|scientific basis. He was not saying that every IK trick was of value but that
we couldn't know
which were of value and which were not. We had to treat each as if it were until proven
otherwise. He seemed to have some difficulty with the numerical data he presented. It was not
clear how he was comparing different statistics and the premise of the parameters of the
experiment were unexplained. In his defence he was one of the few people who stuck to the
stated time limit and consequently perhaps did not feel he had the time to go into any of that.
Sarah Pink, from Derby, was one of the few anthropologists that tried to tie in anthropology
as anthropology to a development discourse. She discussed the impact of migration on
indigenous knowledge and how there exists an indigenous knowledge of migration. Unlike
many of the anthropologists comments she provided an example of something that was
distinctly anthropological that may have significant implications on development projects.
M. I. Zuberi from Dacca, Bangladesh also provided a non-anthropolgist paper based on his
involvement in development in Bangladesh. He is a biologist working on Sillitoe's
Bangladesh project on agricultural management. He spoke about how Bangladeshi
farmers were forced into development projects.
Julian Barr from Newcastle presented some of the difficulties of multi-disciplinary projects.
The ultimate goal, he says, is that researchers from the different disciplines understand each
other's axioms and attempt to work their respective data in ways that are compatible. Other
options he described were researchers working independently passing mutually unintelligible
documents back and forth, or some sort of hired help hierarchy. One person decides the
agenda and distributes clearly delimited tasks. The problem with the strong-man technique is
that people tend to feel less personally implicated in the research and some of the creativity is
lost. He and Sillitoe are working towards the 'collegiate' affiliation (shared axioms etc).
Although it is slow he remains convinced that this is the optimum set up for the long term.
Raquel Pena Coballasi from Mexico presented a case study of a marginal area in the
Chiapas highlands of Mexico. She was there during some of the nastier Zapatista fighting and
discussed the ways in which neo-liberal politics and applied anthropology in development
projects (which are limited in this area apparently) played a role in undermining social and
economic institutions in these areas.
Alison Tierney from Sussex, seemed adamant throughout the workshop that anthropology
was heavily involved in development though these people are not called anthropologists.
Among other things she says she is persuaded that anthropologists have changed development
and will continue to do so even if not as quickly as they would like, but that this change will
only take place if anthropologists play the game of development. Hence we need more
anthropology of development. Although she spoke well and the presentation was good I felt
that she was one of the people that steered the workshop into an area I found less useful--
discussion of development strategies and how anthropologists can be incorporated into them
without any inclusion of anthropological theory.
Eammon Brehony from Limerick, Ireland spoke about some of the tools of anthropology he
tried to use when gathering information on healing techniques in Ethiopia. He spoke about
linguistic characteristics of the pastoralists he worked with and how he was able to penetrate to
some degree the circle of healers in different areas. He seemed sincere and capable, but again
without any discussion of what he did with this data he gathered it is difficult to know whether
the use he makes of anthropological techniques is to be praised or not. I look forward to
speaking with him again and reading his paper since I do believe he tries hard to do good work
in whatever field he enters.
Eric Boa, CAB International, UK, gave one of the most entertaining presentations of the
workshop. Two decades in the development business have taught him how to be concise and
engaging and make good use of visual displays. He was very candid about his own arrogance
in Bangladesh when he first went there in the 1970's. Like Brehony I believe he is sincere in
|his desire to help people and alleviate suffering. His presentation was a pleasure.
about the different types of dilemmas that exist between western biologists and indigenous
notions of plant disease and pest control. In particular he discussed some cases where the
outsider and the indigenous people could not agree on what the problems were. Particular
pests that sting were considered a problem by the locals, but Boa did not consider them a
pest since they did no damage to plants and were part of the ecosystem which fed birds etc...
It was interesting to have his participation throughout the weekend because he obviously held
some social scientists in contempt (not anyone at the workshop perhaps but some he had
worked with). Yet he came to this conference because he feels that the discipline may still have
something to offer if only it will play the game of development and propose solutions.
Stephen Lyon, UKC. I presented the draft of a paper that Bicker and I are currently
working on. I followed Boa which was unfortunate for me as I don't have the experience he
does with captivating a crowd. I tried to introduce the notion that social institutions like
kinship, inform economic activities like agriculture. Building on the work of people like Leach
and Gulliver we hope we can establish the nature of this relationship in Bhalot. The body of
literature on kinship may then become directly relevant texts for development projects. My
point was that this was an area where anthropology was unrivalled.
Hans Siebers, Holland. He spoke about his work in Guatemala. He discussed the
problems with dividing types of knowledge and the power relationships between beneficiaries
and agents which in his case coincided with the long standing ethnic division between Ladinos
and Q'eq'ies. He concluded by saying he wasn't sure what development meant anymore and if
we did not resolve this problem of types of knowledge that development may never really
exist. His paper was very good and while it did to some extent follow the debate of an
anthropology of development it did not do so in the way that Boa and Tierney were pushing
it (which seemed to me to be validating the 'use' value of development insisting that
anthropology mould itself to development).
Alan Bicker, UKC. Bicker was very keen to get a debate going on the question of
communication between participants in a development project. He discussed a case in which
the government scientific officer and a local farmer spoke the same words but were obviously
not speaking to each other meaningfully. He then opened the question for people to try and
work out how we can resolve problems like this. The debate was perhaps not what he
expected as it veered into questions of power however it was a debate that engaged several
people with different points view so regardless of whether people followed the line he set them
the debate was a success.
Amita Baviskar from New Delhi, India led the discussion at the end of the first day. She
did an excellent job of highlighting the days' papers and setting a discussion agenda. As I said
earlier I was a bit disappointed at the extent to which everyone wanted to engage in a debate
about the merits of development without regard to anthropology and found the anthropologists
did not provide particularly convincing reasons why anthropology as a discipline and as a body
of theoretical knowledge has something to say. This is, I suspect, because people like Eric
Boa, Jim Kinnesa, and Eammon Brehony are all good speakers who were being
intentionally provocative to force the anthropologists out of the ivory tower mode of speaking.
The academic tone to the anthropologists did fade but as a result I think some of the complexity
of the arguments faded as well. They were unable to bring in the aspects of theory that might
have been relevant because there was a strong push for the discussion to be 'practical' C.
Kocher-Schmid, who led the discussion the second day, pointed this out the following day
by reminding people we must not become too 'pragmatic' and 'practical' It seemed to take a
day for the anthropologists to really figure out how to respond to this insistence on
'practicality' and 'pragmatics' in a way that reasserted anthropology into the workshop.
Kocher-Schmid was also critical of the idea that anthropologists should jump on the
development bandwagon, arguing that development needed anthropology but that anthropology
should not sell its soul to join the club.
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