At the Crossroads of Human Rights and Anthropology

Speed, S. (2006). At the Crossroads of Human Rights and Anthropology: Toward a Critically Engaged Activist Research. American Anthropologist, 108: 66–76.

This article is specifically about how anthropologists conduct rights based research in the community. A historical account of the development of rights based research is given. The author also gives an example of a critically engaged activist research experience from his work in Chiapas as an activist for human rights and Indigenous rights. He argues that a method that combines activism and cultural critique is what is needed in the discipline of anthropology of rights at the moment. Issues of knowledge production especially with subjects that are marginalized and the differences in power relations between the researcher and the research subjects arise in the article.
Ethics: this article defines ethical problems that arise in research defined by rights activism. The author argues that in situations of human rights violation and politics of knowledge production there are serious concerns of ethical conduct that researchers are confronted with. Questions of what a researcher should do in the event that the research subjects are in danger and a researcher’s accountability to his subjects are also addressed.

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