Savage Minds asks: Do anthropologists have a moral obligation to make their work accessible to the people they are writing about?



Is it unethical to say something about someone that they cannot understand?

from Savage Minds: Notes and Queries in Anthropology ? A Group Blog by Rex


Do anthropologists have a moral obligation to make their work accessible to the people they are writing about? The answer, to me, is an obvious ?yes?. Although as someone who has blogged for almost a decade I seem to think that the public waits with baited breath for a description of my breakfast so I am maybe not the best person to ask. Still, I think most people can agree that anthropologists have a moral obligation to share their research with the community where they worked as well as the public. But how much of our scholarly output should be this sort of work?

Archaeologists May Have Found Remains of Lost Persian Army

from Boing Boing by Maggie Koerth-Baker

2,500 years ago, an army of 50,000 men left an oasis in western Egypt and were never heard from again. Now, archaeologists think they may have uncovered the missing troops, who were probably killed in a sandstorm.

The growing work of anthropologists with the military parallels the evolution of design anthropology ? 15 years later?

from by mark

Lord knows I would welcome much stronger examination of the credentials of people that claim to be social scientists / anthropologists that are working in the military. There is the potential for the development of an excellent sub-discipline of anthropologists doing direct applied work for various forms of the federal government and the military (which for all I know already exists, I am new to this arena). I have no doubt there have been anthropologists working in all levels of Government/Military/Intel worlds for many years, but they may have not been/are called anthropologists in most official job titles I suspect. (note: I say it this way as I have not actually tried to find out, therefore it is assumption based on my past professional experience).

Will Matrimonial Websites Transform the Traditional Norms of Indian Marriage?

from Material World by Haidy L Geismar

Parul Bhandari, PhD student,
Dept. of Sociology, (PPSIS), Univ. of Cambridge

What to Watch Tuesday: Aliens, Anthropologists and Politicians
New York Times (blog)
It rounds up recent research in human anthropology, beginning with the growing evidence that we developed as we did not because our brains grew bigger but

The Uncultured Project

from Neuroanthropology by dlende

The Uncultured Project is about fighting global poverty, about one man?s decision to try and make the world a better place. It?s a story told through a website and promoted on YouTube.

Imagine leaving behind your friends, family, possessions, and a full scholarship to a good university ? all to go halfway around the world to a third world country just to help the poor.

This is exactly what I did.

Anthropology Researcher Uncovering Evidence of Early Man from Receding Glaciers
UNM Today
Anthropology Professor James Dixon has spent the last five or six years searching for evidence of early man among the retreating glaciers of Alaska.

Anthropologist Compares Illicit Drugs in the US and China
Southern Maryland Online
3, 2009) ? Medical anthropologist Merrill Singer, an expert in the study of HIV/AIDS, substance abuse, health inequality, and inner city populations,

Anthropologists ignore Open Access Week – a report from Wellington

from – anthropology in the news blog by Lorenz

What?s the point of science if it?s not publicly accessible? Two weeks ago, the first global Open Access Week was organized. Masters? student in anthropology Karstein Noremark has written a report for about the Open Access Week at Victoria University of Wellington.

President Obama Hosts Summit with Native American Leaders

Today the President will be giving the opening and closing remarks at the White House Tribal Nations Conference.  The conference will include leaders from 564 federally recognized tribes and various Cabinet secretaries.  According to the New York Times, the participants will discuss a wide range of topics from treaty obligations and tribal sovereignty, to issues of economic development, natural resources, public safety, housing, education and health care.

Wall Street Bonuses: Culture, Identity, and Crisis

from ASA Globalog by Karen Ho

Prof Karen Z. Ho, University of Minnesota

This entry is meant to provoke and continue our discussion on financial crises, and in particular, American finance capitalists? roles in helping to produce the volatile and unequal conditions that manifest as financial market and ?emerging market? crises. Perhaps one simple yet effective way to describe the link between Wall Street culture and the construction of market crises is through the deeply embedded ritual of the Wall Street bonus. Although hardly a media day goes by without a query into bonuses, most journalistic accounts range from incredulous disbelief (i.e. how can Goldman Sachs be poised to pay record bonuses despite its bailout and the still ongoing recession) to essentialized resignation (i.e. the ?rules of the jungle? will never change) to a staunch defense of the strategic use of bonuses to maintain Wall Street ?talent?. While most articles are either critical or skeptical of these bonuses, the central theme is usually one of surprise: although many investment bankers and traders are on an celebratory upswing, most people, not to mention ?the economy? in general, continue to experience either ?a jobless recovery? or ?recession-like? symptoms.

