- Attend Events
- Stay Informed
- Learn & Teach
- Advance Your Career
- Participate & Advocate
- Connect with AAA
Definition of Goals and Problems
As stated earlier, the Committee was formed for the purpose of recommending "immediate and long-range methods for enabling the profession to move speedily to increase the number of anthropologists of minority background."
When the Committee met to plan how it would carry out the assignment, a great deal of discussion took place on the question of why there existed such a small number of minority anthropologists. The task of the original assignment given the Committee was to construct some kind of strategy which would increase that number. The Committee also held a lengthy discussion on the sociopolitical context of the Committee itself.
What was the motivation for setting up a committee on minorities in anthropology? The Committee was not unaware of the social setting in which the vigorous recruitment of minorities into anthropology was being encouraged. The resolution to establish the Committee was passed at a time when funds for research on the urban crises were increasing. But access to minority communities by White researchers was also becoming more difficult. Was there a relation between these facts and the task assigned the Committee?
All the members of the Committee belong to a non-European ethnic group: three Blacks, one native American Indian, one Chinese, and one Chicano. We relied heavily on our own experiences and those of our minority colleagues and students in formulating our approach to the task assigned us. Not only did we use ourselves as informants, since we were dealing with a subject of which we are a part, but at times our discussion verged on being a group encounter. Each of us inspected and related his own experience in anthropology and the impact this had on his career. In the course of these deliberations, our approach to the question of minorities in anthropology emerged.
It was known that many minority students who had entered anthropology had since left; some of the Committee members related this fact to times in their own careers when they were either encouraged to leave the discipline or not encouraged to pursue a professional career in it. It was also known that some professional minority anthropologists were considering the possibility of leaving the field. And further, it was known that many minority anthropologists did not feel that they could actively encourage minority students to take up a career in anthropology. The Committee agreed, therefore, that it would be useless to recruit minorities into anthropology only to have them leave. A question was raised concerning the nature of the ideology and/or the structure of anthropology which acts to exclude, or keep at a minimum, the number of minority anthropologists in the first place.
The notion that the small number of professional minority anthropologists is related to the ideology and structure of the discipline became one of the basic premises of the Committee's work. It was also believed that the dimensions of these ideological and structural characteristics could be exposed by collecting information on the experiences of minorities in anthropology. Thus, the major goal of the Committee was to ascertain the nature, degree and causes of the perceived disaffection and alienation on the part of minority students and professionals, and to articulate these conditions in a manner understandable to the profession. The recruitment of minorities into anthropology, it was maintained, had to be accompanied by changes in the discipline itself.
The following dimensions of anthropology were isolated as having a bearing on attitudes of minorities toward anthropology:
1. The methods and uses of anthropology;
2. The frame of reference and terminology of anthropology;
3. The pattern of citation of the work of minority anthropologists and their role in theory building;
4. The use of minority anthropologists as informants and field guides rather than as fellow experts;
5. The historical context in which anthropology has developed and operates.
It was decided that a questionnaire would be designed and sent to all known minority anthropologists to elicit their reaction to the above aspects of anthropology.
The questionnaire was not intended to collect information on minority anthropologists. Rather, the main goal was to elicit information on attitudes about specific aspects of anthropology and to relate their experiences as minorities in anthropology. Many of the questions were deliberately qualitative and were designed specifically to elicit the expression of negative experiences and attitudes. This emphasis was consistent with the proposition that it was the negative, rather than positive experiences, which operated to discourage minorities from continuing in anthropology.
Respondents to the Questionnaire
A tentative mailing list of 144 names of minority anthropologists was compiled from suggestions by Committee members and other anthropologists. The questionnaire was mailed on January 6, 1972, and a reminder letter was sent on February 9, 1972, to those not responding initially.
Altogether, there were 103 responses to our distribution of 144. These included 45 questionnaires, of which only 37 were considered usable by the Committee (8 were discarded because they were from non-minority members or non-anthropologists). Of the 58 non-questionnaire responses, 9 indicated they had not received a questionnaire, but none of the 9 completed the second questionnaire. Fifteen persons indicated they had not had time to respond, but only one eventually returned the questionnaire. One indicated that he was a minority anthropologist, but not interested in the work of the Committee. Fourteen responded they did not consider themselves minority anthropologists. Six persons felt the questionnaire was too long and did not have time to answer. Six refused to answer because they were not anthropologists, or for political or other reasons. Seven letters with usable information were received.
