Applying Anthropology

By Brunton, Ron | Review - Institute of Public Affairs, June 1999 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Applying Anthropology


Brunton, Ron, Review - Institute of Public Affairs


SPENDING five days with around 1000 anthropologists is probably not any normal person's idea of a good time. Usually it wouldn't be mine either. But my wife and I have recently returned from a conference in Tucson, Arizona, held by the Society for Applied Anthropology (SfAA). It gave us a sense of the current highs and lows of the profession, particularly its American incarnation.

The SfAA's strength lies in bringing together academic anthropologists with practitioners working in private industry, government and community groups, thus tempering the current tendency of many university-based anthropologists to part company with reality. As well as involvement in more traditional areas-- such as community development and indigenous land and heritage issues-- applied anthropologists are now working on projects as varied as attempts to address public fears about the introduction of potentially beneficial technologies, and the design of greeting cards catering for cultural diversity.

Certainly, the tempering effects of this practical activity can be exaggerated. Academics still outnumbered others at the conference. A number of the non-profit organizations which welcome applied anthropologists encourage a view of the world that is just as delusory and leftist as the most politically-correct university milieux. Some of the anthropologists working for corporations seem to share their academic colleagues' strong dislike of private industry, giving the impression that they would much rather be advocating wealth redistribution and destruction than working in the bellies of wealth-creating beasts.

So the lows were as bad as any to be found in Australian anthropology. Many papers offered a disagreeable porridge of pretension, posturing, political correctness and misrepresentation. Sitting unrecognized in one session, an anthropologist whose careful research has played a major and honourable role in exposing a Hindmarsh Island-like fraud in California heard himself being denounced as a `racist', a totally unfounded and particularly damaging accusation for someone whose livelihood comes from working with Native Americans and migrant labourers.

`Globalization', `free markets', and economists proved very unpopular, although `economic rationalism' as a bogey term does not seem to have taken hold in American anthropological discourse. Titles and abstracts in the conference programme enabled us to avoid some truly unpromising sessions, such as `Queer life matters: applying lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender anthropology', a sub-field of the discipline whose existence I had hitherto not even suspected. But it was still possible to be beguiled into attending some real horrors by abstracts which bore little relation to the actual presentations.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Applying Anthropology
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?