The anthropology of the present and the future is increasingly, and appropriately, the anthropology of practical engagement to address and ameliorate major human problems. In recent years, I have had the good fortune to direct projects supported by the Ford Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation that have entailed and facilitated the work of engaged anthropology. See further below for my project weblinks, presentations, and reports.
My Ford-funded Crossing Borders project on “Vernacular Modernities” (1999-2003) included interdisciplinary seminar training and fieldwork support for students concerning the compromised and contested process by which modernity is locally reinvented and reconfigured in different world regions and cultural contexts. The results of this project include my edited book, Critically Modern: Alternatives / Alterities / Anthropologies (2002). Here is a link to the introduction of this book.
The States at Regional Risk Project (SARR) funded by the Carnegie Corporation (2008-2013), considered the larger regional context that informs state fragility in five key world areas: West Africa, Central-East Africa, the Northern Andes of South America, Inner Asia, and the Himalayas. In each case, the project brought together scholars, policy makers, practitioners, and students within the world region itself to reconsider best practical ways to reduce state risk and increase effective governance. The project produced two significant books: my edited volume Mongolians After Socialism: Politics, Economy, Religion (2012) and State Theory and Andean Politics: New Approaches to the Study of Rule (Edited by Christopher Krupa and David Nugent, 2015).
The Comparative Post-conflict Recovery Project (CPRP), for which I also served as Principal Investigtor, was funded by the Carnegie Corporation (2013-2015). This project identified and brought together key national and local NGO practitioners across the global south to determine the best ways to facilitate post-conflict recovery and ameliorate the alternative limitations and excesses of state governance and intervention. Global South-South fellows from Papua New Guinea, Mongolia, India, Myanmar, Liberia, and Guinea were brought together first in West Africa and then in Southeast Asia to share and identify best practices and to participate collectively in field practica in both rural and urban contexts. Signal implications of this work are summarized in my Carnegie CPRP Peacebuilding Presentation and Monrovia Report Position Statement.
Engaged anthropology and NGO-graphy (the ethnography of NGO’s) increasingly inform Anthropology’s future as an academic field and its larger significance and value in our contemporary world.