Public Anthropology

Course Number: 
238 Kroeber
Tu 2:00 - 5:00

This upper division class is designed for socio-cultural and medical anthropologists who will have first preference. 5 seats are reserved for graduate students in anthropology who wish to co-facilitate the seminar with the instructor. The goal of this seminar is to define and explore the role of the intellectual in public debates and public life as researchers, writers, and teachers and activists.

A critically engaged anthropology (and medical 3 anthropology) and the different forms this might take. Academic anthropologists tend to focus on their dedicated research and scholarship and leave to others -- the media, legislators, political leaders, technicians, policy experts, and business -- the applications (some of them lethal) of their ‘relevant’ research to policy and political life.

Critically interpretive and critically applied anthropology has a long and distinguished pedigree from Franz Boas and Margaret Mead to Pierre Bourdieu, Laura Nader and David Gareber as well as the instructor -- to mention but a few of the legion of anthropologists who have envisioned anthropology as both an intellectual field, a discipline, and a ‘force field’, a site of critical thinking and resistance. While anthropology and ethnography in particular are well positioned to understand and interpret cultural complexity and diversity in a globalized and violent world, powerful political and global economic forces actively seek to limit academic freedoms and to undermine critically engaged, ethnographic, research and participations in social movements, writing for the media and general public.

Critically engaged scholars link theory and practice and move comfortably between observation (detachment) and action (engagement), between the podium and street, and strive to reach broad audiences and multiple publics.

In addition to writing scholarly discourses, they write ethnographies that reach broader publics, editorials, pamphlets, broadsheets, and blogs.