I recently resigned my membership in the American Anthropological Association, after nearly forty years. The AAA asked for my reasons for this, and gave me 900 characters to respond. This is what I told them:
4. Is there anything you care to say about your membership experience?
(1) During the nearly 40 years of my membership, I have found the AAA very poor in its responsiveness to members concerns.
(2) I have long been dismayed at the postmodern trend in anthropology, and the recent "science" episode tipped the scales. For me this involves 2 concerns:
(A) This confirmed my fears of an anti-science sentiment within anthropology.
(B) The response by the AAA president and board was completely inadequate in terms of internet communication and the role of independent bloggers. It showed a serious lack of understanding of both current sentiment and the nature of blogs and internet communication.
These are the works by Massey I was referring to (but did not have space in include in my reply to the AAA):
Massey, Douglas S.
2006 Doing Social Science in Anti-Scientific Times. American Sociologist 37:87-95.
2007 The Strength of Weak Politics. In Public Sociology: Fifteen Eminent Sociologists Debate Politics and the Profession in the Twenty-first Century, edited by Dan Clawson, Robert Zussman, Joya Mistra, Naomi Gerstel, Randall Stokes, Douglas L. Anderton, and Michael Burawoy, pp. 145-157. Universitiy of California Press, Berkeley.
Why is it that I find more inspiration these days -- both intellectual and professional -- from the field of sociology than from anthropology? That is one higher-level reason for leaving the AAA (although not a big enough reason to join the ASA!). For the price of my AAA membership, I can subscribe to several new journals, including Social Science History and Urban Morphology. I can get American Anthropology online through my university, but the thing I miss most about the AAA membership is easy access to the Anthropology News. This is online, with a five-year embargo!!! As if people really want to read a newsletter from five years ago.
I am enjoying these new journals, and I can get what I want out of American Anthropologist without having to worry about all the negative aspects of the AAA.