AAA Annual Meeting Program

AAA Annual Meeting Program Details

Session Information:
This session may be of particular interest to:  Practicing and Applied Anthropologists     Teachers of Anthropology in Community Colleges     Students  Students
Program Number: 2-0165
Type: Session
Session Sponsor: National Association for the Practice of Anthropology
Society for Medical Anthropology
Session Date/Time: Thu., 8:00 AM-9:45 AM
Organizer(s): REBECCA ETZ (Robert Wood Johnson Medical School) 
Chair(s): REBECCA ETZ (Robert Wood Johnson Medical School) 
8:00 AM: NOELLE MOLE (Princeton University) -- The Empathy Exhibit  
8:15 AM: KATHERINE LAMBERT-PENNINGTON (The University of Memphis) -- Residents, a Planner, and an Anthropologist Walk Into City Hall…participatory Action as a Strategy for Neighborhood Revitalization  
8:30 AM: LARRY GREEN (University of Colorado-Denver), REBECCA ETZ (Robert Wood Johnson Medical School) -- I Can Do It, Watch It, Teach It, Discover It – Without Getting Confused  
8:45 AM: RACHEL WATKINS (American University) -- Scientific Discourses on Race: Forecasting Storms in the Moral Sky  
9:00 AM: DISCUSSANT: DEBORAH GEWERTZ (Amherst College)  
9:15 AM: DISCUSSANT: RENA LEDERMAN (Princeton University)  
9:45 AM: End of Session
Abstract: This session explores the methodological, ethical and pedagogical implications of producing anthropology for, and with, specifically non-anthropological publics. Our focus is on anthropological “engagement” and the circulation of anthropology as expertise in non-anthropological settings. We consider the difference between scholarly engagement and public engagement as well as the professional and disciplinary implications of being saddled with that distinction. Ours is not a project of existential questioning – how is my work anthropological and is it anthropological enough? Nor is it a project of seeking definitions – how is this different from “action” or “applied” anthropology, “public” or “activist”? Instead, we focus on the day-to-day negotiating of methodologies and standards of value in order that they be viewed as mutually acceptable and beneficial to the anthropological and non-anthropological publics involved in our work. As such, our relations with audiences, collaborators, interlocutors, and clients (who may be students, professionals, policy makers, and everyday people) involve two-way, not necessarily coordinate, efforts of co-production.

The papers in this session interrogate the effect of engaged work on the methodological and ethical decisions we now face. We begin by focusing on the adapting of anthropological methods to answer questions mutually negotiated and defined with non-anthropological collaborators, or publics. We draw on projects that involve urban redevelopment in collaboration with faith-based organizations, primary care redesign in collaboration with physicians and community organizations, community outreach with students still learning what it means to practice anthropology, and the use of biohistorical research on race in ways useful for contemporary policy makers and lawmakers. Within these projects, we reflect on the impact of our relationships with the various publics involved and/or implicated in our work, be they students or collaborators, communities or participants. These are formative and mutually beneficial relationships, established at the start of defining our current work and within which we labor towards a jointly defined social good. Clearly the world is changing, social issues are evolving, and anthropology is changing to meet these needs. Central to the discussions presented in this session are the methodological and disciplinary inventions necessitated by our new professional engagements.


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