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The Cost of Applying for that Academic [Anthropology or Folklore] Job on the Final Day

This note encodes a particular observation on the academic job search process that I have witnessed on several occasions as a faculty member involved in, or witnessing, a number of faculty searches in anthropology and folklore studies. There is plenty of good advice out there on the academic job search but I do not recall anyone ever making the following observation.

This note applies to searches that are not of the “wide open” variety. That is, I am speaking about cases where a department wants a particular set of specialties.

Anthropology job searchers play close attention to the job ads in their field. A sometimes puzzling development is when a department runs their ad again with a new, later due date. It may be obvious that this happens when the search committee is not happy with the size or qualities of the applicant pool. What is not so obvious is the effect that last minute applications have on this process. I am talking to you last minute applicants!

As the due date for applications approaches, those managing the search have to make an assessment. Is the pool large enough to pass muster with college or university HR officials? In many institutions, the powers that be will not allow a search to move forward to the screen and interview stage if there are too few applicants.  Too few applicants is a sign that something has not gone right.  In some institutions, the human resources authorities want to see that the pool has attracted an appropriately diverse pool in terms of gender and other demographic variables. For multiple practical reasons, the assessment of the pool typically has to happen before the original due date is reached. If the due date is reached without being extended and the pool turns out to be inadequate, the search might be declared “busted.” Particularly under current economic conditions, faculty searches are very prized occurrences and no one wants to risk seeing the plug being pulled from above.

So, in a hypothetic search for a specialized colleague, it is almost due date time and there are too few applicants. Rather than risk a range of problems, the department extends its deadline. Then, minutes before the original deadline, a wave of applications arrive. Arriving on the last day are just enough solid applications to cause the original pool to be viable after all.  If those late appliers had applied earlier, the original deadline would have stuck and they would have been part of a small but viable pool. For any one of them, their chances would have been better had this happened. Now, in this example instance, they have to wait around a month or more to see what happens. Their chances are harmed because delay=risk. (A Dean can close an in-process search for all kinds of reasons.) They are also harmed because the pool, with additional time, will attract additional candidates. Additional candidates=additional competition.  This scenario happens in the real world and the N number of applicants who turn their stuff in on the last day are the cause.  They mess things up for themselves and they mess things up for the hiring department. Applying at the last minute is, of course, better than not applying at all, but if you are an applicant, it is not in your self-interest.

If you are applying for an anthropology or folklore (or etc.) job with a narrow area or historical focus or in a specialized or emergent research area or for a job with a complicated mandate or in an off-the-beaten-path location, paying attention to this potential dynamic is very much in your interest. It is simply better to be an excellent candidate in a small but viable pool in a search that is unfolding quickly and early in the annual hiring season.

Folklore Studies Assistant Professorship Open at George Mason University

The following important notice is being circulated on behalf of the folklore faculty at George Mason University:

The Department of English in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at George Mason University announce a tenure-track assistant professor position in Folklore beginning Fall 2011. Read more

Delaware Tribe Historic Preservation Office Seeks Archaeologist

The Delaware Tribe Historic Preservation Office is seeking to hire an archaeologist. The AAA job page has the ad, which can be found here.

My friend and former doctoral advisee, Dr. Brice Obermeter coordinates the tribe’s historical preservation work from Emporia State University, where he is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology.

Congratulations Smithsonian Anthropology

Today I received the email newsletter of the Department of Anthropology at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution. Their lead story is a big deal. Congratulations to the department on the successful conclusion of a curatorial hiring effort that has brought four new colleagues to the department. Department Chair Dan Rogers writes:

With the arrival of Gwyneira Isaac (curator, North American indigenous cultures) in early June and the arrival of Gabriela Perez Baez (curator, linguistics) in December 2009, the department has successfully concluded its search for four new curators over the past three years. (Curators Joshua Bell (globalization) and Torben Rick (human-environmental interaction) were hired in 2008.) This represents the largest influx of curatorial staff in several decades and we are delighted to bring in another generation of scholars. These hires bring the number of anthropology curators to 23.

This is great news for Smithsonian anthropology specifically and for museum anthropology generally. Congratulations and good luck to the new members of the curatorial staff.

Material Culture | Museum Job at Bard Graduate Center

JOB POSTING: Head of the Gallery Laboratory Project

The Gallery at the Bard Graduate Center: Decorative Arts, Design History, Material Culture is expanding its established exhibition program to include a second area called the Laboratory Project that is devoted to experimentation and innovation in all aspects of exhibition practice, particularly display and interpretation. This project seeks to re-define the identity of the curator by integrating exhibition practice in the academic life of the Center and academic investigation in the practice of the Gallery. The idea of a laboratory implies openness to thinking in new ways about the gallery as a space for faculty and students to engage in exhibitions as an intellectual endeavor and as a craft. Read more

European Ethnology Job at Göttingen

A job notice circulated for the good of the anthropology, ethnology and folklore studies community.

The Department of Cultural Anthropology/European Ethnology within the Philosophical Faculty of Georg-August University in Göttingen, Germany, seeks a

W2 – Professor in Cultural Anthropology/European Ethnology
to begin on April 1, 2010.

We are seeking a scholar who knows the subject in its entire breadth and has done exceptional work in research as well as methodology. Expertise in the analysis of local, region and national everyday culture is desirable as well as in the field of cultural exchange and migration in Europe and its regions. In terms of teaching, in depth knowledge and experience are expected in the central methods and theories of the discipline. In addition to the regular teaching duties, the position also requires readiness to carry out empirical projects with students in the masters program.

Applicants should be interested in interdisciplinary work, participate actively also in the Center for Modern Humanities and show openness toward research cooperation in national and international dimensions. An active interest in the work of the Göttingen Max Planck Institute for the study of religious and ethnic diversity is also desirable.

The precondition for application is the ”habilitation“ or equivalent achievements (such as tenure and/or a second monograph) as well as adequate teaching experience. Also desirable is experience with research planning and grant writing.

Getting appointed to a professorship is based on the conditions set out in §25 of the Law for Higher Education of the State of Lower Saxony (NHG). Particulars will be explained upon inquiry.

Further information is available at

We explicitly welcome applications from abroad. Women are underrepresented in academic teaching at the University of Göttingen. Applications from women holding the requisite qualifications are thus especially welcome and will be treated favorably within the framework of legal possibilities. Severely handicapped applicants of equal aptitude will be privileged.

Part-time employment can be made possible, depending on the circumstances.

Please send applications including a curriculum vitae, a publications list as well as an accounting of scholarly development including a detailed description of teaching experiences and research plans within 6 weeks of the appearance of this advertisement to:

Dekanin der Philosophischen Fakultät der Georg-August-Universität Göttingen Humboldtallee 17, D-37073 Göttingen, Germany.

Research Fellowship in Museum Anthropology

The Bard Graduate Center and the American Museum of Natural History announce a Research Fellowship in Museum Anthropology. The fellowship provides support to a postdoctoral investigator to carry out a specific project over a two-year period. The program is designed to advance the training of the participant by having her/him pursue a project in association with a curator in the Division of Anthropology at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH). The Fellow will also be expected to teach one graduate-level course per year at the Bard Graduate Center (BGC). The Fellow will thus be in joint residence at BGC and AMNH, beginning in September 2010 and continuing through June 2012. The fellowship includes free housing.
Read more

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