Accepted Paper:

Practicing a public anthropology of the East Japan Disaster  

Author:

Shinji Yamashita (Teikyo Heisei University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper aims to locate a public anthropology within the contemporary discourse on the role and purpose of anthropology. In so doing, the paper intends to offer a framework for this panel stressing the necessity to practice a public anthropology in the contexts of the East Japan Disaster.

Paper long abstract:

This paper stresses the necessity to practice a public anthropology in the context of the East Japan Disaster that occurred on March 11, 2011. But how exactly should we go about doing that? The East Japan Disaster poses precisely that challenge. According to Rob Borofsky, an ardent promoter of public anthropology in the United States, "public anthropology seeks to address broad critical concerns in ways that others beyond the discipline are able to understand what anthropologists can offer to the re-framing and easing—if not necessarily always resolving—of present-day dilemmas." In other words, anthropology should contribute to the understanding and solution of contemporary public issues beyond the discipline through engaging in the broader public sphere. Paying attention to the background issues behind this definition, the paper discusses the following controversial questions particularly in the context of the East Japan Disaster: (1) why and how we should engage in public issues; (2) why and how we should go beyond the borders of the discipline of anthropology; (3) why and how we should collaborate with other sectors and institutions; (4) the utility of public anthropology as a concept, and its relationship with applied anthropology; and (5) public anthropologists as value creators/reformers rather than value-free observers. In so doing, the paper aims to locate public anthropology within the contemporary discourse on the role and purpose of anthropology in order to serve as a theoretical and practical framework for this panel on a public anthropology of the East Japan Disaster.

Panel P024
Practicing a public anthropology in communities devastated by the East Japan Disaster