I'm very excited to be part of this network dedicated to the future of anthropology. But what is open anthropology?

Or to put it in other words: what does/can the open anthropology community do for each of us? Or again in other words: which actions or behavior could be typical for the open anthropology community?

If anthropology itself is concerned with bringing about a more equal and democratic society than ever existed, then what is open anthropology? Is it simply a collaborative approach to this concern or is it more than that?

Can open anthropology give us access to outcomes that are otherwise not accessible? Is meaning of open not related to the concern of anthropology itself?

So many questions, what's your take?

Steven

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I would think that a decision about changing the name would have to come first. If we have a poll, this is what it should be about.

If a decision to change the name were to be made, then discussion and some decision process about alternative new names could procede.

If we were to try to do both things at once, different considerations would be confounded.
Please do not take silence on the part of the admins as anything other than us working out exactly how we are going to do this. We are on it, and you'll hear from us soon. Thanks! Paul
I agree that we should first of all decide IF we need a name change, and only after ask what this should be. However, I'm concerned about a number of things.
Linking to Forte's post and to this discussion in an eventual poll question appears to me as imbalanced. Nobody is going to read 11 pages (currently) of discussion here, especially given the unhelpful tones often used. But the key issue is that, while Forte's argument is his own, there isn't a corresponding one in this discussion. So what exactly are we asking people to vote on?
In this way, Forte ends up being the only one who can frame the debate (which isn't of course his fault! It's just that he is one and we are many). Nor can we come up with a statement of corresponding length to put side-by-side to his post, because we don't have it, that's the whole problem. I think the point that nobody can define in a unitary manner the definition 'open anthropology' is an important one.
Why don't we explore the possibility of simply stating somewhere that this project is separate from Forte's? Of making clear that we are not associated with him (although we value his work and he is welcome to join any time, and we him)? Surely that would solve the 'identity theft' issue?
One last thought: there is nothing intrinsically democratic in holding referendums that work on majority rule. I want to get this issue solved and move on as I know wants everyone else, but we should not rush towards solving issues based on win-lose scenarios and look at alternative possibilities based on win-win ones.
Thanks for this, Giovanni. The discussion is one-sided because Max has been planning it for a while and has plenty of supporters lined up to argue his case here. The Admins have already lost one of our group in this affair; and we are trying to come up with an agreed approach that would satisfy us and allow our members to express themselves in a more considered and coherent way. We want to get this thing behind us, but we also hope to arrive at a consensus among ourselves before putting the options to our members.

This takes time. We are not guerillas, but stewards of something new and precious, with over 1500 members to think about. We all have jobs and families and theses to write. We have different points of view and our communications have an 8 hour time gap at the extreme. But before this weekend is over, I can promise that we will have posted a collective response to the events of this week and will consult the membership systematically on the issue of the OAC's title. This thread will not be the place for that, but we have learned a great deal from it. Thanks to you all.

In the meantime, please be tolerant of our deliberate response. Our main interest, as of the majority of our members, is to preserve what we have built so far and take it forward on a democratic footing.

Giovanni Orlando said:
I agree that we should first of all decide IF we need a name change, and only after ask what this should be. However, I'm concerned about a number of things.
Linking to Forte's post and to this discussion in an eventual poll question appears to me as imbalanced. Nobody is going to read 11 pages (currently) of discussion here, especially given the unhelpful tones often used. But the key issue is that, while Forte's argument is his own, there isn't a corresponding one in this discussion. So what exactly are we asking people to vote on? In this way, Forte ends up being the only one who can frame the debate (which isn't of course his fault! It's just that he is one and we are many). Nor can we come up with a statement of corresponding length to put side-by-side to his post, because we don't have it, that's the whole problem. I think the point that nobody can define in a unitary manner the definition 'open anthropology' is an important one. Why don't we explore the possibility of simply stating somewhere that this project is separate from Forte's? Of making clear that we are not associated with him (although we value his work and he is welcome to join any time, and we him)? Surely that would solve the 'identity theft' issue?
One last thought: there is nothing intrinsically democratic in holding referendums that work on majority rule. I want to get this issue solved and move on as I know wants everyone else, but we should not rush towards solving issues based on win-lose scenarios and look at alternative possibilities based on win-win ones.
My impression is that many people find the concerns here difficult to appreciate because they simply cannot comprehend the weight placed in North American culture on the concept of 'identity' or the meaning of 'identity theft' as a moral issue: they can 'see' it, but they don't appreciate it because, for Europeans especially, 'identity' is a superficial phenomenon of little real weight. I am speaking tentatively here, but I think that for many non-Americans (including myself), the only way of understanding this is probably in terms of politeness - somehow people have been impolite to MF and since this is unkind we should try to rectify the matter. There is a question here about how the commodity value of 'identity' and its morality have become synthesised in North American social life; I don't claim to know how the question should be framed or the answer, but I do notice that many underlying norms and expectations concerning how the internet should be used rely on these values and on other people taking them for granted.
To all of you who are posting your heart-felt comments and opinions: Thank you. I'm gratified that so many of you feel passionate about these subjects, and that you have so many good ideas on how to deal with these issues and move forward.

