Why do you anthropology? The AAA is getting an early start to this year’s Anthropology Day celebration by spending our Valentine’s Day reflecting on why we fell in love with anthropology.
Read the anthropology love stories below from AAA President Alisse Waterston and our Executive Director Ed Liebow. Then share your own story with us in the comments!
Alisse Waterston, President, American Anthropological Association
President Scholar in Anthropology, Department of Anthropology
City University of New York- John Jay College of Criminal Justice
For Anthropology Day 2016, I said I love anthropology for helping me understand the world as it exists (which is not necessarily the world as I want it to be) and for providing me the intellectual tools to understand the human capacity for cleverness, creativity, connection as well as delusion and other dangerous capabilities. In our surreal political times, these human attributes seem to be on bloated display.
For Anthropology Day 2017, I say how glad and grateful I am to be an anthropologist—a person with perspective. The discipline taught me the value of knowing history—we can’t understand the present without understanding the past. It taught me how to appreciate the moral longings of the discipline and how to appreciate morality as an object of inquiry without prejudice—and knowing the difference between the two. In these difficult times, I am grateful to be one among our global anthropological community that shares in the basic values of love and respect for one another and for humankind. Knowing this gives me a special kind of sustenance and strength—encouraging me to look optimistically into the future.
Ed Liebow, Executive Director, American Anthropological Association
We help make sense of why people do what they do by taking the long and comparative view, insisting on systematic observation of patterns and processes, and questioning what many others want to call “common sense.” We breathe life into a pile of numbers, illuminate the arc of change, and appreciate the power of storytelling to engage our audiences and connect people from vastly different backgrounds. We learn to listen attentively to what others are actually saying, and we give credit to peoples’ insights based on their lived experience as well as their credentials. And since it’s Valentines Day, I will also say I love knowing that it was at the very start of our graduate training all those decades ago that my Valentine and I first got together!