Association of Black Anthropologists
Oral Presentation Session
This paper examines how both the ascendancy of right-wing populism in the Global North and my identity as a person of color within US academia affected the legibility of my research and intellectual production in anthropology. Before the election of Donald Trump and Brexit, my research on political talk radio, populism, and anti-colonialism in the Dutch Caribbean often received same kinds of commentary that other anthropologists of color frequently encounter when they present their research to their peers in the discipline: it was "too niche," "not theoretical enough." At worst, I was told that my work was "not anthropology" but "me-search." Assessment of the impact and relevance of my research changed dramatically after Brexit and the election of Donald Trump. The same research project now had "global relevance," and my identity as a person of color who is doing research in my own community no longer featured prominently in assessments of my work. Noting this shift, this paper develops the concept of hierarchies of credibility to analyze how the identity of the anthropologist impacts the assessment of their research within the discipline. This shift in legibility reveals how the assessment of research in anthropology continues to be dependent on whether or not the identity of the ethnographer deviates from the norm of white Euro-American anthropologist studying the Other elsewhere. At the same time, it also shows that changes in political trends can override these established hierarchies of credibility.