Blog: Islam, Muslims, and an Anthropologist
It’s always great to see anthropologists engaging in contemporary debates and attempting to give their perspectives some sort of public dimension. Although, as Pal mentioned in a recent post, this is not all that easy in Australia, there are some out there trying. One example I came across recently is a blog written by Italian-born anthropologist Gabriele Marranci, who is currently Associate Professor in the Anthropology of Islam at the University of Western Sydney National University of Singapore. Called “Islam, Muslims, and an Anthropologist”, the blog takes a broad focus on Islamic issues, from writing about recent fatwas in Malaysia trying to ban Muslims from practising yoga, to recent posts on the Israeli bombing and invasion of Gaza (here and here — warning, the posts contains some graphic images).
The blog is a good example of engaged anthropology. More than just being another social commentary, Marranci tries to define what’s anthropological about his approach. For one thing, he cites Franz Boas and Margaret Mead as examples of anthropologists who social engagement as one of their key roles and duties. Secondly, he links the concept of the blog to anthropological methodology, stating:
Being an anthropologist, my methodology is to conduct fieldwork through participant observation. For this reason, the title of this Blog is Islam, Muslims and an Anthropologist. As an anthropologist, I become part of the community I am studying, and am offered the opportunity to observe and understand things from everyday life and as an ‘insider’, instead of from the mass media or libraries.