By Katy Gardner, David Lewis
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Extra info for Anthropology, Development and the Post-Modern Challenge
This was a different type of anthropology from that which most practitioners were prepared to undertake. Gulliver's comments, particularly towards the end of the passage quoted above, also reflect continuing tensions within the discipline between theory and practice and illustrate the dilemma which still haunts many anthropologists considering working in development today.
Postmodernism is thus characterised by a multiplicity of voices. These arguments have had a radical effect on the authority of 'experts', fundamentally undermining many of the earlier assumptions which came out of the colonial, and postcolonial, North. We suggest, however, that development theory has reached a profound impasse, and that this is partly a result of postmodern tendencies. The new trends also relate more directly to practice and policy rather than theory. This can be both confusing and directionless, and liberating: a source of potential creativity.
In the US, opportunities for applied anthropology originated through the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which became a sponsoring body for research into local customs, political institutions and landholding patterns and rights. The gradual professionalisation and institutionalisation of development after the Second World War led to the creation of formal opportunities for applied anthropologists to work in development agencies or as private development consultants. We conclude by considering the various ways in which anthropologists have been deployed within development (as consultants, advisors and researchers) and we suggest the direction that applied anthropology might take in the future.