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The military occupation of Afghanistan by the United States and its partners has spawned floods of popular and academic writings and visual effects about the culture, history and politics of the country. A leading contributor to these stores of information about Afghanistan is Thomas Jefferson Barfield, currently professor of anthropology at Boston University and president […]
What follows immediately below is a letter sent to me via email today. Beneath that is my response. Academic Research, Intelligence Gathering, and Character Assassination: Is It the Same Everywhere? We are among an international group of researchers – social scientists, historians, legal scholars and journalists – with decades of experience working on the Horn […]
By what logic, if any, does Zero Anthropology function? If in light of the controversy that erupted with the publication of Sophia Tesfamariam’s outline and condemnation of western anthropologists working to support regime change in her native Eritrea, Zero Anthropology for its part fails to criticize the Eritrean government for its alleged militarization, then what […]
The following is an extract from my chapter, “Imperial Abduction Lore and Humanitarian Seduction,” which serves as the introduction to Good Intentions: Norms and Practices of Imperial Humanitarianism (Montreal: Alert Press, 2014), pp. 1-34: Two of the most enduring beliefs, among at least the political elites and a substantial portion of the wider population in […]
Weaponizing Anthropology: Social Science in Service of the Militarized State. By David H. Price. Published by CounterPunch and AK Press, Petrolia and Oakland, CA, 2011. ISBN-13: 9781849350631. 219 pages. For students already in anthropology and those interested in perhaps becoming anthropology students, for those researching the history and political economy of the social sciences, and […]
Within the question of the professionalisation of the discipline lies a still largely unexplored area of how Anthropology serves as a western, largely white, middle-class mode of ‘consumption’, specifically the consumption of knowledge about the world that has been ‘appropriately’ filtered, organized, and translated. Of course getting a degree in Anthropology is not just like any other form of consumption, just as it is not merely an expression of curiosity: the process results in formal certification.
Anthropology as a discipline, and anthropology as curiosity about difference or as a philosophy of the human condition, certainly overlap but they are not the same. Enforcers of the discipline have tended to monopolistically speak in the name of the project as a whole. This appropriation, whether intentional or simply a mistake, confuses analysis of the purposes of institutional Anthropology.
Questions and debates about the end of anthropology are highlighted here for their potential value in revealing what the ‘crisis talk’ in the discipline really means, and what it may be masking. In this article the reader is invited to reflect on several questions: about anthropology as a discipline or as a praxis; about how anthropology can be not just revitalised, but revolutionised; about the place of ethnography in anthropology; and, the quest for distinction and the accumulation of disciplinary capital. More broadly, this article deals with the restructuring of anthropology within a context of continued imperialism.