Academic Precarity in American Anthropology: A Forum

If as many as 80 percent of doctoral students in cultural anthropology are not getting tenure-track jobs, then why are PhD programs in the United States almost exclusively training them for a professional life that few will realize? A new essay from David Platzer and Anne Allison tackles this question head-on, drawing on their own experiences in elite departments and on interviews with tenure-stream faculty, recent PhDs, current graduate students, and staff members of the AAA. Recognizing the critical importance of this issue to our discipline, the Cultural Anthropology editorial team has convened a forum around Platzer and Allison’s essay, inviting responses from both senior scholars and recent PhDs who are contending with precarity firsthand. We invite our readers to engage with the analysis and the proposals for change offered here, and we hope the forum can play a part in reframing the private troubles of those “on the market” as a pressing public issue.

Editors’ Note: We welcome additional contributions to this forum from contributors in a range of institutional positions, including current and prospective graduate students, contingent faculty members, and anthropologists employed outside of higher education. Please contact if you would like to contribute a post, and stay tuned for another batch of responses in the weeks ahead.

Photo by Tim Sackton, licensed under CC BY-SA.

Posts in This Series

Academic Precarity in American Anthropology

Precarious Love: On Solidarity in Times of Collapse

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Academic Precarity and Anthropology as a Discipline

The Invisible Labor of the Academic Job Market

The Brightest Will Rise, and Other Errors

On Training Anthropologists Rather than Professors

Provincializing Precarity

Precarity in Perspective

Teaching Precarity