Even as I attempted to (re-)present my research as anthropological, on its journey into the public sphere and a wider audience, it was interpreted and reinterpreted as ‘international relations’. When I was interviewed, I was introduced and thanked as a generic ‘PhD researcher’.
There’s anthropological spirit in investigative journalism that anthropologists could better acknowledge. Regardless of whether it has a anthropology qualification attached or it is embedded in complex cultural theory, it is something that sparks thinking about the ‘other’; the ‘strange’.
I still remember vividly the words of an informant who, when asking him about his vision of a freer Iran, responded adamantly, “we don’t need more freedom, what we need is less corruption”. While such a view is not obviously universally transposable, I think it taps into a certain social current.
Last week Australian academic Dennis Altman published a provocative piece in The Conversation, suggesting that it was time to re think the label LGBTI. In the place of the acronym LGBTI, which he describes as ‘a direct product of American identity politics’, he proposes the acronym SOGI (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity) a term that originates in human rights discourses. Now it is here, as a white, queer anthropologist who studies what development means to slum children in India, that the celebration and adoption of a term produced by a global body like the UN baffles me a little.