In opening this 2009 volume of Anthropology in Action, it seems important to comment on what are self-consciously interesting times. The first quarter of the year has already witnessed the inauguration of Barack Obama as US president, bitter and destructive bombing campaigns in Gaza, and further financial shocks in the world’s markets, with a seeming domino effect of wealthy capitalist institutions turning to national governments for support. Global and local relations, networks, identities and conflicts have been brought into sharp focus by world events, but anthropology is rarely visible in the news, and anthropologists rarely called upon to comment, despite a wealth of potentially valuable knowledge. Applications of anthropology are becoming gradually more accepted within the academy, but seem to have come only a short distance in terms of public profile or ability to influence national and trans-national policies.
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