Saturday, October 28, 2006

Reinventing Anthropology

Reinventing Anthropology
The Visayan Daily Star

It took a quarter of a century for Dumaguete City to play host again to the annual conference of the Ugnayang Pang-Aghamtao Inc. whose 28th national conference ends today. Back in 1981, Silliman University hosted the fourth UGAT annual national conference with the theme, "The Anthropology of Power."

This year's theme, "The Philippines Unbound: Anthropological Critiques of Globalization," is timely as it is relevant. Despite the advances brought about by development and modern technology, the issue of globalization is plagued by poverty, unemployment, lack of classrooms and textbooks, environmental degradation, and moral decadence. In short, globalization remains an empty word to a breadwinner of a family of six trying to make both ends meet. One of the points raised in the three-day conference was the view that migration and the distances created among people is detrimental to the Filipino family and culture.

It was figured out that it actually all depends on which perspective you are taking, the optimist's or the pessimist's. Or, as the analogy is brought further, it is like deciding whether the glass is half-empty or half-full. In the end, it is a mere re-configuring of households and the strategies they take to live a more decent life. There are values and structures that endure for a certain family that may not work well for other families, thus, it is ephemeral. Media play a role, too, in crafting a good life because of migration.

Anthropology has always been at the forefront of critical reflections of current and past issues. It empowers communities against all forms of violations of human rights engendered by globalization.*

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