The Ethics of Anthropology: Debates and Dilemmas

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Patricia Caplan
Routledge, 2003 - Philosophy - 235 pages
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Since the inception of their discipline, anthropologists have studied virtually every conceivable aspect of other peoples' morality - religion, social control, sin, virtue, evil, duty, purity and pollution. But what of the examination of anthropology itself, and of its agendas, epistemes, theories and praxes? In 1991, Raymond Firth spoke of social anthropology as an essentially moral discipline. Is such a view outmoded in a postmodern era? Do anthropological ethics have to be re-thought each generation as the conditions of the discipline change, and as choices collide with moral alternatives? The Ethics of Anthropology looks at some of these crucial issues as they reflect on researcher relations, privacy, authority, secrecy and ownership of knowledge. The book combines theoretical papers and case studies from eminent scholars including Lisette Josephides, Steven Nugent, Marilyn Silverman, Andrew Spiegel and Veronica Strang. Showing how the topic of ethics goes to the heart of anthropology, it raises the controversial question of why - and for whom - the anthropological discipline functions.

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About the author (2003)

Pat Caplan is a former Professor of Anthropology at Goldsmiths College in London, and former Chair of the Association of Social Anthropologists of the Commonwealth. Her books with Routledge include African Voices, African Lives (1997), The Cultural Construction of Sexuality (1987), Food, Health and Identity (1997) and Gendered Fields (1993).

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