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But it would very difficult if not impossible to graft such a
western approach to a Turkana base, as the people would never
On the other hand, pastoralists have successfully occupied
Sahelian environments for thousands of years; the archaeological
data makes clear.
They have developed mechanisms for survival in
these arid areas.
Current research should not only provide more
detailed knowledge of how these mechanisms work, but also provide a basis for sensible and sensitive expenditures by organizations
such as AID, whose Sahel Development Program is budgeted at $100
million dollars in the current fiscal year.
Mr. Brown. Thank you very much, Dr. Yellen.
What would be the impact, Dr. Yellen, on academic anthropology if there was no longer a source of funding in the NSF for selective research? If you can quantify that, I would like it.
Dr. YELLEN. It would be disastrous. NSF now supports 90 percent of the basic anthropological research conducted in the United States today.
The other 10 percent comes from the Smithsonian and that 10 pecent, as I understand it, is used to run their own anthropology program. They maintain what amounts to a research faculty. Essentially the only Federal money that supports academically based anthropological research comes through the National Science Foundation; $6.1 million last year, probably $6.8 million this year. If it is cut off, that is it. The tap is closed.
Mr. Brown. My question is broader than that. Obviously, as I indicated in connection with biological research, there was a good deal of research going on before Federal funds came on the horizon.
The universities and other institutions supported anthropology because it is a matter of fundamental scientific importance. Presumably, universities will continue to carry on anthropological programs.
How badly handicapped would they be, not just in terms of how much of their external funds would be cut off, but to what degree would they be able to continue with their programs? Dr. YELLEN. It would be extremely
difficult. Universities, other than for very small projects, did not do this. Human origin research is very small but to run, for example, a project for a year costs slightly in excess of $100,000. A university is not, at least as far as we can see, prepared to do this.
Mr. Brown. What you are saying, in other words, is essentially the universities would confine themselves to the teaching of what is known about anthropology but would not be able to fundamentally expand the horizon?
Dr. YELLEN. Yes, I agree.
Dr. YELLEN. I think that where field work is involved, and in that lies the heart of anthropological research, and where interdisciplinary research is involved, yes, that is true. It is too expensive to be funded through the universities. There is no history of it. ADDENDUM TO DR. YELLEN'S TESTIMONY.-Expanded answer to Mr. Brown's
question. (1) The U.S. Government provided major support for anthropology long before the birth of the National Science Foundation. The center for such research in the late 19th and much of the 20th centuries was the Bureau for American Ethnography (a part of the Smithsonian Institution). Much ethnographic research was government supported during and immediately after World War II. Further, WPA projects in the 1930's trained a whole generation of archaeologists.
(2) American anthropology came into its own only after World War II. With a few notable exceptions (such as Margaret Mead and Robert Redfield) British social anthropologists held center stage. Much of their work was funded through the British Colonial office and conducted in British colonies.
(3) A significant cut in present U.S. Government support for anthropology would
(a) Very drastically reduce the amount of research which could be undertaken. NSF provides the major support for academically-based basic anthropological research. It now costs about $60,000 for Americans to work abroad conducting a focused study in a foreign society. Both Mead's and Redfield's classic works were based on three-society comparisons; thus, it would probably cost about $180,000 to replicate either of them today.
(b) Severely limit the kind of research which could be undertaken. In the formal presentation, the examples used-human origins research and "ecological anthropology”—are successful only because they are multidisciplinary; to be effective each one requires cooperation among anthropologists, biologists, geologists, and other scientists. These are among the most interesting areas of research in anthropology. Because of the numbers of specialists involved and the types of equipment and supplies used, such undertakings are relatively expensive and generally are beyond the financial resources available in universities and private foundations. Both in the U.S. and in other countries, "origins-ofman" research is pursued primarily with direct governmental support. Without it, this and other large-scale efforts would come to an abrupt halt.
(c) Markedly change the composition of the research community. Anthropology (especially archaeology) has been in the past highly elitest. Before World War II, good research departments were associated with concentrations of old wealth-in Boston, New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh—and depended on contributions from wealthy patrons. Many of the early researchers were themselves wealthy and directly financed their own work. It is largely through Federal support that this picture has changed. Without it, basic research might, over the long run, once again become an occupation of the wellto-do.
Dr. ATKINSON. Mr. Brown, let me add a footnote.
This is an area where the Chinese have a superb history of research and expertise. Our desire to work jointly with the Chinese scientists in exploring some problems is one of the exciting aspects of the United States-Chinese exchange.
Mr. Brown. Well, I presume that is so.
So, what you are referring to also involves Mexico and Central America?
Dr. YELLEN. That is correct.
Mr. Brown. I think we have a large interest in encouraging this kind of exchange.
Dr. FRIEDL. Mr. Chairman, on the subject of universities and support of research : During the past decade, the universities have not been able to keep up with the cost of new equipment for scientific research, in general, as I am sure you are all aware. They are in the process of retaining funds for research and saying to the faculties, "If you want the equipment to do research and keep on in your field, you have to try to get the money from outside.” The universities have all they can do to maintain the teaching process; they don't have extra funds for research.
