Fair trade is a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency, and respect, that seeks greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers. Minimum prices and social premiums linked to fair trade certifications, which require independent audit of the environmental, economic, and social conditions of commodity production and exchange, are integral to the system. Anthropological explorations of fair trade practices emphasize the cultural dimensions, socio-economic conditions, and political economy. Anthropological scholarship explores how experiences of fair trade are diversely influenced by gender; racial and ethnic identities; differences in wealth and resources, education, and geographic location; and political hierarchies and social institutions. The nuanced insights into fair trade impact produced through detailed, ethnographically driven anthropological research ultimately illustrate the limits of social movement-driven, rural-development alternatives and produce empirically informed, practical suggestions for how the current system could be improved. Anthropological expertise is appreciated within the fair trade assemblage, which encompasses development organizations, certification firms, importers, and retailers.
Anthropological Perspectives on Fair Trade
Cultural Anthropological Practice in US Military Organizations
Kerry B. Fosher and Eric Gauldin
Cultural anthropologists work with US military organizations in a wide variety of employment situations and roles. Some who work full-time within these organizations conduct research on personnel or teach in schools, holding roles and doing work similar to anthropologists in academia. Others are external consultants, providing advice and research in ways similar to practicing anthropology in other sectors. Others work in less common capacities, such as providing scientific advising, conducting analysis, or designing and administering programs. Most forms of engagement or employment with military organizations are controversial within the discipline of anthropology. The controversy is an important source of caution and critique. However, it sometimes masks the complexity of the work and context. Few large institutions are truly homogenous. The several million uniformed and civilian personnel who work in US military organizations have diverse, often conflicting perspectives on important issues and varying degrees of agency to effect or resist change. Consequently, the opportunities and constraints anthropologists have to affect the institution depend heavily on not only their specific roles but also on where they work within the institution and who their colleagues are. The broad range of the roles and positions anthropologists hold in military organizations, coupled with the complexity of the work context, create challenges for developing ethical and practical guidelines. Practicing anthropologists in this sector must collaborate with colleagues to interpret and meet disciplinary professional standards for ethics, transparency, and quality. The work context and controversy also create challenges for building and maintaining an identity as an anthropologist. As is the case with practicing anthropology in all sectors, anthropological work with US military organizations also has broader implications for the discipline. Connections to powerful institutions, such as corporations or government entities, always bring with them legitimate concerns about how the biases and intentions of the institutions might reshape the field. There are also significant questions about how colleagues can assess ethical decision making and evaluate the work of those employed in nontraditional roles and settings. In addition, the field continues to grapple with how anthropologists practicing in this sector can communicate most effectively what they learn about military organizations back to the discipline.
Anthropology and Implementation Science
Elissa Z. Faro, Suzanne Heurtin-Roberts, and Heather Schacht Reisinger
Basic science and health services research has produced a substantial body of knowledge that has the significant possibility of improving human health and well-being. Much of that knowledge is published, yet read only by other researchers. Alternatively, this research becomes “evidence-based practice” (EBP), that is, knowledge obtained under specific controlled conditions. The world where humans live their everyday lives tends to be complex and “messy.” Thus, these EBPs are frequently ineffective when employed in the scientifically uncontrolled world. Implementation Science (IS) is a fast-growing field intended to remedy this situation. IS was established to study the most effective strategies to integrate EBPs into public and community health and healthcare delivery. IS asks whether an intervention can be effective in a specific local context; that is, under what conditions and in what contexts can any change-oriented action be effective in the real-world? IS will continue to grow in visibility and significance as governments and funding agencies seek to ensure their investments in research are reaching their intended audiences and having demonstrable impact. Anthropology has contributed significantly to IS, yet it can contribute so much more. Well-equipped to answer many of the questions posed by IS, anthropology’s theory and methods allow researchers to understand and broker both emic and etic perspectives, as well as represent the richness, fluidity, and complexity of context. Both anthropology and IS recognize the importance of context and locality, are real-world-oriented (vs. controlled research environments), and embrace complexity and nonlinearity. They are both comfortable with the emergent nature of research-produced knowledge and use both qualitative and quantitative methods. Beyond these congruencies in perspectives and approaches, the rationale for having more anthropology in IS is not only because it is a good fit. Anthropology emphasizes critical analysis of power and unequal power structures; while such phenomena are sometimes included in IS, they are not frequently critiqued. Anthropology can furnish a questioning, critical perspective of the object of study and how it is studied, a perspective that is lacking in much IS work. Indeed, this approach is something that anthropology does best, and is integral to anthropology’s conceptual orientation. IS is one of the many spaces in which anthropologists are demonstrating relevance and having an impact.
