What responsibility do scholars have in times of political crisis? To whom, why, and how do we reach our intended audiences? If the last decade has seen the rise of a public anthropology paralleled by new digital technologies for communication, the current political moment feels as if we have reached a new degree of urgency. Academia in the time of Trump is certainly not the same old politics. How, then, should anthropologists and other academics respond? And, how do we do so with awareness of the stakes and the risks involved? Answers to these questions are neither singular nor static, but require ongoing and collaborative turning over. Action, intervention, and the speaking of anthropological truths in public spaces matter now in a way we have not seen in the discipline since the Vietnam War. As Edward Said argued decades ago, scholarship cannot just be about the world, but must be in the world. What does and might an anthropology in the world, and not just of the world look like?
Carole McGranahan is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Colorado. She is a feminist and political anthropologist who writes on empire, history and memory, citizenship, storytelling, the CIA, and Tibet. Together with the archaeologist Uzma Rizvi, she co-edits the Decolonizing Anthropology series on the Savage Minds blog, and is a founding member of the Public Anthropology Institute.
This talk, entitled “Political Crisis and Scholarly Responsibility, or, Public Anthropology in the Time of Trump,” was part of the Precarious Publics Workshop at Duke on Feb 4, 2017 and was organized by Duke’s Department of Cultural Anthropology.