What kind of knowledge ought we to hope for from this?

"Wisdom sets bounds even to knowledge" (Nietzsche).

The amazingly inclusive global community of discourse emerging here around the ostensible center of anthropology as a common term of disciplinary self-identity reveals the concrete power of openness. But I am finding this opening to the multitude of differently located anthropologies somewhat disorienting. And I am struggling to recognize the productive features of this new space. For me, I find it helpful to think of anthropology’s center as wisdom, its practice a craft-like vocation of engineering disciplined access to human insight, or a method of discerning and distilling reflective clarity concerning the conditions of our own production. Such a vision for scholarship is productively turned in on itself, as Webb Keane did in his 2003 essay on “Self-Interpretation, Agency and the Objects of Anthropology” (http://sitemaker.umich.edu/webbkeane/files/self_interpretation.pdf), asking the question:

“What kind of knowledge ought we to hope for from this?”

I would like to talk with you about this question, especially its normative aspect.

What kind of knowledge do you hope for in this?

What frontiers of knowledge do you see opening here, now in this novel opportunity to talk with me, with a thousand colleagues from every corner of the globe?

And what kind of bounds might we wisely consider as productive factors in the process of laboring to realize these hopes?

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It's a bit bewildering isn't it. But, let me check first, what's that "it" you are talking about? Anthropology? OAC? I observe that a lot of these "What's it all about?" discussions are popping up on OAC, in Theory in Anthropology, Ethnography, and Political and Legal Anthropology, for example. Do we have a new angle here?
Very good questions indeed Jeff

My response could be positive in this multiplicity of different people who managed to createalready 100 different groups and maybe more in the coming days. This fact reveals the extendend degree of interests and variety of aims. One can be activated in the groups selected to write and exchange aspects from their particular forums as in a big international World congress. But I imagine also another opportunity as it worked 10 years ago with much less means of technology at that time: WHAT ABOUT THE CREATION OF AN E- JOURNAL OF ANTHROPOLOGY with comitees of peer readers and board members who could advise as specialists for publishing electronically the best articles of our 1000 members ?
What really fasccinates me is the participation of colleagues of the third World in this COOPERATIVE ( as Keith very well named our forum) and I should wish and engage myself to bring also colleagues from Africa and India and also China that are less represented still. WE HAVE TO LEARN A LOT FROM THEM JEFF and maybe they can learn from us and this is the greatest challenge of our effort. Now, about KNOWLEDGE leading to WISDOM this can be elaborated slowly under good and correct selection criteria but also under good will, faith and trust to the OTHERNESS and respect to the possible diferent moral values of many colleagues.Wisdom is coming at the end with small steps and under what Ancient Greeks described as METRON or Aristotelian MESOTIS ( betwwn elleipsis = lack and hyperbole= exaggeration).
Hi John,

(Its good to see a familiar face from the Savage Minds peanut gallery here!). I guess you are right in suggesting there are diminishing return from threads dilating on "what it's all about." What might be useful, by contrast, is talking in a more intimate register as individuals about what we hope to achieve with our time here. I am 100% in agreement with Nikos that the most exciting potentiality I can see in this forum arises from the opportunity it provides to talk with anthropologists from other countries (this conversation being case in point! MESOTIS in emergence, I hope, and long live the OAC e-journal!). The practical trouble I am facing is time. I have about 30 minutes per day to spend foraging on the internet, and I cant seem to figure out 'where the action is' on this site, being as it is a field of "openness." Nor am I entirely sure what that 'action' is intended/will turn out to be. Hence this thread. So, rather than any "it," might I ask what "you" are about here, in the friendly sense of inquiring about what you are hoping for from this conversation?
Jeff,

I am a 100% with you and Nikos. I, too, am finding the range of people, countries and backgrounds here extraordinary. What really got me excited when I first encountered OAC was finding people who were talking about actual theoretical issues in social/cultural anthropology in a serious way. The discussions were not (not yet?) largely confined to the wretched state of academia today, perpetual groans about students, anxious moralizing about whether it is good or evil to be doing anthropology at all, pious horror at racism, creationism or both. I'd like to offer a special word of appreciation to Philip Salzman. I may have reservations about his theory that pastoralists are more likely to share when they have to depend on each other for mutual self-defense and less likely to do so when incorporated into states that claim a monopoly of force and provide some level of security. But, hallelujah, the man has a theory! An actual set of propositions about some actual people in the actual world. That's refreshing, and something I'd like to see more of.

