Dear ‘Anthropology’, what happened to reflexivity ‘At Home’?

Dear ‘Anthropology’

I get the feeling that your reflexivity is confined to looking at yourself in relation to the residue of material you produce as a result of your efforts.

In more direct language, reflexivity is all great, but you just don’t seem to bother looking too far back into the ’cause’ that results in the ‘effect’ of having anthropology (you) today. That ’cause’ being ‘people getting schooled in you’. The ‘effect’ being the qualified world of publishing and active Anthropologists – You.

I am not having a bash at being qualified etc… here btw. What I am asking is, it seems reflexivity is confined to looking at ourselves from a starting point of already being an ‘actual practising anthropologist’. Rather than actually extending reflexivity and saying:

“well actually if I want to get reflexive about myself and my discipline I cannot miss out a major cause for the effect of me being a part of a discipline called anthropology in the first place, and how that cause has shaped the effect of being an anthropologist now, and how I do it”

e.g. You and I can be reflexive about the anthropological work or topics of that I study and that make you up, but am I being reflexive about the actual learning of it? I contend NO.

Hence the effects such as students feeling “boxed off by a discipline that questions being boxed-off” or “that I can only be an Anthropologist if I primarily identify as one, whilst being asked to question identity politics”.

In short, how can you grow in honesty to your endeavours, if to get there the majority of the people that make you up have to be processed by a system antithetical to anthropological claims, without even any major effort to reflexively consider this properly???


An undergraduate student in social anthropology