Thursday, 3 November 2016

Here's why you should care about the scrapping of A-level anthropology

Image: Watercolour painting of a Haida painted wooden mask. Copyright Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford 2014.89.1a

I published this article about A Level Anthropology this week in The Conversation. The opening paragraphs are below.

Here's why you should care about the scrapping of A-level anthropology

With the refugee crisis, Brexit, and the rise of populist extremism, we must defend the teaching of anthropology. And in doing so, we might expand and rethink our understanding of "the humanities".

At first the voices were predictable. With art history and archaeology announced as the latest A-levels set to be scrapped, TV presenter Tony Robinson condemned this “barbaric act”. The Council for British Archaeology warned of a national shortage of archaeologists. And sculptor Anish Kapoor complained that “the humanities are under assault”.

Of course the old accusations that art history serves only a cultural elite were trotted out by the Guardian. But gradually more unexpected responses developed – and questions of equality, culture, and creativity were raised.

I teach three subjects to undergraduates at Oxford University: archaeology, art history and anthropology. And all three – along with classics and statistics – face the axe from the A-level syllabus as part of exam board AQA‘s latest reshuffle.

But as a Change.org petition to Save A-level archaeology approaches 15,000 signatures, and the 38 Degrees petition for art history reaches almost 20,000, given that the decision to axe anthropology was taken well over a year ago, there has been no comparable outcry at the potential loss of anthropology.

The reasons for the silence are complex....  Continue reading the full article at The Conversation.

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