Association for Feminist Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
Anthropology, with its emphasis on understanding other people’s viewpoints and its attention to poor, indigenous and (other) socially marginalized people, can challenge students’ taken-for-granted assumptions and provide them with different perspectives than those they encounter in other courses such as business. This paper argues that the first step towards creating a more just and equitable world is to draw students’ attention to issues such as (global) inequalities and exploitation, and to encourage them to critically reflect on their own privileged positions. The paper is based on my experience teaching online courses on tourism, economic anthropology, and clothing and fashion. For many of my students, these courses are their first exposure to the discipline. Students read about subjects such as the effects of neoliberal policies and tourism on local people in developing countries and the exploitation of female workers in the garment industry. They are introduced to local people’s perspectives on, experiences with, and responses to tourism or neoliberal policies. I consider teaching about these subjects as a form of activism against inequality and injustice. The structure of the online courses, with weekly discussion forums and non-traditional “lectures,” is intended to foster an inclusive environment in which participants, instructor included, learn from each other. This paper takes a rather practical approach by sharing examples of literature, questions and exercises used in these courses to undermine injustice. The paper will also address the struggle of encouraging students to become more justice-minded without “imposing” certain perspectives on them.