The anthropological career in Europe: a summary of findings and recommendations

Martin Fotta, Mariya Ivancheva, Raluca Pernes


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This post presents the summary of findings and recommendations of a much larger document The anthropological career in Europe: a complete report on the EASA membership survey. The report was launched at the third EASA webinar this fall on the 27th November.

The report, commissioned by EASA and authored by Martin Fotta, Mariya Ivancheva, and Raluca Pernes, presents the results of the survey conducted among EASA members in 2018. The survey was a collaboration between EASA and members of the PrecAnthro Collective, who have worked together and mobilised since 2016 to raise awareness about the challenges of developing an academic career in anthropology. The themes explored in the survey reflect existing academic research on changes to the academic profession and the casualisation of labour in Europe and beyond.

A total of 809 EASA members completed the questionnaire. They comprised 35.2% of all members in 2018. The survey enquired into the extent to which and how trends already documented in other disciplines, and in academia as a whole, affect anthropologists. These trends include a growing division between research and teaching, the deprofessionalisation of academic labour through multiple contract types, the imperatives of international mobility and cyclical fundraising, and weak labour unions. The report captures overall trends as well as regional differences in the anthropological profession in Europe.

Watch the video of the report launch

Key findings

View the summary as a PDF

While the survey attests to the great variety of experiences and significant country differences, the most typical respondent (and, by extension, EASA member) is a woman aged around 40 who works in academia. She has likely been educated in either the UK or Germany and is very likely to work in the UK, Germany or Italy. She is possibly in a relationship but has no children. She is probably dissatisfied with her current employment and her work–life balance, which is very likely due to the fact that she works on a fixed-term contract and as the years go by, her chances of obtaining a permanent contract decrease.

Fixed-term employment as a norm for anthropologists

Job and grant applications and other work-related overtime

Job and studies-related satisfaction and prospects

Financial stability and the ability to plan for emergencies and the future

Work–life balance and (hyper)mobility

Workplace facilities and relations

Recommendations summary

A framework is needed for career progression and tenure for anthropologists across the continent, which would encourage receiving tenure following a certain number of teaching or research contracts. Employers should take on the responsibility of guaranteeing career progress inside institutions.

Cyclical project funding must be reduced to a minimum, with a discrete budget granted to universities to develop long-standing, well-resourced research programmes. Departments should reduce overtime workloads and be aware of the risks of creating exploitative working environments.

Governments and institutions should ensure PhD programmes have resources to provide employment contracts and salaries to all PhD students. They should be granted access to fieldwork, conference and career development funds. Student fees and debt-inducing loans should be discouraged.

Professional organisations and learned societies as EASA – while not legal bodies or trade unions in their own right – could and should increasingly engage in lobbying activities and introduce standards of good practice to be observed by institutions that adhere to our professional values.