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Science  02 Mar 2007:
Vol. 315, Issue 5816, pp. 1201d
DOI: 10.1126/science.315.5816.1201d

UNIFIED FIELD. Nine years after anthropologists at Stanford University split into two separate departments amid bitter infighting, university administrators want to reunite them. The unenviable task of overseeing the merger—announced last month—has fallen upon James Ferguson, current chair of cultural and social anthropology.

CREDIT: STEVE CASTILLO

The 50-year-old department split in 1998 after cultural and biological anthropologists parted company on methodology, values, new hires, and the department's future (Science, 20 June 1997, p. 1783). The fighting got so intense that a law school professor was brought in to run the department briefly.

The reunification plan has come as a surprise to many faculty members, who would have liked a heads-up. “The two departments are further apart than ever,” says biological anthropologist Arthur Wolf. “I am very upset by this decision.” Ferguson says the merger was not his idea but that he's optimistic “things will turn out much better.” He's hoping that the faculty turnover that occurred during the estrangement will bring “a fresh attitude.”

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