Paolo Freire, Critical Knowledge, and Anthropological Mentoring

I’ve gone around and around about how to write this post because I have too many ideas running around in my head. Rather than prolong the agony for myself I decided on the brain dump approach, which makes for a long post. So here’s the brief outline of each segment: a response to a couple of comments on my last post about anthropology and exploitation/power, a discussion of Freire’s critical knowledge grounded in my own youth participatory action research experience, then some musings on and questions about mentoring as part of anthropological praxis.

A response
Before I jump into the next discussion of my current thinking about anthropological praxis, I want to generally address a couple of comments and critiques that folks brought to the table concerning my last post to clarify a little bit what I was trying to lay out and to maybe connect a little more clearly to where I’m going next.

I do not think that most anthropologists necessarily experience fieldwork in the same way that I did in my first fieldwork experience or in the way that Behar’s quote from my last post suggests. In fact, I’ve had two very different experiences of fieldwork that, in their contradiction, really support the idea that anthropology doesn’t have to be this exploitative relationship between researcher and research participant (see discussion of Speaking Out project below). However, as Rex pointed out in his comment, thinking through unequal relationships of power in whatever research context seems to me to be central for many anthropologists…and not just thinking through unequal relationships of power, but also thinking about relationships (between teachers and students, mentors and mentees, researchers and research participants, etc) as potentially humanizing rather than dehumanizing – in other words, a more positive reflection that focuses on capacities.

While I certainly believe there is room in anthropology for many perspectives (and that the debate sparked by our differing perspectives can help us all to think more clearly about where we stand and what we do), I do lean towards a justice-oriented anthropology that is serious about critiquing and changing its own exclusionist practices when we find that they exist. I’ve been thinking about mentoring as one step in that process and a way of “acting” as an anthropologist. I’ll return to that momentarily. First…some Freire.

Freire on Critical Knowledge
Freirian praxis calls for both critical knowledge and action, and I’m considering his ideas (and those of folks who have come after him) as a productive way of framing anthropological work – something to think about and with when considering my (our?) roles as teacher, researcher, and community member.

I’ll take up the notion of action in more detail in the next post and try to respond more fully there to some questions on my last post about what “action” might mean; here I want to focus on this idea of critical knowledge. My discussion here is rooted in my experience working on Speaking Out, a youth participatory action research (YPAR) project in North Carolina. I worked as a co-researcher alongside high school students, college students, and university faculty and staff to examine educational inequities in Alamance County. With the support of the university professionals, the high school students published a book that focused on the research results, and we are now writing more about our research process. The following ideas about critical knowledge formed the basis of our work together, so my thoughts here come both from that experience and from some of the work I’ve been reading.

What we focused on in the Speaking Out research project was the intentional, critical production of alternative knowledges about educational inequities. We turned the sort of “received wisdom” on its head to challenge the assumptions that underlie discriminatory schooling practices. For example, one of the assumptions that underlies a “tracking” model in public education – AP track, college prep track, vocational track, special ed. track, etc. – is that students learn better when they are grouped with other students who have similar intellectual capacities (however we might measure that…) and academic goals. There’s quite a bit of research out there that shows that detracking actually improves learning for ALL students. The details of that is a whole other giant discussion, but the point here is that our research was oriented towards “speaking back” to dominant paradigms using the particular experiences of the high school student researchers and their peers.

And this is what I think Freire was talking about when he talked about producing critical knowledge. Production of this kind of knowledge, at least in the anthropology worlds I tend to walk around in, is often what anthropologists do – using ethnographic data to challenge dominant interpretations of the world and its many expressions of humanity. So I don’t think I’m necessarily offering anything original here. What I want to do is call attention to some of the multiple venues in which it might be possible to conceive of anthropology as praxis in the way that Freire suggested – including this practice of mentoring that seems to me to be a little mysterious.

Some questions about mentoring as anthropology in action
I teach in a community that supports many students who have been traditionally underrepresented on university campuses. Many of my undergraduate students (and a significant, but smaller, proportion of my graduate students) are first-generation college students, Native American students, Hispanic/Latino students, and English as a second language students. And much research in education shows that these groups of students are among the least likely to graduate from four-year colleges for numerous reasons related to social and cultural capital, racism and discrimination, limited resources to pay for college, lack of support and preparation in high school, multiple responsibilities outside of college, etc.

