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Workshop Scribbles, Policy Work and Impact

Anthropological Sensibilities in Praxis at an FASD Workshop

Michelle Stewart

This article reports on a workshop that was held with frontline workers in Canada and discusses the role of anthropological sensibilities as they inform research, community engagement and policy outcomes. The workshop brought together frontline workers to discuss foetal alcohol spectrum disorder, a complex and lifelong disability – one that often raises social-justice concerns. The goal was to facilitate a space in which participants could share their experiences and potentially bring about better outcomes for people living with this disability. The article focuses on the workshop in relationship to anthropological sensibilities, anchored in lateral research practices, with attention to poly-vocality and relational ways of understanding, all of which inform our practice and potential impacts. This article critically analyses the role of applied research as it is informed by other disciplines and concurrently constrained by different forces.

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Gretchen Schafft

Anthropologists who were also medical doctors often had a particularly active role in the Nazi regime, including the SS. One of these, Herbert Grohmann, studied under Eugen Fischer at Kaiser Wilhelm Institut of Anthropologie (KWIA) in Berlin from 1937 to 1938 and became his assistant. Grohmann, an SS officer, was sent to Poland as the head of public health in Lodz while maintaining his association with the KWIA. This article describes the interconnections of anthropology and public health in occupied Poland including the elimination (killing) of mentally ill patients, the implementation of the Deutsche Volksliste and the culling of 'racially fit' children for abduction to Germany. All of these activities are seen through the career of Herbert Grohmann.

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The Uncanniness of Missionary Others

A Discursive Analysis of a Century of Anthropological Writings on Missionary Ethnographers

Travis Warren Cooper

describe as pristine. ( Burton and Burton 2007: 210 ) Anthropologists in general have a negative attitude toward missionaries, especially when they conceive of missionaries as agents of cultural change … [A]nthropology students learn that missionaries are

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Dow Chemical's Knowledge Factories

Action Anthropology against Michigan's Company Town Culture

Brian McKenna

The article describes my efforts as a public anthropologist/journalist in addressing the official culture of silence in Michigan's colleges, universities and towns regarding Dow Chemical's extensive environmental health pollution and corruption. These sites include Midland, Michigan, home of Dow's international headquarters, and my own residence of East Lansing, site of Michigan State University, the state's largest higher education institution. Both are beneficiaries of Dow largess or philanthropy. This relative silence - which extends to nearly all state media and universities - is remarkable considering the fact that, unlike turn of the century company towns, Dow Chemical operates in a civic culture where thousands of highly educated professionals work in education, government and communications. Democracy is degraded by processes of accumulation, ideology, fear, suppression, conformity, specialization and, importantly, the self-censorship of professionals and academics. With Eriksen (2006) and Hale (2008) I argue for an engaged anthropology where anthropologists step out of their academic cocoons to embrace the local public. This is 'not just a matter of … reaching broader publics with a message from social science … it is a way of doing social science' (Hale 2008: xvii). This case study illustrates how an anthropologist engaged contradictions in order to show how Michigan universities are becoming veritable knowledge factories in service to Eisenhower's feared military-industrial-academic complex.

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Anthropological Insights about a Tool for Improving Quality of Obstetric Care

The Experience of Case Review Audits in Burkina Faso

Marc-Eric Gruénais, Fatoumata Ouattara, Fabienne Richard and Vincent De Brouwere

The ratio of maternal morbidity and mortality in developing countries is high. The World Health Organization (WHO) and public health specialists promote case review audits as a means of improving quality of obstetric care. This reflects the need for high reactivity in health personnel's management of obstetric complications. Within an action-research programme in Burkina Faso, a trial of case review audits was implemented in a maternity ward. This was designed to help health personnel better align their practice with clinical standards and to enable more consideration of pregnant women's needs. Social anthropologists were involved in these case review audits in order to collect data about pregnant women's lifestyles and circumstances. They also worked to train health personnel to conduct interviews. Although it is important to take account of women's circumstances within audit sessions, conducting interviews in 'anthropological ways' (at women's homes, with observations) is time consuming and may sometimes be better replaced with interviews in hospital contexts. Anthropologically informed interviews may pinpoint socio-economic situations as key reasons for problems in healthcare, but health personnel are usually powerless to address these. However, anthropology contributes an awareness of the relevance of these issues for broader healthcare planning.

