Accessible to non-specialists and researchers interested in ethnography, this volume offers an introduction into the uses of anthropology for engaging contemporary social issues. The editors’ essay surveys the development of anthropological research from its early exotic, non-Western focus to today’s debate over increasingly engaged approaches within a globalized society. The case studies utilize anthropology’s hallmark ethnographic methodology to address issues ranging from refugee reception and recognition to fair trade, intercultural education, and encounters with Gypsy populations.
Traditionally a phenomenon concentrated in the global South, asylum is increasingly becoming a political and social issue also in the North. In the late 1990s the EU started to set up a common European asylum system of rules on the recognition of refugees and the content of refugee status, a process which has been extensively analysed fro and association in charge with asylum procedures and with practices of asylum seekers’ reception and status determination, in a northeastern Italian region. Adopting a comparative perspective, it shows how an anthropological approach can differently contribute to an understanding of those issues, allowing to uncover crucial dimensions of the institutional relations between decision makers, social workers and asylum seekers, which eventually contribute to determine the outcome of the application.
“My dad has fifteen wives and eight ancestors to care for”: Conveying Anthropological Knowledge to Children and Adolescents
By analyzing an example from Germany of how anthropology can be put to use in a museum context, this chapter reflects on the responsibility of academic anthropology towards the public and the challenges faced in translating complex anthropological knowledge. It first treats the position of practicing anthropology, thereby situating the subsequent discussion of a pilot project at the University of Münster aimed at public outreach as well as practical training for anthropology students. The analysis focuses on one element within the wider project, an exhibition entitled “Fifteen Wives and Eight Ancestors: Life and Religion Among the Bulsa of Northern Ghana.” The process of developing this exhibition challenged researchers and students to communicate anthropological knowledge to various publics, especially that of children. The project brought together established anthropological researchers, students, exhibit designers and members of the ethnic group to be represented. Among the several challenges described here, in such initiatives there is a fundamental problem of negotiating the complexity of anthropologists’ knowledge with the designers’ predilection for reduc - ing complexity to essentials. In creating an exhibit on savannah life that dealt with topics like kinship and ancestor worship, these two approaches had collaborate to effectively communicate cultural diversity without exoticizing it. By exploring the experience of producing this exhibit, the chapter deals with how anthropology can contribute to intercultural learning and understanding outside of academia.
Begging—Between Charity and Profession: Reflections on Romanian Roma’s Begging Activities in Italy
Most people associate begging with charity, i.e. getting something for nothing. This chapter proposes that begging is seen by its practitioners as a kind of work which requires the bodily training and attention. I draw this conclusion from my observation and participation in begging activities carried out by a family of Romanian Gypsies in Northern Italy. Firstly, I will give an overview of Romanian Gypsy populations and their mobility to Italy. Then I shall introduce the people of my study, the Cortorari. They hold a specific view of personhood as enmeshed in kinship relationships. Persons live up to a moral code buttressed by idioms of shame and honour. These values underwrite the realms of gender, clothing and economics. A specific dress together with a strict division by gender of the economic activities and certain behaviour towards money lie at the core of the morality of kinship. When they go begging, Cortorari renounce their customary dress for worn-out blackish clothing, believed to be characteristic of a generic beggar. By so doing, they symbolically renounce their ethnic identity and almost all moral values embedded in it. Cortorari make a qualita - tive difference between home and abroad: moral sentiments define the first and economic exchanges, the latter.
Crafting Fair Trade Tourism: Gender, Race, and Development in Peru
Craft production, fair trade, and tourism have interacted with one another since the mid-twentieth century. In Peru, artisans and aid organizations have sold craftwork for decades through a range of approaches, which include tourism projects and fair trade methods. Certain groups working with crafts in Peru and elsewhere now seek to ensure that fair trade and tourism merge formally. The goal for involved cooperatives, agencies, and organizations is for tourism to follow fair trade principles, primarily in order to assure better income for small-scale artisans, agriculturalists, and herders. In addition, proponents intend that what is called “responsible” or, in certain contexts, “fair trade” tourism should help smaller scale producers and laborers gain more equitable and stable relations with consumers and world markets, all without worsening the environment. Although both fair trade and tourism struggle with their own issues of inequality and sustainability, the effort to combine fair trade with tourism nevertheless seems useful to examine as part of public anthropological concerns with conditions of disparity. The potential effects of fair trade tourism, in particular on socioeconomic and environmental conditions among less powerful communities and unequally treated members of those communities, are worth exploration. Based on a review of some of the relevant scholarship, and on material from multiple ethnographic research projects in Peru, this chapter will briefly trace the background and issues of fair trade and tourism as they link together. This chapter also will consider critically some of the problems, and possibilities, of mixing fair trade with tourism and suggest points to consider for the future.
Expert Translations of Torture and Trauma: A Multisited Ethnography / Monika Weissensteiner
This chapter describes and analyses the processes through which some practices of the “global fight against torture” have acquired new meanings and functions in contemporary Europe. Medical and psychological knowledge practices regarding torture are not only intertwined with legal processes of recognition aimed at holding perpetrators accountable, but also with asylum procedures. In many European countries medico-legal and psychological documentation of torture is increasingly used to substantiate asylum applications of victim-survivors seeking international protection. Using my interviews with medical-legal experts, psychologists and lawyers as a point of departure, I will discuss this documentation as a social practice of knowledge production embedded within landscapes of meaning and power. This contribution seeks to reflect upon the epistemologies, the techniques and the ethics through which testimonies of torture are received, read, listened and responded to. How do experts translate an intimate experience to make it recognizable by public institutions? How are legal uncertainty, denial or mistrust dealt with? Contemporary understandings of “trauma” have shaped the recognition of victim-survivors. Data from a multisited ethnographic research project carried out with NGOs who provide support to victim-survivors of torture will be situated within the historical emergence of this documentation practice and its current entanglement with European asylum policy and migration management.