Anthropology and Informatics in Health Care
Laurie Novak and Joyce Harris
Information technology increasingly figures into the activities of health-care workers, patients, and their informal caregivers. The growing intersection of anthropology and health informatics is reviewed, a field dedicated to the science of using data, information, and knowledge to improve human health and the delivery of health-care services. Health informatics as a discipline wrestles with complex issues of information collection, classification, and presentation to patients and working clinical personnel. Anthropologists are well-suited as collaborators in this work. Topics of collaborative work include the construction of health and illness, patient-focused research, the organization and delivery of health-care services, the design and implementation of electronic health records, and ethics, power, and surveillance. The application of technology to social roles, practices, and power relations that is inherent in health informatics provides a rich source of empirical data to advance anthropological theory and methods.
Anthropology Between Academia and Practice
Anthropological skills and perspectives are of use in many professional contexts, and in a few industries, the value of anthropology is generally accepted: historic preservation, public health, and user experience research are prominent examples. As a result, a vibrant community of “practicing,” “professional,” “public,” and “applied” anthropologists has taken root in a variety of non-academic settings. The relationship between academia and professional practice is sometimes difficult, however, as some practitioners feel stigmatized or excluded by academics, while others inhabit professional spaces where academic anthropology is largely irrelevant. While anthropologists often speak of a “divide” or “split” between academic and practicing anthropology, this view overlooks the fact that much work in the discipline maintains a presence both inside and outside of higher education institutions. Not only do anthropologists often form collaborative partnerships among members with diverse professional commitments, but individual anthropologists may simultaneously maintain both academic and non-academic affiliations, and they may move among professional spheres over the course of their career. If we are to reach a full understanding of the profession, we must move beyond a simplistic “academic/practitioner” dualism to consider these diverse professional contexts and work-life trajectories.
Anthropology in Consumer Research
Maryann McCabe and Rita Denny
Consumer research, an emergent field in applied anthropology, examines relationships between producers and consumers as mediated by the marketplace. The anthropological purpose of consumer research is to discover cultural meanings of products and services in people’s everyday lives and to identify societal practices and discourses that inform and perform these meanings. While consumer research is inspired by and draws on traditional anthropological theory, it has also made theoretical contributions to anthropology, including consumption practices as crafting identity, consumption activities generating and maintaining social relationships, and the transformative power of consumer goods instigating cultural change. Anthropologists engaged in consumer research work in three primary areas: (1) market-making to assist organizations in defining the environments in which they operate; (2) branding to differentiate an organization’s products and services from those of competitors by attaching to the brand a symbolic meaning from the lived experience of consumers; and (3) innovation to guide business growth by analyzing consumer practices, as well as client and other stakeholder suppositions about the nature of the problem to be solved. Anthropologists in consumer research not only represent consumer voices but are also mediators of stakeholder interests. Change occurs at minimal scale by reframing problems for clients and affecting how clients address target audiences through marketing and advertising strategies, communications, or innovation; and at broader scale, by simultaneously contesting cultural ideologies (e.g., gender, personhood, ethnicity) perpetuated by business practices.
