On the AAA’s blog, Virginia Dominguez continues her series of “Inside the President’s Studio” interviews with a conversation with Marilyn Strathern. As in previous interviews in this series (which have included Carolyn Sargent, Joao Biehl and Agustin Fuentes) the audio of the conversation is accompanied by the text of Strathern’s answers to a few specific questions, including this particularly interesting one:
Q: Some of my students really want to know what your hopes are for the future of anthropology. Do you think this is a question worth asking, and would your answer energize them or cause them to pause?
A: I hope it would energise them – though perhaps from an unusual angle. Anthropology can look back on a century of superlative ethnographic work in the way that – a century ago! — it could not have. Something I have long thought about is how we keep that work alive, because that life is bound up with how we live in the here and now: it requires an acute sense of our present circumstances. For as our ideas ‘newly’ unfold we are able to ask fresh questions of what otherwise seem ‘old’ data—and it is in the freshness of our questions that past and present both live. That gives everyone’s past a future ….