This article engages the current challenges that the ecology of designing and implementing ethnographic research today presents to the still powerful culture of method in anthropology, especially as it is manifested in the production of apprentice graduate dissertation research by anthropologists in the making. The Anthropology of Public Policy defines a recent and emerging terrain of anthropological research that challenges the culture of fieldwork/ethnographic method at the core of anthropology's practice and identity. Thus, what might emerge, in the author's view, is not a new or adjusted handbook of method, but a more far-reaching discussion of how the very function of ethnographic research shifts in response to this challenge in terms of collaboration and pedagogy.
Into the New Century
George E. Marcus
Classic conditions of fieldwork research, to which anthropology remains committed, are difficult to establish today within far-reaching projects of neoliberal economy, governance and philanthropy. The forms of collaboration on which these projects insist, and those that ethnography encourages for its own research purposes, must be reconciled. On the bargains or adjustments that anthropology makes with neoliberal projects, within which it establishes scenes of fieldwork, depends its capacity to produce critique - its primary agenda since the 1980s. These issues are what are at stake in the widespread current discussions of, and hopes for, an 'engaged' anthropology.
George E. Marcus
For me, since the 1980s, the distinctive event in the recent history of social and cultural anthropology in the United States has been a profound cutting of the discipline (or rather of this influential component of the four-field disciplinary organisation of general anthropology) from moorings that defined it through much of the twentieth century. Certainly the discipline is still wedded functionally to certain aspects of the institutional model which has shaped the identity of social and cultural anthropologists, as pioneered through the works of such figures as Bronislaw Malinowski in England and Franz Boas in the United States. Most anthropologists still begin their careers with a geographical area specialisation outside the U.S. However, few receive the intensive areas studies education that was available and encouraged in the U.S. during the 1950s through to the 1970s when, in the atmosphere of the Cold War and development studies, there was a huge investment in such interdisciplinary programmes that has since waned.