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Extended Sites of Action

In and Out of Marginality

Narmala Halstead

The forum in this issue, reflecting on the problematics of the relationship between anthropology and law, as a timely focus is also indicative of how these debates revolve around disciplinary and cross-disciplinary issues. That such co-presence of anthropology and law, incorporating research in informal and formal settings, various kinds of collaboration and, in some instances, sceptical views about its value, continues to merit close attention also signals how views of differences animate a well-populated and extended field. The concerns are often articulated around an epistemic divide between anthropology and law, and allow for questioning both within and across disciplinary areas, even as much is made of the richness of an ethnographic approach to law alongside other methods and analyses, as indicated. Lawrence Rosen, in his response to the commentators in the forum, notes ‘our special area of interest is actually a great doorway into many key issues for both disciplines’, as he identifies the spaces where it is incumbent for anthropologists to act to address these cross-disciplinary challenges.

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Michael G. Peletz

Jeremy Kingsley and Kari Telle’s provocation article raises several important issues. The thrust of their argument as I understand it is that anthropology does not matter much to the field of law in many parts of the world. They are quick to point out, however, that this is a relative point and that their comparative frame takes as its point of departure the much greater degree of intellectual engagement that obtains between schools of medicine and public health on the one hand and the field of anthropology on the other. I concur with their overall argument but will phrase it in slightly different terms: despite the robust collaborations that sometimes involve legal scholars and anthropologists (e.g. in legal clinics at New York University and elsewhere; see Merry, this issue), faculty in law schools are much less likely to embrace the work of anthropologists than are their colleagues who specialise in medicine and public health. In this brief comment, I offer tentative hypotheses as to why this situation exists in the North American context. I approach the relevant issues from a historical perspective, focusing on hierarchies of legitimacy and prestige, shifts in both academia and the job market for anthropologists, and the rise of neoliberal doctrines in academia and beyond.

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Yann Lebeau and David Mills

After years of neglect, there is renewed international interest in higher education in sub-Saharan Africa. Comparative projects have been launched on a continental scale, looking at the socio-economic relevance of higher education, often with the aim of reviving failing institutions. A new 'transformation' policy paradigm has replaced a previously dominant rhetoric of 'crisis'. Promoted by the major funders, this discourse has been adopted by many within African governments and university administrations. We argue that such interventions are possible because of the particular post-colonial historical ties among African, European and American academies. They represent the latest stage of donor involvement in African universities, and are made possible by the outward-looking perspectives of many African scholars. Yet is this latest paradigm shift leading to real changes in research capacity and teaching quality within African institutions? Is it informed by specific institutional needs? We compare research and development projects led by donors with those led by academics themselves. Attempts by international donors to invigorate locally relevant research capacity are limiting the re-emergence of academic autonomy. Academic research 'collaborations', especially those led by European and American scholars, fare little better.'

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Sergei I. Kuznetsov and Igor V. Naumov

The eastern region of Russia left a noticeable imprint on the historical fates of the peoples of many foreign countries. Many works on the culture, history, and ethnography of Siberia sprang from the quills of foreign authors of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The study of Siberia was presented by people who were themselves exiled and cast away by the Russian government as undesirable or dangerous elements. This fate did not escape the peoples of foreign nations: tens of thousands of Poles, Hungarians, Germans, French, and Japanese were in various times forcibly sent to become acquainted with Siberia. Unfortunately the memories of Siberia for the peoples of a number of countries (Japanese, Hungarians, Poles,) became serious impediments in the way to mutual understanding and collaboration between Russia and those countries. The arrival of foreigners in Siberia is in large part chronicled differently by Russian historians in contrast to historians from other countries. There are various ‘blank spots’ in the history of foreign prisoners in Siberia (for example, prisoners of war from both World Wars), which Russian (Soviet) historians viewed in different terms owing to differing circumstances (with respect to the political character); the Russian ignorance of scholarship by foreign historians was further limited as a result of their inaccessibility.

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Ellen Bal, Erella Grassiani and Kate Kirk

This article is based on our own experiences and that of several of our colleagues teaching social and cultural anthropology in different Dutch institutions for higher learning. We focus in particular on teaching and learning in two small liberal arts and science (LAS) colleges, where anthropology makes up part of the social science curriculum and/or is part of the core curriculum. The data collected from our own critical reflections developed during informal discussion and from formal interviews with colleagues, together with literature on recent changes in academia, leads us to argue that neoliberal individualism, shaped by management tactics that constantly measure individual performance and output, is making academia an increasingly insecure place in which to work and study. The consequences of this insecurity include increasing mental health problems among both students and staff, intensifying competition at the expense of collegiality and collaboration and an overall decrease in the quality of academic jobs and teaching. Although the discipline of anthropology can help us better understand our own conditions, the personalisation of problems and the focus on success obscure the anthropological lens, which looks at social and cultural structures of power and depends on critical reflexivity.

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Between Writing and Image

A Scriptwriter's Way of Working

Benoît Peeters

This article concerns the way in which a comics scriptwriter works collaboratively with different artists. It traces the development of a working method with François Schuiten, the artist of the Cités obscures ['Cities of the Fantastic'] series, and the extension of the series itself beyond the two-dimensional page into other formats. The constant exchange between artist and scriptwriter is stressed: each is involved in the conception of both the plotline and the visual aspects of the work. Hergé is cited as an example of an artist whose ease in conjuring images out of words and ideas from images may be termed 'graphic thinking'. It is noted, however, that the tendency of publishing houses to favour scriptwriters who predetermine the course of the album limits such inventiveness. The open-endedness that, in ideal conditions, characterises the work of the comics scriptwriter, and the thoroughgoing nature of the collaboration, is compared with the more rigid, and limited, role assigned to a film scriptwriter. A more flexible and creative process is not impossible to achieve in cinema, but it is concluded that this is rare, and that it is the comics medium that affords the greater degree of freedom and independence.

