Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with James Acheson, February 13, 2005

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:10 - Early research

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Partial Transcript: Of James M. Acheson. We are in Bangor, Maine, and the date is Sunday, February the 13th, 2005.

Segment Synopsis: Acheson describes his childhood and how he came to research in applied anthropology at the graduate level. He does not explain his doctoral research in detail, but he does discuss his advisers at the University of Rochester where he earned his graduate degree.

Keywords: Colby College; Hotels, Augusta (Me.); Michoacan (Mexico); Robert Merrill; United States Coast Guard; University of Colorado; University of Maine; University of Rochester (N.Y)

Subjects: Anthropology; Childhood; College teachers; Economics; Military service, Voluntary; Universities and colleges; Universities and colleges--Graduate work

00:09:34 - University of Maine and starting at NMFS

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Partial Transcript: So I came up here in 1968 and I got the degree in 1970.

Segment Synopsis: Acheson describes his first professorship position at the University of Maine and his time at National Marine Fisheries Service in D.C. He discusses the first major project he undertook with the agency, which coordinated and streamlined the state and federal regulations on lobster fishing.

Keywords: Articles; Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission; National Marine Fisheries Service; State-federal program; Unemployment; University of Maine; Washington, D.C.; Watergate scandal

Subjects: Anthropology publishing; College teachers; Environmental ethics; Fisheries--Research; Fishery law and legislation; Lobster fishers; Universities and colleges

00:18:55 - Passage of the Fishery Conservation and Management Act

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Partial Transcript: Then of course in the year I was there the other very very large thing that was happening was planning, uh, for the FCMA.

Segment Synopsis: Acheson discusses the passage of the (Magnuson-Stevens) Fishery Conservation and Management Act. He also explains the significance of that legislation in regulating and protecting the fishing industry. Local opinions and attitudes toward regulation may vary, according to Acheson, but says that overall the FCMA has been beneficial.

Keywords: Bill Rice; Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act; United States Congress; Washington D.C.

Subjects: Bills, Legislative; Environmental ethics; Fishery law and legislation; Fishery management

00:27:15 - After NMFS

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Partial Transcript: So when you finished your, uh, year in Washington, did they, uh, then bring in anyone else after you?

Segment Synopsis: Acheson lists his successors at NMFS, then describes some of his academic career after leaving that agency. He recalls enjoying the interdisciplinary work he completed at Indiana University, which gave him the formal base in subjects he had lacked in policy making.

Keywords: Indiana University; Mike Orbach; National Marine Fisheries Service; Peter Fricke; Seminars; University of Maine

Subjects: College teachers; Environmental agencies; Fishery law and legislation; Fishery regulation; Interdisciplinary approach to education; Maritime anthropology; Universities and colleges

00:31:19 - Articles and policy writing

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Partial Transcript: Which of your, uh, uh, writings do you think has been the most influential?

Segment Synopsis: Acheson discusses the articles and laws he's written. He feels that his insights as an anthropologist have helped to clarify some of the prejudice against fishermen usually found in the studies of economists.

Keywords: Articles; Conservation; Economists; Lobster fishing; Maine; Zone management law

Subjects: Anthropology publishing; Applied anthropology; Environmental ethics; Fishery management; Maritime anthropology; Scholarly publishing

00:35:57 - Thoughts on applied anthropology and academic anthropology

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Partial Transcript: Well it sounds, Jim, like from, uh, almost from the beginning, you've involved yourself in applied, uh, anthropology, applied activities.

Segment Synopsis: Acheson describes his position on the debate between applied and classic anthropology study, as well as some of his philosophical views on practicing applied anthropology. He incorporates several anecdotes to illustrate the unique approach anthropologists offer compared to other types of social scientists.

Keywords: Academic anthropology; Dick Schafer; Economists; Interviews; Regulations; Social scientists

Subjects: Anthropology; Applied anthropology; Fishery management; Maritime anthropology; Social sciences; Universities and colleges

00:46:05 - Growth and future of applied anthropology

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Partial Transcript: What, uh--I'd like for you to talk for a little bit if you could about the growth of fisheries anthropology?

Segment Synopsis: Acheson discusses the growth of fishery anthropology and the discipline of applied anthropology as a whole. He notes that applied and classical anthropology have both veered away from quantitative study in favor of symbolic study, and he hopes that anthropologists can all appreciate the value of an interdisciplinary focus.

Keywords: Biology; Bonnie McCay; Mike Orbach; National Marine Fisheries Service; Peter Fricke; Raul Anderson

Subjects: Anthropology; Applied anthropology; Fishery sciences; Interdisciplinary approach to education; Maritime anthropology

00:56:41 - Highlights of his career

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Partial Transcript: Well what would you say are some of the, uh, highlights of your career?

Segment Synopsis: Acheson describes what he considers to be the high points of his career, most of which are his publications. He also expresses his hope that his upcoming publications on game theory will be successful and influential within the field.

Keywords: Articles; Game theory; Maine; The Lobster Gangs of Maine; The Question of the Commons: The Culture and Ecology of Communal Resources

Subjects: Anthropology publishing; Anthropology--Methodology; Applied anthropology; Applied sociology; Fishery management; Interdisciplinary approach to education; Social sciences

01:01:33 - Challenges facing aspiring applied anthropologists

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Partial Transcript: Well what kind of advice or recommendations would you like to, uh, uh, to give, uh, for anthropology and sociology for doing a better job of educating...

Segment Synopsis: Acheson offers recommendations to new students in his field. He laments that very little new research in anthropology focuses on populations in third world countries. He also explains the process of lobbying and advocacy, which can be very discouraging for scholars not familiar with legal and political systems.

Keywords: Advocacy; Geology; Legislature; Lobbying; Policy writing; Research travel; Resource management; Third world

Subjects: Anthropology; Anthropology publishing; Anthropology--Fieldwork; Anthropology--Research; Applied Sociology; Applied anthropology; Dissertations, Academic; Interdisciplinary approach to education; Universities and colleges