Banking conferences

from ASA Globalog by tettg

Dr Gillian Tett, Anthropologist and Assistant Editor, Financial Times

While I was recently reading Karen Ho?s excellent ethnography of Wall Street, Liquidated, I was struck by a passage where she describes the difficulty that besets any anthropologist who is trying to conduct research on bankers. In the venues where anthropologists used to work a few decades ago ? such as remote, thirrd world societies ? a researcher could often simply pitch up, and observe the social group, confident that those subjects of research were less powerful than the anthropologist. But in modern finance, that power balance reversed: Wall Street or City bankers tend to be much more powerful than anthropologists, and bankers will almost never let outsiders through their doors, to conduct research (unless those aliens are management consultants conducting research which is paid for, and controlled, by the bank itself.) Thus the idea of ?pitching your tent in the hall of JP Morgan? is utterly ludicrous, as Ho points out; an anthropologist would probably be ejected by security guards long before any research occurred.

Reality Check for the Human Terrain System: Marilyn Dudley-Flores Responds

from OPEN ANTHROPOLOGY by Maximilian Forte



On 26 February 2009, a report by John Stanton was published on this blog (Some Breaking News on the Human Terrain System: Death Threats Against Female Colleagues). At the time it caused some uproar, was discussed on several other blogs, and perhaps no other story on this blog received so many comments as that one (200 comments to be exact). The story was followed up with this one: US Army 101st Airborne Investigative Report on Human Terrain System. In the midst of the furious commentary, many allegations were made about the person at the center of the story, Dr. Marilyn Dudley-Flores. Now, for the first time, Dr. Dudley-Flores presents her own story to the public. The text that follows was first sent to me by Dr. Dudley-Flores as an e-mail message earlier this week, and it is of course reproduced here with her permission and approval.

Cultural Formulation: A Special Issue of Transcultural Psychiatry

from Somatosphere by Aaron Seaman

The latest issue of Transcultural Psychiatry is a special issue, entitled “Cultural Formation“. In Roberto Lewis-Fernández?s editorial introduction to the issue, he writes:

0.185: Terms of Incorporation, Concepts of Domination

from OPEN ANTHROPOLOGY by Maximilian Forte

Phrases such as ?decolonizing anthropology?* and ?anthropology and the colonial encounter? have become salient in anthropology especially since they are the titles of two of the better known, most widely quoted books on the subject. What subject? That is what is lacking clarity, because presumably the phrases above are meant to mean something, and if so, then one has to wonder: why not ?anthropology and imperialism? or ?de-imperializing anthropology?? What choices are we making when we choose the term colonialism, rather than imperialism?

Exploring the anthropolgy of warfare

Cache Valley Daily
The Museum of Anthropology at Utah State University is hosting noted Anthropologist Patricia Lambert on Saturday.

Videos of plenary presentations from the SMA conference

from Somatosphere by Eugene Raikhel

The videos of the plenary presentations from the Society for Medical Anthropology’s September conference are now available online.  As we’ve mentioned before, this was a very impressive line-up of speakers.  Videos of most of the talks, as well as Marcia Inhorn’s introductions of the speakers, are available at the conference website.  Here’s the list:

0.18: Anthropology and the Rise of the Social Sciences within the Structures of Knowledge ? Immanuel Wallerstein

from OPEN ANTHROPOLOGY by Maximilian Forte

Professional Knowledge Creation in the World-System

Building an anti-imperialist ?anthropology,? plus an anthropology that studies imperialism, and that studies itself as a received invention of imperialism, means much more than just analyzing and questioning how anthropologists served this or that colonial venture. It means totally unthinking anthropology as a social science; more than that, it means totally unthinking social science. For whatever discussions of ?decolonizing anthropology? have achieved, this ground was never covered in those discussions.

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