Archaeology has been glamorized in our culture thanks to fiction. When you hear or read the word “archaeologist”, what leaps into most people’s minds is Indiana Jones fighting Nazis, cultists and Communists. Unless you don’t count the last movie in which case it’s just Nazis and Cultists.
Like most people who entered anthropology, I did so with an interest in studying human societies and understanding them, as well as with a healthy inspiration from Indiana Jones.
Now I am approaching my fourth year of studies in the discipline, and for the summer I was lucky enough to get a job doing commercial archaeological work thanks to a friend of my father’s. Commercial archaeology, or “Cultural Resource Management”, is, as you might expect, not anywhere near as glamorous as Hollywood makes it out to be. I knew this, I expected this and still I went ahead because I am genuinely fascinated by the subject.
However, as is the case with many liberal arts degrees, when these studies are outside the cozy, safe, ivory tower of academia it’s far more difficult to make a living off them.
Most CRM work is essentially inspection work to make sure that companies that develop lands for various projects are not destroying anything of historical or archaeological value, like an 1800s homestead or a Paleo-Indian camp. While you do get to go out and explore, get to visit new locales and get to work outside, there are numerous downsides.
For one, while the pay is somewhat decent you can only get work during the late spring, summer, and early fall. The majority of my coworkers have second jobs or are on welfare. Unless you get a Master’s degree you cannot get paid any better, and are essentially reduced to a “shovel bum.” For another, unless you are with a good company (and I was), your coworkers are often lazy, alcoholic wastes of humanity who are not disciplined or fired for their behavior because the hiring restrictions make it so hard to get more archaeologists on a team. And for a third, you don’t get to do actual research, which is what I got into anthropology for in the first place.
However, an anthropology education is valuable for other reasons. The university stranglehold on the profession becomes obvious when you see all the red tape, all the academic requirements and the fact that CRM work is regarded as, at best, a strange curiosity by your professors and at worst as “evil”. It is a view into the whole of the academic liberals’ mindset, and a view into the brilliant simplicity of how the political movement as a whole operates.
You go to their schools, take subjects you feel are interesting and you yourself want to pursue, but when you are done you find your degree is almost utterly useless…
Save in academia. You can be sure that if you do not kotow to the political mindset of your faculty, or teach the prescribed courses just how the administration wants them taught you won’t get the job. Stories of graduate students sleeping with their professors to get ahead abound. Hell, the infamous Zahi Hawass is involved in numerous scandals over his conduct towards female grad students. It’s not the first such scandal even in anthropology and yet it, like many other such scandals, are ignored.
So, knowing this and understanding my predicament, I can only come to a few conclusions.
One is that, while my current job only exists because of federal regulation I frankly agree with it. Preserving the past and understanding it may not be as profitable as engineering or medicine, but it is a vital necessity of any society to maintain it’s cultural heritage. The Noble Savage was completely destroyed save as a political tool thanks to archaeology uncovering the fact that the native cultures of the Americas were no less brutal, intelligent, or human than the Europeans. Intellectualism has been used as a weapon by the Left for decades and frankly, we need to keep hitting back and hard to destroy the institutional crony system the universities are now. I cannot do it alone. Indeed, none of us will be able to undo it in even this generation but it can and must be done.
Another is that, while this is something I love to do I’m going to need to find other means of supporting myself and contributing to society. So to that end, I plan to live at home for the next year or so, working hard in archaeology and any other jobs I can find to save up just enough cash to go through a tech school. I can learn carpentry, plumbing, maybe basic engineering outside of school but academic qualifications are an unfortunate requirement for serious jobs in this climate. And to truly understand a thing you must experience and learn from it first hand.
Finally, while it may seem useless for getting a job save in academia, I believe anthropology and the various courses connected to it I have taken have done me more good than bad. After all, without them I could not have used their very methods to understand how the Left’s cries of freedom and equality were nothing more than cover for authoritarianism and elitism.
It is an eternal struggle between those whose real desire is power or to be powerless and protected, and those who desire freedom. It will forever be a fight between these philosophies. The key to maintaining freedom, however, is not in the short term but in the long term.
The choice is ours.