In 1972, Laura Nader called for anthropologists to “study up” – to turn the ethnographic gaze on the people, sites, and practices of power. With the creation of this community, we hope to provide resources, advice, information, and other forms of support to anthropologists who are currently or are interested in beginning this practice.
Historically anthropological methods have been used to document and make visible the lives of marginalized or oppressed peoples. We don’t want to diminish the value of that work – it is important and necessary. However, in a world of increasing inequality, power structures that encompass the globe, unmitigated racial, gender, and other forms of discrimination, and global environmental crisis, we believe that making the invisible visible is not enough. By turning ethnography on those in power, we can also make the visible more visible, and – hopefully – make it possible to “hack” the structures of power in order to undermine their inherent inequalities and create a more just and sustainable world.
The UARC began with a panel at the Fall 2013 Public Anthropology Conference at American University. Many important issues were discussed in that first meeting, and we committed to holding regular meetings at conferences in the DC Metro area. A second panel was organized for the University of Maryland’s AnthroPlus conference in the Spring of 2014, and we hope to continue this tradition at further conferences including the 2014 AAA conference in Washington DC.