As I think about ideas about anthropological praxis in this context and as I gain experience working here, mentoring arises as really important action that builds on the critical knowledge I outlined above. But it also seems that it could be yet another way to marginalize students – what I mean is that it could be a way to focus on deficits rather than capacities or of positioning particular students as “at risk” and therefore in need of mentoring in a way that students who have more support outside of the university setting do not.

And maybe because of those potential pitfalls, mentoring seems like a really important thing to be intentional about. It’s something I’m just starting to think about as part of anthropological praxis because I am really only beginning to think about myself as a potential mentor to students. Ryan mentioned something related in his comment on my last post in terms of considering how we might “rethink the stories we tell about anthropology.” And this reminds me of some of Freire’s words on education from Pedagogy of the Oppressed:

A careful analysis of the teacher-student relationship at any level, inside or outside the school, reveals its fundamentally narrative character. This relationship involves a narrating Subject (the teacher) and patient, listening objects (the students). The contents, whether values or empirical dimensions of reality, tend in the process of being narrated to become lifeless and petrified. Education is suffering from narration sickness…Words are emptied of their concreteness and become a hollow, alienated, and alienating verbosity (p. 52).

Those familiar with Freire will recognize this as a description of the “banking concept” of education. He argues for a different kind of education (this critical knowledge that I was talking about) and goes on to say:

Those who use the banking approach…fail to perceive that the deposits themselves contain contradictions about reality. But, sooner or later, these contradictions may lead formerly passive students to turn against their domestication and the attempt to domesticate reality. They may discover through existential experience that their present way of life is irreconcilable with their vocation to become fully human. They may perceive through their relations with reality that reality is really a process, undergoing constant transformation. If men and women are searchers and their ontological vocation is humanization, sooner or later they may perceive the contradiction in which banking education seeks to maintain them, and then engage themselves in the struggle for their liberation (p. 56).

Freire’s work is often used to rethink student-teacher relationships in the classroom and is increasingly used to rethink research – particularly in the area of youth participatory action research. I’m there too, but as I become “faculty,” I’m also being called on to become a “mentor.” I think about mentoring as a different kind of teaching/learning relationship, so I think Freirian praxis can apply.

But here’s the deal: I have a grand total of 6 semesters of independent teaching experience (i.e. teaching my own classes rather than being a TA) and 1 year of work on the participatory action project Speaking Out. I am clearly still figuring out my own positionality within anthropology, and I’m pretty up front about that with students. I believe that growing with students and opening up what may appear to be a black box of anthropological thinking to many students is a really exciting and supportive way of teaching and doing anthropology. But I don’t see many conversations about anthropologists as mentors out there beyond a call for more of it – especially for students and new faculty who are traditionally underrepresented in anthropology.

So I want to know: Do you think about mentoring or being mentored as part of an anthropological praxis? If so, how do you think about it? Can we consider mentoring part of this “public” and “engaged” anthropology that so much as been written about lately? What would you consider to be most important issues to focus on as a mentor to emerging anthropologists (and to college students in general)? Is there something particular about mentoring from an anthropological framework or not? Can we “do” anthropology through mentoring?

Mary Alice Scott is assistant professor of anthropology at New Mexico State University.


Mary Alice Scott is assistant professor of anthropology at New Mexico State University. Her research focuses on health disparities in the U.S.-Mexico border region.

16 thoughts on “Paolo Freire, Critical Knowledge, and Anthropological Mentoring

  1. Mary Allice, I applaud your approach and what you are trying to do. I do have to observe, however, how strongly your thinking is constrained by its educational context. How anthropologists should be engaged with students is a very important question. But so is the question of how business anthropologists should engage with clients (topics much on the minds of people who practice organizational ethnography and design anthropology in non-academic settings) or how anthropologists based in the U.S. or Europe should engage with “native” anthropologists encountered in other parts of the world (a question much on the minds of anthropologists both in China and Japan, for example). I have mentioned before the circumstances of my fieldwork in Taiwan, where I was taken on as an apprentice/disciple by a Daoist healer, and my subsequent research in Japan, working with top creatives in the Japanese ad world. In both these cases, the idea that I might be a mentor instead of receiving mentoring is ludicrous. Working with people who are likely to be wealthier, more powerful and smarter than yourself turns the conventional anthropological paradigm on its head.

