For several reasons there exist only relatively few ethnographic studies of children in the Middle East or in the diaspora. Accordingly, the articles in this issue of Anthropology of the Middle East represent thematically and theoretically highly divergent projects, all based on ethnographic topics and methodologies. Geographically they encompass different locations, and thematically they range from the history of childhood in Iran to matters of socio-cultural integration in Austria; from legal matters concerning youths in Algeria to socio-psychological problems of schoolchildren in Lebanon and to parent-child dynamics in Morocco. The short research, book and conference reports in this issue emphasize approaches and topics in critical anthropology as applied to the Middle East.
Anthropological Approaches to the Study of Children in the Middle East
Erika Friedl and Abderrahmane Moussaoui
Collaborative Digital Mapping with the Itelmen Peoples
Brian Thom, Benedict J. Colombi and Tatiana Degai
Indigenous peoples in the Russian Far East are engaged in vibrant cultural and linguistic resurgence and revitalization through their community and regional organizations. Through the activities of these organizations, a computer-aided cultural mapping project was initiated in collaboration with indigenous villages along the Kamchatka Peninsula, working with youth and elders to map out the histories of special cultural places. The project utilized innovative participatory methodologies using Google Earth and related Google mapping tools, which are freely accessible and desired for use in the communities, providing an accessible, low-cost, easy to-use computer application for detailed digital cultural mapping. This article elaborates on the use of these technologies to empower a community-based collaborative research project and reflects on critical issues in aligning community, corporate, and scholarly objectives in successful projects.
Having for nearly a century lived a shadowy existence on the margins of mainstream ethnography, summoned forth only to play bit parts in some exemplary anecdote or illustrative vignette, over the last two decades the individual has emerged to take anthropological center stage. And not just the particular individual (the individual individual, so to speak)—the Nisa or the Tuhami (Crapanzano 1980; Shostak 1981)—but also the generic individual. Of course, the ethnographic foregrounding of individual individuals cannot be decoupled from a theoretical reconsideration of the generic individual, but it is the prominence granted the latter that marks a fairly decisive shift in current explanatory and interpretative paradigms (or at least rhetoric), so that nowadays it is commonplace to remind readers that the individual members of any society discussed are all “agents” actively engaged in “contesting,” “disputing,” “negotiating,” if not “creating” the social or cultural rules and norms to which they remain subject only in so far as those rules and norms may be incorporated into their own strategic pursuits.
This article offers a critical discussion of Murray Smith’s proposals regarding the role of science in film theory and the philosophy of art more broadly. I would like to examine the precise role given by Film, Art, and the Third Culture to scientific evidence in understanding film engagement. There are points in the book where scientific evidence is used to considerable theoretical or philosophical advantage. But there are other points where the role of scientific evidence is unclear or where an opportunity is missed for its full deployment in theorizing.
Reflections on a Photography Project with Young South Africans
This article stems from my doctoral research, which considers moral contestation relating to education in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. Overall, I outline a case for working with young people: addressing asymmetrical institutional and generational relations of power in order to enrich the knowledge generated by research. My focus is a project entitled My Future, which involved approximately forty learners drawing diagrams and using disposable cameras to produce representations of their moral judgements. Notable distinctions between data gathered during two stages of fieldwork, of differing durations, are analysed with reference to my relations with interlocutors and related institutionalised and public discourses of morality. Using the concept of trust, which is established during exchanges of mutually beneficial sociality, I argue that how we understand others depends upon what they expect from us and what we expect of them.
This article concerns challenges arising from the development of economic globalization as the so-called “creator of a new world order“ and its tendency to deteriorate the foundation of a global order in terms of social justice, solidarity, and human dignity. As main point of referral functions, the report of the "Commission Stiglitz, Sen and Fitoussi" on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress that refers to the European Commission's strategy of development, acknowledges the need for these values. On behalf of this reflection, this article is based on the recent outcomes of the exploration of these social quality issues in a recent published book by the Foundation on Social Quality. The article argues that indicators are needed in order to understand the effects of societal changes in response to the current economic globalization, which increases inequality and the fragmentation of the labor market.
Postcolonial Intersections and Mobilities
The articles in this issue’s special section strike a balance of disciplines, geographical areas, scales, and seniority levels, and offer thought-provoking examples of studies of postcolonial intersectional locations of mobile people and ideas in Asia. This response seeks to tease out the potential avenues not only for future themes of research but also for innovative methods. It concludes with an invitation to better incorporate intersectionality into our research and acknowledge how it also plays out in our own positionality and understanding of mobility.
Political Transformation and Recent Ethnographic Fieldwork in Iran
Mary Elaine Hegland and Erika Friedl
In the 1970s social cultural anthropology in Iran was beginning to flourish. However, with the Iranian Revolution of 1979 and the subsequent Islamic Republic of Iran, fieldwork in Iran became extremely problematic. Foreign anthropologists faced formidable obstacles to obtaining visas and permits. Anthropologists working inside Iran were also discouraged from anthropological participant observation. As a result, during the post revolutionary period, few anthropologists have been conducting fieldwork in Iran. Recently, some hopeful signs for a possible reestablishment of anthropology can be noted, among them the return of young Iranian anthropologists, from countries where they have grown up and gained an education, to their homeland for dissertation research. This article discusses the influences on fieldwork of politics—international, national and local—and projects, problems and strategies of some anthropologists who have conducted recent ethnographic fieldwork in Iran.
Young People's Influence on Policymaking in Northern Ireland
This article discusses young people's influence on a recent policy initiative conducted among Catholic and Protestant school leavers in Northern Ireland's second largest urban area, Derry/Londonderry. The programme, the Toward Reconciliation and Inclusion Project or TRIPROJECT, was Northern Ireland's first dedicated attempt to target young school leavers in a survey project and sought to involve the young people in the selection of questions used within the survey. The article opens with a brief discussion on the predicament of anthropology's situation of 'informants' and the criticism that often follows post-field discussions. The article then moves to discuss TRIPROJECT as a case example of applied anthropology actively involving 'informants' in the process of knowledge gathering and analysis presentation, emphasising how informants had control over the process of scholarship. The article ends by addressing this experience within the context of anthropology and the interpretation of questions and answers between 'informants' and those who study them.
Anthropological Knowledge and Practice in Global Health
Rodney Reynolds and Isabelle L. Lange
Since the turn of the millennium, conceptual and practice-oriented shifts in global health have increasingly given emphasis to health indicator production over research and interventions that emerge out of local social practices, environments and concerns. In this special issue of Anthropology in Action, we ask whether such globalised contexts allow for, recognise and sufficiently value the research contributions of our discipline. We question how global health research, ostensibly inter- or multi-disciplinary, generates knowledge. We query ‘not-knowing’ practices that inform and shape global health evidence as influenced by funders’ and collaborators’ expectations. The articles published here provide analyses of historical and ethnographic field experiences that show how sidelining anthropological contributions results in poorer research outcomes for the public. Citing experiences in Latin America, Angola, Senegal, Nigeria and the domain of global health evaluation, the authors consider anthropology’s roles in global health.