Anthropology of Education
The anthropology of education (also known as educational anthropology, pedagogical anthropology, ethnography of education, and educational ethnography) is a broad area of interest with roots and continuing connections in several major disciplines, including anthropology, linguistics, sociology, psychology, and philosophy, as well as the field of education. It emerged as a named subdiscipline in the 1950s primarily in the United States through the work of George and Louise Spindler, Margaret Mead, and others. However, work of a related nature was also taking place around the same time in Germany, Mexico, Brazil, Japan, and Britain. While research in the anthropology of education is extremely diverse, a few central aims can be articulated. One is to build our understanding of how people teach and learn and what they teach and learn across different community, cultural, national, and regional contexts. Through comparisons of educative processes, scholars often draw insights about how culture shapes educational processes, how culture is acquired by individuals and groups through such processes, as well as how people create changes in and through their educational environments. A basic premise is that formal schooling is implicated in a paradoxical relationship with social inequality. While formal education can lead to greater social justice, it can also contribute to the creation and widening of social inequality. Thus, another key aim is to describe, uncover, and expose educational processes that undermine as well as enhance greater social equality. Formal education is not the only focus; studies of informal learning in families and communities provide rich descriptions of everyday contexts in which young people develop the skills and knowledge to be productive members of their community. Often such descriptions stand in stark contrast to the formal educational system where the same learners may be perceived as deficient. Since the 1990s, the anthropology of education has witnessed a number of shifts, including a movement toward research that takes an activist and engaged stance (e.g., research that includes a goal of changing oppressive conditions by collaborating directly with stakeholders such as youth and parents). This movement entails accompanying changes in methodologies, expanding beyond primarily descriptive ethnography to include methods such as participatory action research, teacher research, policy research, and critical ethnography. A more international and less US-centric perspective is also emerging as scholars around the world recognize the importance of studying both formal and informal education through ethnographic and other qualitative methods. The field is enriched as scholars around the world contribute new perspectives forged in regions with different historical and political environments. One of the key questions asked in early 21st-century educational anthropology is, under what circumstances can formal education be a force for change to create more egalitarian and inclusive societies?
Anthropology of Peace and Justice Studies
Eric Montgomery and Elizabeth Drexler
The early 21st century has seen the largest protests for social justice in the history of the U.S., including the Women’s Marches of 2016–2020 as well as the Movement for Black Lives. Meanwhile, the Farmers’ Protest in India constitutes the largest and most expensive protest in the history of the world. Cases of state and political violence and genocide around the world have been addressed in transitional justice processes and peace agreements or commemorated in various forms. And yet, even as individuals and groups mobilize for peace and justice, violence and oppression continue to proliferate around the world. What we identify as the anthropology of peace and justice encompasses the empirical analysis, theoretical engagement, and practical advocacy of anthropologists across the subfields. These anthropologists work to identify, conceptualize, and study individual and collective engagement with violence, oppression, injustice, and efforts to make change, seek justice, and establish sustainable peace. Anthropological theory and methods are well suited to capture emergent, ongoing, and innovative struggles for justice that occur in a range of social, cultural, political, and institutional realms drawing on collective cultural and symbolic actions. Today’s anthropologists engage with issues of violence, conflict, inequality, and struggles for justice and equity. We highlight theoretical, methodological, analytic, and ethnographic elements that distinguish anthropological approaches to peace and justice studies from other disciplines that examine this domain. Anthropologists engaging immigrant rights, movements for racial justice, indigenous rights, climate justice, gender equity, the Fight for $15, Occupy Wallstreet, gun violence, and issues of authoritarian rule and neoliberalism (market-oriented principles and government deregulation) in the era of globalization continue to build this vibrant and expanding area of anthropological concern.
Anthropology, Technology, and Innovation
Applied anthropology is increasing an alternative to academic anthropological contributing to innovations in a broad range of products and services including technology, office equipment and furniture, business organization, breakfast foods, automobiles, hand sanitizers, communication media, medical equipment, smartphones, and much, much more. When applied anthropologists began to work in business organizations, they first called themselves industrial anthropologists and, later, organizational anthropologists. The first industrial and organizational anthropologists were based in the academy. However, in the 1990s a growing number of anthropologists also began to be employed at private businesses, including the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), IDEO, E-Lab, GVO, and even General Motors. There they were instrumental in applying the theory and methods of anthropology to potential innovation. At these companies , many of early applied anthropologists became accidental innovators as a consequence of their role working in teams composed of differing disciplines. It was the anthropologist on the team who was responsible for contributing research-based insights that framed, directed, and/or inspired creative idea. In the process of conducting research on a problem, these anthropologists stumbled across new ways to frame issues and uncovered insights leading to novel solutions: innovation. As the value of applied anthropology has been recognized, and employment of anthropologists has expanded, specializations have emerged. No longer does the title of organizational or business anthropologist always provide an appropriate or sufficient level of description for many anthropologists although both continue to be used. New labels, such as design anthropologist, user experience researcher, and marketing and digital anthropology, have been created to distinguish among applied anthropologists working in differing sectors. Organizational anthropologists have continued to contribute to our understanding of organizational culture. Design anthropology is used primarily by anthropologists working in product and technology industries. Digital anthropologists study human interactions in virtual/digital spaces, or investigate how digital technology is impacting society. Marketing anthropologists have been in advertising and marketing for decades, and there is a substantial body of scholarly literature generated from this work. Despite the different titles these anthropologists hold, from design to marketing, the value of the theoretical and methodological contributions of anthropology are the key underpinning of their research. The innovations that have resulted from the work of these anthropologists cannot be underestimated. The theories and methods of anthropology, applied by anthropologists, provide a perspective that takes a unique in-depth systems approach that can map interconnections, challenges, and assumptions and open up wider landscapes. The true innovation anthropologists contribute to innovation is anthropology itself.
