Accepted Paper:

Teaching anthropology / teching with anthropology: making anthropology relevant outside anthropology  


Ulrika Persson-Fischier (Uppsala University)

Paper Short Abstract:

With experiences from teaching in settings such as engineering, entrepreneurship and destination development, I discuss ways to make anthropology relevant outside anthropology. This activates questions on what anthropology is and why it is important, relevant also to the inside of anthropology.

Paper long abstract:

After a presentation in Vietnam about teaching entrepreneurship, a woman told me "I am an anthropologist and I see that your view of entrepreneurship is very anthropological". I hold a PhD in anthropology, but inside academia I teach entrepreneurship, engineering and destination development. Outside academia I lecture in financial risk management and innovation in the health care sector. I do not teach anthropology - I teach with anthropology.

I use anthropological perspectives in my teaching, in a world in which what an anthropologist says is often automatically discredited, while what an engineer or economist says is taken seriously also regarding things beyond their training, like people and culture.

I think that by using anthropological perspectives I add value in these educational settings. I teach things these students need to learn, that will enable them to make better decisions in their future careers. I also add value to anthropology, since I contribute to making anthropological perspectives part of the conceptual tool-kit of more people than only trained anthropologists.

However, making anthropology relevant outside anthropology raises questions about what anthropology really is and why it is important. Are there such things as generic "anthropological perspectives" applicable to any context? What are they, if not field-related? Can anthropology be used for anything, and still maintain its value and relevance? Does anthropology risk being "sold out"? Are there some fields that are more "anthropological" than others? These questions are probably also relevant to the inside of anthropology, and will be discussed here.

Panel P044
Teaching and learning anthropology and ethnography in transforming contexts: objectives, practices, pedagogies and challenges [TAN]