[URBANTH-L]Re: Theory vs. Application?...

Shea Michael Anderson imonik at temple.edu
Mon May 2 14:35:49 EDT 2005

I want to second those comments. Fruitful theoretical 
discussion amongst ourselves is all well and good, but the 
trouble that seems to emerge is moving from the realm of 
theory to the realm of practice, and finding solutions from 
theoretical discussion that have meaningful and beneficial 
impact on peoples' lives. 

Otherwise, we are preaching to the choir. 


---- Original message ----
>Date: Sun, 1 May 2005 16:25:54 -0500 (CDT)
>From: "Anthony D'Andrea" <afdandre at uchicago.edu>  
>Subject: [URBANTH-L]Re: Theory vs. Application?...  
>To: urbanth-l at lists.ysu.edu
>There is lots of room for purely theoretical and applied 
>endeavors in science. Actually, being anthropology "the 
>of", applied anthropology is the study of its applications, 
>the application itself. Application is the stuff of social 
>workers, managers, and activists - not anthropologists as 
>(Or so I learned with Max Weber).
>In any case, research policies should never be determined by 
>promise of applicability. Many revolutionary contributions 
>from purely theoretical speculations. Imagine, the 
>of theologian discussions between Einstein and Heisenberg: 
>bye quantum physics...
>In this connection, I was surprised to see the word "pomo" 
>popping up on my screen, this old scapegoat for whatever we 
>like or understand in academics. Read some British sociology 
>we will find how socially _relevant_ "pomo" has become. Read 
>anthropology journals and we will find how wasteful and 
>meaningless much of our discipline has become, along with 
>social sciences and humanities... Lack of "applicability", 
>maybe?... Lack of meaning, lack of impact? What is that?
>Hyper-specialization is a quite serious problem. It is worse 
>publishing about technicalities that only a handful of 
>are interested in. We limit ourselves to voice or to 
>our own natives. And other than minor conceptual bridges, 
>anthropology is currently incapable of dialoguing with other 
>social sciences and humanities at large. And that's where 
>real danger is.
>Let the apple fall on the philosopher's head in peace...
>Anthony D'Andrea
>"Keep the lamps burning, because love
>  does not come from those who sleep." (Pascal)
>Anthony Albert Fischer D'Andrea
>PhD Candidate, Dept. Anthropology, University of Chicago
>Lecturer, International Studies Program
>Research Associate, Transnationalism Project
>1126 E 59th St., Chicago, Il, 60637  USA
>Phone: 001 (773) 684-2535
>Fax:   001 (773) 702-4503
>URBANTH-L mailing list
>URBANTH-L at lists.ysu.edu
Shea Michael Anderson
Department of Anthropology
2nd Floor, Gladfelter Hall
Temple University
Philadelphia, PA 19122
imonik at temple.edu

"The first sight of three hundred insane persons, assembled for an entertainment, and stimulated by a lighted and decorated apartment, and the presence of strangers, and the sound of music, and allowed to dance as freely, and even as fantastically, as each may choose, is one which an unfamiliar spectator can scarcely witness without feeling some immediate trepidation."

(Dr. John Connolly, 1848, "The Construction and Government of Lunatic Asylums and Hospitals for the Insane". John Churchill: London)

(NY Times, International Section, December 9, 2003) 

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