What's in the Name “Applied Anthropology”?: An Encounter with Global Practice


  • Marietta L. Baba,

  • Carole E. Hill


This chapter is a reflective essay that explores the contextual influences upon the naming and non-naming of applied anthropology in different nations and regions of the world. Using a historical and comparative method, the chapter is deliberately designed to present a perspective that does not originate from or end up in the United States. By comparing diverse contexts chronologically, the chapter suggests alternative ways of understanding the reasons why applied and practicing anthropology have evolved so distinctively in different places. The chapter suggests that applied and practicing anthropology, indeed all of anthropology, is inextricably bound to its historical and cultural contexts, meaning that there are important differences in the way the discipline is understood and practiced across different nations and regions. Moreover, historical shifts in context have resulted in important changes in the way the discipline is practiced over time. The chapter also argues that if processes of globalization are indeed transforming the nature of connectedness and boundaries across nations, then there are consequences for the distinctive forms of applied and practicing anthropology observed across nations, with an emphasis on those in the United States. The authors postulate that some of the differences observed between applied and practicing anthropology in the United States and elsewhere are beginning to blur, and that the unique model of applied anthropology that developed in the United States during the last quarter of the 20th century is destined to be transformed into one that is more integrated into the mainstream of the discipline and, indeed, into all of global anthropology.