Abstract

As a discipline that studies people – their social systems, cultures, and power dynamics – Anthropology’s powers of observation and scales of analysis allow it to speak with authority about social institutions and the unequal relationships that emerge from the practice of fieldwork and ethnographic writing. In this talk, I want to make the argument that Anthropology’s superpower is also its main weakness. In being trained to look at the Other, the Other in themselves/ themselves in Others, they often overlook their own intersectional positionalities. I argue that the categories that anthropologists take to be intrinsic to who they are and the work they do are part of value hierarchies that influence how knowledge is produced, shared and disseminated and that can influence the racial composition of departments. I ask why this is the case and why should we pay attention to the advice that “decolonization is not a metaphor” (Tuck and Yang 2014). When it comes to “decolonizing” Anthropology, diversity or decolonial initiatives most often change very little or nothing at all. I suggest that anthropology is currently facing the dilemma of situating itself as a discipline that allows for the possibility of decolonial approaches while being unable to truly decolonize. 

Bio

Girish Daswani’s research interests include religion, morality and ethics, transnationalism, corruption and activism. Girish’s most recent scholarly work has been exploring different activist, artistic and religious responses to political corruption. He is currently working on a book manuscript about the intersections of post/colonialism and activism in Ghana. His most recent public-facing work has been exploring the ways in which imperialism, colonialism, and Orientalism have impacted (and are still impacting) popular politics and the field of Anthropology.