List members might find this profile of U of Utah anthropologist Polly Wiessner of interest. She reflects an increasing trend in anthropology, sometimes called engaged anthropology, to become more closely involved with research subjects--indeed, to make them active collaborators--and to make their welfare paramount. This viewpoint, which rejects notions that active involvement with subjects compromises scientific objectivity, is also associated with an activist and advocacy role for anthropologists. The recent revolt in the American Anthropological Association against the use of anthropologists in Iraq and Afghanistan is an example of this attitude; and it represents, finally, the throwing off of the lingering effects of McCarthyism's devastating attack on the field. All these issues are discussed, albeit briefly, at the end of the piece.


Michael Balter
Contributing Correspondent, Science
Adjunct Professor of Journalism,
New York University

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"When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a Communist." -- Hélder Pessoa Câmara