On Wednesday at the Intersections of Anthropology and Social Justice Panel, anthropology department students presented diverse ranges of research projects, including their respective connections about issues surrounding social justice. The panel was initially designed as a yearly event, instigated by Nestor Silva, who is a sophomore anthropology Ph.D. student.
Silva introduced the current relevance of social justice and anthropology, while 5 panelists showcased their research works to the audience. Amongst the panelists is Andrea Hale, who spoke about the politics of cultural representation, Sam Maull talked about the mass incarceration, while Dean Chahim discussed about NGO’s. The two other panelists were Peri Unver who talked about the stigma, disability, and emotional impact, and the last panelist was Jess Aurebach, a candidate of Ph.D. who discussed about race and social inequality.
Through Chahim’s presentation, he talked about that NGO’s in a certain country are not really promoting democracy, instead promoting themselves. He said anthropology should allow individuals to become a radical critic, which is equivalent to democracy, should NGO’s be, allowing people to think beyond the concepts and how to respond to these.
Meanwhile, Unver took a literary approach towards stigmas and emotional issues that people with disabilities often experience. He claimed that this often overlooked by many. Listening to the different stories of those who have experienced any disability is very important, bridging gaps through dialogue, expression, and honesty, he said.
Unver identifies himself as a strong believer of anthropology, highlighting the importance of the field in creating an open dialogue about social justice issues. He said that anthropology allows people to perceive the world in colors, not limited to black and white. Chahim strongly agreed on the field’s significant role in social justice.
Moreover, Chahim highlighted the relevance of social justice to the entire society, not only limited to anthropologists. Social justice should be a significant part of all departments in universities, he said, saying that it is a part in people when it comes to academics, intellectuals, and should be considered as responsibility as well.
The panelists and audiences participated in a discussion after the presentations. They talked about different concepts, including questions regarding the research projects. About 25 audience members attended the panel, while Hale expressed her disappointment about the turnout.
She expressed her sadness, not seeing people from outside the anthropology space as she expected to hear something from other people from diverse groups, although the discussion still turned out to be fun, she said.
Ramah Awad, one of the audiences, has been considering shifting her major to anthropology from history. She said she found the panel discussion an enlightening conversation and a productive one. Awad explained that she had been particularly involved with social justice issues, considering the discussion as a helpful tool for what she’s currently working on.
According to Silva, along with other planners within the department, they are contemplating on expanding the event in 2016 with the goal of opening up the discussions with students from various fields of social sciences and humanities, including students from different universities.