Application of Space and Place Theories to Design
Anthropological inquiry about the reciprocal influence of human behavior on space and place primarily focuses on the production and use of built environments. Many questions about “design” began in the 19th century when medical doctors sought to “cure” schizophrenia through the architecture of mental hospitals. Vigorous renewed interest re-emerged, however, in the mid-20th century when designers and planners, sometimes also trained in psychological and social sciences, began focusing on designs that could accommodate users’ needs. Sociocultural anthropological research using ethnography has traditionally described the adaptation of native peoples to their physical environments that enable their survival. These investigations and findings are framed by the concept of culture—a holistic understanding of integrated, collectivized, and institutionalized systems and values. A variety of space and place theories emphasize notions of practical and symbolic foundations in place-making beginning with perception and proxemic dimensions of spatial recognition and interpersonal interaction. Ethnographic studies of holistic spatial concepts focus on houses, work environments, and prisons, hospitals, schools, and eldercare facilities. Out-of-door spaces include the consideration of neighborhoods and gated housing, and public plazas and parks. Some of these latter spaces are public, some are private, and some are ambiguous. Finally, in the world of professional design practices, anthropology contributes insights into P.O.E. (post-occupancy evaluation) and “design anthropology,” which emphasizes an engaged anthropological participation to consider reflexively not just design recommendations but anthropology itself.
Applied Anthropology and Public Health
Doug Henry and Lisa Henry
This article details the contributions of applied anthropology to public health, focusing on complementary and divergent interests, orientations, and methods. We emphasize areas where productive collaborations have occurred around convergent topics such as infectious and chronic disease, policy, interventions, and analysis of the social, political, and economic contexts that structure the conditions of health. Public health’s emphasis on community and advocacy provides a natural entry point for anthropology’s ethnographic method that emphasizes spending time with a community and understanding aspects of culture and health from its peoples’ perspectives. When a multidisciplinary team meets on a common interest, such as improving public health, everyone’s interests become better served if each discipline’s perspectives and values are recognized. Anthropologists with careers in public health can expect to engage in formative research to help develop the most appropriate health interventions, evaluate community uptake or rejection of public health initiatives, or critically examine the effects of national or global policies on local populations.
Applying Anthropological Insight in an Aging World
Sherylyn Briller and Erika Carrillo
Aging is a biological and sociocultural experience that occurs globally. Although aging is universal, ideas about aging and the life course vary widely and influence how aging and quality of life are perceived. Aging occurs both individually and collectively. Individuals have their own life stories and experiences shaped by cultural values, norms, and life course expectations. Anthropology’s attention to both scientific and humanistic ways of exploring what it means to be human is well suited to investigating how people live and age over time and in various locations. Like other anthropological subjects, one can explore aging in terms of human evolution as well as biological and cultural variation in aging experiences. Combining these topics to take a holistic perspective forms the subfield of the anthropology of aging. Given the breadth and scope of the anthropology of aging’s subject matter and global population aging, it is easy to see why this subfield is so fascinating to explore and work in as a career field. Numerous prior reviews cover the subfield’s origins and development and are highlighted. Homage is paid to the subfield’s history, and how to apply what has been learned to understanding a rapidly aging and socially changing world is discussed. As many have indicated, significant challenges and opportunities lie ahead.
