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Security for whom?

Anthropologists and repressive state elites

Gustavo Lins Ribeiro

The most important political and ethical issues in North American anthropology today concern anthropologists' relationships with the "security and intelligence communities." The call for anthropological participation in warfare has never been so intense, yet recruitment of anthropologists is not new for hegemonic anthropologies. Their relationships with state power have a long history of contradictory political and professional engagements. After a brief discussion of the notion of national security and its intimate relations to nation-state projects and elites, I consider the importance of culture and anthropological knowledge for politicians and conclude first that anthropologists need to be aware of how the discipline and its uses are part of much larger power relations and constraints, and second that anthropological knowledge is already always political.

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Gustavo Lins Ribeiro

Public higher education has been strangled in Brazil by personnel policies, fragmentation through privatisation and competition with a growing private sector. Central to the productivist turn in Brazil is the annual 'CAPES report' which ranks departments and determines their funding. The Forum of Executive Officers of Graduate Programs in Anthropology was created, years ago, to discuss problems regarding anthropology's teaching and research. Its efficacy depends on the political skills of its members to influence interlocutors. We need to understand the sociology of change around us and the power structures of the agencies structuring our field of action to be able to propose solutions.