Interesting reflections by my student Mirjam Holleman about ethics and anthropology. Is there a place for activist ethnography? This is something I’m grappling with in my own research.

Constructing Cultural Models of (Dis)ability and Society

There is this image of an anthropologists as a detached observer, who doesn’t let his or her own ideals or visions of how society should function or ethical views of how people ought to treat each other guide her research.  But sometimes it’s hard not to care.  Pressing issues of social justice challenge the border between scientific  disengagement and ethical activism, and “open up important possibilities for rethinking what anthropology is and does, and what contributions it can make to global activism concerning social justice “ (Merry 2005: 241).

While I was in the field, I was working, I was a researcher, and I didn’t feel personally affected by the things I was observing or hearing.  I was (and still am) supper thankful that my ‘informants,’ the people I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with, didn’t treat me with kid gloves. They spoke to me quite candidly about their, or their…

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