Professional Ethics - REFLECTIONS ON THE CONTINUING...

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REFLECTIONS ON THE CONTINUING DEVELOPMENT OF PROFESSIONAL ETHICS IN ANTHROPOLOGY Since the beginnings of anthropology about 150 years ago, some anthropologists have clearly been genuinely concerned with professional ethics and moral decency in their work. For example, throughout the history of the discipline, many anthropologists and anthropological organizations have demonstrated humanitarian concerns and actions for the survival, welfare, and rights of indigenous societies in the face of European colonialism and the ethnocide and genocide it has so often precipitated which since WWII continued under the guise of economic development and most recently as globalization (Bartolome, et al., 1973, Bodley 1999, Dostal 1971, Ramos 1998, Smith 1999, Cultural Survival Quarterly). On the other hand, to this day far too many anthropologists blindly pursue careerism and scientism with the mistaken faith that science can be amoral and apolitical and that it is sufficient for them to contribute to the general fund of human knowledge which is supposed to somehow inevitably benefit humankind. To this day anthropologists disagree as to whether advocacy on behalf of the communities who host research is a choice of the individual anthropologist or a professional and moral imperative (Fluehr-Lobban 1998:180, Sponsel 2002). While ethical questions arose in U.S. anthropology at least as early as 1919, the first formal code of professional ethics was not developed by the American Anthropological Association (AAA) until 1967. It was stimulated to a considerable extent by political conflicts within the country and beyond over the Vietnam War and related issues in which some anthropologists were scandalously involved in clandestine government research (Fluehr-Lobban 1991:Table 1.1, p. 33, Hymes 1972, Wakin 1992). (Much of this early history is illustrated and recorded in articles published during the first decade of the international journal Current Anthropology). By 1971 the American Anthropological Association (AAA) established a standing Committee on Ethics, although by 1996 its function had been reduced to education, and even then, it has not been very active or effective so far, a fact which some would argue is an ethical problem in itself ( http://www.aaanet.org, http://www.publicanthropology.org ). As Fluehr-Lobban (1998:174) perceptively observes:
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This note was uploaded on 04/28/2011 for the course ANTH 444 taught by Professor Sponsel during the Spring '11 term at University of Hawaii, Manoa.

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Professional Ethics - REFLECTIONS ON THE CONTINUING...

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