Monday, January 31, 2011

Rationally Speaking #26 - Is Anthropology Still a Science?
Nice podcast discussion from Rationally Speaking about the current state of anthropology.
Rationally Speaking is a blog maintained by Prof. Massimo Pigliucci, a philosopher at the City University of New York. The blog reflects the Enlightenment figure Marquis de Condorcet's idea of what a public intellectual (yes, we know, that's such a bad word) ought to be: someone who devotes himself to "the tracking down of prejudices in the hiding places where priests, the schools, the government, and all long-established institutions had gathered and protected them." You're welcome. (Thanks to Ian Pollock for the nice logo!)
There seems to have been a move away from purely observing cultures and peoples and toward advocating on their behalf - does that mean anthropology is no longer an objective science? Or is this a move that a human-centered discipline should have made a long time ago?

RS26 - Is Anthropology Still a Science?

Release date: January 16, 2011

Listen to the podcast at their site.

In a recent article in the New York Times, Nicholas Wade reported that the American Anthropological Association had decided “to strip the word ‘science’ from a statement of its long-range plan.” Is this just a reflection of the long standing division between physical and cultural anthropology or is there more here? The revised statement says that “the purposes of the association shall be to advance public understanding of humankind in all its aspects,” a wording that opens the possibility for cultural anthropologists to engage in public advocacy on behalf of cultures they are studying. So, what kind of discipline is anthropology, after all? And, more broadly, should scientists cross the line from research into public advocacy?

Comment on the episode teaser.

No comments: