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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.
Some thoughts from Henry Giroux (professor, board of directors at Truthout.org) which I found directly relevant and applicable to the situation in higher education as I encounter it. Here are his “four rules for a bad university department.” They were meant to be critical, yet somehow some departments seem to follow these principles to the […]
May 10, 2008 by Maximilian Forte
Conference announcement: International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) Disappearing disciplinary borders in the social science library – global studies or sea change? University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada 6-7 August 2008 http://ilabs.inquiry.uiuc.edu/ilab/ssls/ Over the past decade, the nature of social science research and scholarship has undergone shifts that have blurred the traditional disciplinary boundaries as research […]
In conjunction with my last post, decolonizing anthropology must at the same time involve a breakdown of barriers between the so-called disciplines and faculties of a the typical university. The typical university, as Wallerstein and others have amply demonstrated, derives its fundamental structure from the nineteenth-century European fragmentation and classification of knowledge into the distinctive […]