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At the Crossroads of Human Rights and Anthropology: Toward a Critically Engaged Activist Research

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In this article, I consider anthropology's engagement with human rights today. Through the lens of my experience in a case brought before the International Labor Organization by a community in Chiapas, Mexico, I consider the ethical, practical, and epistemological questions that arise in research defined by rights activism. I argue that the critical engagement brought about by activist research is both necessary and productive. Such research can contribute to transforming the discipline by addressing the politics of knowledge production and working to decolonize our research process. Rather than seeking to avoid or resolve the tensions inherent in anthropological research on human rights, activist research draws them to the fore, making them a productive part of the process. Finally, activist research allows us to merge cultural critique with political action to produce knowledge that is empirically grounded, theoretically valuable, and ethically viable.

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... In recent decades, NGOs and activist organisations have become increasingly prominent in local politics across the world, especially in South Asia (Farrington and Lewis 1993;Fisher 1997). The work of such organisations has often called upon anthropological and other academic forms of knowledge to support and further its cause (Speed 2006). This has led to increasingly lively debates about the relationship between academia and activism (Jean-Klein and Riles 2005;Goodale 2006;Englund 2011). ...
... Working with a different set of premises and priorities, activist interpretations of academic work can challenge anthropologists working primarily in academia in productive -but very often combustive -ways (Speed 2006;Englund 2011). Despite the potential discomfort this may cause academics, I am convinced that such engagement provides an important opportunity for academics to fully assess the breadth of impact and potential applications Vol. 17 No. 1 (2017) A N THROPOLOGY MA TTE RS 3 of their work in the world they study and write about. ...
... Activist and 'grassroots' appeals to academic knowledge have been noted in a number of scholarly examples, although they are rarely the focus of discussion and analysis (Speed 2006). This is particularly true of queer and feminist social movements which, in addition to gathering and producing knowledge as part of their own operations, have long mobilised academic research and scholarship to structure and legitimate their ideas and claims (Messer-Davidow 2002;Spalter-Roth and Hartmann 1996;Menon 1999). ...
Article
This paper explores the tensions and resonances between academic and non-academic approaches to scholarly knowledge through fieldwork conducted at an NGO that promotes the rights of lesbian, bisexual, and female-to-male transgender people in Eastern India. I analyse both productive and frustrated exchanges between activists and academics from the activists’ point of view and make the following two arguments: Firstly, I argue that interpretations, developments, and uses of knowledge instigated by non-academics must be taken seriously by academics even when they are in tension with the dominant academic understanding of that knowledge. Secondly, and expanding upon this argument, I go on to suggest that academics should consciously seek to write in a style and tone that does not assume extensive shared specialist knowledge, in order to open up fertile scholarly ideas more fully for engagement with those outside academia or within different disciplines and sub-specialisms of scholarship.
... International Labor Organization Convention 169 on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, ratified in 1989, established the first comprehensive set of standards for indigenous cultural, territorial, economic, and political rights, in particular self-determination and the right of free, prior, and informed consent (Niezen 2003;ILO 1989; see chapter 2). In Latin America, indigenous groups have cited these rights in making claims against states for territory, language education, civil liberties, and self-determination (Maybury-Lewis 2002;Ramos 1998;Sawyer 2004;Sieder 2002;Speed 2006;Warren 1998;Warren and Jackson 2002). Guatemala signed ILO 169 in 1996, which coincided with both the signing of the Peace Accords that ended the civil war, as well as the politicization of Maya identity fomented during Guatemala's experiment with democracy (1944Guatemala's experiment with democracy ( -1954 and accelerated by pan-Maya solidarity built up among refugees living in Mexico during the civil war (Montejo 2005). ...
... The mestizo project became one of the first targets of modern indigenous cultural resistance in the late twentieth century. The rise of neoliberal economic reforms and the opening of democratic spaces of expression, with a focus on civil society and identity politics, put pressure on state governments and led to a shift in state governance strategies away from policies of cultural assimilation and towards a multicultural conception of citizenship (Hale 2004, Speed 2006. Charles Hale explains: ...
Thesis
This dissertation examines the ways that people engage in environmental and political debates, including how people make themselves and their positions visible at multiple scales. I focus on recent debates between indigenous communities, non-governmental organizations, government institutions, and transnational corporations over large-scale mining projects in Guatemala. Actors in these debates are engaged in an economy of representation that puts competing discourses about development, environment, and indigenous rights into contention with each other, creating disjunctures that allow for the creative reimagining of political subjectivities. Economies of representation operate at different scales—they are a set of linked practices through which actors produce, circulate, consume, and reinterpret media objects, contexts, discourses, and subjectivities. Debates over mining in Guatemala can be understood as a single economy of representation that pro- and anti-mining blocs each use to promote their own goals; these competing discourses are therefore intertwined, shaping and shaped by one another.
... What anthropology and conflict resolution can bring to peace and security and CVE is a holistic vision of how societies operate, how power from the top smashes peace from below, how cultures are constructed and maintained, and this seems to be conspicuously absent from many people working on VE and terrorism more generally (Atran 2010;Speed 2006). Many times, government agencies, NGO's, and academics operate in our own silos of specialization, and we fail to capture the big picture of how human agents relate to one another in society. ...
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Anthropology has an ambivalent history of being involved in social justice activism, and much anthropological work circulates around issues of conflict resolution in cultures throughout the world. After unethically supporting the colonial mandate, in more recent years anthropologists involved themselves in the Civil Rights movement, Native American rights, and social movements for environmental justice and women's rights. And yet, regarding Countering Violent Extremism (CVE), there has been relatively little anthropological input, and rarely do our efforts affect policy decisions. This article examines issues of conflict management, technology, and cultural awareness in terms of the core themes of cultural and activist anthropology, and some of the ethical conundrums anthropologists create and must face. Drawing on both anthropological literature and ethnographic research, I introduce the idea of a Culture and Peace Lab (CPL) to combat violence, with special attention to Togo in Western Africa, and Tanzania in Eastern Africa.
... Con objeto de poder vislumbrar los distintos ejes de (o)presión que afectan a las personas sujeto de análisis y su relación con las OSC, se ha establecido una metodología que ha priorizado evitar los sesgos coloniales que subyacen a las investigaciones en las que las comunidades originarias son protagonistas. Para ello, se ha realizado el trabajo a través de una metodología colaborativa (Hale, 2001;Speed, 2008;París Pombo, 2012;Stephen, 2012), descolonizada (Hale, 2001(Hale, , 2007Speed, 2006), y una etnografía feminista (Castañeda, 2012). Estos métodos permiten evidenciar las voces de las mujeres como sujetos políticos reflexivos, con los que se establece un constante diálogo. ...
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This article explores the importance of civil society organizations that support indigenous migrant women’s rights in the states of Texas and California in the U.S. From the ethnographic work carried out through a decolonized, collaborative, and feminist methodology, a collaboration began with three organizations from the aforementioned states. This text will detail the actions carried out by these organizations to alleviate the obstacles faced by indigenous women in the country. The article focuses on two different migration scenarios: firstly, when women are intercepted and detained by the Border Patrol, and secondly when they reach their destination. Both migration situations involve complex and operational analyses by the organizations and the affected women.