Frederick (Fritz) P. Lampe
Anthropology has long been interested in religion. Shifts in the anthropology of religion include expanding notions of what it is beyond Eurocentric distinctions between sacred and profane, real and superstitious, pure and syncretic, primitive and civilized, and true and naïve. With these shifts come creative and collaborative approaches to understanding systems of meaning. The result is that anthropologists are now engaging with global movements, the ways proponents of particular movements impact, influence, and shape local discourse and practice, and the creative ways religious ideas coalesce into meaningful social practice. Approaches to the domain of religion and its relevance for and within communities recognize: (a) that comprehensive systems of meaning shape individual and social experience; and (b) the ways religion influences and informs ideas about health and healing, community development, climate change, and sustainability. Opportunities to apply anthropologically informed approaches to religion result. Religion, health, and healing are deeply intertwined. For example, many people seeking life-work balance have turned to meditative practices. Yoga classes, for one, have many people meeting in health clubs, church basements, in city parks, and other community venues. Deep breathing and experiencing the wholeness of one’s body, mind, and spirit impact the ways people understand themselves in relationship to others and the world. The novel coronavirus, COVID‑19, has highlighted the relationships people have with scientific inquiry vis-à-vis their faith, the ways God’s work and will interface in a global pandemic, and what responsibilities people of faith have. These things have come to the fore during the pandemic. These same tenets inform how communities of faith respond to government regulations about childhood immunizations. In addition to physical health, religion is relevant to social health and healing as well. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, massive protests called for an end to systemic racism in the United States. A rainbow of people took to the streets to protest the continued and systematic oppression of minority communities—Black, Indigenous, Asian, Hispanic, and White together with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer/Questioning—and they quickly became allies calling for change. Protesters and those who opposed them invoked symbols filled with religious meaning to support their cause in order to restore the nation to health, and what that means. Pilgrimages physically substantiate underlying meaning for people, their sense of identity and purpose. Making a pilgrimage removes someone from ordinary time, immersing that person into liminal time and space. With some pilgrimages come changes in status, marking a shift in someone’s identity, status, or place in life. Communities tie these rites of passage to important moments in people’s lives; from birth to a conversion experience, from last rites to the ancestral realm and everything in between, people and the communities they are a part of continually mark changes in status and stature. Religious perspectives inform those working in international aid and community development, how they understand their role and task as well as those with whom they work. When fostering community development, private and public organizations reflect and sometimes reinforce ever-persistent ideas linking religious ideas and practices with material wealth, social organization, and relationships to the nonhuman world. When terms like “developed,” “developing,” and “undeveloped” are used to describe the settings within which they work, a socioreligious value is being placed on people and their ways of living and being in the world. Human relationships to the earth are fundamentally religious. The ways communities use their time, energy, and resources reflect religious values and perspectives. Modern environmentalism has long recognized the importance of reimagining human beings and their relationship to the cosmos. Religious ideas and practices inform whether people see the earth, water, sky, and creatures as things to be used for the pleasure of humans, as gifts to be cared for, or as living, sentient beings. Responses to climate change are reflected in the relationships fostered by formal and informal religious movements. With the movement away from Eurocentric models of religion have come new opportunities to envision how anthropologists can approach health and healing, community development, and sustainability. People trained in anthropology have many ways to put these perspectives and methodologies to work in applying religion. Public and private sector organizations including government, for-profit and not-for-profit entities are hiring people able to translate these seemingly tenuous relationships into pragmatic yet complex opportunities for making the world a better place.
