Reflecting on reflexive anthropology

Don Handelman (Hebrew University, Jerusalem)
Terry Evens (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)
Dept. Arch Anth M1
Start time:
19 September, 2006 at 11:30
Session slots:

Short abstract:

This workshop aims to explore the notion of reflexivity in anthropology, especially in relation to the relationship between the ideal of objectivity and the aspiration for social change.

Long abstract:

The theme of reflexivity in anthropology has been developed theoretically with considerable regularity in recent times. Of course, as a critical scientific discipline, anthropology may be innately reflexive but it is not all thematically so. The notion of a reflexive anthropology is not distinguished by the fact that it entails self-criticism, but by the consideration that the self-criticism it prescribes is morally pointed. Though the resulting critiques vary greatly in character and quality, it would be hard to deny that in important respects the idea of a reflexive anthropology is salutary. Nevertheless, reflexive anthropology raises crucial questions as regards the relation between the ideal of objective research and analysis, on the one hand, and the aspiration for social change on the other. Even Foucault, whose thought has served as an impetus for reflexivity in anthropology, held that the intellectual can provide instruments of analysis, but certainly cannot say 'Here is what you must do!' In light of this issue, it behoves us to reflect on the idea of reflexivity in anthropology.