... Similarly to Merry, Shannon Speed promotes the idea of "translating" the concerns of the local population to one that speaks the legal language that gives their grievance's teeth in a governmental system. In particular, she advocates for elevating individual violations to the international legal level of human rights violations, broadening the legal stance of victims while providing them a stronger legal sense of who they are as indigenous people struggling against the indifference of a domestic governmental system [5]. Both authors call on researchers to step forward to assist with the translation of local grievances, recognizing the need to connect institutional, legal, and bureaucratic processes to the needs of those groups experiencing violations. ...
Article
The renowned work of Clyde Snow and the development of the Equipo Argentino de Anthropología Forense (EAAF) team has inspired the use of forensic anthropological and archaeological skills in human rights interventions around the world. Whether for medico-legal intervention and acquisition of evidence or humanitarian repatriation and identification of human remains, forensic expertise has garnered attention in the global arena. Arguably fulfilling evidentiary and psychosocial needs, there has been growing interest in this post-conflict redress. However, as part of the critique of these interventions, scholars and practitioners have pointed out - primarily in medico-legal investigations - a lack of sensitization of local communities regarding forensic work, increasing the potential for re-traumatization, unrealistic expectations, or an unintentional increase in political tensions. Research regarding forensic intervention and human remains have permeated social sciences, peace and conflict studies, and science and technology studies, revealing both intentional and unintentional impacts of forensic sciences after mass violence. In an effort to mitigate negative impacts of medico-legal or humanitarian interventions, the research described here sought to sensitize communities in Uganda about forensic methods. Findings from this study suggest that sensitization is necessary and desired, and that a multi-step approach can assist in managing expectations.
... Their activism was focused on concrete actions having a direct impact on migrants' destinies thanks to a fragile balance of toleration within authorities. Researchers observed that such incongruences were a pattern characterizing emerging informal initiatives helping refugees all over the Balkan route and then we decided to focus our ethnographic efforts on its understanding (Speed, 2006). ...
Article
The so-called “refugee crisis” has challenged establishment putting its capacities under question as the image of a chaotic situation prevailed over European Union and its member states intervention. Formal civil society and big transnational humanitarian institutions also became the target of the critics of a heterogeneous public. Present work argues that current forms of civil engagement, manifested for example in informal initiatives helping refugees, locate their efforts under an umbrella of decolonization of their own societies. Participants in informal initiatives produce with their actions a discourse of outrage, preferentially channelized through direct action approaches, which persecutes the creation of an emancipative alternative. In such a way, participants distance themselves from their societies of origin and came closer to the subaltern groups, such as those under the label “refugees”. Informal initiatives participants became, at least figuratively, the new “hybrids” in our society. A group of people figuratively localized between the oppressor forces and the subalterns. Far from essentialist conceptions of hybridity and aware of the critic literature at this respect the concept of hybridity is understood in performative terms. Present study attempts to describe the performance of hybridity by informal initiatives in a context of exercising dialectical power with other social actors, such as authorities as part as the oppressor forces; established civil society which does not seem to really challenge status quo; refugees as a forming subaltern group; and within themselves as part of two worlds full of contradictions and incongruences.
... Ainsi, une ethnographie peut être qualifié de militante si la chercheuse devient militante, c'est-à-dire partie de son objet d'étude, et s'engage dans une construction collaborative du savoir qui contribue à l'avancement du projet politique du mouvement social. Ce type de travail s'inscrit dans une tradition d'anthropologie « engagée » ou « activiste » (Lyon-Callo et Hyatt, 2003 ;Speed, 2006 ;Walter, 1995 ;Scheper-Hughes, 1995). Ainsi l'ethnographe militante « doit arbitrer en faveur de la participation sur le spectre observation-participation » (Maeckelbergh, 2009 : 24-25). ...
... In a recent article in American Anthropologist, Shannon Speed (2006) argues eloquently for activism in the practice of ethnography. Speed draws on her own research as anthropologist-cum-human rights activist working to secure indigenous identification and territorial rights for Tzeltal Indians in Chiapas, Mexico. ...
Article
This article traces mutations in the generalised image of the 'heroic' anthropologist since Susan Sontag's interpretation of the work of Claude Lévi-Strauss in Tristes Tropiques in her 1963 essay, 'The anthropologist as hero'. Firstly, it is argued that a considerable shift has occurred from the Lévi-Straussian 'hard-won impassivity' to 'activist' anthropology in which the anthropologist's emotions are acknowledged and legitimised as part of the ethnographic process. With heroic activist anthropology comes the tendency to assume a single Euro-American vision of rights and responsibilities as universal, although it is suggested that in some contexts this may be in direct conflict with informants' sovereignty and desires. Secondly, as anthropologists increasingly study groups that are located 'at home', the analogy between fieldwork and a heroic journey into the unknown that Sontag posits becomes tenuous. Fieldwork is now carried out in places-the hospital, the airport, the office-that would have been unthinkable several decades ago. In these explicitly de-exoticised contexts in which they are often held accountable to their informants, anthropologists are able to demonstrate a heroic honesty with regards to their subjects of study. Finally, it is suggested that the generalised perception of anthropologists from outside the discipline has not taken these new sorts of heroisms into account, and that this omission has worked to the detriment of anthropology's external image.
... Bilginin en başından cinsiyetlendirilmiş olduğuna dikkat çeken feminist eleştiri bilgi üretiminin erkek egemen yapısına ve nesnellik iddiasının cinsiyet körü ve taraflı bir bilgi üretimine zemin yarattığına işaret eder. Zira pozitivizmin iddia ettiği tarafsız bilgi üretiminin aslında mümkün olamayacağı gibi bu iddianın araştırma yaptığımız toplumsal olgulara dair politik fikirlerimizi örtbas etme gibi sinsi bir riski de içinde barındırdığını vurgular (Speed 2006). Harding'e göre erkek merkezli, ırkçı, Avrupa merkezli, heteroseksüel kavramsal çerçeve -ki bu pozitivizmin işaret ettiği tarafsız bilgidirsadece ezilen-ezen ikiliğini değil daha genel bir düzlemde toplumsal ilişkilerin nasıl işlediğini anlamak için de yetersizdir (Harding 2004, 5). ...
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International migration studies have been a gradually politicized research field that is affected by national and international migration policy discourses. Given its financially co-dependent relation to state-centered policies, migration studies can be instrumentalized in the efforts of nation-states to “prevent” migration by legitimizing the “migration management” discourse. The politicized structure of migration studies affects the whole research design methodologically and ethically from the theoretical approach to data collection methods. While the number of research focusing on migrant women has increased enormously, due to the inadequately explained methods they can have serious problems both in terms of the production of scientific knowledge and ethics. In this respect, criticizing the mainstream research methodologies and problematizing the perspective of unequal power relations in the research processes, feminist methodology can provide vital grounds for questioning in migration studies. Uluslararası göç çalışmaları, ulusal ve uluslararası göç politikalarındaki söylemlerden etkilenen ve gittikçe politikleşmiş bir araştırma alanıdır. Maddi kaynakları açısından devlet odaklı politikadan bağımsızlaşamayan göç araştırmaları uluslararası göç yönetimi söylemini meşrulaştırarak ulusdevletlerin göçü önleme çabalarında araçsallaşabilmektedir. Göç araştırmalarının politikleşen yapısı, benimsenen teorik yaklaşımdan veri toplama yöntemlerine kadar tüm araştırma tasarımını da yöntemsel ve etik açıdan etkilemektedir. Özellikle son zamanlarda göçmen kadınlara odaklanan araştırmaların sayısı hızla artarken, bu araştırmalarda kullanılan yöntem yeterince açıklanmadığı için hem bilimsel bilginin üretimi hem de etik açıdan ciddi sorunlar barındırabilmektedir. Bu anlamda ana akım araştırma yöntemlerini eleştiren, araştırma sürecini eşitsiz güç ilişkileri perspektifinden sorunsallaştıran feminist yöntem göç araştırmalarında önemli bir sorgulama zemini sağlamaktadır.
