Anthro “Occupy the Field” Class May Be History

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“Occupy the Field,” that Anthro class slated for next spring meant to examine OWS from within both seminar rooms and GAs, is M.I.A.—from the bulletin, that is.

The class, which was posted on the Department of Anthropology’s website as of December 31st, is now nowhere to be found. Neither an SSOL search nor a foray into the Directory of Classes bear fruit, either. Following the announcement of the class last week, news sources around the globe reported the story. But according to Anthro chair Elizabeth Povinelli, the class posting wasn’t removed due to “mystery or political untowards.”

Rather, Povinelli says, it was “proposed at the last minute” and did not undergo the requisite Committee on Instruction overview and new instructor approval for postdoc fellows. Povinelli said it was “an inadvertent mistake” that the class was posted last week. We’ve received no response as to whether the class will now undergo the overview.

Below are screenshots of the Anthropology website from earlier this week and yesterday.

Update, 12:11 am: More vague lingo, this from Brian Connolly, Associate VP for Public Affairs for the Office of Communication and Public Affairs (huzzah redundant administrative titles!). Connelly stresses that “the study of contemporary political, economic and social issues is entirely appropriate and has a long history here.” So the class isn’t being pulled due to controversy. Rather, “the proposal for a new anthropology course involving fieldwork on this topic had yet to be considered for approval by the faculty Committee on Instruction.” According to Connelly, “News reports and some departmental postings regarding the spring semester were premature.” Nevermind that the “departmental postings” sparked the news reports.

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  1. "classes are a social construct"

    Oh, Bwog, how I love you.

  2. Doubt it

    The COI website says the class has to be submitted to COI by March of the academic year *before* it is offered. So, wow, who knew Columbureacracy could serve a positive purpose for humanity -- but keeping out crazy stuff like Dr. Appell's protesting and calling it "fieldwork" and "scholarship".

    • but the COI can fast track what it wants  

      Speaking from experience (as a professor) if a visiting professor or new professor wants to propose a new course it will fast-track any course that a department wants to offer, within reason. I don't know what the situation is with this course, but Columbia's bureaucracy never works how it says on paper. That is one thing you can count on.

      For the record, engaged scholarship and fieldwork courses are regularly approved by the COI and have been for ages.

  3. Anonymous  

    Yes, let's start this debate again. By all means.

  4. victory is ours

    with love, the hardworking, productive class

  5. Anonymous

    FUCK ANTHRO!!!11!!!!11!!1!!!!!!111!1!1


  6. Twitch

    Can we just agree that Columbia is the king of making ridiculous blunders without thinking about the public relations repercussions, then freaking out about said repercussions the second anything gets reported in the newspaper, revoking what they've done and looking terrible in the process?

  7. Anonymous

    It's Brian Connolly, not Connelly.

  8. Anonymous

    I'm an anthro major and thought the class was a joke. Seemed to be constructed in a biased manner despite its declaration otherwise. Plus who knows how active OWS will continue to be during the next semester, it could have turned out that the class would not have had an active field portion. Just babbling...

    • You're an anthro major?  

      Why do you think the class is biased? It's just cultural relativism—the class is meant to study the people who are part of this movement, and in order to study them you have to connect with them on their level and adopt some of their assumptions.

      You wouldn't (at least I hope you wouldn't, as an anthro major) insist to religious subjects/informants that God doesn't exist or tell people who live in close-knit families that they should live in nuclear families like people do in the United States.

      An ethnographic study of Occupy Wall Street participants requires the same sort of empathetic understanding. I understand that most non-anthropologically trained people (especially in the U.S.) don't understand that, but you should know better!

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