Who do ‘we’ anthropologists think we are? And how do our collective identities and relations – as part of wider communities, movements, disciplines, ‘schools’ and so on – shape our methods, theories and analyses?
Socio-cultural anthropology has historically and popularly been characterized by its study of ‘other’ societies – not only the remote, exotic natives of Malinowskian legend, but also ‘others at home’, such as marginalized minorities, activists and religious communities. But while endless debates have raged over how anthropologists construct and theorize ‘otherness’, far less attention has been paid to the other side of the story: how forms and notions of affinity between anthropologists influence their theory and practice.
This is where YOUR input is needed! The ‘Who are “We”?’ project aims to redress this imbalance by asking how the anthropological ‘we’ is imagined and invoked. How are ‘we’ construed in different anthropological traditions and contexts? Does an anthropological ‘we’ even exist where you work/study? How much are theories of ‘otherness’ premised on the existence of shared backgrounds, experiences, politics and intellectual preoccupations among anthropologists? What about inequalities and disparities within anthropology? And are there anthropological universals (e.g. methods, ways of thinking) or can we only speak of a plurality of anthropologies (world anthropologies, other anthropologies, etc.)?
These and many other questions will be discussed at a small Wenner-Gren funded workshop (Cambridge, September 2014), but we are very keen to open the conversation to as many other people around the world as possible. You don’t need to be a ‘professional’ anthropologist or even an anthropologist to participate, and you can write anything from a paragraph to a treatise… or send us a non-textual response! To this end, we’ve put together a list of questions online that we hope will spark some discussion and debate. You’re warmly invited to respond to these – or just to the general theme – in one of two ways:
Alternatively, you can post your comments via the Open Anthropology Cooperative’s forum (http://bit.ly/1rt4EmR) or just drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Do add your voice to the debate! We look forward to hearing from you.
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