Professors Making $10,000 a Year? Academia Becoming a Profession Only the Elite Can Afford
One after another, the occupations that shape American society are becoming impossible for all but the most elite to enter.
August 22, 2012

It is 2011 and I’m sitting in the Palais des Congres in Montreal, watching anthropologists talk about structural inequality.

The American Anthropological Association meeting is held annually to showcase research from around the world, and like thousands of other anthropologists, I am paying to play: $650 for airfare, $400 for three nights in a “student” hotel, $70 for membership, and $94 for admission. The latter two fees are student rates. If I were an unemployed or underemployed scholar, the rates would double.

The theme of this year’s meeting is “Traces, Tidemarks and Legacies.” According to the explanation on the American Anthropological Association website, we live in a time when “the meaning and location of differences, both intellectually and morally, have been rearranged”. As the conference progresses, I begin to see what they mean. I am listening to the speaker bemoan the exploitative practices of the neoliberal model when a friend of mine taps me on the shoulder.

“I spent almost my entire salary to be here,” she says.

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