... Bilginin en başından cinsiyetlendirilmiş olduğuna dikkat çeken feminist eleştiri bilgi üretiminin erkek egemen yapısına ve nesnellik iddiasının cinsiyet körü ve taraflı bir bilgi üretimine zemin yarattığına işaret eder. Zira pozitivizmin iddia ettiği tarafsız bilgi üretiminin aslında mümkün olamayacağı gibi bu iddianın araştırma yaptığımız toplumsal olgulara dair politik fikirlerimizi örtbas etme gibi sinsi bir riski de içinde barındırdığını vurgular (Speed 2006). Harding'e göre erkek merkezli, ırkçı, Avrupa merkezli, heteroseksüel kavramsal çerçeve -ki bu pozitivizmin işaret ettiği tarafsız bilgidirsadece ezilen-ezen ikiliğini değil daha genel bir düzlemde toplumsal ilişkilerin nasıl işlediğini anlamak için de yetersizdir (Harding 2004, 5). ...
... For this very reason, it undoubtedly provokes reflection and inspires social awareness, enabling its transformation into a space of civic engagement and dialogue, favorable to social action. In our view, its symbolic force and power can be deployed in support of Black activists and their campaigns to fight 5. On sociopolitical engagement in archaeology, see Atalay et al. (2016); Blakey (2001Blakey ( , 2008; Franklin (1997); Handsman and Leone (1989); Leone (1982Leone ( , 2010; Leone and Potter (1988); Leone, Potter, and Shackel (1987); Little andShackel (2007, 2014); Little and Zimmerman (2010); Mack and Blakey (2004); Marshall (2002); McGuire (1992); Preucel and Mrozowski (2010); Shackel and Chambers (2004); Shanks andTilley (1987, 1988); Silverman (2011); Speed (2006); Stottman (2010); Tilley (1989). social, political, and economic inequality, as well as supporting political activism to ensure basic human rights and greater respect for ethnic diversity. ...
... Of course, for a very long while, "application" in anthropology was not dedicated to social progress or even to the European public interest; much of early anthropology served only the masters of the colonial machine, with anthropologists deeply implicated in the colonial system (Lewis 1973). However, following a thoroughgoing self-critique from the 1970s onward, much applied anthropology has focused on social justice, freedom, and human rights (e.g., Speed 2006), and especially concrete issues in poverty, gender inequality, health, and education. The applied turn in anthropology has manifested in four broad developments highly pertinent to the present project: practicing (practice) anthropology, action anthropology, development anthropology, and medical anthropology. ...
... I wrote down the demands both actors raised when speaking against the emergency shelters and was interested in what motivated them to mobilise different political actions together. I took the position of an activist researcher (Speed, 2006), as I often helped to organise events and protest actions while being attentive to the shortcomings activists faced when working with asylum seekers. ...
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This article analyses how local "anti-Lager" activists and asylum seekers challenged the state-sponsored humanitarian approach to refugee accommodation in Berlin, Germany, during the "long summer of migration" of 2015/2016. In line with Germany's post-WWII "liberal-constitutional political culture" regarding political asylum, the Berlin government framed the setting up of inappropriate buildings such as sports halls as emergency shelters for asylum seekers as a humanitarian gesture. Local activists, however, in line with "alter-globalisation's social justice political culture", contested this approach as they found it patronising and margin-alising. They decided to work directly with asylum seekers housed in the emergency shelters and to engage with them in a long-term political struggle for fair housing and civil rights. While asylum seekers also protested against the shelters, they mainly engaged in ad hoc forms of a "pragmatic politics of resistance" to cope with their everyday realities and demand better accommodation and equal rights. However, despite differences in the political cultures of local activists and asylum seekers, they organised collective protests against the shelters because they both agreed that state-sponsored humanitarianism ignored the material and civil equality of asylum seekers.
... Elements of Tax's action anthropology can be seen in contributions in this issue and in many other works by Mesoamerican ethnographers (Cohen 1997;Eber and Kovic 2003;Hale 2006;Speed 2006). Whether we identify as applied anthropologists or not, all of us participate in projects that Rubenstein (2018,3) describes for action anthropology as "emerg[ing] organically out of the relationships that have been developed between the anthropologists and community members," not driven by individual and institutional agendas, be they research or policy-driven. In Rubenstein's (2018, 1) review of action anthropology, he outlines its basic parameters and commitments, including working as equal partners with collaborators, acknowledging their rights in the context of power differentials. ...
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This introduction explores particular ways in which participatory research is practiced in Mesoamerica by ethnographers. It provides an introduction to the history of participatory research and its interlinkages to a host of ethical concerns that are explored in greater depth in eight, reflexive ethnographic essays by anthropologists who conduct research in Guatemala and Mexico. This introduction and the ten essays in this issue, including two commentaries, present several, sometimes conflicting, discussions about the complicated processes of conducting ethnographic research in Mesoamerica and, in particular, what participatory research means in this linguistically and culturally diverse region of the world. In this introduction, key aspects of the history of participatory research are reviewed, as well as ethical issues related to consent and confidentiality in specific field sites that may conflict with the requirements of funding and academic institutions. This collection of essays aims to capture a panorama of ethnographic experiences in Mesoamerican field sites to highlight the collaborations, as well as the ethical and pragmatic dilemmas encountered in participatory research. (I) can't use names even in field notes. We can't anticipate how our representation will play out. (We have an) ethical and moral duty to promote human rights. People want money, not collaboration. We provoke dialogues with people. We can engage other publics. We are possible facilitators of dialogue between different groups of people. (I) can't use names even in field notes. We can't anticipate how our representation will play out. (We have an) ethical and moral duty to promote human rights. People want money, not collaboration. We provoke dialogues with people. We can engage other publics. We are possible facilitators of dialogue between different groups of people.
... De acuerdo con estos puntos de vista, el investigador debe aspirar a la inmersión total dentro de la cultura por investigar, de manera que se pueda desarrollar un alto grado de comprensión reflexiva y una capacidad interpretativa máxima desde el punto de vista del sujeto social. Otras metodologías más recientes, como la "investigación interior" (Kanuha, 2000;Labaree, 2002) y la "investigación activista" (Naples, 2003;Speed, 2006), colocan la posibilidad de que tanto los miembros completamente enculturados pertenecientes a un grupo social, como sujetos externos que eventualmente se han convertido en "nativos", pueden llevar a cabo investigación social legítima sobre el grupo mismo. 4 Si bien estos últimos dos métodos son propuestas extremas en cuanto a maximizar la cantidad de afecto que puede existir entre investigador e investigado, la comprensión participante comparte la firme convicción de que minimizar la distancia conceptual y lingüística entre analistas y actores sociales es un ideal metodológico. ...
