Anthropology as counter-culture: an interview with Thomas Hylland Eriksen

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Stein, F 

The question of whether or not social anthropology should predominantly be understood as an academic discipline reserved to a small group of specialized professionals or as a public endeavour that explicitly aims at developing its relevance for a wider audience has long been a point of contention. The case for the discipline's practical relevance was famously made by Malinowski (e.g. 1929; 1930; 1945), but met with scepticism by authors such as Richards (1944) and Evans-Pritchard (1946), who drew a clear distinction between scientific and applied research. In the recent past, increased anthropological engagement with politically charged topics such as climate change and global migration, as well as government demands on anthropologists to show the ‘impact’ of their work, have revived this question once again. In the following interview, Thomas Hylland Eriksen, Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Oslo and President of the European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA), shares some of his thoughts on where and how to situate anthropological scholarship between academia, policy-makers, and the wider public. Eriksen has published widely on topics including ethnicity, globalization, nationalism, and the history of anthropology, carrying out fieldwork in Trinidad, Norway, and, most recently, Queensland, Australia. Beyond his wide-reaching influence within the discipline, he has acquired the status of a public intellectual in his home country Norway.

4301 Archaeology, 4401 Anthropology, 43 History, Heritage and Archaeology, 44 Human Society
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Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute
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