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Anthropology 233: Domains of Application

Time: Thursdays 6:00 pm - 8:45 pm
Location: Clark 204


This course introduces four domains that intersect with anthropological knowledge: (1) health and illness; (2) environmental sustainability; (3) migration and immigration; and (4) business, industry, and labor. We will explore how anthropologists are addressing issues in each of these domains, and how anthropological perspectives might provide insight into social, economic, and political transformations in the San Francisco Bay Area. Although this graduate course is offered within the context of an applied anthropology M.A. curriculum, the division between "applied" and "theoretical" (or "academic") anthropology is arbitrary. Indeed, the division emerged relatively recently (in the 1930s) in the United States. This distinction has never occurred in some countries. For example, in Mexico nearly all anthropologists have been expected to apply social science knowledge to meet human needs. Consequently in this course we will examine four specific domains but we will also critically examine a host of topics concerning the genesis, development, and consequences of applied anthropology, including: 1. Perspective. From what points of view is the anthropologist analyzing an issue or problem? What are the basic assumptions that are being made? Should the perspectives of "experts" be privileged over those of non-experts? Who provides the anthropologist with data? Who is the anthropologist serving? 2. Cross-cultural comparison. How are people in different cultures addressing a particular issue or problem? What ideas can the applied anthropologist take from other cultures to help solve problems at home? 3. Historical analysis. How have people in different historical periods addressed a particular issue or problem? How did a given issue or problem develop over time? What ideas can the applied anthropologist take from other time periods to help solve present-day problems? 4. Power. What role does power play in the definition, creation, and resolution of social problems? Through what institutions or mechanisms are anthropologists able to apply their knowledge? We will also discuss several ethical issues related to the field of applied anthropology, including: 1. Proprietary data and the question of secrecy. Is it ethical for the social scientist to conduct covert research? 2. AAA Principles of Professional Responsibility. How have these changed over time, and what factors have impacted these changes? How do these compare to the professional guidelines of other professional associations (such as the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, etc.)? 3. Ethical limits of applied anthropology. Are there any institutions or agencies for which applied anthropologists should not provide services?


Course Documents