a recent meeting of Penn faculty members from across the university, the provost spoke with concern about “the leaky pipeline,” where large numbers of women and minority faculty drop out of the career track as they move towards senior positions. Then followed our president, announcing that Penn was moving from a position of excellence to eminence—in the 21st century university even excellence isn’t good enough anymore. I was struck by the juxtaposition. Was there a relationship between this constant push to greater levels of distinction and the leaky pipeline?
What does this leaky pipeline look like at Penn? A Gender Equity Report in 2007 found that women made up 28 percent of all faculty members. How this plays out ...Read More
January 11, 2010, 01:31 PM ET
Senator Harry Reid's bad press is perfectly timed for the American Anthropological Association's "New National Dialogue on Race: A Symposium," scheduled for tomorrow and Wednesday on Capitol Hill.
Complete with honorary co-chairs from the Congressional Black Caucus, this two-day event seeks to use the election of Barack Obama and the discipline's powerful traveling exhibit (RACE: Are We So Different?) as backdrops for a series of discussions focused on "why ideas about race and the problem of eliminating racism are so intractable."
Of course, detractors will say that events like this one are the exact cause of racism's intractability. That once we stop talking about race/racism, racial discrimination will vanish. Indeed, they might maintain that it already has, save for these re-hashed "conversations on race." My book, Racial Paranoia, attempts to rebut that claim.
The AAA event bring...Read More
January 4, 2010, 03:00 PM ET
Given the media's current fixation on one golfer's rampant infidelities, it is hard to remember that anything else happened in 2009, especially before that failed suicide attack on a Detriot-bound airplane Christmas morning took over the headlines this holiday season.
Of course, much did happen last year, and most of the mass mediated, end-of-year lists captured the big stories, including those angry town-hall meetings, the concomitant dulling of a "post-racial" president's post-election luster, our ongoing economic crisis, the passing of a Kennedy, America's war efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq, protests in Iranian streets, the King of Pop's unexpected death, and the panic about H1N1.
But academe also had its own big stories this year. Here's my Top 10 list (in no particular order):
1. Protests against cuts in the University of California system. New Yorker magazine just published a...Read More
December 14, 2009, 02:40 PM ET
During the American Anthropological Association conference last
week, I spent a lot of time in the Book Exhibit. But I wasn't just
checking out the newest anthro titles, which can be its own small
joy, especially when friends and mentors have new offerings to
share. I was actually walking the exhibit with students, trying to
introduce several current dissertation writers (and a few newly
minted Ph.D.'s) to editors at academic presses. I don't know many
editors, but one or two introductions are better than none.
Every introduction won't turn into a publishing match made in heaven, but it is important to grease the wheel for students as they attempt to clear that important hurdle. Indeed, it is an adviser's job.
When I was writing my dissertation, my adviser told me to "write a book," which is something I also ask of my current students. I realize that that isn't an uncontroversial position,...
December 9, 2009, 01:28 PM ET
I know interfolio quite intimately these days. I have about a dozen letters up there right now, and I (like a lot of you) am so glad that it means I no longer have to change each student recommendation for each and every application sent out.
I know that it is a lean year on the academic job "market" (forgive my usage of that term, Marc), but students are casting wide nets, which means that they have tons to apply for.
They are also (smartly!) going after multi-year postdocs (and not just tenure-track gigs). So some students are sending out close to 20 applications this year, or more, even with the season's slim pickings.
That's just for the graduate students. There are many undergrads (or former undergrads) eyeing doctoral programs. And (as far as I know) there is no interfolio for that. It is, I think, a wonderful thing that 99 percent of those applications seem to be paperless,...Read More
December 4, 2009, 10:00 AM ET
Why publish "Obama's mama's book" at all?
That's probably one of the most dismissive and derogatory ways of phrasing a question that at least a few anthropologists are asking at this year's AAA conference, and in just such disparaging terms. I know that some of my colleagues won't agree, but I can't help but think about such a query (even in its less choleric/unflattering registers) as a somewhat non-anthropological way of framing the issue.
Duke University Press officially launched S. Ann Dunham's Surviving Against the Odds: Village Industry in Indonesia yesterday, including a noontime press conference where the only question posed actually pivoted on a differently pitched version of the same theme music: Is Duke University Press only publishing this book because it was written by the President's mother?
I received a similar e-query over the summer from a colleague, a sociologist,...Read More
December 3, 2009, 04:57 PM ET
The anthropologists are finally here!
Philadelphia's Downtown Marriott is housing the 108th Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association, which started last night, and The Chronicle of Higher Education has already run a story on one of Wednesday night's panels.
"A Critical History of the Darkness in El Dorado Controversy" was organized around Alice Dreger's scathing critique of Patrick Tierney's Darkness in El Dorado: How Scientists and Journalists Devastated the Amazon, which is equalling scathing in its criticism of how Napoleon A. Chagnon (author of, amongst other things, Yanomamo: A Fierce People) and geneticist James Neel conducted their research in the region. According to Tierney, they actually exacerbated a measles problem, didn't have true "informed consent" for reseach, and even (in Chagnon's case) allegedly fomented violent conflicts among community members. I ...Read More
December 1, 2009, 12:58 PM ET
I first got to know Marty Fishbein in 2006. I'd just arrived at Penn, and I had only recently read enough of his work to understand the importance of his scholarly contributions.
As a senior colleague, Fishbein was supportive and dynamic, someone who always seemed willing to mentor students and junior faculty alike. I should know; I was a grateful beneficiary of the latter.
I feel very fortunate to have spent the past three years in his company. He was a true role model, both as a productive/rigorous scholar and as a generous interlocutor.
Here is the post from Annenberg's Web site about this intellectual giant who will definitely be missed:
Martin Fishbein, Ph.D., the Harry C. Coles, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Communication, and Director of the Health Communication Program in the Public Policy Center of the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, ...Read More
November 30, 2009, 10:32 AM ET
The American Anthropological Association is holding its annual meeting in Philadelphia this week, and I'll be there with bells on (maybe literally).
I realize that the last time I mentioned anything about academic conferences in one of my blog posts, the critical responses came fast and furious.
One of the consistent commenters for that posting was someone named goxewu, who kept asking me if I had to cancel any of my classes so that I could trot off to these "conferences." Even though I answered the query a few different times, goxewu continued to push the point, even implying that I would probably have canceled my classes this semester if they were on Mondays and Fridays (instead of Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays).
But goxewu's major gripe wasn't necessarily about those missed class sessions. One of goxewu's final comments makes the argument plain: "Prof. Jackson may have done...Read More