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Open Anthro Vol 6-3 Imagining Change in Anthropology



Open Anthropology, change, change anthropology, annual meeting, academia, academics


The Editors’ Note: Imagining Change in Anthropology

Sallie Han, Department of Anthropology, SUNY Oneonta Jason Antrosio, Department of Anthropology, Hartwick College
So I turned myself to face me But I’ve never caught a glimpse How the others must see the faker
- David Bowie, “Changes” (1971)

For the October 2018 issue of Open Anthropology we explore the theme of imagining change in, through, and of anthropology. The issue is a companion to the 2018 Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association in San Jose, California. In tandem with the conference theme of “Change in the Anthropological Imagination: Resistance, Resilience, and Adaptation,” we highlight how anthropologists have imagined change, including historical selections that speak to changes within the discipline. We also include several selections emphasizing the imaging of change, from ethnographic film, to multimodal approaches, to the live social media documentation of Hurricane María.

From the tenuousness of employment in academia to the #MeToo movement, all of us are prompted at the present moment to confront the ways in which we shortchange and fail each other as researchers and scholars, colleagues and citizens, mentors and teachers. We know we can do better. As the editors of this collection, our aim is to call attention to the efforts that already have been and are being made. We hope to encourage change in our own practices and ideas in order to reimagine and reconstitute an anthropology that is resistant, resilient, and adaptive (and not entrenched, precarious, and irrelevant).

We begin with a 1990 Medical Anthropology Quarterly article by Emily Martin, who presents the 2018 AAA Distinguished Lecture. “Toward an Anthropology of Immunology: The Body as Nation State” examines the metaphors used in popular media and scientific literature to describe and explain the human body’s immune responses. For those engaged in teaching and learning, it is an excellent introduction to Martin’s work (along with the widely anthologized “The Egg and the Sperm: How Science Has Constructed a Romance Based on Stereotypical Male-Female Roles”). The depictions of “killer T cells” and of macrophages that descend upon “invading cells” and “ingest” them (413) will be familiar to contemporary readers. Martin points out that “one kind of ideological work such images might do is to make violent destruction seem ordinary and part of the necessity of daily life. Perhaps when the texts slip between warfare and ingestion they in effect domesticate violence” (417). Although Martin conducted this work more than 30 years ago with a particular interest in the framing of HIV/AIDS, her analysis here of body as nation-state resonates with the themes of the 2018 conference.


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