THE ETHICS OF ANTHROPOLOGICAL
RESEARCH WITH REMOTE
Kim Hill & A. Magdalena Hurtado
Anthropologists have been conducting fieldwork with remote tribal populations around the world for a century and a half. Such work is critical for achieving the major goals of anthropology: the documentation of human variation and human universals and the investigation of those patterns. But the character of such research presents unique problems that are not encountered in any other kind of academic research. Specifically, we anthropologists are well educated and informed outsiders who must procure collaboration from study subjects in order to obtain useful information. Such study subjects are virtually always underinformed about the basic goals of the anthropological research conducted upon them. They are also usually underinformed about the likely economic and career gains of visiting researchers, the ethical values of the researchers' societies, and the options for recourse available to them if they are unhappy with the character of the research relationship.
In short, study subjects are unaware of their own economic bargaining position based on potential career gain to researchers, they are unaware of a commonly accepted code of human rights among Western societies that engage in anthropological research, and they do not know how to guarantee that they receive just treatment in either realm. These