    Again, my aim is not to dismiss what you are doing. I wonder what it would be like for you if, for example, your students were privileged children of the upper middle or middle classes, being groomed for success rooted in class privilege. How, if at all, would your approach change?

  2. John McCreery: Good points. I wasn’t trying to say that my way of thinking about mentoring is the only way to think about it, just that my experience doing research and teaching has led me into a positioning as a mentor that I don’t yet quite know how to navigate. But the reason I asked the questions I did at the end was exactly to get pushed to think further about it, which your comment does. So here are some initial thoughts…

    I certainly was mentored on how to be a youth ally by the high school students I worked with as much as I was mentoring them. And my students last year gave me great feedback about teaching – which I see as mentoring me as well. So I can see that the notion of mentoring is fluid – in some situations I may be mentoring and in some being mentored. In fact, I think I was kind of asking to be mentored in an indirect way in my post. As you point out in your research experience there is no clear answer about who would be mentor or mentee in any particular situation or whether that would even be part of the relationship at all. And doing research with folks who may have more power than the anthropologist – as I think you are saying was the case in your research – certainly adds a dimension to thinking about the idea of mentoring in anthropology that I don’t have experience with.

    I’ll have to think about how my approach would change if my students were privileged children of the upper or middle classes (and some of my students are, just not the majority). I would hope that however I mentor them, it wouldn’t be to “groom them for success rooted in class privilege” but rather would be more focused on working alongside them to develop a critical knowledge that recognizes their privilege and helps them see ways that they might work productively through that. I know that’s a vague answer, but your question is also a really big one that gets at this discomfort I have with thinking about mentoring in a narrow way (see my comment in the post about how mentoring isn’t inherently a “good” thing but might actually be used to marginalize some people).

    And I guess I’m still wondering if there is anything particular about this kind of mentor/mentee relationship in anthropology that would look different in other places/disciplines or if there is anything that an anthropological perspective adds that might be useful. I think you are hinting at that in thinking about different fieldwork situations, and if you are inclined to comment further, I’d like to read more about that. But regardless, thanks for the comment and your perspective.

  3. Mary Alice, your point about teaching — including mentoring — as a form of critical praxis makes good sense to me. Several colleagues and I take a similar position in our recent “Take a Stand Commentary” on issues of unauthorized immigration and health, which appeared in Med Anthro Quarterly (; see especially pp. 343-4). Thanks for provoking thought on these questions.

  4. Sarah W.: Thank you so much for pointing me to your piece in MAQ. It’s really helpful and encouraging to see the work that you are doing. I would love to stay in conversation with you and others working on this issue. Although it might not look like it from my post and my focus on educational anthropology last year, I am actually trained as a medical anthropologist and am starting up a new project this summer in southern New Mexico that looks at changes in health care access for older immigrants with chronic health issues before and after major shifts in border policy (formal and informal) and issues of violence and fear around Ciudad Juarez. Many folks used to cross the border for cheaper, more accessible medical care in Mexico from what I understand through preliminary conversations with people in the area, and now they are much less able to do so. I’m working with some graduate students who are from the area and have lived cross-border lives themselves. So not only is your MAQ piece helpful in thinking about teaching and producing knowledge in different ways generally, it’s also really helpful for me specifically in thinking about how to frame this new project. Thanks so much!

  5. Hi Mary Alice!
    I agree with John in both senses, that you have some really important thoughts, but also that we need to think about our relationships as anthropologists with all sorts of people. I’m struggling here in a multidisciplinary context with mostly natural scientist who are trying to do “action research” with knowing very little if anything about the roots and branches of participatory development. It has been suggested (yes, passive construction), but not in so many words, that I act as a sort of mentor. But how does one come in, in the middle of a program and start telling fellow scientists, doing their own thing, that they might be doing it wrong?
    Especially when you didn’t pay enough attention to Freire in the first place, and you left the book in your state-side storage locker?
    Just blowing off a little steam, and sending good thoughts to you! Keep writing …

  6. John’s comment reminded me of one of my undergrad professors who did research on aristocrats in Rome, Italy. He was lucky enough to be in a “noble profession” (academic professor being one, along with medical doctor or lawyer. Business would of been shameful) and having married into the very select community, because nobody there would acknowledge to being a “subject” matter.

    How does an anthropologist in an academic setting get to do fieldwork in business communities? Why would a business open itself to “critical analysis” it would have little control over?

  7. How does an anthropologist in an academic setting get to do fieldwork in business communities? Why would a business open itself to “critical analysis” it would have little control over?

