Participants from four countries compare and contrast visions of public anthropology. Panelists explore possible pitfalls of evangelizing anthropology, along with questions of intelligibility and relevance when anthropologists engage media, policy debates, and popular political discourses.
How do visions, practices, and challenges of public anthropology differ across national boundaries? What possibilities and challenges arise for global forms of public anthropology and for engaging issues of public concern across political borders? In this roundtable discussion, participants from four countries on three continents reflect on anthropology's publics and consider questions about intelligibility and relevance when academic work is translated into non-academic domains; perspectives on anthropological engagement with media, policy debates, and popular political discourses; and possible pitfalls of evangelizing anthropology. Themes addressed include the afterlives of ethnography; memory politics and traumatic pasts; public representations of the economy and the politics of austerity; the challenges of advocacy work and of power inequalities in representation; possible forms of networking and collaboration, and the stakes for different participants; and the effects of "audit cultures" and the corporatization of universities. Panel participants from Africa, Europe and North America include Catherine Besteman (Colby College), Thomas Hylland Eriksen (University of Oslo), Francisco Ferrandiz (Spanish National Research Council), Hugh Gusterson (George Mason University), Angelique Haugerud (Rutgers University), and Francis Nyamnjoh (University of Cape Town).