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Este artículo presenta el método microsociológico de "comprensión participante", volcado hacia los Estudios Sociales de la Ciencia y la Tecnología (ESCT), cuya aplicación concreta se ilustra mediante la descripción de dos proyectos de investigación desarrollados con dicha metodología. La presentación comparativa busca evidenciar dos dimensiones cruciales para todo investigador que desarrolle un estudio de caso dentro del campo: 1) el nivel de socialización lingüística del investigador dentro de la comunidad científica que es objeto de estudio y 2) el nivel de socialización lingüística dentro de la cultura de los estudios sobre ciencia contemporáneos. Abstract: This paper discusses the micro-sociological method of "participant comprehension", as applied in Science and Technology Studies (STS). To illustrate the concrete application of this method, the article describes two research projects developed within this framework. The comparative presentation of these projects seeks to highlight two crucial dimensions for individuals doing field research in STS 1) the researcher's levels of linguistic socialization into the scientific community under study and 2) the level of linguistic socialization into the cultures of contemporary STS.
... Scholarship in the field of anthropology and activism is mainly concerned with the various ways in which anthropologists deal with role conflicts that arise from being both an ethnographer and an activist at the same time. Such scholarship has been labeled "public anthropology" (Lassiter 2005), "applied anthropology" (Bennett 1996;Rylko-Bauer et al. 2006), "practical anthropology" (Malinowski 1929), "advocacy anthropology" (Huizer 1996), "engaged anthropology" (Low and Engle Merry 2010), "activist anthropology" (Hale 2006;Speed 2006), "militant anthropology" (Scheper-Hughes 1995), or "action anthropology" (Schlesier 1974;Tax 1975), among others. 3 Scholarship in the field of anthropology of activism is mainly concerned with activists and activist action as an object of research in its own right-beyond the question if the anthropologist him-or herself is personally involved in the activism. ...
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There is an ongoing debate in anthropology on the kinds of subject positions activists ascribe to the marginalized actors they encounter and the political consequences this brings about. Drawing from ethnographic research on refugee activism in Germany and transitional justice activism in Uganda, we revisit the respective debates on humanitarian activism, human rights activism, and political activism and argue to reframe the analysis. Instead of looking for the “right” subject position activists should ascribe to the people they engage with, the anthropology of activism should embrace a research approach that looks at the material conditions, in which activists and their subjects find themselves in and the kind of agency they are able to develop within these conditions.
... This was one of several moments from our meetings together in which the children demonstrated the depth they add to the research process by drawing from their personal experiences. Speed (2006) describes her project in which "The community had a direct role in defining, in dialogue with the anthropologist and the activists, what it would be useful to know, and how we should go about gaining that knowledge" (71). ...
Thesis
My dissertation explores everyday life in Guayaquil’s shantytowns and the histories of these communities to better understand the impacts of social and spatial inequalities on families from the city’s poorest neighborhoods to the South, North, and East. I focus on children’s experiences growing up in these neighborhoods and how their understanding of family, poverty, violence, and city spaces influences the ways they internalize and imagine their own social positions and possibilities for their futures. My central research question asks: how do poor children growing up in Guayaquil’s barrios approach their everyday lives and how do their interactions and the relationships they develop with peers, family, and spaces across the city speak to larger societal issues on the production and regulation of childhood, race, and socio-spatial inequalities? To answer this question, my dissertation presents: 1) how the histories of the shantytowns reflect a history of Guayaquil’s socio-spatial segregation, repositioning ideas surrounding socioeconomic aspirations of poor urban communities; 2) how violence in children’s households influences their development and socialization, often leading girls, in particular, to form new families and to simultaneously navigate girlhood and motherhood; 3) how children and their mothers think about their childhood and how their everyday experiences influence the ways they imagine their futures; 4) how poor children think about and experience everyday life in their neighborhoods and across the city, especially in relation to racism and segregation. My dissertation reinvigorates theories of childhood, family, and poverty, highlighting how the experiences of poor children in the shantytowns and across Guayaquil overlap discussions of political economy, children’s rights, and legacies of colonialism. Through a presentation of new methods and methodologies for collaborative research agendas with children, this dissertation also deconstructs the colonialism that not only forms part of everyday life in Guayaquil, but that also forms part of ethnographic interventions.
... Anthropologists and political ecologists are calling on academic researchers to critically engage with the subjects of their study, making their research a part of the ethical solution to the socio-environmental problems they explore (Bourgois 2006;Speed 2006;Rocheleau 2008;Bebbington 2012). The Denunciafauna campaign is a result of seven years of prior engagement with Peruvian environmental authorities whilst tackling wildlife crime. ...
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General Public Complaint Against Captive Wildlife),in short Denunciafauna, ran from April 2014 to April 2017 as an experiment to empirically assess the capacity of Peruvian wildlife authorities to address animal trafficking. We used a political ecology activist research framework, where the campaign is part of research examining on-the-ground responses to complaints and opportunities for collaboration with civil society.During the campaign we collected information on 179 cases of wildlife crime involving animals, from which 214 official complaints were made. These cases involved thousands of illegally held and traded individuals. The official complaints included the illegal possession of animals at tourist attractions,in private homes, markets, circuses, street vendors, and as part of initiatives authorized by the State. Forty-four per cent of the complaints did not result in any type of intervention by the wildlife authorities. In a further 26% of cases we, the complainants, have not been informed of the results of the complaint. Thirty per cent of complaints resulted in the confiscation of all or some of the animals involved, but only 7% of all reported cases led to an official investigation by the public prosecutor, and of these, only 3% (7cases) resulted in a court appearance with a sentence given or pending. We describe 'typical' cases which illustrate some of the quantitative results.These quantitative results, cases presented, and participative observation methodologies were used to examine the main limitations of wildlife authorities in Peru. Chronic deficiencies have consistently resulted in the very limited responses of Peruvian wildlife authorities to attend to official complaints and their inability to provide efficient and proportionate responses to wildlife crime, and, in some cases, to even promote or participate in illicit activities. However, pressure and support from civil society can significantly improve authorities' performances.
... This type of research forces us to query the assumptions coded into the roles of the researcher and researched. Critically engaged activist research "provides an important approach to addressing the practical and ethical dilemmas of knowledge production" [13]. It confronts us with how we-as academics, activists, and practitioners-may dislocate ourselves from the problems we seek to change by looking forever outside rather than within, leaving us blind to how the same systems, hierarchies, and problems entangle and trap us from change [14]. ...
Article
Engaging love, care, and abandonment, but with an emphasis on care, I begin to question politics of care with human skeletal remains. This questioning strongly came to the fore while reflecting on preliminary observations of and interactions with skeletal remains that show evidence of postmortem interventions. These queries include, but are not limited to, the following: How does one not perpetuate colonialism when photographing and presenting bodies, eerily recalling colonial racial-documentation techniques? Are research objectives justifiable when these individuals cannot speak back? These kinds of caring and care-full concerns are important and disquieting. I ultimately ask to care differently about bioarchaeological practices, what they cite, and what they perpetuate. At stake is the importance of emergent politics of practice and tinkering with pointed questions.
