SfAA President’s Column

November 1, 2010

By Allan F. Burns
University of Florida

Salomón Nahmad Sittón, historian and anthropologist, left, and Margarita Dalton (the sister of the poet of El Salvador, Roque Dalton) and SfAA President Allan Burns, right, in Oaxaca, Nov. 2010

I write from Oaxaca, Mexico, here visiting the 2011 Malinowski Award winner, Dr. Salomón Nahmad Sittón who invited me to give a talk at CIESAS-Pacifico Sur on applied visual anthropology. Salomón is the director of CIESAS-Pacifico Sur, The Central for Advanced Investigations and Studies in Social Anthropology, Southern Pacific Region. This research center is part of a web of similar institutions throughout Mexico that work on applied and contemporary issues in Mexico. From the creation of centers like CIESAS to the direct community development programs, the “cultural missions,” that employed applied anthropologists (often fresh out of undergraduate studies) to bring about a better life in rural villages throughout the country, I have always been impressed with the way applied anthropology flourishes in Mexico. The Cultural Missions are easily criticized for failures of sensitivity to local knowledge, but on the other hand, they were a creative initiative that few other countries have even contemplated. One of the key features of CIESAS throughout Mexico is the integration of history, anthropology, and allied fields so that the work that is done is rich in historic depth and the integration of everything from medical anthropology to ethnomusicology.

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After the Party is Over: Anomia and the Challenges after the 2010 Elections

November 1, 2010

By Sarah Anne (Sally) Robinson
Independent Scholar, ret.

Emile Durkheim used the term anomie to categorize one causal type of suicide in France (“Suicide”, 1897). He described the condition as a sudden, life-altering change to which an individual must adapt. A community or even a nation may also become anomic. Their members find it difficult to create a new order. For this reason anomic social groups tend to become self-perpetuating.

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From Structural Violence to Structural Silence: Anthropology and Workplace Mobbing

November 1, 2010

By Janice Harper
Public Scholar

Anthropologists have long been in the forefront of studying – and commenting on – how groups organize themselves and confer meanings and identities on group members. We market ourselves as analysts of organizational cultures, who can help leadership understand the informal power networks and differing communication styles that contribute to organizational conflict. In matters of group behavior, we proudly take the lead in the scholarship, teaching and advocacy of social justice from micro-levels to macro. We approach violence among groups in terms of continuums, where dehumanizing and excluding members, and depriving members of strategic economic resources, due process and procedural fairness, are regarded as forms of structural violence that must – and can – be controlled if we are to live in a more humane world.
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Unstable Foundations: Human Rights of Haiti’s 1.5 Million IDPs

November 1, 2010

By Mark Schuller
New York College, City University of New York

Haiti’s 1.5 million homeless have once again become invisible. Because they are not seen or heard in mainstream media, most people assume things are improving, the problem solved—un- fortunately they are wrong.

While it goes unseen, and therefore the U.S. Congress is not being pressured during this midterm election season to end the deadlock that is holding up 1.15 billion dollars in promised aid to Haiti, the situation remains quite urgent.

While finishing a study on the camps for 1.5 million people made homeless by Haiti’s earthquake I asked the question: “Like the thousands who are contemplating moving back into their damaged homes, are Haiti’s 1.5 million IDPs just falling through the cracks, or is the foundation itself unsound?” Unfortunately the answer is that the foundation itself appears to be unsound.

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In Memory of Walter Goldschmidt: Exemplary Anthropologist

November 1, 2010

By Paul Durrenberger
Penn State University

By Kendall Thu
Northern Illinois University

Walter Goldschmidt died on Sept. 1, 2010 at the age of 97. He was the finest example of an applied anthropologist. At the annual meeting of SfAA in Merida in 2001, when he was in his late 80s, SfAA belatedly recognized his contributions by presenting him the Malinowski award. In the middle of his talk the power went out but he continued to speak into the darkness. Somehow this was emblematic of his long career in Anthropology as well as the paltry recognition this monumental life and spirit received from his colleagues. That disregard has not been shared by the people among whom he worked, the people he served.

Academic fashions come and go. What endures is sound ethnography and the service we do for others. Goldschmidt left a mighty legacy of both.

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