Wednesday 25 September 2013

"All Right, Mr. DeMille, I'm Ready For My MacArthur Fellowship."

*tongue pressed firmly in cheek*

Each year, when I'm passed over for a MacArthur Fellowship [yet again], I wear the lack of recognition like a hair shirtBrain the size of a [small] planet[oid, really] and here I am: stuck sticking pins in little clay effigies of more-successful palaeoanthropologists than I. What would—what could?—convince the hundred-or-so so-called nominators to award me one of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation's $625,000, no strings attached, gifts?

You see, MacArthur Fellows are chosen because they're reckoned to be able to parlay the $125K a year for five years into stuff that moves humanity in a positive direction. When was the last time an anthropologist of any stripe received one of these 'Genius Grants?' And why not me? Or you?

I was inconsolable when I discovered the truth. In chronological order, beginning in 1981, the following have been MacArthur Fellows.*
Shelly Errington
Lawrence Rosen
Alfonso Ortiz
William H. Durham
Shirley Brice Heath
Jared M. Diamond
Allan C. Wilson
Richard Wrangham
Ruth Behar
John G. Fleagle
Alan Walker
Patricia C. Wright
Sherry B. Ortner
Eric Wolf
Steven Feld
Faye D. Ginsburg
Brackette F. Williams
Gary Urton
Erik Mueggler
Lee Ann Newsom
Stanley Nelson
Camilo José Vergara
Guillermo Algaze
Jim Yong Kim
Heather Hurst
Lisa Curran
Mercedes Doretti
Sven Haakanson
Stephen Houston
Shannon Lee Dawdy
Carl Haber
Julie Livingston
Yes, yes. Well done all of you. Well done all of you. However, what have you done for us lately? Richard Wrangham recently published a cookbook. Jared Diamond drones on and on about how mean people can be. Sherry B. Ortner probably snuck in there on name recognition. Alan Walker? In the right place at the right time is the way I see it. William H. Durham was probably a sympathy vote—whose parents would be so thoughtless as to name their child such that, throughout his life, he'd be known as Bill Durham? Alan C. Wilson would o' bin a nobody if Watson and Crick hadn't stolen Rosalind Franklin's idea for the structure of DNA. Talk about coat-tailing! With the exception of John G. Fleagle and Eric Wolf, I've never heard of the rest of 'em. Must be socio-cultural people.

When do I get my turn? I mean, really. Am I not the black fly on the newly clothed Emperor of Palaeoanthropology's arse? Seriously. That's gotta count for something. Right? Anyone?

*[Hey, d'ya think we should start making a distinction between fellows (masculine) and fellas (feminine)?]


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