Black Lives Matter Syllabus Project

The Anthropoliteia #BlackLivesMatter Syllabus Project, Week 16: Victor Kumar on James Baldwin, Margaret Mead and Ethnographic Approaches to Studying Race

The editors of Anthropoliteia are happy to relaunch the second semester of an ongoing series The Anthropoliteia #BlackLivesMatterSyllabus Project, which will mobilize anthropological work as a pedagogical exercise addressing the confluence of race, policing and justice. You can see a growing bibliography of resources via our Mendeley feed.  In this entry, Victor Kumar discusses James Baldwin and Margaret Mead and Ethnographic Approaches to Studying Race.


Near the intended end of the party, my friend announced the peculiar reason for my being in America at the present time and invited the company to tell them their frank opinions on the Negro problem. For a moment a somewhat awkward silence descended upon our party, a queer feeling that our relation of human understanding was broken. (Myrdal 1944, 33)

Years ago, I had an unsettling experience while helping to teach a course on ethnographic methods. Focusing on the concept of neighborhood in Baltimore, the course was designed to train students in basic methods while at the same time honing their curiosity and ability to formulate anthropological questions. The goal was to give the sense of ethnography as, on the one hand, comprising longstanding and relatively stable procedures while, on the other, entailing a creative process that overturns and transforms itself as it moves along the contours of a field.

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Papers and Panels of Interest at the #AAA2016 Meeting

2016-aaa-annual-mtg-logo-4c-250x286It’s that time of year again: time for Anthropoliteia’s list of papers and panels pertaining to police, security, crime, law and punishment at the Annual Meeting s of the American Anthropological Association!

As impassioned followers of this blog know, we like to curate a list of sessions and papers of interest to our readers.  We’ve created a Google Calendar, which you can find embedded below and import into your own.  Be sure to keep an eye on @anthropoliteia’s twitter feed as well, where you’ll find coverage of the #AAA2016 hashtag with which several participants will be live-tweeting sessions ad other events.

Beyond that, we’d like to call your attention to two sessions in particular, which are direct offshoots of projects and collaborations on this blog:

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