This article focuses on the site where much anthropological work is conducted—universities—and anthropological approaches to studying their current transformations. Although I work comparatively on the imagining and enactment of universities in Denmark and Britain, here I focus on the recent changes to universities in England, which have taken many by surprise, as if they exceeded anyone's wildest imagination and were even beyond belief. I will trace how the “conditions of possibility” for the current changes came about—the tripling of student fees, removal of government funding for teaching in arts and social sciences, and transfer of public resources to commercial, for-profit higher education companies. I will briefly outline the problems that opponents to these moves are having in imagining an alternative future, let alone organizing themselves to contest current developments. In conclusion, I will point to the changes in anthropology itself that are incurred when engaging in an ethnography of such a large policy field and when attempting to capture “what the present is producing” (Moore 1987: 727).
Rachel Gooberman-Hill, Isabel de Salis and Jonina Einarsdottir
This issue of Anthropology in Action examines the relationship between conventional anthropological methods and those used by anthropologists working in applied health research. Three of the articles were originally presented at a workshop at the 2006 conference of the European Association of Social Anthropologists, while a fourth (Poehlman) addresses related themes and sits well alongside those from the workshop.
Imperial crisis and the millennium goals
Poverty is ‘big business’. Donor funds are set to increase substantially as the UN millennium targets—to eradicate extreme poverty and halve the number of people suffering from hunger by 2015—seem ever more out of reach. Small wonder that social science methods to assess levels of poverty and the results of development projects have become a hot issue, too. As much of the research on poverty directly feeds into policy making and donor strategies, people are rightly concerned about its quality. Anthropology has a stake in this debate: despite the hegemony of quantitative methods in development research, participatory rural appraisals and poverty assessments have always drawn upon anthropological methods. One might wonder what happens to these qualitative methods in research that aims to establish quantitative levels of poverty.
Thinking with Salmon Otoliths and Scales
Heather Anne Swanson
This article proposes that multispecies anthropology and its curiosities about non-humans constitute a ‘minor anthropology’ that poses challenges not only to anthropological categories, but also to anthropological methods. Through attention to Pacific salmon, I probe why and how anthropologists might explore the ways non-humans know and enact worlds via collaborations with natural scientists. Working with biologists, I examine salmon scales and otoliths, or ear bones, whose crystallization patterns act as a kind of fish diary, recording a fish’s migrations and relations. I take up these methods with an anthropological eye, asking how one might use such practices to learn about multispecies encounters that classical ethnography often misses. Lastly, I demonstrate how anthropologists can engage natural science tools while remaining alert to the politics of knowing.
Peter Anton Zoettl
In the north-east of Brazil, the last decades have seen an unfamiliar phenomenon: the rise of 'new' indigenous groups in areas that were long considered as 'acculturated' by both the state and public opinion. In their pursuit to be recognized by the authorities and by fellow non-Indian citizens, these 're-emerging' Indians have continually carried out a peculiar re-construction of their 'image' as Indians, torn between romantic ideas of Indianness and the demand to integrate fully within national society. Drawing on recent fieldwork experience with a group of Pataxó Indians in the state of Bahia, the article discusses how the visual-anthropological method of participatory video can be used as a means of reflecting on the importance of images within identity-formation processes of minority groups. By producing a video about the tourists who visit their Indian village and nature reserve, the Pataxó came to question the stereotypic use of images and the relation between the Other's notion and their own representation of 'Indianness'.
A Discursive Analysis of a Century of Anthropological Writings on Missionary Ethnographers
Travis Warren Cooper
blends historical and anthropological methods—also took up the study of complexity wherein groups at different levels of power come into contact and conflict with one another. Hvalkof and Aaby’s (1981) Is God an American? , Michaud’s (2007
Jack Hunter, Annelin Eriksen, Jon Mitchell, Mattijs van de Port, Magnus Course, Nicolás Panotto, Ruth Barcan, David M. R. Orr, Girish Daswani, Piergiorgio Di Giminiani, Pirjo Kristiina Virtanen, Sofía Ugarte, Ryan J. Cook, Bettina E. Schmidt and Mylene Mizrahi
international healing events in different locations. Her study combines traditional anthropological methods such as participant observation and interviews with an analysis of the wider material culture around the John of God movement, including websites, media