Is Anthropology Evil?

December 10, 2000 4:07 PM   Subscribe

Is Anthropology Evil?
Surprised to not have seen this posted sooner.
posted by rschram (3 comments total)
No, it's not.

Darkness in El Dorado has been discredited by numerous people.

That being said, Anthropology has some lingering questions it needs to figure out before moving forward. Postmodernism dealt it a pretty severe blow by showing the linkage between the ethnographer and the subject. The discipline has been schizo ever since (it was just getting over just how damn colonial it had been for centuries).

A better question may be "Is Anthropology dead?"

After all, the discipline is turning in on itself, leaving any vestiges of being a science behind and turning straight to the humanities. I'm not sure if I agree or disagree (personal narrative ARE one way of solving the postmodernist problem I mentioned above), but most of it reads like crap psuedoscience these days.

One day Anthropology will wake up and discover that its search for the answers for what makes us human IS the answer. The search is the thing.
posted by jbeaumont at 4:48 PM on December 10, 2000

I've worked closely with anthropologists who have the highest ethical standards and respect for the scientific method and the culture they are studying. I've seen some good solid data on traditional land use, historical clan boundaries, and linguistics come from their research.

I've also worked with someone whose data and collection methods were suspect. It should be noted, however, that this person's colleagues are aware of this and the resulting papers and book will likely be blasted under peer review.

In my experience there are good and bad apples in every profession. Even in hard sciences like physics there are people who engage in sloppy research and bring their own biases into the interpretation of data.

posted by D.C. at 6:01 PM on December 10, 2000

Hmm... notice how the fact that Chagnon's condescension to the "natives" is dismissed, while the author is quite similarly condescending to rural Michigan? Some things never change...
posted by dagnyscott at 7:15 AM on December 11, 2000

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