Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Applied Anthropology in Canada: Understanding Aboriginal Issues

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Applied Anthropology in Canada: Understanding Aboriginal Issues

Article excerpt

Edward J. Hedican, Applied Anthropology in Canada: Understanding Aboriginal Issues, second edition (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2007), xiv + 294pp. Cased. £42. ISBN 9780802099075. Paper. £20. ISBN 9780802095411.

Social anthropology in the early part of the twentieth century was associated with imperialism and colonialism and was judged to be exploitative in its relations with Aboriginal peoples. In contrast, in this century social anthropologists have been hired by First Nations to do research to support their communities and progress has been made on decolonising methodologies. This somewhat mixed history provides the context for this book's call for social anthropologists to revise their approach to their discipline, 'to take the same stance against the colonial suppression of Aboriginal people as they have recently been willing to take against sexism and racism' (p. 259). The principal question addressed by this book is what contribution can social anthropology make to the situation of Aboriginal peoples in Canada?

Edward Hedican develops an argument for engaging in participatory research, raises questions about a stance of cultural relativism, and promotes a role of advocacy for applied anthropology. This second edition, aimed at undergraduates, updates and expands upon the original publication of 1995. The introductory chapters clarify issues of terminology, provide some statistical data on Aboriginal peoples in Canada, sketch the historical development of anthropology in Canada, and give an overview of key features of anthropological fieldwork. Hedican then examines issues of objectivity, commitment and social responsibility in research. Reviewing research strategies in anthropology, he reports that anthropologists are working in 'new roles as mediators, advocates and consultants' (p. …

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