    Businesses can benefit by being studied. Senior management can learn things that would otherwise be off their radar. Business anthropologists like Marietta Baba have made important contributions to solving organizational problems.

    The right introductions can help. Business people are constantly doing favors for each other, to maintain relationships important to their business.

    In many cases, recent work on the financial services industry has been done by people who were, before or after their training in anthropology veterans of the industry in question able to achieve entree through previous industry connections. My own access to highly placed people in the Japanese ad industry is the result of having worked for thirteen years as a copywriter and creative director for Japan’s second largest advertising agency.

    Some times it’s a question of family ties. If my memory serves me right, Matt Hamabata got the access that led to his book Crested Kimono about Japanese elite business families by marrying into one.

    There is also, of course, the question of what counts as “critical analysis.” Senior business people do not mind research that they see as fair and objective, even if it includes bad news. One reason business anthropologists get hired is that executives know full well that they are surrounded by “yes men” who keep bad news from reaching them. That does not mean, of course, that they will welcome researchers for whom “critical analysis” assumes anti-business bias.

  8. Thanks for this post Mary Alice.

    “I am clearly still figuring out my own positionality within anthropology, and I’m pretty up front about that with students. I believe that growing with students and opening up what may appear to be a black box of anthropological thinking to many students is a really exciting and supportive way of teaching and doing anthropology.”

    Agreed. I think it’s a good approach to be up front about these sorts of things. And actually I don’t think it’s necessarily a negative to be a relatively new teacher/mentor…especially if you are really engaged with the idea of teaching and open to sharing, communicating, and learning from them too. Kids are pretty smart…and a lot just depends on how we as teachers and mentors approach them.

    Now for some of those questions:

    “Do you think about mentoring or being mentored as part of an anthropological praxis? If so, how do you think about it?”

    Absolutely. In fact, I think that teaching/mentoring is one of the ways in which anthropology is actually put into practice on a daily basis. Despite all of the papers, grants, books and all that stuff we are supposed to write, teaching & mentoring are concrete ways in which the ideas of anthropology are actually communicated, shared, and discussed. I mean, articles and books are great and all, but there I think we should value teaching & mentoring as a fundamental aspect of the discipline…rather than seeing “research” or “fieldwork” as the true heart of the discipline, and teaching as some secondary activity. Teaching is one of the rare moments in which ideas are being directly presented.

    “Can we consider mentoring part of this “public” and “engaged” anthropology that so much as been written about lately?”

    Well, we should. It’s a clear case in which we are actually engaged with a wider audience.

    “Can we ‘do’ anthropology through mentoring?”

    Yes, I think we can.

  9. John: “The right introductions can help. Business people are constantly doing favors for each other, to maintain relationships important to their business.”

    I think the true extent of the kinds of reciprocal networks that develop in the business world would shock the hell out of the majority of academics with no experience in it.
    I’m not kidding in any way. I’ve never gotten any help from an anthropologist in academia, but for some reason if I call up the president or senior partner of a decently sized firm to ask for an informational interview, I can get a call back within the day and have something set up by the end of the week.
    They operate on deadlines and their world is all about doing things, rather than just talking. Most of the folks that are professionally successful got there, because someone helped them out, and they seem to rush to pay it back.

    I’m currently still in the process of moving through a business network at the moment. It’s has spanned two major cities in Texas, and people I’ve never met and only spoken with on the phone have introduced me to people they feel I should know and who they feel can help me. I’ve had my resume rewritten twice for free by executive who wanted to help me out and make sure I was squared away before they introduced me to others. Most importantly they’ve been so damn nice, and so positive. The folks in marketing research and business organization consulting are pretty good guys.

    If anyone’s not studying business in anthropology it isn’t business people’s fault. The only thing I can say though, is that if you get into it, I doubt the majority would ever go back to a teaching position. There is way too much fun to be had, and a first years paycheck is probably equal to the first 3 as a non-tenured prof. I mean you could donate most of that to your favorite charity and do many times more good for the world than one could as in anthropological advocacy.

  10. Thanks again, Mary. I think your employment of “mentoring” here is not clear. Is it a guru-disciple, a master-apprentice, a counselor-counselee, a trainor-trainee, a challenger-challenged, or an advocate-advocated relationship?

    I also find your usage of “anthropological praxis” limited. Do you consider the students you mentor as informants and the community or the academe where they are part of as the field?