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This article aims to reflect upon the relevance of Decolonization methodologies with the Theses on Feuerbach. Somehow, all the Indigenous scholars started from new Marxist like Paulo Freire, Frantz Fanon, but not from classic Marx. To us, the German Ideology of young Marx only resembles the pioneering sources of Indigenous methodology. This discussion is thus a reflection of our studies and a philosophic endeavor to talk about the marginal people of the world, and the scholars who engaged in and with the oppressed. However, we are not prepared to turn our attention away from all the vastness of Marx to a collection of potentially equally relevant to Indigenous methodology. This article concludes that the Theses on Feuerbach is the core of Marxist archaeology of knowledge or philosophy as a whole and has been wading in the Indigenous paradigm.
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This chapter provides an overview of activist research and how it is used in various fields including anthropology, social movements, and education. It discusses the impetus for incorporating activism into theoretical frameworks and research methodologies and the distinct aspects of activist research. Youth participatory action research (YPAR) is examined to identify how activist research can be situated into the methods and outcomes. Finally, a YPAR study is examined to illustrate how activist research can serve as a guided framework.
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Activist scholarship in human rights has made valuable contributions to the fulfillment of human rights globally but there is very little critical self-reflection on what activist scholarship in human rights means or how it should be pursued. This article seeks to open up discussion on these points by drawing on the wider discourse of activist scholarship. Activist scholarship is distinguished by new and critical approaches to knowledge production, whereby researchers and activists collaborate in politically engaged research and use research for the purpose of furthering justice and equality of various forms. While general human rights scholarship often shares these aims, activist scholarship in human rights goes further by adopting specific methodologies and employing critical theories. The article distinguishes between the pursuits of scholarship and activist scholarship in human rights and outlines the perils and dilemmas that activist scholars in human rights can face. The article ends by proposing what a human rights-based approach to activist scholarship in human rights might consist of, drawing from the core human rights principles of non-discrimination, the right to participation and the obligation of accountability.
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This article presents a case study that examines how undocumented students created a safe space for themselves on their college campus and how that space was ultimately institutionalized by the university. It also considers the politically vulnerable position of undocumented youth in such endeavors. Drawing from Bronfenbrenner's ecological systems model, the analysis provided here examines the micro and macro contexts that facilitate and impede the development of safe space for undocumented students.
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This chapter argues that Rawlsian Social justice fails to ensure property rights for Indigenous people in the Bangladesh context. Explaining from an Indigenous standpoint paradigm( IRP) in Bioprospecting (commercial use of plant materials) research among the Rakhain community, we conclude that not western utilitarian justice rather Ihsan (good deed for good deed, good acts for good acts) is a probable solution for minimizing the majority-minority tensions, establishing the rights of marginal people and reaching SDGs in subsequent decades. Despite a rural, remote, and minority context, the appeal remains global as the Bioprospecting is neither a national nor regional rather well a historical and global phenomenon, and needs immediate policy, either attention or action or both.
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This article aims to reflect upon the relevance of Decolonization methodologies with the Theses on Feuerbach. Somehow, all the Indigenous scholars started from new Marxist like Paulo Freire, Frantz Fanon, but not from classic Marx. To us, the German Ideology of young Marx only resembles the pioneering sources of Indigenous methodology. This discussion is thus a reflection of our studies and a philosophic endeavor to talk about the marginal people of the world, and the scholars who engaged in and with the oppressed. However, we are not prepared to turn our attention away from all the vastness of Marx to a collection of potentially equally relevant to Indigenous methodology. This article concludes that the Theses on Feuerbach is the core of Marxist archaeology of knowledge or philosophy as a whole and has been wading in the Indigenous paradigm.
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Field production of three ethnographic films 40 Years of Silence: An Indonesian Tragedy, Bitter Honey, and Standing on the Edge of a Thorn used longitudinal, person-centered interviews, a critical aspect of visual psychological anthropology (VPA) methodology. Culture plays an essential role in the process; specifically, the chapter illustrates how filmmaking praxis interacts with Javanese and Balinese psychocultural habitus of personal disclosure, presentation of self, and social interaction, particularly when addressing painful, embarrassing, or otherwise triggering incidents, feelings, or topics. Case study examples illustrate psychocultural strategies of managing or masking negative emotions, minimizing conflict, and maintaining harmony layered onto the paradoxes of psychological truth, the vagaries of memory, and the performativity of visual ethnography. Reflexive considerations of anthropologist subjectivity, the impact of the camera, and questions of how to depict the ethnographic encounter are also discussed.
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Grieving geographies are spaces of complex collective loss due to multiple interconnected forms of violence. Engaging with critical race theory, feminist geography and anthropology, and political ecology, this paper explores the intersections of gender, race, and the environment in Mexico. Black and Indigenous women in the Coast of Oaxaca grieve for the lagoons that are dying in front of them due to governmental and neoliberal policies, but also for the loss of members of their communities due to violence. I argue that facing the slow death of their lagoons system, plus everyday forms of violence, Black and Indigenous women organize to defend life, livelihood, and the lagoons in their community. These women have created everyday practices of resistance and alternative economies based on care and solidarity. This article explores environmental racism in Latin America, specifically where mestizaje ideology was imposed, and the affective relationship between human and other‐than‐human beings.
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In 2014, the Inter‐American Court of Human Rights heard two cases concerning the alleged complicity of Honduran state institutions in the violation of Garifuna communal property rights. Garifuna, a people of mixed Arawak, Carib, and African descent, are one of nine officially recognized “ethnic groups” in Honduras. Yet the state has repeatedly denied their status as a pueblo originario—a people native to Honduras—thus calling into question the lawfulness of their claims to national territory. I draw on my experience serving as an expert witness to analyze the role of cultural evidence in the legitimization of Garifuna rights claims, and how specifically ethnographic treatments of Indigenous cultural practices are circumscribed within dominant juridical interpretive frameworks and modes of recognition. The judgment, issued in October 2015, repeatedly deployed anthropological concepts and insights to bind Indigenous subjectivity to the land, thereby deepening essentialized notions of Garifuna ethnic and racial difference. This article probes the challenges of presenting cultural evidence in a court of law and the limited political potential of witnessing, which, I argue, stem from the ways in which anthropological and legal ways of knowing coarticulate. En 2014, la Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos realizó dos audiencias de casos relacionados con la alegada complicidad de las instituciones estatales hondureñas en la violación de los derechos de propiedad comunal garífuna. Los garífunas, un pueblo de descendencia arahuaco, caribe y africano, son uno de los nueve “grupos étnicos” reconocidos oficialmente en Honduras. Sin embargo, el estado ha negado repetidamente su estatus como un pueblo originario —un pueblo nativo de Honduras— poniendo en duda la legalidad de sus reclamos territoriales. Me baso en mi experiencia sirviendo como perito para analizar el rol de evidencia cultural en la legitimización de los reclamos de los derechos garífuna, y cómo específicamente los tratamientos etnográficos de las prácticas culturales indígenas están circunscritos dentro de los marcos jurídicos dominantes de interpretación y modos de reconocimiento. La sentencia, emitida en octubre de 2015, repetidamente implementó conceptos y puntos de vista antropológicos para enlazar la subjetividad indígena a la tierra, de este modo profundizando nociones esencializadas de diferencia étnica y racial garífuna. Este artículo explora los retos de presentar evidencia cultural en una corte de justicia y el potencial político limitado del peritaje, lo cual, argumento, proviene de las formas en los cuales los conocimientos antropológicos y legales se coarticulan. [testificar, declaraciones juradas culturales, derechos de la tierra, investigación activista, negritud e indigeneidad]
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Vodún/Vodu have long served as a “way of life” and ontology for making sense of the world along the Bight of Benin, and in the Caribbean and Atlantic world where many slaves were brought. In Togo, the core ethnic groups, the Ewes, continue to turn inward toward Vodún/Vodu traditions as mechanisms of resistance against an autocratic and despotic rule of a northern regime. While the north remains underdeveloped regarding education, economics, and health care delivery—the majority southern Ewes remain locked out of a political process run by the Eyadema regime, who regularly cite north/south conflict as a justification for absolute one-party rule over all of Togo. Vodun/Vodu become motors of modernity through creative assimilation and adaptation to the most pressing geopolitical concerns of the day. This paper assesses the relationship between Vodun/Vodu and contemporary Togolese politics, and its resistance to state-sponsored terror and autocracy.
