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Critiquing what we like II 
Tom Neumark (University of Oslo)
James Wintrup (University of Oslo)
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Friday 2 April, 16:30-18:00 (UTC+1)

Short Abstract:

In recent years, academic critique recently has been put under scrutiny. Our panel joins this on-going debate by asking, what are our responsibilities, as anthropologists, to provide critical evidence on objects that we support, find desirable, and wish to see existing in the world?

Long Abstract

How should we engage in critique when we are studying objects that we support and wish to see existing in the world? What responsibilities do we have when we engage in this kind of supportive or sympathetic critique? What new responsibilities emerge when we critique things that we support and even “love”? (de Laet and Moll 2000). As anthropologists working on Universal Health Coverage (UHC) – the ambitious proposal to ensure that all citizens on the globe have access to quality healthcare – we are concerned with what critical evidence might look like in relation to such desirable ambitions. Scholars have argued that, in the current climate, academic critique can run the risk of being irresponsible. Critique can end up undermining the authority of scientific knowledge (Latour 2004) or reinforcing a “politics of the anti” (Ferguson 2010) in which scholars spend time opposing what they dislike, without offering any viable political solutions. For some scholars, the irresponsibility of providing this sort of evidence provokes them to move beyond critique altogether. But if critique can be irresponsible, then how might we instead engage in a more responsible form of critique? In this panel, we consider what this kind of critique might look like when we are studying things that we approve of and wish to see in the world. These objects could be moral values, political proposals, technologies or something else. We welcome contributions from those wishing to reflect on their experience of studying things that they similarly have a positive attitude towards.

Accepted papers:

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