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Mutuality: Anthropology's Changing Terms of Engagement

Edited by Roger Sanjek
Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 384
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    Why do people do social-cultural anthropology? Beyond professional career motivations, what values underpin anthropologists' commitments to lengthy training, fieldwork, writing, and publication?Mutualityexplores the values that anthropologists bring from their wider social worlds, including the value placed on relationships with the people they study, work with, write about and for, and communicate with more broadly.

    In this volume, seventeen distinguished anthropologists draw on personal and professional histories to describe avenues to mutuality through collaborative fieldwork, community-based projects and consultations, advocacy, and museum exhibits, including the American Anthropological Association's largest public outreach ever-theRACE: Are We So Different?project. Looking critically at obstacles to reciprocally beneficial engagement, the contributors trace the discipline's past and current relations with Native Americans, indigenous peoples exhibited in early twentieth-century world's fairs, and racialized populations. The chapters range widely-across the Punjabi craft caste, Filipino Igorot, and Somali Bantu global diasporas; to the Darfur crisis and conciliation efforts in Sudan and Qatar; to applied work in Panama, Micronesia, China, and Peru. In the United States, contributors discuss their work as academic, practicing, and public anthropologists in such diverse contexts as Alaskan Yup'ik communities, multiethnic New Mexico, San Francisco's Japan Town, Oakland's Intertribal Friendship House, Southern California's produce markets, a children's ward in a Los Angeles hospital, a New England nursing home, and Washington D.C.'s National Mall. Deeply personal as well as professionally astute,Mutualitysheds new light on the issues closest to the present and future of contemporary anthropology.

    Contributors: Rogaia Mustafa Abusharaf, Robert R. Alvarez, Garrick Bailey, Catherine Besteman, Parminder Bhachu, Ann Fienup-Riordan, Zibin Guo, Lane Ryo Hirabayashi, Lanita Jacobs, Susan Lobo, Yolanda T. Moses, Sylvia Rodríguez, Roger Sanjek, Renée R. Shield, Alaka Wali, Deana L. Weibel, Brett Williams.

    eISBN: 978-0-8122-9031-8
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Introduction. Deep Grooves: Anthropology and Mutuality
    (pp. 1-8)
    Roger Sanjek

    We can begin this volume’s collective examination of mutuality by asking: Why do we do anthropology at all? What values underpin anthropologists’ commitments to lengthy academic training, to fieldwork, to writing and publication, and to communication with various audiences? Why do we do what we do?

    Anthropology, I propose in response, has two contending value systems that motivate our work. One I will term theacademic-career complex, and the other I callmutuality, which is the collective focus of this book.

    The academic-career values that motivate us as professionals include the satisfactions of discovering and deepening an expansive anthropological worldview;...


    • Chapter 1 Anthropology and the American Indian
      (pp. 11-28)
      Garrick Bailey

      American anthropology is rooted in the study of American Indians. It was American Indian specialists, more than any group of researchers, who established the intellectual foundations of American anthropology. The reason for this early focus was simple: there was much basic research to be done, and Indian communities were nearby. In an anthology of papers published between 1888 and 1920 in theAmerican Anthropologist(AA), the American Anthropological Association’s flagship journal, some 63 percent, nearly two-thirds, were clearly concerned with American Indians (De Laguna 1960). In a second volume, for 1921–1945, papers on the American Indian dropped to 46...

    • Chapter 2 The American Anthropological Association RACE: Are We So Different? Project
      (pp. 29-44)
      Yolanda T. Moses

      In this chapter, I address the intersection of race, racism, and education, my focus for the past two decades as an anthropologist and higher education administrator. Although today we reject the essentialist biological race concept of the early twentieth century as a valid explanation of human variation, racism as a structural reality remains alive and well in this country in the beginning years of the twenty-first century. As anthropologists, we must use our work to speak out against racism as well as to speak as accurately as we can about what “race” is and is not.¹

      The concept that “all...

    • Chapter 3 Mutuality and the Field at Home
      (pp. 45-60)
      Sylvia Rodríguez

      A few years ago, a community radio station in Taos, New Mexico, invited me to have a fifteen-minute spot every Wednesday morning to chat on the air with the host of a popular talk-show program, “Breakfast with Nancy.” Nancy had googled for specialists on northern New Mexico and come up with my name—I had publishedThe Matachines Dance: Ritual Symbolism and Interethnic Relations in the Rio Grande Valleyin 1996 andAcequia: Water Sharing, Sanctity, and Placein 2006. The general topic of conversation was to be the history and anthropology of what goes on in Taos, New Mexico,...

    • Chapter 4 “If You Want to Go Fast, Go Alone. If You Want to Go Far, Go Together”: Yup’ik Elders Working Together with One Mind
      (pp. 61-78)
      Ann Fienup-Riordan

      For the past forty years, I have worked as an anthropologist in southwest Alaska. Perhaps the happiest have been the last fifteen, when I have been working with the Calista Elders Council (CEC), a nonprofit organization representing the 1,900 Yup’ik tradition bearers of southwest Alaska. CEC is the primary heritage organization in the Yukon-Kuskokwim delta region, an area the size of Kansas and the homeland for more than 23,000 Yup’ik people, 14,000 of whom speak the Yup’ik language. Our organization is small. Mark John is CEC’s executive director, Alice Rearden is our principal translator, and I am their anthropologist.



    • Chapter 5 The Invisibility of Diasporic Capital and Multiply Migrant Creativity
      (pp. 81-98)
      Parminder Bhachu

      In India today,jugaadis a buzzword of economic success. In Hindi (and also Punjabi), it denotes “an innovative fix; an improvised solution born from ingenuity and cleverness … quite simply a unique way of thinking and acting in response to challenges; it is a gutsy art of spotting opportunities in the most adverse circumstances and resourcefully improvising solutions using simple means …doing more with less” (Radjou, Prabhu, and Ahuja 2012, 4). Yet jugaad as “frugal engineering” has a specifically Punjabi origin. “Many years ago, innovative Punjabis mounted a diesel irrigation pump on a steel frame with wheels creating...

    • Chapter 6 A Savage at the Wedding and the Skeletons in My Closet: My Great-Grandfather, “Igorotte Villages,” and the Ethnological Expositions of the 1900s
      (pp. 99-117)
      Deana L. Weibel

      When I was a child, my mother told me stories about her grandparents, who had traveled the world with a band of “pygmy headhunters” she referred to as “Igoroadies.” She was certain that they had come from Africa, that they were dark skinned, and that they feasted on dog meat. I am not sure how much of an influence these tales of family contact with the exotic were, but as a young adult, I decided to study anthropology. I got my PhD after thirteen months in France studying sacred sites, their residents, and the pilgrims who visited them. There were...

    • Chapter 7 Thinking About and Experiencing Mutuality: Notes on a Son’s Formation
      (pp. 118-129)
      Lane Ryo Hirabayashi

      A key assumption of mainstream anthropological fieldwork is that the researcher, as an adult raised in a different culture, must grapple with learning a new worldview and all the intricacies of an unfamiliar design for living. One enters the field with a tool kit containing the tried and tested methods of firsthand data collection, including the critically important technique of participant observation.

      As a neophyte in the PhD program at the University of California, Berkeley, where we were still exposed to Malinowski’sArgonauts of the Western Pacificas a model of how to do fieldwork, even I—a rather naïve...

    • Chapter 8 Cartographies of Mutuality: Lessons from Darfur
      (pp. 130-150)
      Rogaia Mustafa Abusharaf

      Recent years have witnessed a major shift in anthropological engagement with contemporary urgent predicaments. This shift is to be expected, for as Clifford Geertz put it more than a decade ago, “the ways of the world and the ways of anthropology” dictate it (2002, 3). Reconciling the myriad meanings and significances of the concepts of mutuality and “anthropology’s changing terms of engagement,” as Roger Sanjek invites us, is timely and critical. I see mutuality and urgency, a concept now gaining currency in British social anthropology, as complementary, propelling us to both interrogate our subject positions vis-à- vis the interlocutors we...


    • Chapter 9 On the Fault Lines of the Discipline: Personal Practice and the Canon
      (pp. 153-173)
      Robert R. Alvarez

      Anthropology renders a unique sense of belonging for practitioners, because they enter and discover new social worlds and the rich humanness of the people we anthropologists choose to study. Here, practice, guided by the canon of professional goals and methods, produces a mutuality between anthropologist-as-learner and subject. We seek deep ethnographic understandings in our questioning of power, belief, human strategy and survival, social change and justice, and other foci embedded in the canon. The anthropologist is empowered by this experience, and the canon itself is also nourished. This is a fundamental mutuality in the give and take of anthropological praxis....

    • Chapter 10 Listening with Passion: A Journey Through Engagement and Exchange
      (pp. 174-190)
      Alaka Wali

      As an anthropologist, I have wanted my research to matter to the people whose lives and cultural practices I was mining for the understanding of human social behavior. I have wanted the research to help them change their structural conditions. I believe that because of this desire, I have listened to collaborators in the widely different settings where I have worked in a manner different than that of the traditional mode of academic anthropology. I was not listening to record and analyze but to more actively participate in the construction of a better world. As a result, I have changed...

    • Chapter 11 Why? And How? An Essay on Doing Anthropology and Life
      (pp. 191-202)
      Susan Lobo

      Well, give me fifty years or so to think about this: the whys and hows of doing anthropology well.

