Re: Anthropology and politics

Mon, 11 Sep 1995 16:24:38 +1200

William Price suggests that we can be scientific in direct proportion to
our avoidance of bringing politics into our work. While not supporting in
any way the current rather lengthy spate of personal polemic,
more-holistic-than-thou self congratulation, vituperative attacks,
nit-picking and--as James Carrier pointed out in his very thoughtful
parting shot--lack of generosity of spirit, I have to question that

What constitutes science and what value it is presumed to have are
constructs of a specific cultural tradition, interpreted at a particular
time, by people living in given social and economic circumstances, as are
the assumptions on which any hypothesis and its test are based. There is
nothing wrong with that. But surely it makes the promotion of scientific
work a political act which supports certain cultural, social and class
positions, possibly to the disadvantage of others. Again, there is nothing
wrong with that, nor are scientific approaches alone in doing that;
interpretive approaches do the same thing. But let's at least call a
sp..., uh, a shovel a shovel. When we use a paradigm grounded in the
current power structure we are likely to support the status quo. Being
apolitical becomes a politcal act.