I just need to say that it might be a good idea for everyone to go find something else to worry about for a while, and have a nice weekend. I for one have a day job, and it's only 10:30am where I am... so I should be earning my pay rather than reading these post and replying. Keith and Fran are across an ocean from me, and I'm embarrassed to say that I can't remember off the top of my head which time zone loomnie occupies (my apologies).

As Keith stated in a recent post, we'll get this sorted out before the weekend is over. Please have some patience, and acknowledge that we are trying to act in good faith here. If this problem has existed since early June, we should all be able to wait a few more days to do something right, and do it once.
As the debate is moribond, I think I can write here without risking being mobbed because of my anonymity.
I just wanted to draw your attention to a comment that really seems to support my earlier warnings :


http://openanthropology.wordpress.com/2009/08/27/the-particulars-of...


In fact, what I've written about "bad faith" and "credibility" was pretty much common sense. Now it is up to you (admins) whether you want to make things worse or better (for yourselves that is). I can understand that your situation is not an easy one, But I am sure you can still do the right thing.
Igor sends us to listen to the wisdom of Enrique Betancourt. Thank you, Igor.

Enrique Betancourt's English is excellent; his manners, not so much. "Porcine individuals"?

He threatens to keep individuals whose opinions he disagrees with out of his country: "I saved each page and the personal pages of the persons commenting. I simply do not want to see any of them or any of students they train (to use the word generously) doing research in my country of Colombia." Maybe he will apply this also to their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren as well.

And all of this is in aid of "openness"?

A peculiar notion of "openness," one more akin to "exclusiveness," "closedness," and "one opinion only allowed."

This is what we are being encouraged by some to defer to?
You did not understand, Philip.

Enrique does not said this, IMO, in the interest of "openess", whatever meaning you give to that word. I'd say he wrote this because he was simply choked by an obvious lack of ethics on the part of some anthropologists. This is how I read his comment. Now you can go ad hominen and say that my argument does not hold because I am anonymous. Go on.

And you can not command his politeness.

I'd like to advise you to listen more carefully to people you do not agree with, but I doubt you will listen.
Igor, you seem to think that invoking the magic word "ethics" allows the negation of others' human rights, such as freedom of opinion and conscience, and freedom from collective punishment.

Using the word "ethics" as a bludgeon to beat people who might disagree does not advance the discussion and does not aid the development of OAC (or AC or GAC or WAC as may be). Constructive discourse about ethics seeks to find common standards, concerns, and values among those facing some circumstance, and to connect these with practical decisions in a way that convinces the parties involved or leads to a mutually acceptable compromise. Sometimes people of good will and honest opinion disagree, and openness and democracy mean that we live with and tolerate that disagreement.

You should not be thought a villain and evil because you think there are good reasons to remove the term "open" from OAC. But it is equally true that those who do not agree with you, who are not convinced by your arguments (and even by the threats of others), should not be regarded as "unethical" or doing an "unethical" thing. For you, it is "ethical" to do one thing; if others feel otherwise, it is their right, and you should respect that.
Well, maybe I have used the word "ethics" too much. Ok. But it doesn't change the situation.
I do not think that the term "collective punishment" is the right term here. It might be "protection of one's compatriots from evildoers" (Enrique can correct me if I am wrong), it is no "punishment".
I try to convince people that the right thing to do is to change the name, the right thing because of ethics, and the right even in the interests of the (O)AC regardless of ethics. Argumenting is not denying the freedom of conscience.

(Enough about that, you can check my last comment as Frenchguy on Max's blog to know my opinion.)
As an OAC member who didn't notice this discussion happening until just now, I want to advocate *not* changing the name -- the whole discussion is bizarre, is Max Forte simultaneously committed to "open anthropology" but only if whatever he has defined it as in his mission statement happens via the vehicle of his site under the rules he has laid out for it? I don't know, it's like if I started an organization called "Groovy Anthropology" and then sent angry letters to anthropologists not wearing business suits. Or if Abbie Hoffman sued people who stole his book for copyright infringement.

It seems to me that, given the broadly international and diffuse membership of the OAC a name change would just strike most people as baffling, and couldn't be pulled off in a representative fashion: in fact, people have already voted with their feet by joining the OAC. One of the beauties of the format is that the Max Forte contingent are perfectly free to get people to vote the other way by un-joining -- they could form a new discussion group, called "Down with the OAC!" in which they persuade people to quit the cooperative. It doesn't strike me as the best use of groovy progressive disciplinary energy, but of course, I am not the boss lady here -- one of the beauties of this space.

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