Remaking Anthropology in an age of contested knowledge
Faye Harrison, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
For more than three decades, Faye Harrison is at the forefront of the rethinking and remaking of anthropology from critical perspectives. Since 1991, when she published the edited volume Decolonizing Anthropology, her name is indelibly connected with decolonizing the discipline, understood as decentering the dominant epistemological perspectives institutionalized in largely white, Global North academia. Having undertaken fieldwork particularly in the Caribbean, the UK and the USA, Faye has particularly emphasized the significance of black and feminist perspectives. She has pointed out the pluralization of anthropologies and demanded the recognition of disadvantaged non-western and indigenous anthropologies, also within western academia. Yet, based her experiences of racialization as a black woman, she also pointed out that not only the recognition of difference is an issue within the discipline, but also the acceptance of sameness, or, perhaps better: intellectual equality. Consequentially, in her book Outsider Within: Reworking Anthropology in the Global Age (2008), calls for reconstructing anthropology to overcome power differences within the discipline that impact on the generation of anthropological knowledge and theory. At the same time, she emphasizes the transformative potential of anthropology by addressing pressing contemporary social and political issues. Combining academic and activist positions, she calls for producing “anthropological knowledge uncompromisingly aligned with the promotion of social justice and human liberation” (The Outsider Within, p. 8). Recently, she also addressed the significance of the Black Lives Matter movement for anthropology.
Faye Harrison is Professor of African American Studies and Anthropology as well as a Faculty Affiliate with the Program on Women & Gender in Global Perspectives, the Center for African Studies, and the Center for Latin American & Caribbean Studies at the University of Illinois. She has served as president of the Association of Black Anthropologists and was member of the executive committee of the American Anthropological Association. She has received numerous awards, including most recently the Bronislaw Malinowski Award of the Society for Applied Anthropology (2022).
As keynote speaker of the DGSKA-conference 2023 in Munich, Faye Harrison will address issues of the contestation of knowledge at the intersection of disciplinary and activist perspectives.