As graduate students writing our dissertations between 2009 and 2010 at the University of California, Irvine, we began to feel the ﬁrst ripples of a shrinking job market for tenure-track academic positions in anthropology. There were questions, in hushed whispers as well as anxious and frantic outbursts, about how long the recession would last, whether we should “wait and see” before graduating, or apply now and just cast a wider net in terms of schools and searches. The 2009 Anthropology Faculty Job Market Report opened up with, “AAA has been increasingly concerned with the academic job market. Anecdotal evidence suggests that faculty lines are being lost and searches cancelled” (Terry-Sharp 2009). Given uncertainty, we both chose the latter option and had the good fortune to ﬁnd employment in academic institutions – Cortney Hughes Rinker at the Arlington Innovation Center for Health Research (Virginia Tech) and Sheena Nahm at the Norman Lear Center (University of Southern California). Interestingly enough, neither of us entered these institutions through the traditional route of the tenure-track position. Although our jobs were quite unique and diﬀerent from each other, they both were in research centers focused on contracts and grants and were not solely situated in the realm of cultural anthropology, the ﬁeld in which we are trained. Nahm worked for the University of Southern California as a research specialist where she evaluated the impact of entertainment education interventions. She conducted quantitative and qualitative analysis on surveys assessing viewers’ changes in knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors after watching television shows and ﬁlms containing health information. In this role, she regularly reﬂected on how results could be communicated in a way that resonated with a wide variety of stakeholders, including professionals situated in the medicine and/or entertainment sectors. She presented her work at academic conferences and contributed to reports that were released to nonacademic audiences. Hughes Rinker’s position was primarily in health services research, which is a multidisciplinary ﬁeld that focuses on the quality of and access
to health care, health care costs, and patient outcomes. Even after completing our time in each of the positions, we continued to publish, teach, and work in applied ﬁelds. Nahm went on to a career in the nonproﬁt sector while also teaching for various colleges including The New School, while Hughes Rinker took a tenuretrack position at George Mason University in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology where she continues to teach, mentor, and conduct research. Because of the lessons learned through our initial experiences after graduate
school, we began to reﬂect on what it means to be a cultural anthropologist contributing to dialogues in a changing world that often has been referred to as “Academia 2.0” amongst our colleagues.2 In this chapter, we address two questions: What skills do we have from doing academic ﬁeldwork that can be applied to the nonacademic world? What is it from our work in applied research that helped us transition back to academia? In particular, we examine the impact of living both inside and outside of academia in the current climate, and oﬀer strategies and skills for a cultural anthropologist negotiating the current job market. These questions are what ultimately led us to put together this volume. We wanted other “hybrid” anthropologists who straddle the academic and applied worlds to have a space to share their own experiences and work, since sometimes we feel we have to choose one side or the other when conducting research or publishing.