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Greg Downey in The Australian

17 March, 2010

I was interested to see Greg Downey’s name popping up as I browsed The Australian’s Higher Education Section online today.  He appeared in a short article to discuss his work and more general thoughts on the nature of anthropology.  As well as using his experience learning Capoeira in Brazil to comment on sports and the socialisation of boys in Australia, Greg also raised the problem of anthropology’s lack of public recognition.  In essence he argues that one of anthropology’s key strengths — it’s diversity — is also one of its weaknesses in this regard:

… the diffuse nature of the field is the source of an image problem. “Name recognition,” he says of anthropology. “No one knows what it means.” Asked what they do, anthropologists tend to identify themselves by their specific interest. “We tend to focus on the area of our specialty and not the big picture, such as `migrants in Thailand from Burma’, instead of saying, `I study human diversity': if you add us all up, that’s what we do.”

So a hat tip to Greg.  Nice to see him getting his work out there and doing his bit to raise anthropology’s public profile somewhat.

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