The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)

Living on the Edge: Interdisciplinarity and the Future of Biological Anthropology


Cell Biology and Anatomy, University of Calgary, McCaig Institute for Bone and Joint Health, University of Calgary, Alberta Children's Hospital Foundation Institute for Child and Maternal Health, University of Calgary

Thursday 3:00-3:15, Ballroom A Add to calendar

Biological anthropology is not the only field in either the biological or social sciences that is facing an existential crisis. To a large degree this crisis, real as I believe it is, is a consequence of the growing trend towards interdisciplinarity in both of these broader spheres within which our field exists. On the one hand, this trend is healthy and will likely lead academia to greater innovation. For biological anthropology, however, this trend represents a threat because of the possibility of marginalization and the loss of the unique perspectives of biological anthropology as we integrate with larger fields. It is also a challenge, it the need broaden and intensify our training so that biological anthropologists can see and exploit productive avenues for interdisciplinary collaboration. It is critical that that leaders in biological recognize this trend for towards interdiscplinarity and realize its implications for the field. Failing to do so will see the field struggle for a shrinking share of the research funding pie in most countries and grapple marginalization within the broader academic community. Seizing the opportunities that this trend presents, however, will lead biological anthropologists to conduct more impactful and relevant research. This is also the only way to preserve a place for the unique perspective of biological anthropology in Academia.

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