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Anthropology involves subjecting familiar and taken-for-granted roles and rules to critical examination. In this roundtable, sponsored by WCAA, anthropologists from around the world provide specific example of how this is the case in their home societies, and explore the consequences of this.
This roundtable, sponsored by the World Council of Anthropological Associations, explores how anthropology as a discipline is based on seeing beyond enshrined values, roles and rules. This is because anthropology, based in the study and comparison of societies around the world, necessarily examines the social constructedness of values, roles and rules in any given society to see their cultural arbitrariness. This makes anthropology an exciting but also a subversive and even dangerous discipline. In this roundtable, we explore and articulate seeing beyond “the natural” in a range of different societies, questioning the valuations given to money, to career, to romantic love, to patriotism, and to a range of other values in different societies. Each of the speakers, from five different societies around the world, will give a presentation exploring a taken-for-granted value in their society and its resulting roles and rules, and will consider the effects on students and on society, both good and bad, of the anthropological examination and questioning of those values, roles and rules. The roundtable will consider the possibility that the questioning for which anthropology is known may not necessarily be a social good but a social evil—do we really need to know that we human beings are merely “making it all up as we go along”?