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The institutionalization and international streamlining of what is called ‘peacebuilding’ often obscures our view of what peace actually means for a society affected by different forms of violence and how that peace can be built. This chapter argues for a broader understanding of peacebuilding, not as an outside intervention but something growing from within and as a long-term process directed towards the resolution of structural violence often underlying physical outbreaks of violence. Drawing on long-term ethnographic research in Indonesia, the chapter critically reflects on local peace processes and ensuing resistance movements against broader issues of social injustice. Picking up Ortner’s concept of ‘ethnographic refusal’ (1995), it investigates the various dimensions and strategies of ‘refusal’ in these transformation processes. It looks at refusal of local complexity implied in international peace interventions, but it also examines local peacebuilding and resistance to outside intervention and emerging inequalities based on a strategic refusal of diversity and internal conflict. Analysing the diverging strategies of refusal among different stakeholder groups sheds light on the complex entanglements of cultural essentialization and power politics in mainstream international peacebuilding, grassroots reconciliation and local resistance.
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This article describes experiences of long-term ethnographic fieldwork on disobedience, disloyalty and dissensus among women in public space in selected (post-)Yugoslav cities. I focus on the opportunities and pitfalls of feminist ethnography and methodology in the context of positionality, engagement and solidarity as essential elements of research into activist networks. In order to problematize the emerging field positionalities and solidarities, I examine the “militant ethnography” methodological approach (Jeffrey Juris), which seeks to move beyond the divide between research practice and politically engaged participation. It is about being among and within the activist network and adopting many identities and roles by constantly shifting between reflective solidarity and analysis. In trying to shed light on the critical self-reflective research process of embodied understandings and experiences, I focus on ethnographic practices embedded in transnational “crowded fields” that encompass the dynamics of relationships and dependencies between knowledge producers.
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Autorki analizują z perspektywy feministycznej cztery polskie filmy dokumentalne (Strajk matek, reż. M. Maciejewska, M. Malinowska, 2011; Solidarność według kobiet, reż. M. Dzido, P. Śliwowski, 2014; Strajk kobiet trwa, reż. M. Malinowska, 2018; Siłaczki, reż. M. Dzido, P. Śliwowski, 2018). Dostrzegają obecne w nich wezwania do przeobrażania rzeczywistości społecznej oraz traktują jako przykłady „gatunku walczącego”. Ten zaś jest postrzegany w artykule jako rodzaj doświadczenia społecznego, w którym na pierwszy plan wysuwa się konieczność solidarnej walki o lepsze życie, widoczność w sferze publicznej oraz kolektywne uznanie wartości, historii czy praktyk istotnych dla określonych wspólnot kobiecych. Zastanawiając się nad różnymi wymiarami feministycznego dokumentu filmowego – interwencyjnym, herstorycznym, zaangażowanym i edukacyjnym – autorki pokazują, w jaki sposób praca nad filmem staje się również działaniem na rzecz polskiego ruchu kobiet.
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This article provides an overview of activist research and how it is used in various field including anthropology, social movements, and education. It discusses the impetus for incorporating activism into theoretical frameworks and research methodologies and the distinct aspects of activist research. Youth participatory action research is examined to identify how activist research can be situated into the methods and outcomes.
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This essay directs the theoretical energy of the emerging anthropology of the future genre toward the essential task of generating new anthropological prospects for making positive world contributions. Embracing visioning as a promising ethnographic technique, I develop an ethnography of the future drawn from central Ohio Transition participants’ prefigurative actions and descriptions of desirable futures. I suggest that temporal imaginings have very real effects on the world we ultimately (re)build and outline anthropology’s roles in the future‐making process.
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In this essay, I reflect on six years of collaboration between myself and an organization of indigenous midwives in Mexico. I interrogate the process of finding common grounds between researchers and activists, which includes building a shared political vision of indigenous midwifery and negotiating disagreements on the different ways to impulse change. Building on my experience with Mexican midwives and activists, I share some of the tools we have used, both from within and outside of academia, to contribute to social change. I build on Shannon Speed's call for a “critically engaged activist research” to raise awareness on the urgency of moving from applied anthropology to activist anthropology.
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Bridging prison and immigration justice is of utmost importance, and an obvious and strategic point of encounter for dialogue among activists and scholars working on these issues is immigration detention. But as penal and carceral abolitionists have taught us, we cannot tackle prison injustice without addressing broader issues in policing, criminal law and other means of coercive social control. Taking my cues from this work, I suggest that we move upstream and look at the role of immigration policing in detention and deportation. The article draws from records obtained mostly through Access to Information (ATI) and Freedom of Information (FOI) requests to map out collaboration between the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and municipal police forces in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. In looking for ways to limit police involvement in internal border control, the article discusses strategies to promote a culture of non-collaboration with immigration enforcement and build alternatives means of ensuring community safety and well-being in the spirit of police and border abolitionism.
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In the United States, undocumented Latinx immigrants’ precarious social positions are rooted in aggressive immigration enforcement practices that create a contestant threat of detection and deportation. This threat extends into the US interior, and in some US cities, immigrant policing practices rely on law enforcement officers racially profiling Latinx immigrants. Several social scientists have described the numerous consequences of racially‐based immigrant policing, but insufficient scholarship examines the role urban and suburban spaces play in constructing the policing regimes that structure undocumented immigrants’ precarity. In this article, I examine the relationship between immigration enforcement regimes, automobiles, and the suburban roadways in a previously rural Central Florida exurb. Using frameworks of automobility, illegality, and necropolitics, I show how Central Florida’s expanding suburban infrastructure contributes to immigrant policing efforts. I further show how spectacles of immigration enforcement, such as parking border patrol vehicles along specific highways, are performances of state power to reinforce racial hierarchies. Overall, I argue that spatial and material conditions—such as driving vehicles that law enforcement officers associate with undocumented immigrants on specific roadways—serve to simultaneously underscore undocumented immigrants’ vulnerability and to signal to white residents how law enforcement officers maintain white supremacy by targeting undocumented Latinx drivers.
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This article braids our personal and political narratives to examine approaches to creative ethnography as a technique of writing for activists’ goals. Using autobricolage—mixing art, activism and ethnography—we explore narrative as a decolonising strategy to centre Indigenous ontology. The insights carry implications for how we understand and engage with the experiences of others, particularly marginalised voices. The article also offers reflections on the current climate of protest and its new opportunities for social change and solidarity. These reflections are as important for defenders of climate change as for protesters of BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo. Shared histories of colonialism and migration can potentially provide the basis for productive settler-Indigenous social relations among current and future generations. By sharing our experiences as native migrants living in Australia—Harwood from Aotearoa and Guntarik from Borneo—we show how stories reinforce one another, trigger new memories and reveal parallel politics.