    Outside the academic setting, I don’t think mentoring can be a little bit objective or loose when done as an anthropological practice, advocacy, or action. If a mentor is Marxist, will her mentee learn Marxism and become Marxist too? If a mentee has a radical mentor for a role model, is it alright for the former to practice the latter’s dangerous ideology?

    The mentoring I find interesting and more suited to anthropology is the one where the mentor is a mediator. There is a sense of neutrality in mediating. The intellectual danger in mentoring is either the mentor becomes a hero or a master and the mentee, a villain or a slave.

  11. In Conditions Handsome and Unhandsome: The Constitution of Emersonian Perfectionism, the philosopher Stanley Cavell observes that conventional models of learning assume travelers all climbing the same peak. Those higher up the slope have a duty to lend a hand to those lower down and the right to insist that they follow instruction based on superior “been there, done that” knowledge. Cavell proposes an alternative view in which we are all learners traveling across a great plain to multiple destinations. When our paths cross, we may offer to share what we have learned and seek to learn from the other. But neither side can insist that the other do what they are told. The great teacher is a great model of whatever it is that he or she teaches, but the choice of whether to follow the example is left up to the student.

    To me, this proposal fits nicely with the observations of Mikhail Bakhtin in his “Letter to Novy Mir” that all true cultural understanding involves dialogue. It must since those on both sides have their own blind spots, which only the other can see.

    There are, of course, circumstances that modify these views. A parent dealing with a two year-old can only get so far by attempting to engage in a conversation of equals. The same is true of socialization processes with highly specific goals, what goes on in military boot camps or basic science courses, for example. There is nothing to be gained on either side by debating whether recruits should stand at attention or how an often repeated experiment should be performed.

    On the whole, however, what Cavell and Bakhtin suggest to me is that the best relationship in both business and fieldwork is collegial. People on both sides recognize that there is something to be learned from the other. There is mutual respect and a willingness to reserve judgment. Leaping to conclusions is not allowed.

    When I ask myself what made Vic Turner a great field anthropologist, I need only to remember interacting with him. He had the uncanny gift of treating everyone he spoke with, from the lowliest undergraduate to the most distinguished senior professor as if what they were saying was of the utmost importance and had his full attention. That’s a mentor I wish I had it in me to better emulate.

  12. @M Izabel:

    “Thanks again, Mary. I think your employment of “mentoring” here is not clear.”

    I read her use of mentoring as “teaching” and the student-teacher conversations/interactions that go along with that. But ya, I agree that mentoring could be more clearly defined here.

    “The mentoring I find interesting and more suited to anthropology is the one where the mentor is a mediator. There is a sense of neutrality in mediating.”

    I think this is an important and valuable point to add to the discussion. I especially like the idea of mentor/teacher as mediator. I definitely do not think that teaching should be about simply reproducing one’s worldview and ideology…it should instead be about finding ways to open up a space for investigation and dialog about humanity.

  13. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Mary. I believe you are onto something really important. Mentoring is said to be one of the greatest benefactors for success. It should not matter the industry you are in, mentoring is key for relaying insight to others. I am just entering the realm of anthropology, so I am unaware of the exact mentoring which takes place in your field. I do agree that it should be taking place and I applaud you for taking the initiative.

    Mentoring takes on a more interpersonal role than that of teaching. Mentoring is for the few “students” whom really seek and desire to become an expert in their craft. I concur with Freire in the fact that the teach-student relationship, does take on a mostly narrative role. This is not fault of just the teachers, but the educational system as a whole. I believe it is up to people such as you, me, us, to take responsibility for filling the role of mentor. If students know that you are available and willing to be a mentor to them, those whom desire to learn, will seek you out.

    As a recent college graduate, I think it is great that you let your students know that you too are still learning. This will open the students up to give more insight as well as question what they are learning. You will also learn much more from them in the process. I hope you continuing in your quest of mentor and look forward to future posts from you.

  14. I just want to say thanks to all of you for these great comments and conversations. I plan to develop some kind of working definition of mentoring and incorporate some of the other ideas that have come up in these comments in my next post. I’d love to hear more of your thoughts between now and the next time I post though!

