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September 25: Introduction to Public Anthropology

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ANTH 2200
Victor Barac

INTRODUCTION TO PUBLIC ANTHROPOLOGY ▯ Checker - Anthropology in the Public Sphere • 2008, published in the American Anthropology Journal • practicing anthropology • work that travels outside academic realism to inform public discourse • anthropologists in the forefront of promoting the discipline and its works • one that makes the most of novel forms of communication, reach beyond academics to disseminate knowledge • sampling bias – chose to focus on certain topics in order to make sense of the information War and Peace • MINERVA: department of defence initiative to harness the knowledge of social science • HTS (Human Terrain Systems): Initiative of the US department of defence that involves an ethnographic focus; taking anthropologists in on military missions • not a very clearcut issue within the topic of military anthropology • argue that anthropologists shouldn't be involved in wars and imperialist missions • others standing by their patriotism, ethnography of war, putting yourself in danger • that's the only way they can get close to the action and describe the warfare situation • there is an emerging sub discipline of the anthropology of genocide • "Counterspin": brings up issues of topics in the ethnography of war • who gets access to this information, the data generated by anthropologists? • who's footing the bill? Climate Change • human dimension: how does climate change affect humans or how is going to affect humans? • Barbara Rose Johnson, consequences of nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands, specifically Rongelap ◦ importance of the anthropological research was redressing the environmental damage done on that island • anthropogenic: climate change is caused by humans • … or it's caused by natural cycles • terminology has changed: climate change is synonymous with global warming • policy making doesn't work because you can't get everyone on board Disaster • Paul Farmer in Haiti • research responding to Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana 2005 • community participation in the recovery effort • Oil Spill, Exxon Valdez • Scudder, McDowell, and Cernea ◦ advise the World Bank, prepare repots to make sure that the projects that the World Bank funds are economically, ethically, or politically clean ◦ They've had the power to close down major dam projects • WHL (World Health Organization) appointed an anthropologist as the chair Human Rights • China cancelled the Anthropology Conference because anthropologists denounced their treatment of Tibetans, human rights violations • When you're doing science with people, then it can come back on you • food sovereignty: control of your own food resources • Organ Watch: Nancy Shepherd-Hughes set up this NGO to monitor organ trafficking ◦ major conviction this year of organ traffickers in Kosovo, even the president was charged ◦ involved in war of liberation against Serbia ◦ US backed Kosovo Liberation Army (Clinton govt), became the government ◦ going to Israel, US, and Canada Health Disparities • Critical Medical Anthropology: looks at the political economy of health, on a global level, something that is subject to the forces of capitalism ◦ delivering health care is a business and state affair • comes from researchers who have a Marxist orientation Race (USA) • lot of tiptoeing about race discourse in the USA, but anthropologists try to battle racism • AAA Race museum exhibit look at race through science, lived experience, and historical context • Kevin Bortoy- the Other Hermitage ◦ way of inserting an included history into an existing discourse ◦ other stuff going on at the same time as mainstream history, making that history available • Racial Paranoia, the Unintended Consequences of Racial Correctness Conclusion • Told that Public Anthropology is poised for bigger and greater things because it's going to take advantage of the new communication technologies • opportunities to make anthropological knowledge public are much greater • tells us that anthropology has to operate according to a strict set of ethical rules; informed consent and transparency ◦ not always possible to practice informed consent and transparency at the same time; somethings they conflict • advent of the anthropology of genocide and conflict resolution ◦ relief, institutional territory covered by other institutions that have been doing this for a long time • UN declaration of indigenous rights, 2007 ◦ David Maybury-Lewis died: coined the term Cultural Survival, head of the anthropology department at Harvard ◦ disseminated information pertaining indigenous rights ◦ Millenium TV series made the UN declaration possible: Tribal Wisdom and the Modern World, Emmy award winning show ◦ highlighted that indigenous people were human ◦ negative attention on part of the UN, one of the diplomats from a big developing country criticized the show for valourizing and celebrating archaic and primitive ways of life; wanted them to develop (put them in to menial labour jobs) ▪ easier to tax a factory worker than a family of farmers or semi-nomadic hunter-gatherers ▪ didn't like redistributive economy encouraged by the documentary ◦ this declaration of indigenous rights also had to be implemented by the World Bank • failure of neoliberal politics and economics • stimulus spending; good because it will alleviate poverty "like Obama" • borrowed from the Federal Reserve, not a government institution but a organization of private banks • means more debt
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