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Anthropology Pure and Profane: The Politics of Applied Research in Aboriginal Australia

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Introduction:
The debates between applied and pure anthropologists’ demonstrate the difficulties which those engaged in native title litigations encounter. Debates to whether anthropologists’ engaged in native title hearings are morally and intellectually adequate are discussed in contemporary anthropology. These debates between anthropologists’ cause various ambiguities to the role and ability of those practicing engaged anthropology. David Trigger’s article, ‘Anthropology Pure and Profane: The Politics of Applied Research in Aboriginal Australia’, outlines some criticisms engaged anthropologists’ face and attempts to disprove them. Trigger’s points in this article caused debates amongst applied and pure anthropologists’ revealing many ambiguities and complexities. Firstly, I will discuss Trigger’s arguments to the uncertainties of the moral and intellectual ability of engaged anthropology in native title cases. Secondly, through citing anthropologists’ such as Diane Austin-Broos, Rohan Bastin and Francesca Merlan, I will display the ambiguous role engaged anthropologists’ have and the complex relationship held between pure and applied anthropology. Thirdly, by discussing Bruce Kapferer and Barry Morris’s responses to Trigger, I will show the complex relationship between anthropology, the state and corporations. Then the difficulties which engaged anthropologists’ face in the legal realm will be highlighted. Finally, I will discuss the difficulty those engaged in native title cases face to whether their work is assisting or subjugating Aboriginal communities. These ambiguities, difficulties and complexities which arise from anthropologists’ participating in native title are deliberated in the following essay.
Ambiguous Nature o...


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References:
Austin-Broos, D 2012, ‘Three Points and Three Replies’, Anthropological Forum, vol. 22, no. 1, pp. 68-69
Bastin, R 2012, ‘Comment on Trigger’s Manichean Dualism’, Anthropological Forum, vol. 22, no. 1, pp. 71
Merlan, F 2012, ‘Different, Not Impure’, Anthropological Forum, vol. 22, no.1, pp. 75-78
Morris, B 2012, ‘Expert Knowledge and the Tide of History’, Anthropological Forum, vol. 22, no.1, pp. 79
Peterson, N 2012, ‘Comment on Trigger’s Paper’, Anthropological Forum, vol. 22, no.1, pp. 81
Trigger, D 2011, ‘Anthropology pure and profane: the politics of applied research in Aboriginal Australia’, Anthropological Forum, vol. 21, no. 3, pp. 234-248
Trigger, D 2012, ‘Response to Comments’, Anthropological Forum, vol. 22, no. 1, pp. 85-89
Vaarzon-Morel, P 2012, ‘Intertwined Anthropologies’, Anthropological Forum, vol. 22, no. 1, pp. 84





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