They - my colleagues and friends anthropologists look to me stars - some of the brightest on the sky
of the global culture of the 21st century. Anthropology does matter but what is anthropology without
Why do the anthropologists matter today?
They know all about the culture
They know how the culture changes based on systematic knowledge of more than 2 Millennia human
They research in depth the cultures all over the world
They are good writers
They are good social motivators
They are friendly and open minded
They can make change in the human society often even being invisible
There is one talk show every afternoon Monday to Friday that is globally recognized - the Sean Hannaty show. Sometimes I like it and sometimes -
not. Sean is one of those Americans who could not graduate from University but became even a millionaire. Favorite of many Americans, he has
repeatedly insisted that he has been doing the job of the journalists investigating the stories in depth.
As one of those coming to the USA with Green card, during the years I have learned a lot from the Americans, and lately from Sean. His show is like a
family talk where we always repeat one and the same stories although we like them because of the sympathy between the members of the family. I
have been trying to understand Sean and mostly had learned what was the difference between education and natural intelligence. I even wrote Sean
“You may need to go to University”. There was no response.
Today University is open for more and more Americans. According to some statistics, more than 40% Americans have been studying today. And
Anthropology becomes more and more popular. Usually the students like anthropology because of the stories about exotic cultures. And if you take a
course of Archaeology, it depends on the teachers. You may even dig in the archaeological box all semester and at the end have a theater because of
the precious objects discovered in the boxes.
Today the anthropologists have so many important things to say although their voice is still not enough strong. Should they become Hollywood stars to
hear their voice? For now they are only Stanfordwood, Berkeleywood, Los Angeleswood, etc. stars. You can see them even at youtube.com, but very
rare in the newspapers and no in People, for instance. They are out of the focus of the media. And this in fact breaks the bridge of anthropologists,
because anthropology is about the people and their everydayness, about the real life. Me personally do not know how I would feel if I don’t talk at
least one a month on Karlovo radio and do not have the alive contacts with my native country. You need to share what you have been experiencing
especially when you live in Salt Lake, one of the most exciting multicultural global cities in the world.
Why anthropology and how the voice of the anthropologists to become stronger? Both are crucial questions if we would like to understand the culture,
We need to turn our eyes to the beginning of anthropology if we want to feel its real power today. The anthropology was born in order the people to
recognize their historical identity and probably I will be not very wrong if I say that the father of anthropology was Herodotus. I believe that for the
21st century anthropology will be very important to learn more about the relation to the material and non-material cultural past before 18th century,
since even today as a huge heritage from Past there are scholars who continue to divide the material cultural products from those who produced and
used them. We may need to recall Heinrich Schliemann who some still consider as an archaeologist as the crone of the long period when the
archaeology had been very difficulty delivered to the word in the blood of treasure hunters, antique collectors and pseudoarchaeologists. Ironically,
they framed archaeology in such small sizes that today if you are inside the frame one can die without fresh air, if you are outside you could be
blamed to be a misbeliever.
We will cut the story and jump to later 20th century as our goal is to bridge two essential centuries in the development of anthropology – 20th and
21st – and to see in prospect what we can expect to happen with anthropology in the next decades.
The anthropology of later 20st century developed mostly as four-facet anthropology including archaeology, physical anthropology, linguistic and
Archaeology as a rule has remained the most important discipline since it provided the basic earliest records about the human culture. The interest in
the beginning of the human culture increased because we wanted to know our origin. We learned about Lucy, the Neandertals and Homo Sapiens
Sapiens. The scholars use the migration theory and still most believe the first people emerged in Africa and migrated in all directions. Some scholars
insisted there were interbreedings all over the world while others as one of my best students wrote in his essay “God was the one who created the
world”. We, the anthropologists, are educated in patience and tolerance especially when it comes the question about the origin of the human world.
On both extremes of the opinions the questions are more than the answers. I personally believe that we still have to dig a lot and learn much more to
resolve the origin and who were our earliest ancestors.
