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Audit Culture and the Politics of Accountability

A Comparative Perspective

Susan M. DiGiacomo

Audit culture is examined comparatively in US academic life and in Catalan universities, medical research institutions and scientific publishing. In the case of Catalan universities, audit is shown to be a political practice as well, serving the centralising interests of the Spanish state at the expense of Catalan home rule. Despite the variation in formal practices and institutional contexts, then, the similarities in both the appearance and effects of these practices are remarkable. As anthropologists working across cultural boundaries, we should be attentive to the many forms coercive surveillance may take.

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Austerity in Africa

Audit cultures and the weakening of public sector health systems

James Pfeiffer

emergence of the World Bank as the leading multilateral determinant of global health policy superseding the WHO. This shift is typical of what some anthropologists see as an emergent “audit culture” ( Adams 2016 ; Shore and Wright 2015 ; Storeng and

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Audit failure and corporate corruption

Why Mediterranean patron-client relations are relevant for understanding the work of international accountancy firms

Cris Shore

state are either subcontracted out to private providers, or run (as the saying has it) ‘like a business.’” However, business ethics and public service norms are often incompatible. Far from reducing corruption, the growth of audit culture appears to

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Documenting the UNESCO feast

Stories of women’s ‘empowerment’ and programmatic cooking

Raúl Matta

Heritage politics can transform a dish, a cuisine or a meal into the emblem of a nation, a region or a community. A cultural and economic driver, culinary heritage has revealed the opportunities that actors can draw out of cultural essentialism, and the commercial exploitation that this can lead to. However, we know less about the consequences culinary heritage has in the lives of local communities and individuals concerned with it, in particular the most humble or vulnerable, nor the resulting modes of action – whether adoption, appropriation, rejection or indifference – it might provoke within and among these populations. This ethnographic study redresses this imbalance by giving voice to one of the symbols of current food politics in Mexico: indigenous female cooks. Their narratives evidence how practices of heritage deploy (food) cultures – and the people related to them – in programmatic, coercive fashions by building on notions and concepts of prospection, empowerment and audit culture. In villages, culinary heritage not only catalyses contradictions and tensions among women, which manifest in feelings of envy and injustice and decreased social cohesion; it also prompts changed opportunities that lead to resistance, new sociabilities and cooperation.

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Part 3: Anthropology of Policy

Susan B. Hyatt, Don Brenneis, Kirsten Locke, Rebecca Lund, Gritt B. Nielsen, Jakob Krause-Jensen, and Cris Shore

university system. Indeed, one might suppose that it was partly the university reforms and the audit culture that had affected British universities since the 1980s that drove to her ‘exile’ in Denmark – only to discover the spread of similar ideas and

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Audit culture and the infrastructures of excellence: On the effects of campus management technologies

Asta Vonderau

Drawing upon ethnographic data, this article investigates the effects of a new online campus management system in one of the largest universities in Germany. It shows the various ways in which this technological innovation influenced students', teachers' and administrative personnel's relations and everyday working practices and how it is influential in the reorganisation of university structures. The online management system is regarded as an important part of an emerging infrastructure of excellence, which materialises the changing understanding of qualitative studies and teaching. Findings show that the online management supports standardised and economised study, teaching and administrative practices and silences creativity and flexibility. However, these standardisations are negotiated and questioned by the actors involved.

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Anthropology in and of the academy

Globalization, assessment and our field's future

Don Brenneis

In considering the challenges and opportunities likely to be faced by social anthropologists over the coming 20 years, this paper begins with a recognition of the critical role of institutional structures and processes, especially practices of evaluation and assessment, in the future trajectory of our discipline. The core of the article critically explores two general modalities of assessment and evaluation: deliberative processes, of which peer review is a classic example, and more formal techniques focused on particular quantitative indicators such as citation factors and impact analysis. The discussion draws upon ethnographic work on and from the midst of such bureaucratic sites, on tracking in some detail the conflation of descriptive and evaluative practice embedded in the forms of quantitative metrics, and on current critical examinations of both deliberative and analytical strategies. The article argues that deliberative, consultative peer review can lead to much more acute, textured and realistic outcomes for such reviews, whether of programmes or individuals, than can a reliance solely on bibliometrics. I also suggest that scholarly associations such as EASA have a particular role to play both in arguing for the value of serious collegial engagement in such work and in modelling, in ways with which social anthropologists are deeply familiar, how such qualitative reviewing might be responsibly and proactively pursued.

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Governing by numbers

Audit culture, rankings and the new world order

Cris Shore and Susan Wright

Quantification and statistics have long served as instruments of governance and state power. However, in recent decades new systems of measurement and rankings have emerged that operate both beyond and below the nation‐state. Using contemporary examples, we explore how international measurements, rankings, risk management and audit are creating new forms of global governmentality. We ask, who – or what – is driving the spread of audit technologies and why have indicators and rankings become a populist project? How should we theorise the rise of measuring, ranking and auditing and their political effects? What are the impacts of these ever‐more pervasive systems on organisational behaviour and professional life?

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Data management in anthropology

The next phase in ethics governance?

Peter Pels, Igor Boog, J. Henrike Florusbosch, Zane Kripe, Tessa Minter, Metje Postma, Margaret Sleeboom‐Faulkner, Bob Simpson, Hansjörg Dilger, Michael Schönhuth, Anita Poser, Rosa Cordillera A. Castillo, Rena Lederman, and Heather Richards‐Rissetto

Recent demands for accountability in ‘data management’ by funding agencies, universities, international journals and other academic institutions have worried many anthropologists and ethnographers. While their demands for transparency and integrity in opening up data for scrutiny seem to enhance scientific integrity, such principles do not always consider the way the social relationships of research are properly maintained. As a springboard, the present Forum, triggered by such recent demands to account for the use of ‘data’, discusses the present state of anthropological research and academic ethics/integrity in a broader perspective. It specifically gives voice to our disciplinary concerns and leads to a principled statement that clarifies a particularly ethnographic position. This position is then discussed by several commentators who treat its viability and necessity against the background of wider developments in anthropology – sustaining the original insight that in ethnography, research materials have been co‐produced before they become commoditised into ‘data’. Finally, in moving beyond such a position, the Forum broadens the issue to the point where other methodologies and forms of ownership of research materials will also need consideration.

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Insatiable greed

performance pressure and precarity in the neoliberalised university

Christian R. Rogler

Considerably increasing competition for academic positions/funding as well as managerial control of academic work are two key features of the contemporary university. Both developments result in and are amplified by increasing performance pressures and precarious employment. Combined with a vocational work ethic, these neoliberal dynamics are turning the academic profession into an increasingly greedy and (self-)exploitative endeavour. While allowing employers/funding bodies to ask for much while offering little in return – that is to siphon off the symbolic and economic ‘profit’ generated by academics’ free or under-paid work – the current working conditions leave early-career academics in particular in a highly vulnerable position.