Re: cliff and mike on ethics

Anthro Students (Anthro.Students@ANTHROPOLOGY.SU.EDU.AU)
Wed, 8 Feb 1995 21:30:20 -0500

Mike Lieber wrote (in communications with Cliff Sloane)

>Where I work, knowledge is considered to be (a) power and (b) a >commodity.
>People calculate what they are willing to parcel out, always with a
>demand. They're the ones with the power once we're on their turf, and >we
>it and they know it. That's real. Like I said before: cut the crap.
> Mike


I agree with that it's not simply simply a nasty conniving anthropologist
against innocent indigenes, but I think this is you characterisation of this
thread rather than what has actually been said. I also agree with the power
relations of the fieldwork situation are extremely complex and that those
situations the "anthropologist" is at a relative disadvantage. The problem
is though, we don't just stay on "their turf", we take our hard won,
painfully gained, data, information, artifacts etc back to another turf over
mostly, the members of our fieldlocation have no control whatsoever. In a
sense we are information capitalists, we make a calculated investment in
loss of power in one turf, calculating that it may be reconverted into
another form of social value ("ethnographic knowledge", great dinner table
stories etc) on the other turf. This is the slight of hand in which we are
constantly embroiled. Anthropology has always been a discipline that exists
between worlds. This is perhaps both it's freedom, and its albatross.

Whose turf is the crap on, and how much is a pooper scooper?


John Cook