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Ethical issues in cultural anthropology. “Those who confront violence with resistance-- whether it be cultural or political—do not escape unscathed from the terror and oppression they rise up against. The challenge of ethnography then, is to

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ethical issues in cultural anthropology
Ethical issues in cultural anthropology

“Those who confront violence with resistance--

whether it be cultural or political—do not escape

unscathed from the terror and oppression they rise

up against. The challenge of ethnography then, is to

check the impulse to sanitize, and instead to clarify

the chains of causality that link structural, political,

and symbolic violence that buttresses unequal power

relations and distorts efforts at resistance

(Bourgois 2004: 433).

ethical issues and anthropology
Ethical issues and anthropology
  • Notions of rightand wrong
  • Concerns about our intentions (academic and otherwise) towards others, institutions, governments, etc.
  • Our responsibilities towards social groups (collectivities) and individuals
anthropological ethical controversies
Anthropological (ethical) controversies:
  • The project Camelot
  • The Thailand controversy
the project camelot 1960 s and 70 s
The project Camelot (1960’s and 70’s)
  • Collection of large amount of primary and secondary data on Latin America by the USA government
  • Ethnographic data was of great interest
  • Emergence within the conjuncture of the global politics
the thailand controversy 1960 s
The Thailand Controversy (1960’s)
  • Anthropological data used by the USA government to fight insurgents
  • Anthropologists established a research task to deal with ethical issues
  • Forced anthropologists to create ethical guidelines (AAA Guidelines in the 90s)
issues concerning anthropologists 40 years ago
Issues concerning anthropologists 40 years ago
  • Responsibility of anthropologists towards the people they study
  • The complicit role that anthropology played in the domination and exploitation of peoples
today
Today
  • Accountability
  • Accountable:Answerable, being required to answer for one's actions. Sometimes the term "accountable" is used with a moral connotation ("normatively" ) meaning morally required to answer for one's actions without specifying to whom one is accountable. More often "accountable" is used descriptively to describe the sociological fact that a person or organization in question is required to answer to a particular party by some rules or organizational structure (Oxford dictionary).
other ethical issues facing anthropologists
Other ethical issues facing anthropologists
  • Issues of globalization and human rights (“an arena for intensive contact with politically imposed human tragedy”) ---How do we deal with the implications of globalization in ethnographic research?
  • Issues of cultural property--- Who has the right to own cultural property; objects, stories, ethnographic materials (writings,photos, etc.).
  • Issues of the anthropology of the future--Challenges of the internet.
what do we learn from these two controversies
What do we learn from these two controversies?

concern for the dignity and welfare of people and groups with whom we live, work and study.

suspicious of potentially hidden government research agendas with negative implications for people: Bourgois

open about research goals: to informants and institutions to insure continuation of research

dedication to an intellectually and institutionally viable profession

sharing information with the public

slide10
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Do you agree with Bourgois that this guideline is contradictory to the actual research contingencies?

slide11

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Do you think that this code of ethics could be a continuation of a Western centered discourse prevalent in anthropology throughout its history or not?

slide12
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What are the contradictions between these ethical guidelines and our moral imperatives then?

slide13
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Why should we take into consideration unequal power relations?

slide14
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Can we reconcile the contradictions between social responsibility and the commitment of anthropology to institutional accountability?

slide15
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What does Bourgois mean when he asserts that our studies among the poor and powerless could contribute to their empowerment?

summary of guidelines
Summary of guidelines

Maintain your primary responsibility to the persons you are studying

Obtaining clear consent from informants for the collection of information (some of which is going to be sensitive)

Become aware that your presence will increase the dependency of he community on outside forces

Keep in mind your responsibility to contribute in some positive way to the community you are studying

Keep promises: to insure future access to the field