The original mailing list of 144 names has been reduced to 122 persons who consider themselves or are considered by the Committee as being anthropologists of minority background. This list of 122 includes 17 anthropologists of American Indian ancestry, 26 anthropologists of Asian background, 19 Spanish-speaking anthropologists and 60 anthropologists of Black or Afro-American background.
Returns of Questionnaire by Ethnic Group
The 37 questionnaires returned out of the list of 122 minority anthropologists represents a 30.3% return. These returns are broken down by ethnic groups as follows: 4 of 17 (23.5%), American Indian; 9 of 26 (34.6%), Asian; 8 of 19 (42.1%), Spanish-speaking; 16 of 60 (26.7%), Black.
Birthplace of Respondents by Ethnic Group
Twenty-four of the 37 respondents were born in the United States or Puerto Rico (see Table 1, Appendix C). Their birthplaces are evenly distributed throughout the United States, with 6 having been born in the Western states, 6 in the Central states, 4 in the Southern states, 7 in the Eastern states and one in Puerto Rico. Twelve of the 37 respondents were born in countries other than the United States, with one respondent not including the first page of the questionnaire which had the birth question on it. All American Indians and Blacks were born in the United States with the exception of one Black born in Nigeria. Only 2 of the 9 Asian respondents were born in the United States and 4 of the 8 Spanish-speaking respondents were born in the United States and Puerto Rico.
Based on birthplace of respondents, one could state that only the American Indian and Black anthropologists as a group have lived the minority experience in the United States from birth. This does not mean that persons who were born outside the United States and spent a comparable amount of time here have not experienced some of the same problems as the native minorities. It would appear, however, from a perusal of other answers in the questionnaire, that the Spanish-speaking and Asian respondents generally have not felt the pressures of prejudice experienced by native-born Asians and native-born Spanish speakers.
One question which was the focus of attention early in Committee discussions was that of the term used by minority professionals for ethnic self-identity and whether there exists a broader term such as "Third World," "non-White" or "minority" which could be used to create a category which would encompass all minorities. Three questions were designed to elicit information on notions of self-identity, minority status and ethnicity. One question reads: "Do you consider yourself to be a minority anthropologist?" The information received from 37 questionnaires resulted in the following summary (also see Table 2, Appendix C).
Twenty-eight of 37 respondents replied "yes," and several of these provided some qualification. Four persons qualified their answers by making such remarks as "depends on the context," "depends on the definition," "just like to be called an anthropologist," "considered a minority by persons who have the power to provide this label." Seven anthropologists do not consider themselves to be minorities, and one who had replied "yes" indicated that he preferred to be recognized as an anthropologist and not as a minority anthropologist. One person indicating "no" qualified his answer by stating "but am treated as one." Another replied "no" and explained: "I have problems with the word `minority.' It clashes with my ego. As you understand, there are many ways to look at the terms `minority' and `majority.' " One person did not provide an answer to this question and simply stated that be did not know what the term meant. Another qualifying statement queried: "What does this mean? . . . I am Black and thus considered a member of a minority by the powers that be." One person responded by stating: "I think of myself as an American Anthropologist, neither as a non-minority or as a minority anthropologist." One of the few American-born persons of Spanish surname in the sample responded to the question "yes & no." He explained that he was neither Chicano, Cuban nor Puerto Rican and that it would be unfair for him to pretend to be one of these, and therefore he felt his answer should be "no." With regard to the "yes" part of his answer, he provided a detailed, single-spaced, full-page statement indicating his Spain-Spanish background, his Spanish surname, his father's accent, detailed examples of how people had misidentified him as a youth, being mistaken for Chicano and Indian, that many friends and colleagues consider him a minority anthropologist, and finally the fact that he received a questionnaire from the Committee on Minorities and Anthropology!
Another question asked "What term or phrase can best be used to refer to your ethnic background?" The responses are tabulated in Table 3, Appendix C, and summarized below.
