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, 3/21/18: We are pleased to share a round of new responses to the forum by Sarah Bakker Kellogg, Amiel Bize and Soo-Young Kim, Mariya Ivancheva, Nicholas C. Kawa, Laura A. LeVon, Tariq Rahman, Elizabeth Rodwell, and Matthew Wolf-Meyer. Stay tuned for one more round of responses in the weeks ahead.

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

Posts in This Series

Academic Precarity in American Anthropology

Nested Precarities: On the Limits of Solidarity and the Future of Knowledge

Beyond Precarity

Precarious Love: On Solidarity in Times of Collapse

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Academic Precarity and Anthropology as a Discipline

Enough Outsourcing of Precarity

How Academic Hierarchy Shapes the Distribution of Precarity

The Invisible Labor of the Academic Job Market

Personal Precarity

The Brightest Will Rise, and Other Errors

On Training Anthropologists Rather than Professors

The Precarity of Academic Work, The Work of Academic Precarity

Provincializing Precarity

Notes from the Bat Cave

Precarity in Perspective

Teaching Precarity

Let’s Design New Possibilities for Graduate Training in Anthropology