Anthropology will either go public, or die

Pirsig is the author of "Zen and the art of motorcycle mantainment" (1974)

The field that one might have expected to be one of the most useful and productive of the sciences had gone under, not because the people in it were no good, or the subject was unimportant, but because the structure of scientific principles that it tries to rest on is inadequate to support it“. Robert M. Pirsig, Lila (1991).

You wake up one morning and find yourself in the periphery of the Academy. Far from the established paths. It is the experience  Jessica Collier and Rebecca Schuman describe in two recent posts (thanks Cate!), and maybe also the one suffered by David Graeber, one of the best anthropologists around, dismissed by Yale probably for political reasons. As  Graeber itself has argued, anthropology has an innate difficulty to position inside academic contexts: but those of us who keep trying to bring anthropology to the society outside it,  are often pushed into difficult or painful situations (as recently happened in Barcelona). Luckily, there is a new approach that is opening its way, that could draw a bridge among “inside” and “outside” the Academy, towards breaking these annoying barrers. Some examples:

  • “WHY A PUBLIC ANTHROPOLOGY?” the new book by Robert BOROFSKY (Pacific University, Hawaii!) now available for download as an ebook; the first chapter also in PDF.
  • ZERO ANTHROPOLOGY, a blog by Maximilian FORTE (Concordia University, Montreal!): it is a “project of decolonization”, with the aim to transform anthropology into something that is neither eurocentric nor elitistic. HERE
  • Noël JOUENNE (2007) “Être ethnologue et hors-statut: vers une réelle valeur ajoutée?”. Journal des anthropologues (en ligne), 108-109, pp.69-85. [link][PDF]: being precarious, staying outside the Academy, could they be values added?

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