American Indians and Blacks provided a more uniform ethnic term for self-identification than the Asian and Spanish-speaking groups. All four American Indian respondents used the term "American Indian" as part of their phraseology. one prefaced the term by the word "White" and another prefaced it by utilizing tribal names. Fifteen of the 16 Blacks providing an answer to this question utilized "Black" as part of their answer, with one inserting "African" in parenthesis and a second writing the term "Afro-American" after the word Black. One Black respondent provided the following statement:
My culture, which I assume is what is meant by ethnic, is American; unfortunately, I do not concur with the popular conception of life style (culture) as being coterminous with biological features. My culture is virtually the same as the Alabama hillbilly who lives next door!
The Asian and Spanish-speaking respondents indicated national origin in some part of their response. Asian respondents indicated "Chinese" (2), "Japanese" (4), "Korean" (1), "Pakistani" (1), and "Indian" in response to this question. It is appropriate to note that only two of the Asian respondents, both Japanese, were born in the United States.
The Spanish-speaking respondents, like the Asian, responded by indicating a term which was nationally based as their primary term of ethnic identification, namely, "Black Puerto Rican," "Chicano," "Mexican (Mexico)," "Portuguese," "Spanish (Mexico)," "half-Spanish," and two "Latin American." Four of eight Spanish-speaking respondents were born in Latin American countries or in Spain.
Another question asked "What term or phrase can best be used inclusively to refer to a wider ethnic or minority category with which you identify?" The following summarizes this information and is also tabulated in Table 4, Appendix C.
The responses to this question were almost as varied as the responses to the previous two questions. Twenty different categories were provided in answer to the previous question as compared to 19 different terms in answer to this question. Unanimity on a wider ethnic or minority category was not expressed by our 37 respondents or at least such an identification was not elicited by the question. Eight respondents, one American Indian, one Asian, and 6 Blacks, replied by supplying the term "non-White." Seven of the 8 Asian respondents replied by indicating the term "Asian" (7), and "Asian to a limited extent" (1). The other 3 American Indian respondents indicated "American Indian," "White-American Indian" and "non-Euro-American Third World."
It is interesting to note that, although a number of people have indicated in the past that "Third World" or "non-White" can be used as inclusive terms for all minority groups, in fact only 8 of the 37 respondents used "non-White" and only 3 used "Third World." In addition to the eight using "non-White," one other respondent used "non-White" in conjunction with "Black" and "Third World." The Spanish-speaking respondents used a variety of terms in response to this question, again reflecting a wide divergence in terms of national origin and the fact that they are not all American-born minorities. Two of these respondents replied by using the term "other."
In addition to the six Black respondents who used "non-White," there were three who responded by using the term "African," and one each, "American," "Third World" and "Afro-American;" two failed to provide an answer, and two others provided an explanatory statement. One Black responded as follows: "Abstract sense of sympathy with non-Whites but no particular feeling of esprit." Another Black responded: "Non-White is best. Since biogenetically `whiteness' is non-existent, I am proud not to have the need to perpetuate a fabrication of long historical duration." In addition, a third Black anthropologist posed a question of his own: "Were these questions written by an anthropologist, a sociologist or a government official?" Only one of the 8 Spanish-speaking respondents indicated "non-White" as part of his ethnic identity, and others utilized "European," "White," and "White of recent European stock."
It is clear from the limited responses received to this question, that the non-American born "minorities" utilize national terms as ethnic identifiers and by and large do not identify with a wider category of minorities under the terms "non-White" and "Third World." This is mostly true of the other respondents as well.
Change of Surname
A question on change of surname was included in the questionnaire because we thought it might provide a measure of self-identification or a measure of attempts at re-identification. The question reading "Have you changed your surname because of your minority status?" resulted in the following analysis of the 37 answers.
Only two of the respondents indicated that their surnames had been changed by an ancestor. Two female Asians had not made a change as such; they had retained their native surnames as hyphenated parts of their new married names in order to retain ethnic identity. One Spanish-speaking person, although answering "no" to the question, indicated that he was thinking of shortening his name because its present hyphenated state calls attention to his ethnic background. Two of the Blacks responding negatively added the following comments: "I have not, but there's a possibility"; "No, my name is still the same as that of the ancestral slave-master in the 18th century who conferred it on his slave offspring." This particular question evidently aroused a great deal of personal feeling. Some answered: "No, why should I?" and "Never"; others included a profusion of slashes, question marks, apostrophes and brief comments in the space allowed for this answer.
