Chapter 5: Studing Anthropology

Doing a program of PhD studies in the social sciences is a strange and in many ways unnatural way to learn. It is based on traditions with roots in Greek antiquity and aspires to ideals first taught during the Enlightenment. These include freedom of thought and speech, the power of reasoning and the standards of literacy, science, advanced technology and workplace rationality. All are legacies we should not take for granted. At the same time the relevance of higher education is a cause for concern, as are questions around social inclusion and scientific accountability addressed by Jacques and I in our books on participatory action research. My experience studying anthropology at university confronted a few of these concerns and hinted at new pedagogical strategies that later became important to my professional development and to the approach to research developed by Jacques and myself. Eventually, our perspective coalesced around two key questions neglected in the university teaching environment and in much research practice: what is the research for and who is it for?

Photo: Baseball on the streets of Minatitlan, Veracruz.

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