Jeff Martin said:
Hi John,

(Its good to see a familiar face from the Savage Minds peanut gallery here!). I guess you are right in suggesting there are diminishing return from threads dilating on "what it's all about." What might be useful, by contrast, is talking in a more intimate register as individuals about what we hope to achieve with our time here. I am 100% in agreement with Nikos that the most exciting potentiality I can see in this forum arises from the opportunity it provides to talk with anthropologists from other countries (this conversation being case in point! MESOTIS in emergence, I hope, and long live the OAC e-journal!). The practical trouble I am facing is time. I have about 30 minutes per day to spend foraging on the internet, and I cant seem to figure out 'where the action is' on this site, being as it is a field of "openness." Nor am I entirely sure what that 'action' is intended/will turn out to be. Hence this thread. So, rather than any "it," might I ask what "you" are about here, in the friendly sense of inquiring about what you are hoping for from this conversation?
For the past couple of weeks, I've been spending quite a bit of time on OAC, perhaps too much. But I have been enticed by rich discussions and lively exchanges with John McCreery and other colleagues. So a tentative response, for myself, would be that "the action" is in hearing views and responses that I might not otherwise hear on issues of interest to me. If you put up a discussion topic, or add a comment, you don't know what is coming next. That is exciting and informative, if you are engaged with the subject.

But, Jeff, you have touched on a serious practical problem: how to fit OAS in with other work, duties, and demands. I am (supposed to be) working on a book called Can We Be Free and Equal Too?, due to be submitted at the end of the summer. Diving into OAS, I suspended my work on the book. Now I have returned to the book, which draws on cross-cultural case material and requires reading in areas with which I am less familiar. But, having done so, I have not been able to respond to a number of comments by John and others, which I would like to do. Really, I am itching to respond.

So there we are: OAS is a temptation to draw on our time and energy for anthropological exchange and enrichment. As Oscar Wilde said, "I can resist anything but temptation."
We need new and fresh food for thought because Academia has been toomuch strict and bureacratic in its effort to be prestigious and official. Also the professionalism of many colleagues dealing with their work or with the conditions of their commitement make them subconsciously victims of a power game where they choose to be superior as producers and dealers of the OFFICIAL KNOWLEDGE. But the importance is not to officialise whatever knowledge ( that can easily be turned to an instrument of power exercise) but to search for slices of ORIGINAL KNOWLEDGE wherever is hidden and by whoever agent is ported. Of course the fragmentation of knowledge as propagated by the world mass media does not encourage such an attemps.Also the SIMULATION of knowledge due to the computer technology can falsify the REAL knowledge and create false impressions ( sometimes of the Esthetical order some other times of the moral). But the real knowledge has to be objective and here we are for this, to judge , to criticise under multiple criteria and to decide not as SUPREME JUDGES but as ghuman beings with elevated sensibility. Otherwise Anthropology not reflecting to itself for a most inner critique will be a rational science the same as physics and mathematics or dry and austere statistics.I think that only sensibilisation of all of us under multiple motives produced also by us , could surpass the problem of simulation of knowledge and allophobia that we iniciatally have for each other.

P.S. OAC and not OAS ( otherwise some French and Algerians will remember an old paramilitary organisation of the sixties)
Why not start the ball rolling by posting something yourself?

Owen Wiltshire said:
I'd like to see more self-archiving going on, passing around of essay drafts etc...

Going back to an old Savage Minds discussion - I'd like to see a mix of "fast" and "slow" writing, with loads of commentary from as many people as possible..

And I like anything less wordy than your average anthro journal.

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