Languages Spoken in the Home
Two questions on language were included in the questionnaire because of the importance American educators often place on the effect of second languages on learning, particularly in the early years. This is a point often raised with regard to children of Spanish-speaking background in the Southwestern United States.
Two questions referred to language spoken in the home: "Which languages were spoken in your home when you were a child?" and "Which languages are spoken in your home now?" Tables 5 and 6, Appendix C, summarize the 37 responses to these two questions.
Two of four American Indian respondents spoke three languages in the family of orientation, one of the respondents grew up in a bilingual home, and the remaining respondent spoke only English in the home. Six of the nine Asian respondents grew up in monolingual homes, two respondents in bilingual homes, and one respondent in a trilingual household. Four of the eight Spanish-speaking respondents grew up in monolingual homes, and four in bilingual families. Blacks come from predominately monolingual, English-speaking homes (14 of 16 households). The remaining two respondents grew up in bilingual homes.
With regard to families of procreation, French has been dropped as a third language in two of the American Indian homes, resulting in three American Indian homes in which bilingualism occurs with English as the second language. The most interesting trend occurred with Asian respondents; monolingualism in Japanese and Chinese was replaced by monolingualism (English) in five cases, one household continued to be monolingual in the native tongue and one family remained bilingual. The same trend is evident from the answers provided by the Spanish-speaking respondents, in that monolingual families move toward bilingualism in English and Spanish (but three families still speak only Spanish and one family still speaks only Portuguese in the home). Blacks have moved in the opposite direction in that three families rather than two are now bilingual and trilingual.
There has been an overall increase in bilingualism among all minorities in our sample in that 9 families of orientation were bilingual and the present families of procreation include 13 with bilingualism. There is also an increase from 6 to 13 families in which English is the second language and a decrease in bilingualism, in which English is not included, from 3 to zero families. The overall trend can be summarized as a reduction in trilinguals, an increase in bilinguals and an overall increase in the use of English either as the only language or as one of the multi-languages spoken in the family of procreation. High educational level is contraindicative to the language problems usually expected in school performance for the population represented by our sample. The questions on language were, thus, rather meaningless in terms of their original intent.
Respondents Compared to Non-Respondents
A question could be raised concerning the Committee's ability to generalize from a data base of 37 respondents to the total minority anthropologist population of 122. Additional information is available from listings in professional directories on 40 persons, of whom 7 were respondents to our questionnaire. Table 2.2 compares data from the 37 questionnaire respondents to 33 persons listed in American Men of Science, Who's Who and The Directory of American Scholars. This provides an expanded data base of 70 minority anthropologists. Comparisons are also made to the total group of minority anthropologists of 122 wherever information is available.
Only seven of our respondents were listed in the directories mentioned above. That is to say, 19% (7 of 37) of our respondents have been listed in professional directories compared to 32.8% (40 of 122) of the minority anthropologists on our mailing list.
Sex of the 122 minority anthropologists can be determined by name, by questionnaire response and by directory listing. Females responded to our questionnaire at a much higher rate than males; 17 females responded for a 46% return rate, and 20 males responded for a 54% return rate. For comparison, females make up 26% (32 of 122) and males 74% (90 of 122) of the minority population. It is interesting to note that the American Indian and Black males responded at a rate of 15% (2 of 13) and 14% (6 of 42) respectively, whereas Asians (7 of 20) and Spanish-speaking (5 of 15) male respondents replied at a rate of 35% and 33% respectively.
Only 5 of the 32 minority women are listed in the directories, 2 of whom responded to our questionnaire. Perhaps one of our respondents had in mind this lack of recognition of female professionals when she answered the question regarding whether she considered herself a minority anthropologist by stating that she was Black and female and therefore a "double minority."
