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Applied Anthropology in Europe

Historical Obstacles, Current Situation, Future Challenges

Dan Podjed, Meta Gorup and Alenka Bezjak Mlakar

The article presents the state of applied anthropology in Europe, in particular focusing on the application of anthropological knowledge and skills within the private sector. Firstly, the text depicts the historical context, which has had a strong and often negative impact on the developments in contemporary applied anthropology and specifically on applying anthropology in for-profit endeavours. It then provides an overview of this type of applied anthropology in Europe by identifying its main institutions and individuals. Building on this analysis, the article elaborates on extant challenges for its future development, and outlines the most promising solutions. The authors conclude that it is of crucial importance for European anthropology to make the transition ‘from words to actions’, especially in the areas not traditionally addressed by anthropologists, such as business and design anthropology or consultancy work in the private sector. While the discipline has a longer applied history in areas such as development, human rights and multiculturalism, few anthropologists have played significant roles in the efforts usually associated with the private sector. It is argued that anthropology should – also outside the non-profit and non-governmental sectors – shift from being a descriptive, hermeneutical and interpretative branch of social sciences describing and explaining the past or commenting on the present, to an applied discipline intervening in shaping the future.

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Dan Podjed and Meta Gorup

Applied Anthropology Network of the European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA) started its activities in 2012 and has since then grown to 120 members. The newly established network has already tackled some of the crucial issues in Europe related to applied anthropology, and has so far identified at least three key challenges: (1) how to increase employability of applied anthropologists, (2) how to deconstruct stereotypes about their activities (within and without academic settings), (3) how to boost self-esteem of younger colleagues at the beginning of their applied career.

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Jonathan Ventura

The definition of 'applied anthropology' varies from period to period and from culture to culture. However, anthropology's centrality is, in my eyes, unquestionable. With that in mind, a significant part of the discipline's basic principles remained unchanged, despite recent socio-cultural, economic and technological changes sweeping the world in recent years. In this article I wish to present two case studies in which the inherent connection between anthropology, as a discipline, and other professions, is challenged. Through teaching anthropological theories and methodologies to industrial designers and architects I will present a somewhat different approach from those practiced by anthropologists. As a result I will redefine the role of the applied anthropologist as an essential member of the design team.

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Caridad Hernández Sánchez

This article explores the pedagogical strategies of applying anthropology in the field of Education, particularly in the initial training courses for teachers. It shows a way of doing applied anthropology by anthropologists who work as non-anthropologists but use their anthropological training and knowledge in their work. This study presents anthropology as a productive discipline in promoting different perspectives for the analysis and understanding of the social phenomena which, used in the classroom, facilitates students in training as educators to critically approach the fundamentals of Education as much as the processes of teaching and learning. Ultimately, this article points out how the shifts in Education students' perspectives instigated by the use of anthropology in the classroom might eventually lead to changes in education policies.

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Social Circus and Applied Anthropology

A Synthesis Waiting to Happen

Nick McCaffery

This article explores the potential for developing anthropological investigation in the field of social circus – in particular with those projects that work with individuals living with disabilities. The author uses examples of research in Belfast to argue that the applied nature of anthropology is the ideal mechanism for analysing and comparing the emerging field of social circus projects around the world. In this case, anthropological tools were utilised that had a direct effect, not only on understanding the phenomenon of social circus projects but also on raising the levels of quality, leading to a direct improvement on services provided.

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Vicos as Cold War Strategy

Anthropology, Peasants and 'Community Development'

Eric B. Ross

This article examines how anthropology's emphasis on the traditional values of peasants reflected the general precepts of 'modernization theory', the dominant development discourse of the Cold War era. It explores how such ideas lent credibility to the U.S. strategy of 'community development' as a central part of its response to radical rural change. Special attention is paid to the Cornell-Peru Project at Vicos in the Peruvian highlands, which attained legendary status as a case of applied anthropology, but is here examined in relationship to the strategies of the U.S. power elite and Cold War government policies.

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Amanda J. Reinke

Informal justice refers to those legal practices that are traditionally outside the purview of formal law and legal systems. Since the advent of widespread social critique in the United States during the 1960s and 1970s, informal justice models have become increasingly popular and implemented in communities and within the legal system itself. The existence of informal justice mechanisms alongside and within formal justice systems in the US raises a number of questions for applied anthropologists interested in legal anthropology. In this article, I leverage four years of ethnographic fieldwork in the US to argue for the capacity of applied anthropologists to effectively work in grey juridical spaces that are beside and between the law, activism, and emerging bureaucratic regimes.

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When They Write What We Write

Young People's Influence on Policymaking in Northern Ireland

Rosellen Roche

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.

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Kevin A. Yelvington

Academic social and cultural anthropology concerned with tourism has provided thick descriptions of the tourist exchange in a number of contexts, with exegeses devoted to illustrate the sexualized Other, the appropriation of landscape, the uses of the past in the present, and the detrimental effects of tourism structures on the ‘host’ communities. It has shown us how pilgrimages, beaches and museums become iconic and fetishized in the tourist’s gaze, how the landscape is appropriated and a geographical space is turned into a cultural place. Yet, for applied anthropologists concerned with the impacts of the world’s largest industry on local ‘toured’ populations and how the (unequal) tourism exchange is (unequally) constituted through material and symbolic historical processes, do the theories generated in the academic tradition provide a use-value? Do those anthropologists engaged in community-centred methods such as participatory action research, and working in theoretical traditions through praxis, approach their subject in the same ways as their nonapplied anthropological counterparts? Indeed, what can applied anthropologists, as such, and the consideration of applied projects, contribute to theory in anthropological research on tourism more generally?

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Wine Tourism in the Temecula Valley

Neoliberal Development Policies and Their Contradictions

Kevin A. Yelvington, Jason L. Simms and Elizabeth Murray

Wine tourism is a growing phenomenon, with tourists enjoying not only wine but a rural lifestyle that is associated with winegrowing areas and the elusive essence of terroir. The Temecula Valley in southern California, a small wine-producing region and wine tourism destination, is experiencing state-led plans for a vast expansion of production and tourism capacity. This article traces the challenges inherent in this development process, and questions the sustainability of such plans regarding the very environment the wine tourists seek out, especially regarding the availability of natural resources, mainly water, needed to fulfil these plans. The article concludes with a call for an applied anthropology of policy that is centred on the articulations of the state and neoliberal capitalism.