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Accepted Paper:

Considering Co-creation in Anthropology: Imagining New Ethical Frameworks  

Author:

Harsha Menon (Tufts University)

Paper short abstract:

From early roots in colonialism, to embracing multi-vocality and shared authorship, does co-creation offer a potential framework for the current moment in anthropology? No longer speaking for, or even speaking nearby, this paper asks, can co-creation yield a more ethical paradigm for scholarship?

Paper long abstract:

An academic discipline steeped in colonialism, European 'discovery,' and natural sciences, anthropology has evolved to encourage robust self -critique.

Anthropologists are often self-conscious and self-critical, not only about personal subject positions, but also in theorizing one's inter-subjectivity, [DS1] especially in relationships to power. Lenses such as gender, sexuality, and post-coloniality are central.

MIT's Co-creation Studio defines co-creation as efforts that function outside of a single authorship, across communities and disciplines. It posits that co-creation is a form of equity and justice. What does this mean? Moreover, who decides?

Using clips from historical filmic anthropological research and co-creative anthropology, this paper asks three questions? What can be gleaned from early power dynamics in the field? In co-creation, what autonomy and authorship does the anthropologist retain? Are there current projects that find a balance of power and authorship amenable to all involved?

While this paper will ask more questions than it answers, it will elevate the urgency of emancipating the discipline of anthropology out of the colonial project to imagine spaces of ethical engagement and knowledge production that feature a multivocality. No longer speaking for subjects and cultures, the paper seeks to evoke a gesture of Trinh T. Minh-ha who states "I do not wish to speak about, only to speak nearby." In imagining different forms of inter-subjectivity, could co-creation offer an opportunity for a speaking 'with'? And given the extreme vulnerabilities of migration, climate change, and the colonial present, is not such co-creation an ethical imperative?

Panel P082
New Horizons for Anthropological Authorship: Co-creation and the Production of Knowledge in Times of Global Change