Anthropologists moral obligations

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Anthropologists moral obligations

Belote What shapes the public perception of anthropology, and how do the ethical choices made by individual anthropologists affect this perception? There is a mythical quality to the tales of the inevitable Indiana Jones questions that arise when one announces an association with anthropology, and almost every anthropologist tells them, with a greater or lesser degree of exaggeration.

The Leakeys are well known in the general public, due perhaps as much to their dynastic Anthropologists moral obligations and connection to primatologists Jane Goodall and Diane Fossey as to a popular understanding of their works.

Margaret Mead was the anthropologist who took anthropology out of academia and fixed it in the view of the American public, and her work in this role has not been surpassed to this day.

Most Americans, however, are first exposed to anthropology in a setting they do not necessarily associate with anthropology: Our project set out to examine the ethical issues involved in the presentation of anthropological material to the public, and to consider the role of public activism by anthropologists.

We also interviewed professors of anthropology and practicing anthropologists about their views on, and experiences with, ethics in the presentation of their work to the public.

As a group and in class we discussed specific ethical dilemmas, and the reasoning behind the choices we believe we would make if faced with such ethical choices. Historical Perspective on Anthropology and the Public 1 Making materials accessible and popular has been essential throughout the history of anthropology.

Tyler, Malinowski, Frazer, Levi-Strauss and others sought to express their political, social and theoretical views to a popular audience, and saw this as a means to ensure the survival of the discipline.

From the early s through the s, British and American work was commonly written for literary weeklies and monthlies. Disseminating material in this manner can be viewed as a method of popularizing anthropology within the academy, since the main audience was the educated public MacClancy In France, material was written for a general audience, not just the educated minority.

We were the first to put top people and supposedly lower-rank people on the same literary level We have taken rural thought out of the university museum and folklore studies in which it was bogged down.

And then, every Frenchman discovered that he had in his father or grandfather some peasant ancestry. The French intelligentsia discovered its own mental, religious and mythic substrate in European peasant civilization However, space and time constraints may require primary ethnographic material to be edited, removing much of the content and context.

Even personal interpretations of scholarly work is limited to the understanding of the reader, as MacClancy demonstrates with a quote: No, too long for you. Ought to read it. Evolution was a hot topic in the late s, and anthropological debates filled lecture halls and promoted book sales.

Malinowski shamelessly promoted his ethnographic and theoretical material. He held seminars, wrote forwards for a variety of books, sat on editorial boards for progressive journals and debated popular topics in public lectures MacClancy Popular writing is for those who want to promote themselves rather than their ideas, whereas scholarly writing is for those who wish to promote their ideas and consider it a bonus if fame follows.

If fame was not achieved in the general public, the scholastic anthropologist could rest comfortably with the idea that their work was probably too complex and sophisticated for a wider, popular audience to understand For many people this is their only exposure to this information.

For this reason the museum has a great responsibility to be accurate. The responsibility of representing diverse peoples and cultures can bring into question many ethical dilemmas.

Anthropologists moral obligations

Peter van Mensch, in his thesis "Ethics in Museology," lists seven main ethical responsibilities upon which all museum codes of ethics agree.

They are as follows: Responsibility to the maker and first user of the object and his or her society. Responsibility to the preservation of the information value including the aesthetic and emotional values of the object and its physical and intellectual accessibility 3.

Responsibility to the institute with which the official is associated, regardless of whether this association is temporary or permanent, paid or unpaid, or whether the official is employed by the institute or has volunteered his or her services.

Anthropologists moral obligations

Responsibility to those who made the activities possible by financial support 5. Responsibility to colleagues inside and outside the institute concerned, including professionals associated with non-museum institutes such as academic researchers. Responsibility to the visitors to permanent and temporary exhibitions and to participants in other activities.Anthropologist Roy Rappaport, in his posthumously published Ritual and Religion in the Making of Humanity (), suggested that moral obligations become naturalized—that is, we perceive them as part of nature—because they are grounded in ritual.

Let’s try to unpack his argument.


Practicing Ethics and Ethical Practice: Anthropologists and Military Humanitarians if straightforward, and as featuring an upfront, ongoing, and transparent dialogue with counterparts to negotiate clear obligations and expectations, which See Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, Moral Science: Protecting.

Anthropologists must often make difficult decisions among competing ethical obligations while recognizing their obligation to do no harm.

Anthropologists must not agree to conditions which inappropriately change the purpose, focus, or intended outcomes of their research. Anthropologists have moral obligations as members of other groups, such as the family, religion, and community, as well as the profession.

They also have obligations to the scholarly discipline, to the wider society and culture, and to the human species, other species, and the environment. There is an interesting dialogue going on within the field of cultural anthropology that addresses whether or not anthropologists have a moral responsibility to defend human rights.

Moral obligations in the religions consist of positive duties and prohibitions, both. The two sides of moral obligation might be called 1) urges and 2) restraints.

Religious organizations creating moral obligations. Churches, synagoges, and mosques creating laws based on "God said." Legal organizations creating moral obligations.

A Theory of Obligation | The Journal of Humanitarian Assistance