Mutuality: Anthropology's Changing Terms of Engagement

Mutuality: Anthropology's Changing Terms of Engagement

Mutuality: Anthropology's Changing Terms of Engagement

Mutuality: Anthropology's Changing Terms of Engagement


Why do people do social-cultural anthropology? Beyond professional career motivations, what values underpin anthropologists' commitments to lengthy training, fieldwork, writing, and publication? Mutuality explores the values that anthropologists bring from their wider social worlds, including the value placed on relationships with the people they study, work with, write about and for, and communicate with more broadly.

In this volume, seventeen distinguished anthropologists draw on personal and professional histories to describe avenues to mutuality through collaborative fieldwork, community-based projects and consultations, advocacy, and museum exhibits, including the American Anthropological Association's largest public outreach ever--the RACE: Are We So Different? project. Looking critically at obstacles to reciprocally beneficial engagement, the contributors trace the discipline's past and current relations with Native Americans, indigenous peoples exhibited in early twentieth-century world's fairs, and racialized populations. The chapters range widely--across the Punjabi craft caste, Filipino Igorot, and Somali Bantu global diasporas; to the Darfur crisis and conciliation efforts in Sudan and Qatar; to applied work in Panama, Micronesia, China, and Peru. In the United States, contributors discuss their work as academic, practicing, and public anthropologists in such diverse contexts as Alaskan Yup'ik communities, multiethnic New Mexico, San Francisco's Japan Town, Oakland's Intertribal Friendship House, Southern California's produce markets, a children's ward in a Los Angeles hospital, a New England nursing home, and Washington D.C.'s National Mall. Deeply personal as well as professionally astute, Mutuality sheds new light on the issues closest to the present and future of contemporary anthropology.

Contributors : Rogaia Mustafa Abusharaf, Robert R. Alvarez, Garrick Bailey, Catherine Besteman, Parminder Bhachu, Ann Fienup-Riordan, Zibin Guo, Lane Ryo Hirabayashi, Lanita Jacobs, Susan Lobo, Yolanda T. Moses, Sylvia Rodréguez, Roger Sanjek, Renée R. Shield, Alaka Wali, Deana L. Weibel, Brett Williams.


Roger Sanjek

We can begin this volumes collective examination of mutuality by asking: Why do we do anthropology at all? What values underpin anthropologists’ commitments to lengthy academic training, to fieldwork, to writing and publication, and to communication with various audiences? Why do we do what we do?

Anthropology, I propose in response, has two contending value systems that motivate our work. One I will term the academic-career complex, and the other I call mutuality, which is the collective focus of this book.

The academic-career values that motivate us as professionals include the satisfactions of discovering and deepening an expansive anthropological worldview; our advancement along career paths to initial employment, work and research opportunities, and promotion; and approval and esteem from colleagues. These last may be evidenced in requests to speak and in invitations to participate in meeting panels, conferences, and essay volumes; in publication acceptances, peer citations, and favorable book reviews; and in professional honors and prizes. As we are thus “disciplined” by the discipline, these values and rewards define us as individuals within a professional world, aspects of which we become aware of only after we enter it.

For many anthropologists, however, there are, in addition, other values, brought from the wider social worlds in which we have grown up and in which we live as persons, actors, and citizens, which include the value we . . .

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