in my own case to undertaking anthropological fieldwork in Britain as part of a learning how to belong ( Rapport 1993 , 1994 ) – but it was not enunciated as replacing one ‘tribal’ identity with another. To be British was to be human, a cosmopolitan
Goodness, Justice, Civil Society
virtue of the imposition of alien and alienating labels, categories and taxonomies, Simmel (1971) described as ‘tragic’ (cf. Rapport 2017) . We distort the Other’s identity when we ‘know’ them in the conventional and collectivising terms of a symbolic
Michael G. Powell
By considering multiple perspectives on the problem of networking and networks in public policy circles, as well as the wider professional world, this article aims to both draw out and blur boundaries and definitions among multiple levels of networking as an analytic concept, a fieldwork method and a practice observed among policymakers. In making this distinction and explaining it in relation to theorisations of fieldwork rapport and 'complicity,' the article attempts to show that the distance and collegiality that defines professional networking is a viable and potentially quite insightful mode, means and method for conducting fieldwork, particularly for multisited anthropology of public policy projects. To that end, this article offers both conceptual ideas, as well as practical advice for conceiving and conducting fieldwork for an anthropology of public policy project.
Finding Perpetrators and Switchboard Operators in Post-Authoritarian Argentina
Antonius C.G.M. Robben
In conducting fieldwork among perpetrators of state violence, it is a major methodological problem to gain access to competing factions within the research population. Ethnographers often succeed in finding access to at least one faction but this successful rapport might then immediately close off other factions that mistrust the ethnographer’s politics, intentions, or alleged sympathies. The ethnographic challenge is to find intermediaries or switchboard operators, as they are called in this article, who have established informal channels of communication between hostile factions. Switchboard operators have the following characteristics: discretion, neutrality, lack of formal power, disinterestedness, trustworthiness, and they act as a conduit of communication. This article describes how switchboard operators were located in Argentina, and how they played a crucial role in my fieldwork among a broad spectrum of military perpetrators who had terrorized the Argentine people between 1976 and 1983 with enforced disappearances and state repression.
Amina Triki-Yamani, Marie McAndrew, and Sahar El Shourbagi
Perceptions of the Treatment of Islam and the Muslim World in History Textbooks by Secondary School Teachers in Quebec
This article focuses on the ways in which Francophone Quebecois secondary 1 and 2 junior high school teachers adapt and transmit the treatment of Islam and the Muslim world in textbooks used for history and citizenship education. The authors focus on the teachers' capacity to identify factual errors, stereotypes or ethnocentric biases concerning these questions. In order to do this, they analyze fourteen semi-structured interviews carried out with teachers on the island of Montreal, considering dimensions and indicators that relate to their relationship to the formal curriculum, as well as to scholarly and social knowledge of these issues. At the same time, we consider their relationship to the real curriculum or to scholarly knowledge as these are transmitted in real-life learning situations.
French Notre article porte sur la manière dont les enseignants du premier cycle du secondaire québécois francophone s'approprient et transmettent le traitement de l'islam et du monde musulman dans le matériel didactique de la discipline d'histoire et d'éducation à la citoyenneté et plus particulièrement, sur leur capacité à identi er les erreurs factuelles, les stéréotypes ou les biais ethnocentriques concernant ces questions. Pour ce faire, nous avons relevé, dans l'analyse des quatorze entretiens semi-directifs menés auprès d'enseignants de l'Ile-de-Montréal, les dimensions et indicateurs portant, d'une part, sur leur rapport au curriculum prescrit, et plus précisément sur leur rapport aux savoirs scolaires, sociaux et parfois de référence sur ces enjeux, et, d'autre part, sur leur rapport au curriculum réel ou aux savoirs scolaires tels que transmis en situation réelle d'apprentissage.
Paul Rabinow and George E. Marcus, with James D. Faubion and Tobias Rees, Designs for an Anthropology of the Contemporary (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2008), viii+141 pp. ISBN 9780822343707.
On 20 June 2006, Andrew Irving and I took a class of students to the Montreal Holocaust Museum. The students were attending Irving’s course, “Deathly Encounters: The Anthropology of Death, Consciousness, and the Body,” at Concordia University. He had arranged for a guided tour of the museum exhibit and for the class to hear the testimony of one of Montreal’s large number of Holocaust survivors.
National Identity as an Everyday Way of Being in a Scottish Hospital
This article reports on research undertaken in a Scottish hospital on the theme of national identity, specifically Scottishness. It examines the ways and extents to which Scottishness was expressed in the workplace: as a quotidian aspect of individual and institutional identity, in a situation of high-pro file political change. The research was to situate nationality as a naturally occurring 'language-game': to explore everyday speech-acts which deployed reference to nationality/Scottishness and compare these to other kinds of overt affirmation of identity and other speech-acts when no such identity-affirmations were ostensibly made. In a contemporary Scottish setting where the inauguration of a new Parliament has made national identity a prominent aspect of public debate, the research illuminates the place of nationality amid a complex of workaday language-games and examines the status of national identity as a 'public event'.
A response to Don Gardner
I am grateful (once more) for the attention Don Gardner has paid to my work, in particular to arguments pertaining to individuality and its relation to the aspirations of the social sciences. Let me begin with overlaps he sees between us: (a) prevailing images of what anthropology needed to be, historically (in order to be an adequate science) have led to too great an emphasis on developing taxonomies of cultural variation, along with the generalising and essentialising descriptions this entailed; (b) some of social science’s taken-for-granted vocabulary (such as ‘role’ or ‘status’) hampers our understanding of the nature of human agents and the springs of that agency; (c) questions of will and freedom, choice and moral responsibility are subtle and important; engaging with these is a necessary step for strengthening the social sciences, which cannot escape their philosophical roots. Notwithstanding, Gardner would take me to task for my understanding of causation, for not adopting a reasonable view on the hoary issue of ‘free will’ and for not taking account of post-genecentric accounts of human-evolutionary process.
This article is an interweaving of three strands: an account by Imre Kertesz of his experiences in Nazi concentration camps during the Second World War, which he published as the novel, Fateless; an account of a walking tour in Suffolk that the German Anglophile, W. G. Sebald, published as the travelogue, The Rings of Saturn; and my own account of visiting the Auschwitz memorial site, which has been constructed on the edge of the Polish city still bearing the same name. Linking the three strands is the issue of the phenomenology of walking: the consciousness that is capacitated by this activity and the accompanying power to interpret one's life and surroundings in imaginative ways. Kertesz would walk the Nazi lager without stopping for death; Sebald would walk the Suffolk landscape without admitting the passage of time; I would walk Auschwitz without falling victim to the systemic constructions of others. For all, the physical activity is linked to becoming conscious of certain symbolic patterns in time and space. Walking, this article concludes, entails both a phenomenological objectivity, which may be appreciated by virtue of a common human embodiment, and a phenomenological subjectivity: an individual consciousness engaging in imaginative projects of disembodiment and otherness.