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History of state intervention in the municipal governments of the Tsotsil and Tseltal (Tzotzil, Tzeltal) communities of central Chiapas from the years of radical agrarian reform and labor organizing under President Lázaro Cárdenas in the 1930s, through the transformation of the indigenous leaders who emerged during those years into political bosses under the corporatist state that followed in the 1940s and 1950s.
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This article challenges the assumption that the underlying principles of state-endorsed ‘multiculturalism’ stand in tension with neoliberal political-economic policies. Based on ethnographic research in Guatemala, it is argued that neoliberalism's cultural project entails pro-active recognition of a minimal package of cultural rights, and an equally vigorous rejection of the rest. The result is a dichotomy between recognised and recalcitrant indigenous subjects, which confronts the indigenous rights movement as a ‘menace’ even greater than the assimilationist policies of the previous era. It is suggested that the most effective response to this menace is probably not to engage in frontal opposition to neoliberal regimes, but rather to refuse the dichotomy altogether.
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In December 20, 1919, under the heading "Scientists as Spies," The Nation published a letter by Franz Boas, the father of academic anthropology in America. Boas charged that four American anthropologists, whom he did not name, had abused their professional research positions by conducting espionage in Central America during the First World War. Boas strongly condemned their actions, writing that they had "prostituted science by using it as a cover for their activities as spies." Anthropologists spying for their country severely betrayed their science and damaged the credibility of all anthropological research, Boas wrote; a scientist who uses his research as a cover for political spying forfeits the right to be classified as a scientist. The most significant reaction to this letter occurred ten days later at the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association (AAA), when the association's governing council voted to censure Boas, effectively removing him from the council and pressuring him to resign from the national research council. Three out of four of the accused spies (their names, we now know, were Samuel Lothrop, Sylvanus Morley and Herbert Spinden) voted for censure; the fourth (John Mason) did not. Later Mason wrote Boas an apologetic letter explaining that he'd spied out of a sense of patriotic duty. A variety of extraneous factors contributed to Boas's censure (chief among these being institutional rivalries, personal differences and possibly anti-Semitism). The AAA's governing council was concerned less about the accuracy of his charges than about the possibility that publicizing them might endanger the ability of others to undertake fieldwork. It accused him of "abuse" of his professional position for political ends.
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With indigenous and Afro-Latin land rights in Central America as ethnographic context, this article makes the case for politically engaged anthropology. The argument builds from a juxtaposition between “cultural critique” and “activist research” distinguished mainly on methodological grounds. Activist scholars establish an alignment with an organized group of people in struggle and accompany them on the contradictory and partly compromised path toward their political goals. This yields research outcomes that are both troubled and deeply enriched by direct engagement with the complexities of political contention. A case in the Inter-American Human Rights Court, where an indigenous community called Awas Tingni forced the Nicaraguan government to recognize the community's ancestral lands, illustrates the promise of activist research, in spite of the inevitable contradictions that present themselves even when the struggle is ostensibly successful.
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Between the late 1970s and the mid 1980s, Guatemala was torn by a civil war which came to be known as La Violencia. During this time of mass terror and extreme violence, more than 600 massacres occurred in villages destroyed by the army, one and a half million people were displaced, and more than 200,000 civilians murdered. 83% of the victims were Maya, the indigenous people of Guatemala. Buried Secrets brings these chilling statistics to life as it chronicles the journey of Mayan survivors seeking truth, justice, and community healing and demonstrates that the Guatemalan army carried out a systematic and intentional genocide against the Maya. Victoria Sanford provides us with an insider’s look at the workings of the Commission for Historical Clarification through the exhumation of clandestine cemeteries. The book is based on exhaustive research, including more than 400 testimonies from massacre survivors, interviews with members of the forensic team, human rights leaders, high-ranking military officers, guerrilla combatants, and government officials. Buried Secrets traces truth-telling and political change from isolated Maya villages to national political events, and provides a unique look into the experiences of Maya survivors as they struggle to rebuild their communities and lives.
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The world of forensic anthropology, through the work of Clyde C. Snow, is explored in this book. It recounts, among other cases, his examination of the skeleton of Nazi doctor Josef Mengele, his discovery of new evidence about Custer's last stand and his search for Argentina's disappeared.
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The American Indian Quarterly 29.1&2 (2005) 285-288 Linda Tuhiwai Smith's book, Decolonizing Methodologies, provides a convenient template for viewing the impact Western-minded research, historically, has had upon effecting voice and identity in Indigenous communities. Her treatment of how its methods, in a number of ways, have undermined the integrity of countless Indigenous communities, has provided her with insight about the kind of epistemological shift that will be necessary for researchers to provide meaning, balance, and sensitivity to voice within Indigenous communities. By reviewing the way research has been shaped and woven into the grand narrative of Imperialism and expressed in the language of Colonialism (e.g. Manifest Destiny), she is able to argue that this shift should resemble nothing less than a tour de force, where Western versions of history, writing, and theory must be carefully re-evaluated or deconstructed for lack of efficiency in giving justice to the Indigenous voice. The richness of this type of solid research should include the heterogeneity of voice, the kind the Maori people have traditionally called mana and rangatiratanga. It is a principle about living and being that has been known forever in New Zealand, where Indigenous people hold the sovereign right to voice, determine, participate, and shape their own destinies. The author is an associate professor of education at the University of Aukland, New Zealand. She is also director of the International Research Institute for Maori and Indigenous Education at Aukland, and is a committee member on a number of advisory boards. Finally, Smith has authored a number of scholarly articles related to commentary about Indigenous New Zealand issues. The first five chapters attempt to demonstrate how notions about research were developed and refined into a formidable Zeitgeist about the Other within the historical context of Imperialism. She begins to build her argument out of the debris that history, theory, and writing have left in the wake of establish-ing the Other as the primary caricature of Indigenous culture. Even though she has critically articulated the way that these methods are really guises for "a particular realization of the imperial imagination," (23) Smith remains insistent that this triad can be reasonably redeemed to overcome its own prejudices for better service in representing Indigenous communities. Writing, for instance, must become more than detailing the injustices of Imperialism, but should also be used as a means to begin rebuilding the integrity that has been ripped away from the body of countless Indigenous cultures. Further into the chapters, she continues to emphasis the difficulty of representation by describing how the notion of Other was coded into an archival system of irrelevant ideas, fragments, and images about human nature. The archive is especially difficult to overcome, because the manifestations of its representation (e.g. theories about human nature), stock and barrel, are taken for granted by those people who use them in research. In order to undermine the hegemony of this archive, opportunities must be granted to Indigenous people that allow them to speak directly about how these ideas and images make them feel as an Other. Where much of this archive began to be filled in with Greek philosophy during their city-state period, the quantity of its volume occurred during the Enlightment and Industrial Revolution. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, European scholars like Hume, Bacon, Kant, Hegel, and Freud provided profound twists and turns that reinforced intellectual notions about the Other. Perhaps the most potent inflection about it during this period was the rationale that supported trade between Imperial powers and Indigenous peoples. It resulted in an ominous misappropriation of Indigenous knowledge, based more on the belief that knowledge is discovered rather than a living entity of Indigenous culture. Furthermore, this type of rationale had reduced Indigenous people and their knowledge into a commodity similar to other natural resources to be exploited and appropriated for profit. The remaining five chapters provide some thoughts about establishing the contour of alternative methods of research that would avoid the colonial-minded mistakes made by earlier generations of Western scholars. Probably...
