Open Anthropology, a blog run by Maximilian Forte, is dedicated to moving anthropology out of its academic straight-jacket. As Forte describes in About This Project, this project has two aims: one, “to significantly restructure and move anthropology beyond its current confines, beyond the constraints of professionalization and institutionalization;” the other, “to transform anthropology into something that is neither Eurocentric nor elitist” and thus move beyond anthropology’s roots in colonialism. It is about creating new world knowledge.
Open Anthropology has two recent posts which resonate with themes that crop up on Neuroanthropology—an anthropology open to wider influences, an anthropology engaged with a wider public, an anthropology that forgets its own fears, both self-inflicted and institutional.
First, in Towards a More Public Social Science Forte posts the statement by Social Science Research Council president Craig Calhoun. Calhoun outlines four steps for a more engaged social science: (1) Engagement with public constituencies must move beyond a dissemination model. (2) Public social science does not equal applied social science… [T]he opposition of applied to pure is itself part of the problem. It distracts attention from the fundamental issues of quality and originality and misguides as to how both usefulness and scientific advances are achieved. (3) Problem choice is fundamental. What scientists work on and how they formulate their questions shape the likelihood that they will make significant public-or scientific-contributions. (4) A more public social science needs to ask serious questions about the idea of “public” itself… Can ideas of the public be reclaimed from trivialization by those who see all social issues in terms of an aggregation of private interests? What are the social conditions of a vital, effective public sphere and thus of an important role for social science in informing public culture, debate, and decision-making?
Second, in Structures of Knowledge, the Social Sciences, Decolonization, and the World-System Forte gives us some selections and highlights from the work of Richard Lee and others. This one statement from Lee really resonated with me:
Immanuel Wallerstein has written that world-systems analysis, as an unfinished critique of nineteenth-century social science “has not been able to find a way to surmount the most enduring (and misleading) legacy of nineteenth-century social science—the division of social analysis into three arenas, three logics, three levels—the economic, the political, and the sociocultural. This trinity stands in the middle of the road, in granite, blocking our intellectual advance” (1991: 4). In conclusion, I want to suggest that the structures of knowledge approach with its emphasis on processes and TimeSpace rather than categories and development can bring us one step closer to the goal of constructing the historical social sciences and achieving a more useful vision of long-term, large-scale social change.
And there is plenty of other good stuff over at Open Anthropology. Here’s one to entertain, not just think all the time… a Rapso piece from 3-Canal.