Archaeology in Sudan: A Sudanese Perspective
Ahmed Adam and Shadia Taha
Sudan is a vast country marked by heterogeneity, dissimilarities, and diversities in its climates, topography, natural features, cultures, and people. Sudan’s multiplicity of cultures and communities is steeped in history and heritage as remarkable as anywhere else in the ancient world and the rest of Africa. Despite this, Africa’s heritage has been overlooked for centuries as a result of prejudice and stereotyping. The 19th and 20th centuries were characterized by supposition and fixation on an external origin of African civilizations, a focus that was based on European ethnocentrism and a sense of racial superiority. In common with the rest of Africa, archaeology was founded during the colonial period and, to a large extent, remained unchanged, retaining past management and interpretative approaches and influencing current practices and planning policies. Sudan’s rich and outstanding heritage, the home of the first great civilizations in Sub-Saharan Africa, was frequently overlooked. When discussing the civilizations of the Nile Valley, many historians and archaeologists focus entirely on the role of Egypt. Ancient civilizations in Sudan were constantly interpreted as the work of colonizers and were believed to be less advanced than Egyptian civilizations. The building of the Aswan High Dam threatened the lives of Nubians and their heritage. It necessitated the forced displacement of Nubian and Bushareen nomadic tribes from their homelands and submerged considerable heritage. Nonetheless, this was the first time an organized survey was undertaken in Sudanese Nubia. The rescue campaign provided archaeological evidence and replaced ethnic prehistory with new theories. Archaeology in Sudan underwent a dreadful experience throughout the thirty years it was under the governance of the ousted dictatorial regime. The government in power in 1989–2019, an autocratic rule with a different political ideology, took control over Sudan’s heritage. Along with an oil boom, fast modernization, urbanization, and unrest in the country, all these factors had a tremendous impact on archaeology and heritage and on the operation of the National Corporation for Antiquities and Museums (NCAM). Moreover, the military forces, which used archaeological sites as military bases, took control over and demolished significant heritage and disconnected local communities from their heritage. From the 1980s, the number of native archaeologists and departments of archaeology increased. This period witnessed an expansion in research projects, themes, topics, periods, methods, and regions explored by Sudanese and foreign teams. There is a move away from focusing on single sites to understanding and exploring past environments and landscapes using new scientific methods of investigation. There are multiple challenges ahead, including climate change (flooding, destratification, shifting sands), globalization, mega-developments, lack of sufficient funding and resources, and, most recently, Covid-19. These are complex issues to deal with, especially for poor counties. Development and unrest in Sudan continue to force communities to move from their homelands and threaten the loss of traditional knowledge, diversity of culture, and connectedness with the land.
Ann T. Jordan
Business anthropology is a fast-evolving field. Social sciences such as sociology, psychology, and anthropology each have a unique set of constructs and theories for studying human behavior and each brings special insights to understanding business. Anthropologists are skilled in observing and learning from the rich interaction of social beings in their environment. With methods based in techniques for first-hand observation and interviewing of participants, and with theoretical knowledge gleaned from studying human societies across the world, anthropologists are the social scientists uniquely situated by training to analyze the social milieu and group-patterned interaction in any human setting. Simply, business anthropology is the use of anthropological constructs, theory, and methods to study its three subfields: organizations, marketing and consumer behavior, and design. Organizational anthropology is the study of complex organizations from an anthropological perspective to solve organizational problems or better understand the nature and functioning of the organizational form within and across organizations. In marketing and consumer behavior anthropology’s methods allow one to get close to consumers and understand their needs, while anthropology’s theoretical perspectives allow one to understand how human consumption plays out on the world stage. In the design field anthropologists use their methods to observe and learn from the detailed interaction of social beings in the designed environments in which we all live. They use their theoretical perspectives to develop a holistic analysis of the rich data to develop new products and evaluate and improve existing ones whether they be refrigerators or office buildings. The field of business anthropology is difficult to define because the moniker “business anthropology” is a misnomer. This field, as most anthropologists practice it, is not limited to work in for-profit businesses. Business anthropologists work with for-profit organizations, but also non-profit ones, government organizations and with supranational regulatory bodies. In addition to working for a business, an organizational anthropologist might be working in a non-profit hospital to improve patient safety, a design anthropologist might be working for an NGO to develop a less fuel-intensive cooking system for refugee camps and an anthropologist in marketing might be working in a government agency to develop ways to advertise new vaccines.