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Les emprunts de Mauss à la bibliothèque universitaire de Bordeaux

la genèse d’une « imagination sociologique »

Nicolas Sembel

Mauss was a student at Bordeaux between 1890 and 1895, and this discussion of his university library loans directly complements an earlier article on those of Durkheim, who taught there from 1897 to 1902. Mauss worked hand in glove with his uncle, and although the profiles of their library use were quite different, all the material borrowed by Mauss was closely related with material amongst Durkheim’s loans. Archival evidence brings out how Mauss prepared for the agrégation in philosophy in a way that went well beyond the examination itself, indeed, that in effect transcended philosophy, and that included a year at the Sorbonne that was crucial for the future. If Durkheim showed a methodological imagination – drawing on a variety of disciplines, albeit largely through a ‘hidden’ reading of uncited references – in order to elaborate a sociological approach for his time, Mauss showed a sociological imagination in an effort, in parallel with his academic commitments, to develop his uncle’s work straightaway. Their close collaboration with one another during this period is a platform for reconsidering the nature, up to 1914, of the intellectual link between Mauss and Durkheim, as two sociologists who were above all separated by a ‘chronological’ gap, who occupied two different positions that, while helping to explain disagreement, made possible their project of disciplinary ‘conquest’ begun at Bordeaux, and who, lastly, produced the same general sociology based on two related approaches. My conclusion returns to their Bordeaux ‘moment’ and the veritable symbolic blitzkrieg they conducted there.

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Une hypothèse sur l’arrivée de Durkheim à Bordeaux

les « requêtes durkheimiennes » d’Hamelin (mars–avril 1887)

Nicolas Sembel

Le propos de cette note de recherche est d’éclairer un peu plus l’origine de l’arrivée de Durkheim à Bordeaux lors de sa nomination sur un poste universitaire en 1887. Promulgué par arrêté le 20 juillet 1887, effectif lors de la rentrée suivante d’octobre, ce poste de philosophie est centré sur l’éducation (« science sociale et pédagogie ») et constitue un résumé à lui seul de la complexité administrative de l’enseignement supérieur (Gautherin 2002, Callède 2011). Il sera renouvelé annuellement sept fois, puis « sans limite » à partir de juillet 1894. Durkheim, parti en 1902 à Paris pour suppléer F. Buisson (devenu député) pendant 4 ans, jusqu’en 1906, sera remplacé par Gaston Richard également pendant 4 ans. Leur double titularisation aura lieu cette année-là. En 1930, à la retraite anticipée d’un an de Richard, il est destiné à Théodore Ruyssen, âgé de plus de 60 ans, qui ne l’occupe finalement pas, et est attribué, via le Doyen, par des disciples de Durkheim (Davy, Mauss...) et de Hamelin (Darbon, Daudin...) un peu démunis, à Max Bonnafous. Ce dernier se consacre assez vite à sa carrière politique (commencée dans le socialisme et terminée dans la Collaboration), prenant à nouveau de court les gate-keepers du poste. Passeront également par ce poste de Bordeaux Georges Gurvitch, lui aussi rapidement parti, ou Raymond Aron, encore plus rapidement, après six mois.

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Documenting Impact

An Impact Case Study of Anthropological Collaboration in Tobacco Control

Andrew Russell and Sue Lewis

In this article we consider the 'impact case study' (ICS) as a specific kind of document, one which, as part of the U.K.'s Research Excellence Framework (REF), enforces a common template for the description and measurement of the social and economic effects of research in U.K. higher education. We track the development of an ICS describing anthropological research in tobacco control which, after many iterations, was not submitted as part of the REF. We ask 'what is impact?' in cases where anthropological research is based on principles of collaboration and serendipity rather than the mechanistic 'research > translation > impact > measurement' model which an ICS is expected to follow. What is included and what excluded by the strictures of such a model? We are generally supportive of the impact agenda, feeling that university resources and activities have a vital role to play in progressive social change. However, the way 'impact' is recorded, appraised and measured in an ICS only captures a small proportion of the effects of anthropological research, and encourages particular forms of public engagement while discounting others.

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Anthropologists and Designers Co-Designing the Future

Report on the Sixth International Applied Anthropology Symposium in Lisbon

Laura Korčulanin and Verónica Reyero Meal

During the last weekend of October 2018, specialists from around the world met in Lisbon for the sixth ‘Why the World Needs Anthropologists’ symposium (WWNA). This yearly conference – which provides a space for sharing information, experiences and discussions regarding applied anthropology – has gone from a one-afternoon symposium to a three-day event with lectures, panel discussions, speed-talks, workshops, guided tours, social events and ‘Hot-Spots’ – stands where a range of institutions, sponsors and partners can present what they do. This year’s conference gathered more than 300 people from 33 countries (and more than a thousand online visitors via live-streaming) to reflect on the possibilities that the emergent discipline of design anthropology brings to anthropologists and designers and for cross-disciplinary collaborations. Significantly named, Designing the Future was a response to what many in the field feel is a time when the world needs more engaged anthropologists to spark ideas and bring out informed and well-thought-out research-based solutions.