Calendar of Events

Spring 2011

Friday, March 4, 2011
Jacalyn Harden
21st Century Wish Dreams: Seattle, Detroit, and the Recalcitrant Anthropologist
3:30 pm Curtin 175
Co-sponsored by the UWM Department of Anthropology

Seattle, Detroit, and their residents are, in both symbol and reality, representative of contemporary global wish dreams and fears about cities and the types of people that live within them. Without question, these two metropolises were extremely important to the 20th century, but their previous incarnations may be dwarfed by their 21st century versions. Detroit can be seen as a primary location to observe deindustrialization, environmental chaos, and horrific racial politics. Seattle can be seen as a city in a larger metropolitan area in which the key components of a “world class” city are being put together via planning, design, and regional blessings of natural resources—key to most understandings of what will be the successful future (and failings) in the 21st century.

But these cities and quotidian life within them can be read in the “inverse.” In this talk, Jacalyn Harden turns on their heads assumptions about health, education, technology, and politics, as seen in four key moments from her six years of living in each city, as resident and as social scientist. By making use of this rich data, she also focuses on the problems that are posed by the contemporary recalcitrant anthropologist who does not go in and out of the field, who has no set of key informants, and whose work is often seen as “just anecdotal.” She thus interrogates still unsettled questions about the future of anthropological knowledge, in theory and in practice, and especially in the U.S. context.

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