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Is anthropology legal?

Earthquakes, blitzkrieg, and ethical futures

Edward Simpson

This article is a contribution to the growing literature that suggests that the methodological and writing practices of anthropology are out of kilter with the times. The processual structures and regulative mechanisms that produce anthropological knowledge were formed when objection and engagement were not the almost-inevitable consequence of publication. Those who inform anthropological research now frequently object to the ways they are represented. My argument here focuses particularly on the relationship between the ethical structures of anthropology and the nature of objection. Thus far, the consistent response from anthropologists has been to explain away objections as differences in epistemology. In this light, I draw on an objection to my own research on postdisaster reconstruction in India to ask why there should not be disagreement between anthropologists and those who inform research. I also illustrate why the epistemological explanation is now insufficient and why new structures of research and writing might be required to make the leap from an age of objection.

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Siobhan Kattago

Dagmar Barnouw, Germany 1945: Views of War and Violence (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1996)

Barbie Zelizer, Remembering to Forget: Holocaust Memory through the Camera’s Eye (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998)

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Wooden Man

Coetzee or the Possibility of Differend as Ethics

Teresa Joaquim

Matias, Daniel. 2017. “Wooden Man”? Masculinities in the Work of J. M. Coetzee (Boyhood, Youth and Summertime). New York: Peter Lang. xvi + 214 pp. $99.95 ISBN 978-1-43313-806-5 (hardback) 978-1-4331-3808-9 (EPUB) 978-1-4331- 3807-2 (PDF)

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Héctor Germán Oesterheld

Ethics and Aesthetics of a Humanist

Domingos Isabelinho

This text was inspired by a personal perplexity occasioned by the Argentinian miniseries on TV Pública, Germán, últimas viñetas [Germán's Last Panels] with actor Miguel Ángel Solá in the leading role. (The series aired from 30 April to 23 May 2013.) I mean perplexity because why would a TV channel devote a whole series to a comics scriptwriter? I ask because in many countries and moments in history the comics scriptwriter was not even credited. On the other hand, the series implies another question: what happens to a great creator when he finds himself, because of his life's circumstances, in the situation of practising his trade in a primarily conservative and commercial environment? I'll try to answer those questions, but since Oesterheld's achievements are still too unknown in Europe I hope to also give here my humble contribution to help correct the situation.

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Girlhood and Ethics

The Role of Bodily Integrity

Mar Cabezas and Gottfried Schweiger

Our concern is with the ethical issues related to girlhood and bodily integrity—the right to be free from physical harm and harassment and to experience freedom and security in relation to the body. We defend agency, positive self-relations, and health as basic elements of bodily integrity and we advocate that this normative concept be used as a conceptual tool for the protection of the rights of girls. We assume the capability approach developed by Martha Nussbaum as an ethical framework that enables us to evaluate girls’ well-being and well-becoming in relation to the potential, and often subtle, threats they face. The capability approach can be understood as a theory of justice, and, therefore, as an ethical and political approach. An enriched concept of bodily integrity can help in the design of better policies to address gender biases against girls because it could contribute to seeing them as active agents and valid participants.

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Terminating Terror

The Legality, Ethics and Effectiveness of Targeting Terrorists

Avery Plaw

In the ongoing war on terror both the American and Israeli governments have resorted to a policy of ‘targeting terrorists’. In essence, both governments authorize their military or intelligence services to kill specific ‘terrorists’ who they believe mortally threaten citizens and cannot otherwise be neutralized. President Bush calls this ‘sudden justice’ and the Israeli government ‘targeted killing’ but their critics speak of ‘assassination’, ‘liquidation’ or ‘extra-judicial killing’. Since 11 September 2001, America is reported to have killed at least 44 people without warning or trial under the guidance of this policy, at least 18 of whom were civilians; the Israelis have killed at least 348, including 120 unintended targets (B’tselem 2006; Byman 2006b; Meyer 2006).

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Introduction

The politics and ethics of collaboration among World Anthropologies

Michele Hanks

The articles in this theme section are based on papers presented at a three-session workshop on World Anthropologies at the 2008 Biennial Conference of the European Association of Social Anthropologists in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Drawing on analyses of the position of anthropological disciplinary practices in Poland, Spain, Hungary, and the US, as well as their global reception, these articles ask important and timely questions about where anthropologists conduct their research, what professional and academic societies they join, what types of relationships they should forge with scholars who live in the country or nation in which they conduct fieldwork, and how they should engage with other disciplines beyond anthropology. As these articles demonstrate, practices of collaboration are enmeshed in politically, socially, and geographically grounded histories. Although at some level this may not be a surprise to readers, specific issues remain well worth examining further and discussing within the profession.

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Counting Up the Lies

A Self-Reflexive Investigation of Craft and Fictionalization in a Modern Travel Book

Tim Hannigan

Travel writers seldom reveal the degree to which they deploy fictional elements in their notionally nonfictional books, nor do they discuss the precise motivations for and mechanics of fictionalization and fabrication in travel writing. In this article a travel-writing practitioner turned travel-writing scholar analyzes his own work: the thirteen-year-old manuscript of The Ghost Islands, an unpublished travel book about Indonesia. This analysis reveals various patterns of fabrication across what was presented as and intended to be a “true account,” including the craft-driven fabrications necessitated by reordering and amalgamating events, the omissions generated by attempts to overcome belatedness and to express antitouristic sentiments, the fictional elements introduced through the handling of dialogue and translation, and the self-fictionalization impelled by awareness of genre conventions. The article highlights the significance of writerly craft as a key—and largely overlooked—variable in the scholarly analysis of travel-writing texts.

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The Past as a Foreign Country

Bioarchaeological Perspectives on Pinker’s “Prehistoric Anarchy”

Linda Fibiger

Steven Pinker’s thesis on the decline of violence since prehistory has resulted in many popular and scholarly debates on the topic that have ranged—at times even raged— across the disciplinary spectrum of evolution, psychology, philosophy, biology, history, and beyond. Those disciplines that made the most substantial contribution to the empirical data underpinning Pinker’s notion of a more violent prehistoric past, namely, archaeology and bioarchaeology/physical anthropology, have not featured as prominently in these discussions as may be expected. This article will focus on some of the issues resulting from Pinker’s oversimplifi ed cross-disciplinary use of bioarchaeological data sets in support of his linear model of the past, a model that, incidentally, has yet to be incorporated into current accounts of violent practices in prehistory.

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Trouble in Para-sites

Deference and Influence in the Ethnography of Epistemic Elites

Paul Robert Gilbert

Through his enduring efforts to interrogate the regulative ideals of fieldwork, George Marcus has empowered doctoral students in anthropology to rethink their ethnographic encounters in terms that reflect novel objects and contexts of inquiry. Marcus' work has culminated in a charter for ethnographic research among 'epistemic communities' that requires 'deferral' to these elite modes of knowing. For adherents to this programme of methodological reform, the deliberately staged 'para-site' – an opportunity for ethnographers and their 'epistemic partners' to reflect upon a shared intellectual purpose – is the signature fieldwork encounter. This article draws on doctoral research carried out among the overlapping epistemic communities that comprise London's market for mining finance, and reviews an attempt to carve out a para-site of my own. Troubled by this experience, and by the ascendant style of deferent anthropology, I think through possibilities for more critical ethnographic research among epistemic elites.