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Toward Engaged Anthropology

Toward Engaged Anthropology

Sam Beck
Carl A. Maida
Copyright Date: 2013
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 178
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  • Book Info
    Toward Engaged Anthropology
    Book Description:

    By working with underserved communities, anthropologists may play a larger role in democratizing society. The growth of disparities challenges anthropology to be used for social justice. This engaged stance moves the application of anthropological theory, methods, and practice toward action and activism. However, this engagement also moves anthropologists away from traditional roles of observation toward participatory roles that become increasingly involved with those communities or social groupings being studied. The chapters in this book suggest the roles anthropologists are able to play to bring us closer to a public anthropology characterized as engagement.

    eISBN: 978-1-78238-037-5
    Subjects: Anthropology, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Introduction: Toward Engaged Anthropology
    (pp. 1-14)
    Sam Beck and Carl A. Maida

    What if we use theory and method to benefit the people we study by partnering with them to move towards a just world, one where inequities are reduced and there is greater access to knowledge gained from anthropological research? To reach this goal anthropologists must play a more intentional and responsible role in working with people, communities and movements – the stakeholders with whom research is carried out. While anthropologists continue to act as decoders of cultures that are different and look difficult to understand or appreciate by society at large, it is critical for us to become more instrumental. We...

  4. Expert and Lay Knowledge in Pacoima: Public Anthropology and an Essential Tension in Community-based Participatory Action Research
    (pp. 15-35)
    Carl A. Maida

    A ‘public anthropology’, with its mix of critical ethnographic and participatory action research approaches, can help to understand and even frame the ongoing dialogue between practitioners of professional and lay knowledge concerning quality of life in global cities. Anthropological methods for understanding situational conflict, such as the extended-case method of Max Gluckman and the Manchester School (Evens and Handelman 2006), can bring ethnographic analysis and praxis to the various debates about quality of life issues, such as housing, education, health care and the environment, currently taking place in policy arenas in the more engaged communities, worldwide. Within these arenas, experts...

  5. Norwegian Anthropologists Study Minorities at Home: Political and Academic Agendas
    (pp. 36-54)
    Thomas Hylland Eriksen

    In Norway, anthropological engagement with domestic political issues has been consistent (and complex) ever since Norwegian anthropologists began to do research among minorities ‘at home’. Even the most meticulously descriptive, or arcanely analytic, research monograph on the Sami or on immigrants is bound to be interpreted, largely by non-academic readers, in a political context where issues of minority rights, national cohesion, multiculturalism and problems of cultural diversity have been at the forefront for many years. Anthropological studies are perused by civil servants (many of whom, in fact, have a training in the social sciences, often including anthropology), by NGOs and...

  6. Dow Chemical’s Knowledge Factories: Action Anthropology against Michigan’s Company Town Culture
    (pp. 55-74)
    Brian McKenna

    When the enterprising Herbert Dow was rummaging in his Midland Michigan shed in the 1890s, few locals knew what the Ohio man was up to. Dow was in fact digging a deep water well to mine the salty brine – from an ancient underwater sea beneath the city – to make bromine. He was applying the knowledge he had mastered at Ohio’s Case School of Applied Science to make a chemical – potassium bromide – that he would market to pharmaceutical companies for use as a sedative and stomach soother. The ‘chemical genius’ Herbert Dow had partnered with the ‘money men’ from Ohio to...

  7. Producing Knowledge for Public Use: New Challenges in the U.S. Academy
    (pp. 75-98)
    Judith Goode

    Recently, I helped to select an honouree for a lifetime achievement of ‘actively pursuing the goal of solving human problems using the concepts and tools of social science’¹ awarded by an anthropological organization. Nominee’s careers varied and we had to grapple with a vast array of knowledge types, modes of dissemination and ways to measure impact, such as scale (national, global), the numbers of people reached and whether the activity was direct and immediate or indirect and gradual. In 2008, the award was given to Orlando Fals Borda, a Colombian social scientist, for his scholarship on violence in Colombia, his...

  8. Notes on a Dialogical Anthropology
    (pp. 99-117)
    Udi Mandel Butler

    Since the birth of the discipline many anthropologists have been concerned with the potential practical uses of their knowledge. Indeed the term ‘applied anthropology’ has been attributed to the British anthropologist Pitt-Rivers who used it as far back as 1881 (Gardner and Lewis 1996). But right from the beginning the issue of who should benefit from such knowledge has been a controversial one. For some, like Boas and his students, the new discipline of anthropology was to provide a scientific basis to ward off evolutionist racist theories (see Eriksen 2006). At the same time, over the first half of the...

  9. Mapping Solidarity: How Public Anthropology Provides Guidelines for Advocacy Networks
    (pp. 118-131)
    Raúl Acosta

    On the morning of 25 October 2004, a meeting in the city of Canarana, in the southern frontier zone of the Brazilian Amazon, started with the projection of an image of the earth rotating as if seen from outer space. As it moved, the image gradually zoomed into Brazil, then the Amazon region, then the state of Mato Grosso, and froze in the Xingu River basin. This happened while a speaker said the opening words of the gathering that brought together over three hundred representatives of groups either based in the area or interested in its environment. It was the...

  10. Lessons from Vicos
    (pp. 132-157)
    Billie Jean Isbell

    This article describes the Cornell Peru Project of 1952 and the subsequent return of Cornell to Vicos in 2005. After a survey and search for an appropriate community in 1949, Vicos in the department of Ancash in northern Peru was chosen in 1952 and Allan Holmberg, the chair of the Department of Anthropology at Cornell, signed a lease for the hacienda Vicos for US$600 a year. Subsequently the Cornell Peru Project became a model for integrated development involving cultural and biological anthropology, archaeology, agronomy, economics, political science, psychology and sociology. However, as this article discusses, integrated development has subsequently been...

  11. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 158-161)
  12. Index
    (pp. 162-172)