Author:Edward McDonald (Ethnosciences)
Paper short abstract:
Reviewing my long and mobile career as an applied anthropologist, I examine some of the problems of competency and knowledge production as one learns by doing while moving between a variety of research and policy areas.
Paper long abstract:
To paraphrase Wellin and Fine (2001: 323): 'Whatever else it might be anthropology is work'. In this paper I review my experience as a working anthropologist, which has been largely marginal to academia and focused primarily on applied work. My career, spanning more than 40 years, has taken me through a variety of research and policy areas, including Aboriginal housing and homelessness, juvenile justice, foster care, day care, team design and skill formation in heavy industry, worker participation, community relations, welfare service delivery and community development, Aboriginal heritage and Native Title. At times working solo, at other times working as part of an anthropological or multidisciplinary team. Applied work has involved the production of knowledge upon which is based reports that focus on practical outcomes or the provision of expert or policy advice to array of Government, Indigenous and non-Indigenous NGO's and private sector mining and commercial organisations. At various times throughout my career I've felt rather like a stone skipping over deep pools of knowledge, as I have sought to gain competency and skill-up for work in a variety of substantive areas. I explore some of the tricks of the trade that I have endeavoured to use, sometimes successfully and at times not so successfully to skill-up and on the problems of learning by doing, while particularly in the latter part of my career also running commercial consultancy enterprises.
The mobility of applied anthropologists: in and out of fields and between jobs [Applied Anthropology Network]