Seeing Double


  • Jacqueline Copeland-Carson


This chapter is an autoethnographic account of Copeland-Carson's lifelong effort to create a hybrid identity that integrates theory, practice, and lived experience from multiple fields, including anthropology, evaluation, community development, and philanthropy. Building on Abu-Lughod's (1991) privileging of women's individual life stories as a lens for understanding society's power dynamics, she recounts how her early life cultivated a proto-ethnographic ability for self-reflection from both insider (emic) and outsider (etic) perspectives, eventually evolving into an anthropological career. Copeland-Carson suggests that women of color applied anthropologists often experience a kind of double, "double consciousness" (Du Bois 1990) as they traverse multiple cultural worlds, struggle against racism and sexism, and cope with the discipline's subordination of practice. With growing interest in ethnography in various fields and industries, she argues that there may be an emerging feminization of practicing or applied anthropology affecting both men and women. This feminization can position applied ethnography (practice) as "soft" (women's) work, leaving analyzing and theorizing (scholarship) to the 'hard" (men's) social sciences such as economics. Copeland-Carson concludes with some suggested tactics for empowering practicing careers and proposes a scholarship-practitioner vision of anthropology that uses data from applied practice to inform publicly relevant scholarship.