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Engaged Anthropology: Diversity and Dilemmas: An Introduction to Supplement 2

Setha M. Low and Sally Engle Merry
Current Anthropology
Vol. 51, No. S2, Engaged Anthropology: Diversity and Dilemmas (October 2010), pp. S203-S226
DOI: 10.1086/653837
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/653837
Page Count: 24
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Engaged Anthropology: Diversity and Dilemmas
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Abstract

As a discipline, anthropology has increased its public visibility in recent years with its growing focus on engagement. Although the call for engagement has elicited responses in all subfields and around the world, this special issue focuses on engaged anthropology and the dilemmas it raises in U.S. cultural and practicing anthropology. Within this field, the authors distinguish a number of forms of engagement: (1) sharing and support, (2) teaching and public education, (3) social critique, (4) collaboration, (5) advocacy, and (6) activism. They show that engagement takes place during fieldwork; through applied practice; in institutions such as Cultural Survival, the Institute for Community Research, and the Hispanic Health Council; and as individual activists work in the context of war, terrorism, environmental injustice, human rights, and violence. A close examination of the history of engaged anthropology in the United States also reveals an enduring set of dilemmas, many of which persist in contemporary anthropological practice. These dilemmas were raised by the anthropologists who attended the Wenner‐Gren workshop titled “The Anthropologist as Social Critic: Working toward a More Engaged Anthropology,” January 22–25, 2008. Their papers, many of which are included in this collection, highlight both the expansion and growth of engaged anthropology and the problems its practitioners face. To introduce this collection of articles, we discuss forms of engaged anthropology, its history, and its ongoing dilemmas.

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