Age information was available only for the 37 questionnaire respondents and for the 33 non-respondents listed in the directories. The average age of respondent American Indians was 39.3 years, for Asians 40.3 years, for Spanish-speakers 38.8 years and for Blacks 34.7 years. The ages ranged from 27 to 61 years for our 37 respondents, with an average age for all respondents of 37.4 years. The average age for non-respondents listed in the directories was greater than for questionnaire respondents. The average age for American Indian nonrespondents was 48 years, for Asians 44.9 years, for Spanish-speakers 45.3 years and for Blacks 53.9 years. The average age for all nonrespondents was 49.7 years, over 12 years greater than for respondents. This may explain why such a small percentage of our respondent population was listed in the directories and indicates that the respondents to our questionnaire represent the younger, less established minority anthropologists.
Educational information with regard to highest degree held is available on 106 of the 122 persons on the minority mailing list: 82 PhDs, 21 MAs and 3 BAs (see Table 2.3). Seventy-five PhDs were employed at universities, 5 PhDs worked in federal, state or other non-university programs, and 2 female PhDs were unemployed at the time they answered the questionnaire (one Asian and one Spanish-speaking person). Of the 21 MA degree holders in the total minority population, 19 were employed by university departments and 2 by nonuniversity organizations; one American Indian and 2 Blacks holding BA degrees were also employed in university settings. Altogether, 97 of 106 (91.5%) persons on whom we have both employment and educational data, were professionally affiliated with universities (see Table 2.4).
Taking employment alone, we have information on 117 of the 122 minority anthropologists: 109 worked in university settings, 6 in governmental programs and 2 were unemployed. We lack employment information on 5 persons. Thirty-three of 37 respondents (89%) worked in universities, compared to 109 of 117 (93%) in the total group on whom employment is available.
Thirty-two of the 37 respondents had earned a PhD degree. This represents a high proportion of PhDs in our respondent population; that is, 86.5% compared to a 77.4% (82 of 106) in the total minority anthropology population on whom we have educational data.
The 75 PhDs in our total population who work at universities can be compared in terms of the institution at which the PhD was received with the institution where the person is now employed. The following tables depict this information in a simplified manner.
This table places the 27 respondents to our questionnaire who have a PhD degree, and who work in a university, by rank of the department according to the Carter Survey
(*Rankings of departments somewhat modified from A. M. Cartter, A Rating of Graduate Programs, 1971. American Council on Education, Washington, DC, p. 56.
The figures show that 3 persons (11%) received degrees from one of the top 10 departments and also work in one of the top-10 departments. Seven persons (26%) received a PhD degree from a top-10 department and work in departments ranked from 11 through 20. One person (3.7%) received his PhD from a department in the rank grouping 11-20 and works in one of the top 10 departments, whereas 16 persons (59.2%) who got degrees from departments in the lower ranking also work in similarly ranked departments.
Table 2.6 Comparison of Ranked Departments Where Degree was Received With Place Employed for 75 PhDs [X2 = 6.06, p < .02 (1df)]This table locates the 75 PhD degree holders who work in departments ranked by the Cartter Survey. A comparison of this table with Table 2.5 demonstrates that the respondents slightly underrepresent persons who work at institutions with departmental rankings of 11 through 20 who received PhDs from the top 10 departments and overrepresents those who received degrees from and work in departments ranked 11 through 20.
Nine of the 35 (25.7%) minority anthropologists who received PhD degrees from the top 10 departments now work there. This is a rather meaningless figure without comparable data for non-minority anthropologists. Raymond H. Thompson of The University of Arizona graciously allowed us to look at his computerized data for an unpublished study of all PhDs granted in anthropology. Controlling for age, we find that 26 same-age, non-minority anthropologists in his population have received PhDs from the top 10 departments with 12 working in the top ten departments for a ratio of 46%. This can be interpreted to mean that non-minority anthropologists who get degrees from the top 10 departments have a greater chance of being employed in similarly ranked departments than do minority anthropologists.
Six of the 19 (31.6%) Blacks who have received PhDs from the top 10 departments work in similarly ranked departments. Comparable figures for other ethnic groups are: 2 of 5 (40%) Spanish-speaking anthropologists, 1 of 9 (11%) Asians and none of 2 American Indians.
A slightly different view is presented by the following breakdown, which compares academic mobility for the 75 minority anthropologists with PhDs who work at universities.
