I especially liked the following idea on The Memory Bank's forum:
"An open anthropology would be self-promoting, and do much more to get the word out about what anthropologists are doing than anything the AAA has ever done." - Kerim
As a student of anthropology still familiarizing myself with the field, I would like to have a central place online to learn about ongoing research and network with others interested in anthropology. [ snip ]
This is where storytelling comes in; that is telling our own stories to each other. If we're truly not an institution, and if we're really a community, we will first have to get to know each other and connect to each other emotionally. Anthropologists know this better than anybody else. The best way to do this of course is to meet each other in real life, spend some time together and get to know each other. The second best alternative is to share our stories with each other online, and circumstances will prove that this is probably something we have to specialize in. Apart from being an online community of anthropologists this is also a giant experiment in studying ourselves and each other in community building and growing." - devijers
I would like to ask what does open anthropology entail exactly? I am doing an ethnographic study and would be very careful about sharing my results "openly".
kind regards deniz
Keith said, "The principle should be that the ethnographer would not knowingly cause harm to anyone else as a result of what s/he publishes."
Of course, you are right, Keith; this is a standard ethical pronouncement for anthropologists. But many of us are "critical," "committed," or "engaged" anthropologists, speaking out on behalf of the oppressed and the "subalterns," whether of caste, class, gender, age, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation. Thus there might be a "commitment" in favour of, as Steve (above) originally put it, "anthropology ... concerned with bringing about a more equal and democratic society than ever existed."
Part of such analyses are, of course, the villains: upper caste members who abuse "untouchables"; men who control and abuse women; employers of children; capitalists oppressing workers; Israelis oppressing Palestinians; heterocentrics engaging in homophobia; etc. etc. All of these are meant to be harmed by the anthropologists' analyses: the game is name and shame, discredit, and condemn. In short, do all harm possible to those of whom one does not approve.
So for many anthropologists, the principle is, "do no harm to those of whom one approves; do maximum harm to those of whom one disapproves."
Philip, I have to respectfully say I couldn't disagree with you more. Are you talking about a specific individual? If not, then this is a rather stark blanket condemnation of much of contemporary cultural anthropology. I consider myself a critical, committed, engaged, feminist, poststructural, postcolonial anthropologist and can unequivocally state that my work is not about naming and shaming, discrediting and condemning or doing harm to those of whom I don't approve (to use your words from above). I can certainly understand someone's preference for different theoretical approaches or styles of scholarship, but don't at all see your critique above reflected in the literature as I read, practice, and teach it. Instead, I see much promise in my current students and excellent work being done in the field in general; I like that cultural anthropology is not just alive, but alive and kicking in the present.
Perhaps what is also at issue here is an interpretation of harm. For me, engaged critique is not harm, but an important part of ethnographic thinking.