August 31, 2009


In the end, the OAC appears to be just another wide open platform where people (anthropologically inclined people) can express themselves. No overall direction, no unified purpose, no ethics, just an open medium for communicating ideas, information, and chit chat. That was it? Sounds like Blogger, or maybe Wordpress. Facebook? That sure was a lot of hype in order to create a social networking site where anthropologists could sit around and re-discuss theoretical ideas.

You know, there was some potential there.

Maybe next time.

In the mean time I'll just plug away doing my own thing. I still think that there is a lot that can be done to push a more open, public anthropology, but it takes something more than just creating an open platform. It also requires individual effort, less jawing, and more creative ideas put into action.

Another issue, I think, was the fact that nothing could have ever really been actually done under the umbrella of the OAC--there is no way to do anything with that format without calling a vote. All of the potential lies with the individual members who actually do something with it, and I see no reason for such folks to waste their time at that site, not yet at least. Not until some decisions are made about what that thing is really about.

Whatever. If you don't know what I am talking about don't worry about it. It doesn't really matter.

Here are the questions of the day: Is anthropology basically a political endeavor? Is it possible to have science that is apolitical in any real sense? Really? What about ethics? Are there certain basic ethics that should go along with any anthropological project? Without a purpose, ethics, and goals, how long can a project like the OAC last (we'll see)? If group A argues that anthropologists have certain ethical and moral responsibilities, and group B argues the exact opposite, who's to say what is and what is not "anthropology"? How would such a discussion improve public perceptions and understandings of anthropology?

Here is a nice end to a long day:

"Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world."

-P. Friere*

*Note: I have used this quote before.


cdmuirhead said...

Its funny that you mention the OAC. I voted the other day for a name change. Interestingly, OAC leaves you a write-in spot to create your own name if you dont like their choices. I wrote in "Aimless Anthropology Cooperative".

R.A. said...

that's hilarious. i sounded cool at first, didnt it?

Anonymous said...

I guess the quote comes from the book : "Pedagogy of the Oppressed Reloaded", right ?

Interesting questions you raise here.

R.A. said...

Haha, you guessed it!

R.A. said...

hey cdmuirhead,

check out the discussion thread i started at the [Aimless] Co-op. It's about asking people why they joined and what they imagine doing with the site. So far, no takers.

The prompt is NOT taking off like wildfire. More like glue. But there is still time...

Stacie said...

Hey Ryan! I saw your prompt on OAC and the one before it, but I much prefer your blog. The big problem on OAC is that people don't take the time to present their ideas clearly and thoroughly. Scattered commentary with no references and lots of name dropping that throws people in circles isn't going to get us anywhere in anthropology (and I'm not referring so much to the recent arguments but earlier discussions more focused on anthropology). But, the format of the site encourages that kind of chatter. I'm still going to have to think about it for a while to decide whether or not it's worth the time. Some had suggested a long time ago that a scattered collection of blogs would be better, and there are already several good ones out there. I'll try and get around to starting a blog one of these days. I had a couple from undergrad summer stuff but they're mostly descriptive and not too interesting.

R.A. said...

Hey Stacie, thanks for the comments.

Ya, I kind of put that prompt up there on the OAC just to see. Kind of an experiment with group level prompts to see what becomes of them. So far, they really do not seems to translate into action, just endless discussion. At this point I think there are some severe limitations to that setup. I am not sure if it really encourages actually making things, creating content, and getting outside of anthro chat. I get kind of bored with anthro "chatter", as you call it; it reminds me too much of conference papers or something.

Or, maybe many people aren't there to really do anything besides chat a little. That's cool, but not really what I am looking for.

This is what I am wondering: what ELSE can be done? I think that Max is definitely DOING SOMETHING, and I respect that a lot. You can't just start a group called "Doing Something with anthropology" and expect results.