Culture & Agriculture

a section of the American Anthropological Association

Category: Notes from the Field

Notes from the Field: On the Mentor-Mentee Relationship as Critical Anthropological Praxis

James H. McDonald
Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs, University of Montevallo, Alabama, United States
jmcdonald[email protected]

As C&A continues to evolve dynamically as an organization within the AAA, we are incredibly privileged as applied anthropologists, educators, and agents of change to be able to help steward future generations as they grow as scholar-practitioners. Indeed, this may be the most critical thing we can do to produce and reproduce the organization with highly talented, innovative, and vibrant new members.

Kathryn Kozaitis (2013, 2000) argues that a critical dimension of an applied anthropology occurs within our roles in the teaching-learning process. She identifies two important dimensions of praxis that occur. First, she notes that the act of teaching and learning in the classroom leads to new form of knowledge as students creatively combine and recombine classroom-based knowledge with their own knowledge and experience. In terms of sheer scale and ability to help students shape and animate their intellectual firepower, our work in classrooms (and beyond) may arguably be our greatest contribution to the field and society in general (Kozaitis 2000). Second, she argues that, all neoliberal effects and implications aside, that deep community engagement forms another dimension of praxis through research, instruction, and service as we partner to promote social justice-oriented initiatives (Kozaitis 2013). Both these dimensions of praxis frame the teaching-learning dynamic as a form of social activism (Koziatis 2000:51).

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Notes from the Field

For the 2017-2018 academic year, C&A are proud to be revamping and relaunching the “Notes from the Field” section. The series of articles will be published on the C&A website and in our Section News for the AAA online AnthroNews column and it will be included in the AAA News weekly emails sent out by the Association. The column is a great forum for C&A members to share thoughts and test drive ideas on fieldwork-related topics through more accessible writing aimed at a wider audience. Contributions are welcome from all C&A members and should be 800-1,200 words long. We encourage accessible reflections on one of the following themes:

– The joys of fieldwork
– New (or old) methods that may be particularly relevant to research that is at times literally in a field
– The non-visual sensorium of fieldwork–i.e., the sounds, smells, and tastes of research
– Ethnography as a unique mode of knowledge production
– Ethical dilemmas and how you navigated them in or after the field
– Please also feel free to suggest your own theme–and perhaps some other contributors!

If you are interested in submitting a contribution, please email [email protected] with “Notes from the Field” in the subject line and our editors will be in touch with more details.

New Guest Post from Paul Durrenberger

Although the recent surge in attention to food and agriculture feels like the hot new thing, anthropology has long been on the forefront of research about how our systems of food production inform cultural practices.  In this Notes from the Field, E. Paul Durrenberger reflects on his many years examining the intersections of agriculture, labor, and social justice in the context of Brad Weiss’ new book Real Pigs:  Shifting Values in the Field of Local Pork.

The New Wild West

Our latest entry in our “Notes from the Field” series comes from James H. McDonald of Southern Utah University. His essay explores the on-going disputes over public lands in the western United States that recently came into the media spotlight during the “Bundy Standoff.”

From Pipelines to Paris: Why We Need Forests Now More than Ever

Our latest edition to the “Notes from the Field” comes from Dr. Duncan Earle, an anthropologist and the director of Global Studies at Marymount California University. Dr. Earle also serves as consultant for Jadora International, whose mission is “to mitigate climate change, preserve biodiversity, and improve livelihoods through an innovative and economically sustainable approach to forest preservation.” His essay examines the linkages between forests and climate change mitigation, specifically in the U.S.

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