A Reflection on Political Research and Social Justice Organizing


  • Anna L. Anderson-Lazo Independent Scholar, San Diego


Community Organizing, Afro-American Diaspora, Engaged methodologies


As an anthropologist in Guatemala in the late 1990s, my fieldwork among Afro-indigenous community leaders, activists and lay historians participating in democracy-building projects, NGOs, and community organizations during the Peace Process raised questions about the methods and ethics of research and advocacy in the context of political Terror. Now as a community organizer in San Diego with Latino immigrant and African-American communities in recent years, applying an engaged, reflexive anthropological perspective to US social justice organizing models and objectives sheds new light on the political ramifications of familiar practices, such as gathering testimonies, framing an interview, and cutting an actionable issue.