  15. This is really interesting.  I appreciate the links and will certainly read more on the topics you mentioned as I continue to develop a dissertation where I’ll be working with youth in some capacity.  I admit, however, that while I do feel strongly that quality mentoring is good, two main questions came to mind as I was reading this:

    1)  Is “mentoring” the verbiage that really fits within the mold of critical pedagogy, or even just anthropological praxis in nominally instructional settings?  There is much discussion in certain educational circles about the teacher as a “co-learner” in the classroom, which it sounds (somewhat) like what occured between you and the students with whom you did the PAR, a sort of “co-mentoring,” perhaps?  That may not be the best way to put it, but I do wonder:  is there terminology that would be more actively referent of the many directions in which learning/knowledge is passing and/or developing?  I saw John above mention a “collegial” relationship, but does that provide enough of a semantic shift for the kind of interaction you’re talking about?

    2)  What would constitute an “anthropological” way to “mentor” (or exchange knowledge in an instructional manner for the purposes of personal/academic/professional growth, by whatever name) or what would constitute “mentoring” as “anthropological praxis”?  The starting point for any answer would need to be what constitutes “anthropological praxis,” or even just the first half of that phrase.  If anthropology’s purpose (in an ethnographic sense) is to work toward understanding and communicating the experiences, practices, and worldviews of some grouping of people in a way that acknowledges their understandings and modes of communicating said experiences, practices, and worldviews (even if it might never or can never achieve a total merging of the anthropological product and the lived reality and perspective of the people that the product attempts to portray) – a lot of “if,” I know – then … what?  Maybe anthropological praxis in concert with critical pedagogy in mentoring would mean “reading the world,” as Freire puts it, alongside mentees or students or clients (or whoever else) such that the personal/academic/professional/etc. is something that is discovered and examined in dialogue.

    If any of that makes sense, then we should really be thinking about this (critical co-mentoring? mentoring-as-critical-praxis?) in a more nuanced (or expanded) way even than the collegial or conversation-between-equals sort of “I know X and you know Y so we can each learn from each other.”  Is there a way in which we can, like in PAR, assist would-be “mentees” (as well as ourselves) in developing tools, accessing resources, and participating in experiences through which they (and we) can all gain broader, deeper, and more multi-layered understandings of academic and professional spheres?  To me, that’s what it would mean to mentor in a way that was “anthropological” or a part of “anthropological praxis” with a nod toward critical pedagogy.  I may not be articulating this as well as I’d like, but that’s the gist of where I think your discussion might be taking us.  In which case, since there are already a lot of fears about teaching/working with students, we should also be thinking about how to help (e.g. mentor) grad students, and perhaps even developing professionals at every stage, learn both how to mentor in a traditional sense and how to engage in this more actively and critically dialogic process of interaction that produces more and more refined academic and professional knowledge for all involved (i.e. mentoring-as-critical-praxis or whatever other name best fits).

    This sounds both like a lot of work and like a profoundly fascinating and beneficial process for all involved.  Is that anything at all like what you were thinking?

    Thanks for this thoughtful and thought-provoking post!

  16. Thank you for these generative thoughts.

    It is possible to trace these questions back to the original debates on the asymmetry of the traditional subject/object relationships that characterized so much academic research – and, in general, most daily interactions in life. This was the impetus for the development of PAR by Fals-Borda (and others) at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia in the late 1960s.

    As someone who was introduced to and practiced community education based on critical pedagogy outside the United States and outside academia, I feel like this history is important because it draws attention to the different institutional settings that exist here and now that shape knowledge production and interactions between “community” and animators as the idea has spread through sociopolitical structures like the university or nonprofit, or the field of anthropology. I don’t need to go into the co-option of participatory practices, but it’s important to remain critical and have a healthy skepticism regarding the practice of PAR today.

    My experience here in the US in university and social service nonprofits has revealed that a philosophical, ethical choice has been reduced to a method, depoliticized, lightened, reduced to minor practices (like photostories) within structures that seriously limit subject-subject knowledge production and action (Nina Eliasoph’s recent book on empowerment projects is good). The push for engaged anthropology and public sociology should seriously interrogate these structures, and gain encouragement from majority world social scientists that decades ago worked to find ways to acquire new knowledge to construct counter narratives and power.

    I’m encouraged by the paper posted by Sarah Willen above, and have always found inspiration from the under-fire Mexican American Student Services program at the Tucson School District. As someone hoping to pursue a phd in anthropology, I will certainly look to a program and mentor relationships that pursue an active role, asking these questions that you and others have raised.

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