This article is about the controversial educational practice of corporal punishment –
known as taibatsu in Japan – which challenged me to reflect upon my anthropological heart and
find my anthropological identity. Corporal punishment is a practice around which many ideas
and discourses about education, social order, human rights and even power swirl, and it is
therefore an inherently sociocultural practice wherever it takes place. Like other forms of violence,
it also poses a personal challenge to anthropologists who observe it in practice and have
to decide whether to remain an observing bystander. At one time, I made that choice. In this
article, I explain why I no longer do.
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