"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)

12.29.2005

tenure in the big leagues

The Times ran an interesting piece yesterday on the unceremonious removal of an associate professor of anthropology at Yale. Seems he believes his personal politics (namely his support for anarchy) are the reason for the removal. Now, I have absolutely no reason to know why he got fired. But I would point out two things:

1) The anthro department at Yale is full of extremists and people with, shall we say, unusual views. Their grad students (who take a LOT of African studies classes) never failed to drive the rest of us crazy by using obscure, polysyllabic words just to prove that they are smarter than everyone else. So I find it hard to believe that he would've lost the job just because of his politics.

2) This whole episode casts a glaring spotlight on just how unfair Yale's tenure and promotion policies are. Only 25% of associate professors ever get tenure there. The university takes the best years of the best brilliant young minds' lives, uses their labor, and sends them on their way. They've fired all kinds of wonderful people, including the professor who inspired me to teach. What's needed more than anything is a reform of that process.

But, hey, the guy thinks that anarchy works. I'd love to have him come visit me in the eastern Congo. There's nothing like springtime with the Mai-Mai, I'm sure. Viva!

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