From Nicholas Wade, "Anthropology a Science? Statement Deepens a Rift", NYT 12/9/2010:
Anthropologists have been thrown into turmoil about the nature and future of their profession after a decision by the American Anthropological Association at its recent annual meeting to strip the word “science” from a statement of its long-range plan.
The decision has reopened a long-simmering tension between researchers in science-based anthropological disciplines — including archaeologists, physical anthropologists and some cultural anthropologists — and members of the profession who study race, ethnicity and gender and see themselves as advocates for native peoples or human rights. [...]
The association’s president, Virginia Dominguez of the University of Illinois, said in an e-mail that the word had been dropped because the board sought to include anthropologists who do not locate their work within the sciences, as well as those who do. She said the new statement could be modified if the board received any good suggestions for doing so.
I note in passing that Nicholas Wade mentions three of anthropology's traditional four fields, but omits linguistic anthropology. This is consistent with that sub-field's striking recent decline. Thus searching the program for the American Anthropological Association's recent annual meeting produces yields 40 hits for hegemony and six for counternarrative, but none for morpheme, phoneme, clause, quantifier, etc.
The other side's point of view:
Peter Peregrine, president of the Society for Anthropological Sciences, an affiliate of the American Anthropological Association, wrote in an e-mail to members that the proposed changes would undermine American anthropology, and he urged members to make their views known. [...] He attributed what he viewed as an attack on science to two influences within anthropology. One is that of so-called critical anthropologists, who see anthropology as an arm of colonialism and therefore something that should be done away with. The other is the postmodernist critique of the authority of science. “Much of this is like creationism in that it is based on the rejection of rational argument and thought,” he said.
The business about disciplinary suicide is apparently not entirely a joke — the 2009 Annual Meeting of the AAA was subtitled "The End/s of Anthropology".
Wade's article ends with a quotation that I found shocking:
Dr. Dominguez denied that critical anthropologists or postmodernist thinking had influenced the new statement. She said in an e-mail that she was aware that science-oriented anthropologists had from time to time expressed worry about and disapproval of their nonscientific colleagues. “Marginalization is never a welcome experience,” she said.
This appears to mean that the president of the AAA believes that "science-oriented anthropologists" are being marginalized (and perhaps should be marginalized?) within American anthropology as a discipline, and within the AAA as a professional organization. Sad if true.