But the beginning is the crossroad of all kinds of anthropological fields – it is the beginning of the human culture, human language, human physical
types and beginning of friendly interactions or severe conflicts between the humans and the nature. There is no reason not to believe that the
beginning of the human culture will remain the key issue of the 21st century and we will expect any new dig and any new thoughtful scholar article on
this issues because this is our beginning – it is almost like to be adopted and to want to know your real mother and father. Emotional and strong
Then it is coming another crossing issue in all fields of anthropology – the so-called Neolithic revolution. This term belongs to Gordon Childe. I am
feeling glad today when I read in the books that in fact it was not a revolution but a difficult and hard experience. But our ancestors did it. However,
not in old parts of the world at one and the same time. So, the anthropologists of the 21st century still have to explain us in more details why some
people discovered changes and other did not, why some people wanted changes and other could live hundreds of year reproducing one and the same
I have never found good answer in the researched books. This question especially troubles my social brain for prehistory of Thrace where the rhythm
of more visible change is abt 500 years for 6000-1500 cal BCE. Initially I thought that the young people brought the change. Now close to my 50 I
see the changes in different way since they all depend in my view on the leadership. Then, if I use my recent social theoretic-and-life experience I
would propose a network leadership structure in Upper Thrace that brought a kind of change rhythm of abt 500 years and included visible and
invisible close interactions among the micro-mezo and macroleaders. This is very clear in the period of Karanovo II culture when the painted ceramic
style remained emblematic in the western and north parts of Upper Thrace. So, we can think about archaic corporate societies with integrated self-
regulating and external social-economic and cultural-ideological mechanism of relations and re- or producing strategies.
My thoughts above increase the role of precise knowledge in the 21st century archaeoanthropology, because to make cultural models one needs
precise chronology at all levels and precise terminology. But it is a very rocky areas because of a very heavy heritage from the 20th century and the
difficulties the scholars meet in understanding how important is their research and how cautious they should be in their conclusions. The problem is
that the researchers feel valuable and strong when they make strong statements and strong conclusions, when they connect their names with
sensations and they begin to produce but not to discovery what we know as archaeological attractions.
The real term of archaeology begin in earlier 21st century to trouble many, to look very archaic and not for our time for others, and to make some
scholars just to depart from it. It will remain during the 21st century as a rocky area but there is no away not to believe that the popularity of the
archaeoanthropology will increase – a term that today looks just fresh and ready to go for big harvest but in later 21st will probably look as
traditional as archaeology and possibly with the same problem as archaeology. So, the changing face of the 21st anthropology will depend on the
talent the archaeoanthropolists to avoid the problems of archaeology and to look at present and in future rather than in past.
I am probably not only one who feels our slave-like dependence of terms that may make us feel our social brain in a wrong frame. Here in Salt Lake
there is one Gallery where obviously the owner has been trying to follow traditions. So, contemporary frame artworks have been framed in style of
Renaissance. This is the way I am feeling when use the term archaeology especially lately. And how free, fresh and full with ideas I feel my social
brain just pronouncing the word archaeoanthropology. The right term and the right words are like a fountain of intellectual wealth. Then, I want to
believe that the changing face of the 21st century anthropology would be also connected with searching for purity in the terms and words we have
There is no way not to think that the 21st century anthropology is also a century of the professional writers. That means the students in anthropology
should be very careful in their education and persistently to ask themselves whether it gives them what they need.
The most important for the changing face of 21st century anthropology will be to understand that we are all complimentary and the quality of the
researchers depends not on the position and what has been done but on how. Also, the self-awareness becomes crucial and the opportunity to give
credit to any fresh and smart ideas without thinking where it comes from. If we do not open the door of free exchange of ideas, then, there will be no
opportunity for progress. But it is a very dangerous game since the anthropological knowledge is knowledge in depth – a scientific knowledge.
In 20th century and even today some authors have been using the word scientific even in titles to try to make the text look more scientific, others
have been using meaningless statistics and ambiguous methodologies again to look scientific. I believe more and more we understand that science is
embedded in the term anthropology and does not depend either on titles or on the amount of published works and where these works are published.
Anthropology is a science about people. Then, the anthropological knowledge must be precise, exact, non-fraud, humanistic oriented and a subject of
verification. The data can come from the everydayness, original documents, secondary books and all kind of sources, but need to be systematic and
researched in depths.
The problem of the debauched anthropology is the absence of the depth of research that results even in fraud conclusions. These fraud conclusions
could be purposeful – to damage the honest results of other scholars, to become fast famous, to promote sensation, to promote political ambitions, to
contribute to fraud history, etc. Then, to change the face within the 21st century anthropology will require strong and honest leaders-scholars who
will think about the purity of the science. Their example will be followed and will make the anthropology really one of the most powerful sciences in
the world. Does the humankind desire such science? Yes, we do.
