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Diversity Is Our Business

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ABSTRACT  Anthropologists have tended to portray their discipline as in crisis and ask whether “the end of anthropology” is near. I offer indicators to suggest that the discipline is alive and well as far as its internal activities are concerned. I then turn to the more worrying question of its external image, understandings and stereotypes more or less common among a wider public: the anthropologist as antiquarian and insensitive, slightly lost in real life. Anthropologists have been ineffective in offering a simple, coherent view of what the discipline is and what holds it together. I propose that a consistent emphasis on “diversity” as what anthropology is about best matches our combined interests and practices. To have a strong “brand” is essential under present-day cultural and political conditions, in and out of academic life. The foregrounding of “diversity” goes with the anthropological concern with ethnography, comparison, and cultural critique.

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