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Christian L. Jordan Darkness in El Dorado: How Scientists and Journalists Devastated the Amazon. By Patrick Tierney. New York: W.W. Norton, 2000. In this provocative and controversial polemic, Patrick Tierney lays out a thorough and impassioned investigation of the plundering of the famous Yanomami of Amazonia by everyone from Catholic missionaries to the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission. The relentless narrative churns through account after account of how the Yanomami have been exploited and colonized in the name of science, journalism, and profit. Tierney’s main focus centers on how since first contact anthropologists and other friends have exposed Yanomami to outside diseases that have had disastrous impact on the very Yanomami way of life. Copyright © 2002, Christian L. Jordan and The Johns Hopkins University Press
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Publicizing endorsements for book published in 1991.
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The 1981 slaughter of more than a thousand civilians around El Mozote, El Salvador, by the country's U.S.-trained army was the largest massacre of the Salvadoran civil war. The story was covered and soon forgotten by the international news media. It was revived in 1993 only when the U.S. government was accused of covering up the incident. Such reportage, argues anthropologist Leigh Binford, sustains the perception that the lives of Third World people are only newsworthy when some great tragedy strikes. He critiques the practices of journalists and human rights organizations for their dehumanizing studies of "subjects" and "victims." Binford suggests that such accounts objectify the people involved through statistical analyses and bureaucratic body counts while the news media sensationalize the motives and personalities of the perpetrators. In relating the story of this tragic event, Binford restores a sense of history and social identity to the fallen people of this Salvadoran village. Drawing on interviews he conducted with El Mozote-area residents, he offers a rich ethnographic and personal account of their lives prior to the tragedy. He provides an overview of the history and culture of the area and tells how such a massacre could have happened, why it was covered up, and why it could happen again.
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Whether in characterizing Catherine MacKinnon's theory of gender as itself pornographic or in identifying liberalism as unable to make good on its promises, this text pursues a central question: how does a sense of woundedness become the basis for a sense of identity? Brown argues that efforts to outlaw hate speech and pornography powerfully legitimize the state: such apparently well-intentioned attempts harm victims further by portraying them as so helpless as to be in continuing need of governmental protection. "Whether one is dealing with the state, the Mafia, parents, pimps, police, or husbands," writes Brown, "the heavy price of institutionalized protection is always a measure of dependence and agreement to abide by the protector's rules." True democracy, she insists, requires sharing power, not regulation by it; freedom, not protection. Refusing any facile identification with one political position or another, Brown applies her argument to a panoply of topics, from the basis of litigiousness in political life to the appearance on the academic Left of themes of revenge and a thwarted will to power. These and other provocations in contemporary political thought and political li
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In bracketing certain ''Western'' Enlightenment truths we hold and defend as self-evident at home in order to engage theoretically a multiplicity of alternative truths encoded in our reified notion of culture, anthropologists may be ''suspending the ethical'' in our dealings with the ''other.'' Cultural relativism, read as moral relativism, is no longer appropriate to the world in which we live, and anthropology, if it is to be worth anything at all, must be ethically grounded. This paper is an attempt to imagine what forms a politically committed and morally engaged anthropology might take.
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Human rights issues in Latin America have been actively pursed in anthropology during the past seven years. A summary of recent changes in anthropology and human rights precedes a discussion structured by categories used by human rights scholars and advocates: civil-political; ecoromic-soclal-cultural; development; and Indigenous rights. Interpretatlons suggest that anthropologists have been very active In documenting human rights abuses, but less Involved In building cross-cultural understandings of rights, Due in part, to the continuing challenges of cultural relativism, the author raises Important questions about the expanding anthropological discourse on human rights.
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The American Anthropological Association's investigation of the charges in Darkness in El Dorado (Tierney 2000) found that the late James Neel and Napoleon Chagnon harmed the Yanomami in the course of their research in Venezuela and Brazil, and that Chagnon had violated the ethics code of the association. The association's inquiry contravened its own policy prohibiting ethics adjudications and was structured not by the standards of an objective investigation but by aspects of contemporary anthropology. Moralized approaches to information and postmodern rejection of objectivity mark the language and methods of the inquiry. The investigating task force did not observe reasonable standards of evidence, the targets of the investigation were not represented, and task force members were compromised by conflicts of interest. The investigation and its collateral activities reflect a culture of accusation and an anthropology uncertain of its ethical or scientific stature.
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After decades of bloody revolutions and political terror, many scholars and politicians lament the rise and brief influence of the left in Latin America; since the triumph of Castro they have accused the left there of rejecting democracy, embracing Communist totalitarianism, and prompting both revolutionary violence and a right-wing backlash. The Last Colonial Massacre challenges these views. Using Guatemala as a case study, Greg Grandin argues that the Cold War in Latin America was a struggle not between American liberalism and Soviet Communism but between two visions of democracy. The main effect of United States intervention in Latin America, Grandin shows, was not the containment of Communism but the elimination of home-grown concepts of social democracy. Through unprecedented archival research and gripping personal testimonies, Grandin uncovers the hidden history of the Latin American Cold War: of hidebound reactionaries intent on holding on to their own power and privilege; of Mayan Marxists, blending indigenous notions of justice with universal ideas of freedom and equality; and of a United States supporting new styles of state terror throughout the continent. Drawing from declassified U.S. documents, Grandin exposes Washington's involvement in the 1966 secret execution of more than thirty Guatemalan leftists, which, he argues, prefigured the later wave of disappearances in Chile and Argentina. Impassioned but judicious, The Last Colonial Massacre is history of the highest order—a work that will dramatically recast our understanding of Latin American politics and the triumphal role of the United States in the Cold War and beyond.
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El autor de esta obra explica y defiende los derechos humanos como derechos universales. Conciente de que los derechos humanos han estado enmarcados, a lo largo del tiempo, por la situación histórica y social, dedica una amplia parte a revisar el relativismo cultural y las delimitaciones históricas, para concluir que las prácticas culturales regionales no tienen que estar peleadas con lo que él llama la universalidad moral de los derechos humanos, del respeto al ser humano por el simple hecho de existir como tal.
Human Rights as Politics and Idolatry. Princeton: Prince-ton University Press. International Labor Organization (ILO) 1989 C169 Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention. ILO con-ference session, 76. Geneva: ILO. (Date of coming into force
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Joyce, Christopher, and Eric Stove 1991 Witnesses from the Grave: The Stories Bones Tell. London: Little, Brown. Koff, Clea 2004 The Bone Woman: A Forensic Anthropologist's Search for Truth in the Mass Graves of Rwanda, Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo. Boston: Random House.
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Decolonizing Research in Cross-Cultural Contexts: Critical Personal Narratives
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Mutua, Kagendo, and Beth Swadener 2004 Decolonizing Research in Cross-Cultural Contexts: Critical Personal Narratives. New York: State University of New York Press.
Browns 1995 Dead Men Do Tell Tales: The Strange and Fascinating Case of a Forensic Anthropologist
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