We, the anthropologists, still are waiting for those some millions dollars donation to make the revolution of our science on Internet. Now anthropology
on Internet barely can be grated even C although some disciplines like genealogy has been changing our face because it is community oriented. It is
hard to say the same for the archaeology that looks framed by visible and invisible paradigms and norms making it in some cases not only impossible
to move ahead but turned deep in past toward periods which we want to forget about.
Do the humankind desire world archaeoanthropological tree like the ancestry family tree? Yes, we do. So, there could be just hope that a great mind
generously will make it and sponsors it in way every anthropologist to be able to see and add any archaeanthropological information and make people
feel they can easily learn all for their ancestors’ culture from the beginning till today.
The anthropologists of the 21st century have to resolve another huge problem – the problem of social inequality and poverty. Today some actors like
Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt look more anthropologists than we, the professionals. Because they make the people think about nations and countries
that require special attention. We have been also doing the same but at very small scale and without almost any access to the media.
The people begin to become rich and poor probably from the beginning of the human civilization – one will hunt more for his group, others less, so
some will accumulate extra beyond the subsistence, other would live on everyday base with less needed for subsistence. Within centuries and
millennia the differences have been increasing and leadership created explanations and laws to regulate the differences between the people. Some
who thought about equality failed because it is just impossible. There always will be differences. And if there are no differences, there will be no
human culture. But what makes us people? – the human culture.
So, it is not important whether you are rich or poor, educated or non-educated, but how you behavior. And here, we are the anthropologists, with the
knowledge on different cultures and different cultural pattern to help even today to humanize the relationships and to reinvent values and norm that
would help us all.
Today in fact everybody can be rich - I mean to live not only for subsistence. In the 20th century Collin Renfrew thought the Varna cemetery was the
evidence about the emergence of wealth in the world. Today we are thinking differently – Varna was a culmination of the prehistoric accumulation of
wealth. Because we understand that our prehistoric ancestors began to accumulate material wealth from their beginning and they - like all of us -
wanted to be rich – it is just a question of choice whether some would prefer material, intellectual or just moral wealth. So, is it possible today
everybody to feel rich? I think so, and the anthropologists can tell thousands of story about communities and human periods when for instance, the
moral wealth was the highest credit of society.
In the 21st century the anthropology becomes more dependable on the technology, respectively on funds for this technology. But we again have been
waiting for genius social brains who will make the technology available and accessible at minimum expenses for every specialist in the world and not
only for usually power-holding selected archaeoanthropologists. Past and even today’s anthropology could become at some levels even nasty because
of the dependence on funds and willing of some to get power in order to have access to these funds. To change the face of anthropology of the 21st
century we need to change the mechanism of funding – to have equal access to funding.
Last but not least in this essay I would call for community. Because my colleague and friend Georgi Kitov was really a community maker. His teams
will be a legend in the history of the archaeological practices. Today we have the Internet and the e-mails makes us almost 24-hours living
community. The people who will not come with pure humanistic purposes in the anthropological communities probably will try even in the 21st
century to make invisible walls against these perspectives. Grouping, confronting, dividing, slandering and even fraud would be those deviations that
we may cannot clean but for sure will be limited within the 21st century, because when there is a great science there are always great people who
know what to do for the humankind. And if within two millennia the goodness, intelligence, the beauty of social relationships, the humanity had been
produced and reproduced successfully, there should be no reason to worry that in anthropology of the 21st century will dominate those colleagues
who always look to me like the brightest stars on the sky of the human culture.
Welcome to my colleague and great friend of Bulgaria Douglass W Bailey back to the USA!
October 1st , 2008
Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
Updated January 18, 2012
Comment: The first half of the photos that illustrate this essay belong to my colleagues-archaeologists (archaeoanthropologists) and were taken by
me. All of them are available for export for other websites although we will appreciate link to this webpage (LN).
On the changing face of the
21st century Anthropology
In memory of my colleague
and friend Georgi Kitov
Essay by Lolita Nikolova
Claire Smith (Australia)
|Paola Ucelli Gnesuta
|Tinaig Clodore-Tissot (France)
|Arkadiusz Marciniak with colleagues
|Alexandra Comsa (Romania)
Linda Hulin (UK)
Haskel Greenfield (Canada)
Marco Merlini (Italy)
|Lyudmila Doncheva (Bulgaria)
James O'Connell (USA)
Ian Hodder (UK & USA)
Hermann Parzinger (Germany)
|Svetlana Ivanova (Ukraine)
Clive Bonsall (UK)