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The Language of Calling and Assignation in Academic Anthropological Careers: 1950–90



Over a ten-year period, some 40 anthropologists were studied with regard to their sense of vocation in their disciplinary careers. Through interview and other qualitative methods, anthropologists in three countries and from two generations revealed their sources of purpose and passion. The goal of this study was to explicate the nature of their choice of profession, specifically, anthropology as a scientific and intellectual assignation. Why this career, and why these persons, how have they inherited and reproduced, or altered, the discipline and what are the implications for academic professionalization in general, were some of the salient questions involved? Meaning was accrued to life by both being outside of the normative definitions of professional career as well as being marginal to the intellectual discourse and academic community. It was also found that anthropologists' lives often mimicked their ideas of the lives of those they studied in non-Western contexts.