Open Anthro Vol 9-3 Alternative Narratives of Humanity
Keywords:Open ANthropology, humanity, Human Adaptation, Human Evolution, Language, cultural anthropology, culture, anthropology
Michael C. Ennis-McMillan, Skidmore College
Cathy Lynne Costin, California State University, Northridge
Anthropologists soon will gather—in person and virtually—for the annual conference of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) in Baltimore, Maryland. This year’s theme, “Truth and Responsibility,” invites anthropologists to share insights on humanity, especially “truths in patterns of human behavior, language, evolution, and cultural worlds”. This issue of Open Anthropology offers a prelude to conference conversations about multiple and pluralistic truths that anthropologists learn when delving into past and present societies. As happens at every anthropology conference, scholars and practitioners will debate and evaluate the meaning of these truths and their connection to discernible patterns of human lifeways. The scholarly exchanges promise to challenge and deepen current understandings of what it means to be human.
This year’s conference theme especially prompts us to highlight anthropological accounts that address coexisting and conflicting narratives about major public issues, including pandemics, climate change, racism, language justice, and varying accounts of the past. In this essay, we explore how anthropological approaches help evaluate multiple kinds of knowledge and perspectives of humanity. Like many scientists, anthropologists face the challenge of communicating in complex multimedia contexts that too often circulate intentionally misleading and harmful representations about diverse people and places. Valuing human diversity, anthropologists increasingly encounter blustery claims about factuality and fabrication regarding fundamental issues facing humanity. In a contentious public terrain, how do anthropological ways of knowing deliver trustworthy guidance? The selected authors in this issue speak to this question by examining a range of human concerns. In compelling ways, these anthropologists amplify narratives of diverse realities, past and present, that act as powerful counterweights to falsities if not delusions that occupy too much of the current public space.
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