"Engaged Anthropology Backstage: Politics and Reflexivity beyond the Text" workshop by Stuart Kirsch, University of Michigan

May 13, 2014 - 11:00 - 12:40
Nador u. 9, Monument Building
Gellner Room
Event type: 
Event audience: 
Stuart Kirsch, University of Michigan
CEU organizer(s): 
Guntra Aistara

The Department of Environmental Sciences and Policy,
the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology,
and the Environmental and Social Justice Action Research Group (ACT JUST)
cordially invite you to a lecture and workshop by
Department of Anthropology,
University of Michigan


"Engaged Anthropology Backstage: Politics and Reflexivity beyond the Text"

Tuesday, May 13th, 11:00 - 12:40
Gellner Room

Dr. Kirsch will discuss the introduction to his new book on engaged anthropology. Anthropologists increasingly mobilize ethnographic research for constructive interventions into politics. Whereas the 'writing culture' era of the 1980s and 1990s was concerned about the politics of representation within the text, engaged anthropology raises questions about politics beyond the ethnographic text as anthropologists become expert witnesses, authors of social impact studies, corporate consultants, and public intellectuals. Whereas the discussions associated with 'writing culture' led to a generation of experimental ethnographies, engaged anthropology results in the novel deployment of ethnographic knowledge by social movements, the courts, corporations, and competing publics. Despite the importance of reflexivity to the literature on 'writing culture', the pragmatic goals of problem-centered ethnography and the programmatic ambitions of many engaged anthropologists have largely ignored the blind spots and contradictions of this work. This project draws on the experiences of the author in considering the complications and challenges of engagement alongside its potential to expand the possibilities of ethnographic knowledge production within and beyond the academy. Please email Guntra Aistara (aistarag@ceu.hu) to receive a copy of Dr. Kirsch's pre-circulated discussion paper.

Stuart Kirsch is associate professor of anthropology at the University of Michigan. He is the author of Reverse Anthropology (Stanford, 2006) and the forthcoming Mining Capitalism (University of California, June 2014). He has carried out long-term ethnographic research with the Yonggom people who live on both sides of the border between Papua New Guinea and West Papua (Indonesia). He has also collaborated with the Yonggom and their neighbors in their long-running political campaign and legal efforts to limit the environmental impact of the Ok Tedi copper and gold mine. He has also consulted widely on indigenous rights and environmental issues, including compensation for damages caused by nuclear weapons testing in the Marshall Islands, conservation and development in the Lakekamu River Basin of Papua New Guinea, and mining and property rights in the Solomon Islands. Professor Kirsch received his Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania in 1991 and taught for four years at Mount Holyoke College before joining the University of Michigan in 1995. Further information available at: http://derianga.wordpress.com