Jeanne Féaux de la Croix
Collaborative and transdisciplinary research are ambitious and influential streams of thought in current anthropology. Collaboration represents a family of ideas often described as “transdisciplinary” in other disciplines. Proponents argue that collaborative models explicitly create greater recognition of research relationships and produce a more socially engaged research process. This research philosophy claims to produce more just, theoretically innovative, and robust research outcomes. Advocates highlight both the value and the difficulty of reformulating research relationships in this way, specifying conditions such as the need for heightened personal and programmatic reflexivity in the process. Debates over the essence of collaborative practice intersect with key theoretical questions around the (co)production of knowledge and power, including issues of representation, reflexivity, engaged and public anthropology, the nature of fieldwork, and tensions around the institutional logics of evaluating research excellence and usefulness. The collaborative ethos bears many similarities with earlier and related fields such as action anthropology and decolonizing agendas. The current popularity of the term should be viewed critically in the context of wider scientific and societal logics. The institutional homes of collaboration can be found in countries subscribing to democratic and human rights ideals, and those experiencing a strong push for Indigenous rights. Because of potential risks in self-consciously declaring collaboration, such research is relatively rare in authoritarian settings, though often practiced with a lower profile. Uncertainty also in predefining research outcomes is discussed as essential, producing both unexpected findings as well as potential failures. General patterns of reciprocity and degrees of power-sharing are differentiated along three axes. The more politically radical the outlook of the researcher, the less control over the project the researcher tends to exert. Second, the more socially similar researcher and counterpart are to one another, the higher the degree of power-sharing and reciprocity. Third, the more heterogeneous the kinds of people the project draws together, the more negotiation and potential friction it entails. The very popularity of the collaborative principle holds some risks, such as potentially leading to abusing collaboration as a source of “cheap” research labor. Further, often the unfamiliarity of funding reviewers with the principles of open-ended research design and value of alternative research products from standard academic publishing patterns can pose difficulties in realizing research. In addition, the often longer timeline of reaping the potentially huge benefits of collaboration also poses risks, especially for precariously employed researchers. In sum, the demanding discussion and practice of collaboration quickly takes on core disciplinary questions and uncertainties: what is good anthropology, who is it for, and how do you get there?
Community-Based Participatory Research
Community-based participatory research (CBPR) refers to a methodological and epistemological approach to applied community projects in which researchers and community members collaborate as equals in the research process. Also known as participatory action research (PAR), CBPR has gained considerable acceptance both as a set of methods for identifying and addressing local issues of concern and as a vehicle for applying the principles of equity, cultural humility, mutual learning, and social justice to the relationships between researchers and communities. Although somewhat distinct from applied anthropology, CBPR shares with ethnography in particular an attentiveness to rapport building and community engagement and an overall validation of local knowledge. There is little consensus regarding the threshold of community participation necessary for a given research project to be considered CBPR. However, at a minimum the approach requires that community members define the problems to be assessed, provide consultation on the cultural and social dimensions of the study population, and serve in an advisory capacity over the entire project. The history of CBPR and its antecedents reflects its twin values as a pragmatic approach to researching and addressing local problems and as an emancipatory social justice project that seeks to diminish the hierarchical relationship between researchers and community members. Specifically, the pragmatic perspective was developed in the United States by social psychologist Kurt Lewin in the 1930s (and subsequently by the anthropologists Laura Thompson and Sol Tax), while the emancipatory approach derives from the work of educational theorist Paulo Freire in Brazil in the 1970s. Community Advisory Boards (CABs) play an outsized role in the success of CBPR projects, since they typically represent the community in these studies, and thus maintain oversight over all aspects of the research process, including the study design, sampling and recruitment protocols, and the dissemination of findings. Accordingly, nurturing and maintaining trust between researchers, the CAB, and the community constitutes a foundational practice for any CBPR study.
This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Anthropology. Please check back later for the full article. Since the turn of the millennium, critical phenomenology has developed in a parallel fashion in both philosophy and anthropology, with considerable cross-pollination between the two movements. Where philosophical phenomenology traditionally has focused on disclosing the transcendental structures of subjectivity that condition the possibility of concrete lived experience, critical phenomenology combines a phenomenological sensitivity toward lived experience with a critical view as to how subjectivity is fashioned also under quasi-transcendental—experientially accessible and ethico-politically mutable—sociocultural and economic conditions. In both philosophy and anthropology, critical phenomenology has been inspired and instigated by feminist thinking and queer theory, and it most often takes its point of departure in the lifeworlds of those living somehow on the margins of society: for example, people of color, queer people, drug users, homeless people, and people living with dementia or other mental illnesses. In anthropology, this combination of the phenomenological and the critical has been understood roughly in two different ways, according to where the critical impulse is located. One kind of critical phenomenology undertakes a third-person critique of societal structures, inspired by critical theory or poststructuralism, and combines it with a phenomenological analysis of the first-person experience of what it feels like to live under such conditions. Another approach to critical phenomenology finds the critical impulse in first-person experience itself. Here, the excessive limit experiences of breakdowns, perplexing particulars, and interruptions endured by people in their ordinary lives are explored phenomenologically as the loci of an indigenous critique of the prevailing societal orders and of the potentiality for things becoming otherwise. Critical phenomenology is closely related to the phenomenological and critical hermeneutical branches of the anthropology of ethics and, to some extent and critically so, to the ontological turn in anthropology.
Design anthropology and the factors that converged to facilitate its emergence are examined. Design anthropology has been alternately described as a “fast-developing academic field” and “distinct style of knowing” (Otto and Smith), “an emerging transdisciplinary field” (Miller), and “as a distinct subfield of interdisciplinary research” (Clark). These descriptions have in common an agreement that design anthropology is a distinct form of knowledge production that integrates design and anthropological practice and theory that is supported by a growing network of proponents, both academic and practitioner. Design anthropology’s origins have been traced to several factors: the emergence of the participatory design movement in Scandinavia toward the end of the 1990s, the introduction of ethnography in design in the late 1970s, and the earlier influence of the work of designer and educator Victor Papanek in the early 1960s. In the United States, it is often categorized as a subdiscipline of business anthropology. Within Europe and Scandinavia, it is accepted as a field in its own right with a “distinct style and practice of knowledge production.” In spite of these differences and amidst the creative tension resulting from the convergence of anthropological and design methods, concepts, theory, and practice, design anthropology has emerged as a new form of naturalistic inquiry that is based on rigorous empirical research and critical inquiry, a transdisciplinary field that is intentionally interventionist, participatory, and transformative. Design anthropology reflects shifting attitudes and changing modes of engagement in its parent fields. Within anthropology, the concept of an interventionist, transformative, and future-oriented practice runs counter to deeply embedded attitudes around passive observation research and ethics. Likewise, in design where craft, “doing,” and “making” have dominated, there is a renewed surge of interest in more scholarly-based design research, emphasizing empirical research and a designerly version of theoretical reflection. Theory in design has traditionally been related to various aspects of form. Design theory is also “made through” design. Johan Redström refers to this form of theory as “transitional theory,” “a kind of design theory that is inherently unstable, fluid, and dynamic in nature.” This conceptualization of theory is similar to the grounded theory approach in the social sciences in which theory emerges from original data and is developed from the ground up. Beginning with a summary of the conditions and forces that engendered the emergence of design anthropology, the field is described as evolving in ways that are provoking change in traditional forms of design and anthropology. Beyond the influence on its parent disciplines, design anthropology represents an evolving trajectory of emerging fields that open to the possibility of imagining, designing, and co-creating sustainable futures based on social justice and virtuous cycles of growth.
Design Anthropology in Europe
Design anthropology is a dynamic interdisciplinary field of scholarship, research, and practice. Rather than a concern with highlighting divergences between design and anthropology, design anthropology is concerned with convergences and confluences in design and anthropology. One of the main aims of this emerging field is to link social and material practices of designing to the affects and effects that design processes and practices have on people who engage with different kinds of design outputs. Design anthropology in Europe has emerged in and through collaborations across universities and public and private sectors. The emerging field of design anthropology in Europe is expanding and has been influenced and continues to be influenced by developments in design anthropology internationally. Researchers in this field carry out research and collaborate with research partners both in Europe and globally. The field is characterized by conceptual reconfigurations, disciplinary dialogues, interdisciplinary research, multidisciplinary teams, and transdisciplinary practices involving collaborative methodologies and mixed methods, and engagement with public and private partners. Collaboration can occur offline, online, or a mixture of both, depending upon the research being carried out. Central issues are to identify anthropological methodologies and theoretical concepts that would support future-making practices in a diversity of design processes and practices; attune different kinds of design processes towards engagement with communities of practice; contribute to the design and critique of emerging technologies; enhance existing products, services, or experiences, strategies, and policies; and further develop aspects of visual and sensorial ethnography whereby designing is the process of collaborative research inquiry.