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Beyond the Academy

Applying Anthropological Research, A Case Study of Demonstrating Impact in the U.K. 2014 REF

Neil Jarman and Dominic Bryan

The 2014 Research Excellence Framework sought for the first time to assess the impact that research was having beyond the boundaries of the university and the wider academic sphere. While the REF continued the approach of previous research assessment exercises in attempting to measure the overall quality of research and teaching within the higher-education sector, it also expected institutions to evidence how some of their research had had 'an effect on, change or benefit to the economy, society, culture, public policy or services, health, the environment or quality of life, beyond academia' (REF 2012: 48). This article provides a case study in how researchers in one U.K. anthropology department were able to demonstrate the impact of their work in the public sphere successfully as part of this major audit exercise.

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Europe and Culture

Anthropological Perspectives on the Process of European Integration

Hana Horáková

After the fall of the Iron Curtain a new concept of Europe as a socially relevant object of study emerged in the social sciences challenging the model of Europe as historical entity, or a philosophical or literary concept. This concept provoked an upsurge of interest in the study of European identity among anthropologists who began to study how Europeanness is constructed and articulated both by the architects of the EU themselves and at a grass-root level. Drawing on notions of European culture and identity, this text examines the image of Europe/the EU in post-communist Europe, particularly in the Czech Republic, from two different perspectives. First, how the institutionalisation of Europe as a cultural idea is viewed by some of the Czech political commentators, and second, from an ethnographically grounded anthropological perspective, focusing on how and at what levels a Czech local community identifies with Europe and the EU. Drawing on a broad range of data, the text attempts to provide new insights into the pitfalls of collective European identity in the making, with the emphasis on its cultural dimension in the post-communist Czech Republic.

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Sam Beck

What if we use theory and method to benefit the people we study and with whom we partner to develop an increasingly just world in which inequities are reduced and all people may believe in their ability to reach their potentials by having access to resources that are more or less equally available, distributed and accessible? Each in her or his way, the contributors to this ‘Special Issue on Public Anthropology’ provide example trajectories which move anthropologists in this direction.

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Introduction

Marxian anthropology resurgent

Patrick Neveling and Luisa Steur

This introduction, coming out during the two hundredth anniversary of Karl Marx’s birth, discusses the distinctiveness of Marxian anthropology and what it has to offer to our efforts at understanding, and confronting, the complexities of the social contradictions constituted by—and constitutive of—twenty-first century capitalism. The article points out common denominators of Marxian anthropology going back to Marx’s insights, but also offers a cursory social history of the diverse lineages of enquiry within Marxian anthropology, shaped by the relations and inequalities of the context in which they emerged. Finally, we discuss certain crucial fields of engagement in contemporary Marxian anthropology as reflected in this theme section’s contributions.

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The world is a room

Beyond centers and peripheries in the global production of anthropological knowledge

Blai Guarné

It is well accepted that the discussion about intellectual centers and peripheries has a reductionist character that conceals the complexity of a globalizing world. Despite this, we cannot ignore that in the academic history of anthropology central traditions and hegemonic discourses were established, while others were rendered as peripheral or marginal. This historical context has set a disciplinary framework of inequalities and imbalances that created the conditions of possibility for the global production and dissemination of anthropological knowledge. By re-examining the controversy surrounding the anthropology of the Mediterranean and its relation with debates about native anthropology, this article points out the challenge of revising this disciplinary framework in the project of developing a truly global anthropology.