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ANTHROPOLOGY: What is it?



The heated debate about the role of anthropology in helping or simply observing mankind suggests that, as Linda Nyquist said, the pure observers are exploiting people for their own professional purposes. Edith Coliver includes journalists in this indictment. She says: "Daryl Debell's comments are well taken. We could mention journalists among the "culprits". Their work is equally exploitative. Since the tendency is toward negative reporting, journalists essentially make money on the plight of others. I am with the 'involvement' theorists, whether it is in anthropology or in international humanitarian assistance."

Bob Beyers has sent me information about David Werner, a MacArthur Fellow with a rare form of muscular atrophy, and the author of Where there is No Doctor, a primary health care book that has sold millions of copies and has been translated into 83 languages. He has founded PROJIMO, A Spanish acronym for Programa de Rehabilitacion Organizado por Juventudes Incapacacitadas en Mexico Occidental (community-based rehabilitation for disabled youth in Western Mexico). Projimo was founded in 1981 by David Warner and local health workers in the village of Ajoya in the foothills of the Sierra Madre Occidental, north of Mazatlan. This provided material for two other books, Disabled Children and Nothing About Us Without Us. I

Bob's wife Charlotte has produced and John Montoya directed a prize-winning film about this entitled "Our Own Road." It describes the efforts to make Ajoya self-supporting. Poverty among Mexican farmers has increased sharply since NAFTA was enacted in 1994, forcing many to resort to growing marijuana and opium.The population has dropped from 1,000 to 600 following a spate of kidnappings and killings. Projimo has seen more than 300 spinal cord injuries, mainly in young men, resulting from gun shots. To serve a wider area, the program moved 50 miles west to Coyotitan, a small town near the main highway between Mazatlan and Culiacan.

Ronald Hilton - 9/01/00


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