Accepted Paper:

Engaged anthropology: its diversity and dilemmas  
Setha Low (Graduate Center, CUNY)

Paper long abstract:

This presentation focuses on the considerable progress that has been made in bringing anthropology to public awareness as a discipline within US cultural and practicing anthropology. It is clear that the call for engagement has been addressed in all sub-fields and within a global context, but these areas are beyond the scope of this article. Within this more circumscribed sphere, the authors argue that there are a number of forms of engagement: 1) sharing and support, 2) teaching and public education, 3) social critique, 4) collaboration, 5) advocacy and 6) activism. This engagement takes place during fieldwork, through applied practice, in institutions such as Cultural Survival, the Institute for Community Research and the Hispanic Health Council, and as individual activists who work in the context of war, terrorism, environmental injustice, violence, and human rights.

A close examination of the history of engaged anthropology in the US, however, also reveals an enduring set of dilemmas, many of which persist in contemporary work. After exploring the history of engaged anthropology and the current state of practice, this presentation focuses on some of the enduring challenges it poses and highlights both the expansion and growth of engaged anthropology and the problems facing its practitioners. By way of conclusion, a number of remaining barriers to engaged practice are identified and briefly discussed.

Panel W004
Diverse anthropologies with multiple publics: Crisis or imaginative responses? [WCAA workshop]