Table 2.7 Academic Mobility of 75 Minority PhDs: Respondents and Non-Respondents
[X2 = 2.30 Not significant, (.50 < p < .32, 2df)]The distribution depicted in Table 2.7 indicates the mobility patterns of respondents to our questionnaire are almost identical to the PhD minority population. Our sample tends to somewhat overrepresent the upward mobiles and underrepresent the downward mobiles. There are few minority anthropologists and this table indicates most now work in departments that are ranked lower than the departments from which they received PhDs.
Some Comments on the Sample
Anthropologists have not usually been concerned about sampling or about how much or in what respects the sample of the population from whom they have derived information represents the total population to which they are generalizing. The nature of the work of this Committee makes this necessary, however, and in what follows we have tried to provide a sense of bow we think what we state in the report represents or does not represent the total anthropology minority population. The information provided in this chapter may help the reader make up his own mind.
The 37 responses to our questionnaire represent a return of 30.3% from the total minority anthropology group of 122. In addition, information was gathered on 33 other persons from various professional directories and data was obtained on a few others beyond this sub-sample of 70 persons.
The smallest return by ethnic group was from American Indians, 4 of 17 (23.5%), followed by Blacks, 16 of 60 (26.7%), Asians, 9 of 26 (34.6%) and Spanish-speakers, 8 of 17 (42.1%). Speaking from a qualitative assessment, the Committee feels that the responses from Blacks and American Indians best represent the minority experience of native American minorities. Most Asian and Spanish-speaking respondents did not seem to have experienced minority problems in the United States in their pre-professional days because the majority in these two groups were not born and raised in the United States. However, both of these groups did have something to say about the minority experience as students and professionals.
A feeling grew, as the Committee reviewed the responses to the questionnaire, that it had not heard from older persons who were recognized and established in the profession, from the militants and from those who have made psychological adjustments to their status as minorities.
The first suspicion was confirmed in that the average age of our respondents was 37.4 years compared to an average age of 49.7 years for non-respondents who are listed in the professional directories. This notion is also supported by the fact that only 7 of 37 (19%) respondents are listed in the professional directories compared to 40 of 122 (32.8%) of the total list of minority anthropologists.
The lack of response from militants and from those who have made psychological adjustments to their minority status obviously did not support this notion by direct information from the questionnaire. Committee members believe, however, that these views were not well represented, based on the personal knowledge that few responses were received from those known to us who represent these two views.
It would appear that we have an overrepresented sample for females who responded to our questionnaire and an underrepresentation for males. Women make up 46% of our responses and men, 54%. This compares to a female proportion of 26% and a male proportion of 74% in the total minority anthropology population.
In terms of education, there were more PhDs in our response sample than in the total population, 86.5% and 77.4%, respectively. The reverse is true for employment; 89% of our respondents work in universities compared to 93% of the total group.
The Committee has taken literally the statements made by such anthropologists as Nadel, Kluckhohn and DuBois, that the anthropologist is his own best informant. By this, they mean that the anthropologist must compare what he develops in terms of data from other societies with what he knows about his own society. This is especially applicable in the case of the Committee, in that we are professional anthropologists and at the same time members of the group from whom we have derived information, and the statements made in this report have been evaluated on the basis of our own personal experiences in the two cultures.
We feel that the report represents fairly the condition of the problem; where it does not, we have so stated.
Reactions to the Questionnaire
At the end of the questionnaire, the respondents were queried on their reaction to the protocol and their willingness to continue working with the Committee. The answers have been tabulated in Tables 7 and 8, Appendix C, and summarized here. On the whole, respondents seemed to accept the questionnaire, although not uncritically. Many who expressed approval also made one or more negative observations. The net impact of the responses to the question asking for their reaction to the questionnaire suggests that respondents found the questionnaire psychically tiring but, in many case, cathartic. Many thought the questionnaire was too long and the questions repetitious or complicated and involved. Our impression is that such comments more likely came from respondents who were most superficial or guarded in their answers. Finally, a few respondents wondered about the uses to which the results would be put.
In spite of some reservations about the questionnaire, practically everyone in the sample indicated a willingness to participate in a follow-up personal interview. Several respondents believed the issues raised by the questionnaire would best be aired further in group discussion, perhaps at professional meetings. We are dealing, however, with a selected group who, by responding to our questionnaire in the first place, have indicated a willingness to discuss the issues of concern to the Committee.