      Graffiti in Montevideo, Uruguay gives us a hint: “For humanity, more bridges and fewer walls.”

      This chapter encourages thought and discussion regarding the powerful potential within anthropology to create sturdy and long-lasting bridges. Anthropology, as a social science, always has had this potential via theories and methodologies that transfer and clarify knowledge and understandings between cultural contexts. We anthropologists are the technicians—yes, technicians—who facilitate this process. As a young student and later a practitioner of anthropology, I sensed and...

    • Chapter 12 Embedded in Time, Work, Family, and Age: A Reverie About Mutuality
      (pp. 203-222)
      Renée R. Shield

      I think I should start with the idea of time. For me, time pushed into prominent consciousness soon after I became a parent. Before that event, time seemed infinitely ahead of me, and I felt inviolable, in a time-proof bubble. I was young! I would always be young! Now, though, I remember my infant daughter gazing at me some months after she was born, and I had the random thought that I was separated from her by a generation. As her mom, there was a divide, and she would always see me differently than I see myself, a generation removed...


    • Chapter 13 Dancing in the Chair: A Collaborative Effort of Developing and Implementing Wheelchair Taijiquan
      (pp. 225-237)
      Zibin Guo

      On September 5, 2008, fifty wheelchair Taijiquan practitioners dressed in white silk uniforms and moving in slow graceful harmony performed the “Thirteen Postures of Wheelchair Taijiquan” on the main stage of the Beijing 2008 Olympics/Paralympics Cultural Festival, one of the kickoff events for the opening ceremony of the Beijing 2008 Paralympics the next day. “They moved so beautifully and it was so inspirational,” was how one of the reporters on the scene described them. “It was as if they were dancing in the chair.”

      This group wheelchair Taijiquan (also known as Tai Chi) performance was organized by the Beijing 2008...

    • Chapter 14 Fragments of a Limited Mutuality
      (pp. 238-248)
      Brett Williams

      Mutuality works like a dialectic in that it is never complete, never over, and always rich with the possibilities of its opposites: alienation, estrangement, and exploitation. I cannot claim a fully satisfying, unfolding, or linear mutuality that grows deeper and more mutual over time. Rather, I want to show how I have experienced it contingently in thirty-five years of doing research in Washington, D.C., while living in abandoned neighborhoods on the cusp of new investment.

      Although I have often called this condition gentrification, that tag these days seems too small and bounded. I return instead to Peter Marcuse’s lasting call...

    • Chapter 15 On “Making Good” in a Study of African American Children with Acquired and Traumatic Brain Injuries
      (pp. 249-258)
      Lanita Jacobs

      Ethnography entails calls to mutuality; that is, invitations to partake in the vulnerable exercise of seeing and being seen and of feeling and being felt. Fieldwork calls us to deep empathy in this way; it requires us to negotiate various positionalities and power differentials and, ultimately, to reckon with (or wrestle with) a story born of inductive research and a soulful commitment to bearing nuanced witness. Recently I have been thinking a lot about making good in relation to ethnographic thought and practice. If ethnography’s inherent intersubjectivity is itself a call to mutuality, then making good is, arguably, one right...

    • Chapter 16 On Ethnographic Love
      (pp. 259-284)
      Catherine Besteman

      A number of years ago, I presented a paper at the University of Cape Town that offered a critique of Robert Kaplan’s infamously dystopic depiction of Africa in theThe Atlanticcalled “The Coming Anarchy” (Kaplan 1994). My paper, titled “Why Robert Kaplan Should Have Studied Anthropology,” reviewed Kaplan’s characterizations of Africa in order to refute them, claim by claim, using anthropological evidence (Besteman 2000). Although my ostensible argument was to use ethnographic data to correct Kaplan’s account, my primary goal was one of disciplinary patriotism: to argue that, had Kaplan studied anthropology, he would have produced a description of...

  8. Conclusion. Mutuality and Anthropology: Terms and Modes of Engagement
    (pp. 285-310)
    Roger Sanjek

    In 1965, I conducted my first fieldwork in Sitio, a fishing village in Bahia, Brazil. Settled in a wattle-and-daub house on a sandy lane leading to the beach, I began my interviews on racial categories (Sanjek 1971, 2000) with Mãezinha Dos Santos, an expressive and engaging middle-aged woman who lived in the house facing ours. I quickly expanded my interview pool to other parts of the village and also included other neighbors, among them Mãezinha’s fisherman husband, two sons, and daughter Olga, pregnant with her third child. She soon gave birth, but tragically the baby died within days, and I...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 311-320)
  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 321-360)
  11. Index
    (pp. 361-368)
  12. List of Contributors
    (pp. 369-374)