The Social Network of US Academic Anthropology and Its Inequalities

This project has taken several years to come together, but I’m happy to share that “The Social Network of US Academic Anthropology and Its Inequalities” was recently published in American Anthropologist. Of course, one major problem is that it is hiding behind a paywall so I have uploaded a pre-print version of the article here. Comments, critiques, and questions are welcome. If you are also interested in working with this network dataset, I am more than willing to share it. You can also explore the data in an accessible (albeit somewhat limited) form here in Google Fusion Tables.

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U.S. Academic Anthropology’s Hiring Network

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A paper I authored with several colleagues titled “The Social Network of U.S. Academic Anthropology and Its Inequalities” was recently accepted to American Anthropologist and will be published in early 2019. Here you can play with an interactive network graph (produced by Google Fusion Tables) that visualizes the data we collected for U.S. Academic anthropology’s hiring network. Go ahead and grab individual nodes to examine their ties to other programs (gold ties represent sending relationships and blue are receiving). The graph also allows you to zoom in and out, and adjust the number of nodes displayed (based on network centrality). If you have any questions about the graph, feel free to comment here or email me directly. Google also offers a short overview of the functionality and limits of their network graphs.

The Social Network of US Academic Anthropology


This morning I presented a paper at the AAA meeting in Minneapolis as part of a panel I co-organized with Joe Feldman, titled “Challenging Anthropology in the 21st Century.” My paper focused specifically on the social network of US academic anthropology and how hiring networks can contribute to – or at the very least reflect – embedded hierarchies within the discipline. You can download a copy of the paper here. The abstract is below:

“Anthropologists often strive to point out social inequality while using their research to promote meaningful social change. However, academic anthropology can sometimes reproduce the very problems of social inequality that its scholars tend to rail against. Past research on U.S. academic hiring networks has shown evidence of systematic inequality and hierarchy, attributed at least in part to the influence of academic prestige, which is not necessarily a reflection of merit or academic productivity. Using anthropology departments’ websites, we gathered information on all tenured and tenure-track faculty in PhD-granting anthropology programs in the U.S., totaling 1,918 individuals in all. For each faculty member, we noted their current institution and PhD-granting institution, which we treated as a “tie” between those academic programs. With these data, we applied methods from social network analysis (SNA) to examine U.S. academic anthropology’s social network, and we identified multiple factors that help to explain its structure. In this paper, we report on our preliminary findings and we discuss how they can be used to help rethink social reproduction in academic anthropology.”