Mr. Brown. Well, I understand and I don't want to press the point but this is going to be a fundamental objection coming from a variety of sources as to why the Federal Government needs to be involved and those who have some knowledge about anthropology are going to say that we didn't finance Margaret Mead's work, unless I am mistaken. We didn't support Robert Redfield. We didn't support a lot of other eminent anthropologists and they contributed a great deal to the science.
Dr. ATKINSON. We didn't support mathematics before World War II, and we didn't support much work in physics or engineering in the universities. Since 1950 and the Bush report, “Science—The Endless Frontier," the world has changed. The shift in the amount of private versus Federal funding in any of these other fields has been much more dramatic than in the social sciences. You have raised an interesting point.
Dr. CLARK. I might also add that the approaches have become more scientific. Some years ago, radioactive carbon dating was used to identify fossils; the approach has changed vastly as the science has evolved and become more developed.
Mr. Brown. Mr. Ritter?
The comment, by the way, that the Federal Government is called upon to provide support for activities such as this is a little bothersome to me. Not that it is not an accurate statement, but it represents, I think, the problem that we face within the scientific community and perhaps one of the reasons that we run into taxpayer dissatisfaction, , that is the general public support of science.
I think it has a lot to do with the way tax reporting has been changed in recent years as regards private foundations. The Federal Government has a way of squeezing off the private side once it gets involved in something. Probably not purposefully, but these things happen. Often, the Federal support is more extensive, often offers a greater variety of support for goods and services and overhead. No one even knew what overhead was at universities until we started defining it for the Federal Government and the foundations never accepted it for a moment. Dr. Atkinson makes a good point, the world has changed and science may be a handmaiden to some of these activities but it has been a very powerful handmaiden in pushing the forefront ahead.
But I am disturbed by the kind of competition within our scientific community and within our human services community as well. I think you can draw some parallels. There is probably a lot more initiative out there than we think of on a daily basis that could be tapped if the right incentives were present. Certainly, the tax reporting on contributions and the increasing attack that private sector philanthropic organizations have come under is leaning toward the federalization of many of these functions. I
guess that brings me back to the idea of where are the conflicts coming from in our Federal support of the anthropological sciences? It seems to me that they are not coming out of projects like this. They are coming in projects that have something to do with human values and social values and I want to tell you that there is a perception that your so-called soft science community is also soft on some basic American values and they are not hard on things like family. These are perceptions.
They also tend to be antagonistic toward things like capitalism and free enterprise and the Project MACOS. To be honest with you, I was stunned by some of the concepts that were being actively promoted in that one social science endeavor. I guess I am more interested, I think our committee is more interested in not hearing the NSF's success stories but looking on that kind of cutting edge conflict between Federal support of things that do relate to people's values and traditions and NSF's role in those particular areas.
I would like to hear some comment on that.
Dr. ATKINSON. Mr. Ritter, I agree with your remarks. Some of NSF's programs have been intended to draw in groups that have removed themselves from the support of research. I am disappointed in the private foundations of the United States. I do not think that they have shown proper initiative in pursuing fundamental research.
Most of the private foundations seem to want to do what the Federal Government often wants to do. The foundations want to mount programs that the public will say the programs are useful in solving societal problems. But I do not think private foundations are directing enough of their money into fundamental issues rather than into issues that appear to the public to deal with immediate needs. I am concerned about the private sector.
Some people will tell you NSF has been more adventurous than the private foundations in the social sciences. The first response is that NSF shouldn't be so adventurous; I would much prefer to see the private foundations be a little more adventurous.
The private foundations probably will say, “Well, we were so shaken by the tax inquiries in the early 1960's and late 1950's that we have been reserved in the sort of approach we have taken."
Mr. RITTER. I would agree with you, that many foundations have been caught up in sociological fads and I think we won't mention names here but I am sure we have our own personal experiences.
But I would like to still get back to where NSF is running into its problems. After all, I can tell you that this is going to be a rugged battle this year because inflation is on everybody's minds and there are just going to be a lot of people who are going to try and get up and wing it. I guess I would like to find out more of where some of the problems are and how we can work together to perhaps avoid these rather than simply patting each other on the back. I know it is important to lay the groundwork of success.
Dr. FRIEDL. You have raised a very difficult question, of course, and one that is almost impossible to answer in any simple way.
One try at it might be to explain the significance of anthropology and its study of the Eskimo in the MACOS project and of other people, in general. Such studies are undertaken to learn about different ways of doing things, different kinds of family or food systems, different kinds of adaptations but these are not meant to be models for Americans. That is, the discovery that there are other ways is not, therefore, a statement that we must adopt these ways. It is important to keep in mind the primary function of these anthropological studies, which is to discover the universal processes in human behavior and how these universals function in very different settings.
The second thing is that if Americans want to have some influence on the rest of the world. as I think we do and would want to, it is absolutely essential to have some understanding of what processes we can use that will successfully present our point of view to the rest of the world. You can't know that unless you know, in detail, how other people are functioning. Part of our problem, I think, in the United States and part of the difficulties in our foreign policy-has resulted from our tendency to assume that everyone else is like an American. I think it is absolutely essential for us to learn how other peoples are different. By learning that, we will then be able to function in a world that is getting more and more interdependent.
Mr. RITTER. I think you have made an excellent point and I think that it is that very point which needs to be brought out in that gray area where the public is questioning. You can't turn off the public