Introduction to Practice What You Teach: Activist Anthropology at the Sites of Cross-Talk and Cross-Fire


  • Anna L. Anderson-Lazo Independent


activist teaching, engaged anthropology, transnational movements, pedagogy, decolonizing anthropology


Constructed as a consciously transnational and interdisciplinary dialogue among eight anthropologists, this group of essays compares methods, strategies and outcomes of expressly political research, collaborative networks, participatory projects, and activist teaching. Here, projected against the backdrop of the 2007 Society for Applied Anthropology meetings’ theme which focused on Global Insecurities, each contributor revisits and updates an ongoing conversation about anthropology as an agent of social transformation. Our written collaboration holds up teaching as a central practice of activist anthropology; and thus our essays taken as a whole reveal how we imagine, construct and inhabit relationships of thinking and learning collectively, across and outside of mainstream political orthodoxies, disciplinary epistemologies, cultural registers, as well as physical, sexual and civil normativities. The moments of convergence, overlap and disjuncture among our various projects, then, offer a broad description of an engaged anthropology that draws on an historical approach, situated perspectives, decolonizing critiques, and embodied practices that include everything from empathetic listening to social disruption. Thus, looking at ourselves through this lens, this collection of essays which might be compared to a reflexive, group ethnography reconsiders and refashions our best practices over time.