History of Applied Anthropology
Ethics of Applied Anthropology
Anthropologists as Advocates
The application of anthropological knowledge, theory,
and methods to the solution of specific societal
Cultural anthro in an applied situation want to bring
i.e. Star Trek “prime directive”-do not interfere or change
societies for better or worse.
Because hard to judge long-term effect of change.
Roles of applied anthros include policy researcher,
evaluator, impact assessor, planner, research analyst,
needs assessor, trainer, advocate, expert withness,
administrator, manager, cultural broker.
Applied anthro in tough situation but they feel
they are the best equipped to make suggestions
for change because of their intimitate knowledge
of a culture.
Anthros have all the things we have already
Holistic Approach-looking at multiple variables and
see human problems in their historical, economic, and
b. Theories dealing with culture change
c. Regional expertise
d. Local level expertise through part. obs.
-fuller understanding of the soicocultural realities than might
be possible with other secondary sources.
Anthro try and bring emic and etic views
Emic = a perspective in ethnography that uses the
concepts and categories that are relevant and
meaningful to the culture under analysis. Native view.
Etic = a perspective in ethnography that use's the
concepts and categories of the anthros culture to
describe another culture. Scientific view.
An attempt to understand cultural patterns from the
"inside" and to see traits of a culture in terms of the
Opposite of ethnocentrism-perceiving and judging
other cultures from perspective of one's own culture.
History of Applied Anthropology
Applied first assoc. w/ British colonialism
During the 19th century, e.g., Britain employed
anthros to help in the administration of colonies.
subjugated people, local pops
were meeting needs of employer but not necessarily
the local people
Association of Applied w/ colonialism made
negative impression and was difficult to
Applied anthro really took off again during WWII.
Anthro helped in war efforts
Society of Applied Anthro founded at Harvard
More anthropologists doing applied work at that
time than any time previous
helped establish gov. policy on food rationing.
provided cultural daa on allies and adversaries.
relocation of Japanese-American interns on the West
After WWII, refocus on academic anthropology
here is a dichotomy that is made between applied
anthro and academic anthro (applied vs. basic research).
Most anthros after war employed by Univ teaching and
basic research, as opposed to working for gov.
Although not much Applied anthro, an important
reorientation took place.
prior to 1950s, anthros tried to employ "value free philosophy": a
commitment to avoid interjecting any of their own values in their
In 1950s, anthros decided it was impossible to free your work of
your own biases, should set out your goals, objectives, and
perspective for everyone and when working for an employer
should know their own value positions.
this helped erase some of the negative feelings toward applied
Fox project-intervention in the problems of Native American
Vicos project-tranforming a nonproductive hacienda into an
economically productive and self-governing community.
New Applied Anthropology
Characterized by contract work for public service
agencies accomplished away from universities.
Applied anthro no longer dominated by
university doing short-term applied work but
anthros are full time employees of agencies.
Today, anthros are still exploring the
employment opportunities for themselves not
only with gov. agencies but private businesses,
the economiy is a world economy and to do
business you need a global perspective.
How do you make findings public without revealing informants?
Can you be certain presenting your data will help and won't
eventually hurt the people you studied?
How much do you get personally involved?
First became a concern with Franz Boas in 1919, who spoke out about
using science as a cover for spying.
Project Camelot ($6 million) 1970s
To gather data on gorilla forces so U.S. Army could cope more
effectively with internal revolutions in foreign countries. Project
cancelled after Government heard about it.
Immense repercussions in social sciences:
suspicion on legitimate research.
government using social sciences as cover.
anthros were misled.
Areas of Responsibility
Follow American Anthro ethics-each member of
the profession ultimately responsible for won
Drawbacks of Applied Anthro
Participant observation takes a long time, can't just go in
and immediately solve problems.
Anthros get wrapped up in "their" people, lose the go-
between attitude so don't work well with the managers of
Lack quantitative data, numbers, but this is changing.
Idea that the anthro knows best, can't think that you
Cultural relativism appears in conflict to loyalty to gov.
Anthropology and Public Policy
As societies become more complex, become
heterogeneous-segments tend to become
ethnic group from ethnic group.
occupational specialties from one another.
elites from the poor.
Well intentioned public policies cannot help
when based on ignorances of pops affected by
anthro can act as "cultural brokers" between policy
makers and target pop.
anthro fill vacuum.
Growing field of applied anthro
Inadequate health care major contemporary problem.
Model of health care intervention based on assumption that
modern western medical practices were clearly superior to
People would drop traditional practices and turn to newer
Planners assumption incorrect
modern facilities not used extensively
traditional practices and specialists remained influential.
Anthro useful in identifying cultural and social factors that
acts as barriers inhibiting acceptance of new health care
Anthropologists as Advocates
Act on behalf of indigenous people whose cultures are
destroyed and whose rights are violated when they are
perceived as standing in way of economic development
and political priorities of nations of which they are a part.
Indigenous people often stigamatized as clinging to
backward and primitive way of life and obstructing
econoic dvlpmnt and nation bldg.
Often result is appropriation of indigenous lands upon
which their survival rests
Anthro not trying to preserve people in mythical original
state-cultures change anthro know this well. Anthro
support the rights of people to have a say in their future.