About the Department

Activist ethnography is a practice of intellectual production that does not accept conventional distinctions between researcher and research subjects. Rather, the aim of activist ethnography is an integral relationship that transforms both the researcher and the community into active participants in producing knowledge and in transforming themselves. As contributors to the book Constituent Imagination suggest, research is an uncertain process wherein the researcher knows "how to start but not how to end," an "...open process that discovers new possibilities within the present, a collective wondering and wandering that is always difficult and never resolved in easy answers."

Food sovereignty in California, environmental/climate justice models in Latin America, worker cooperatives in Oakland, social centers in Italy, autonomous systems of justice in Guerrero, community gardens in Detroit, self-managed factories in Argentina, "good government" of the Zapatistas, buen vivir (good life) and plurinationalism in indigenous Bolivia, participatory democracy in Kerala, solidarity economics of Mondragon, participatory economics in Winnipeg, pedagogy of the block in African-American communities, alternative environmentalism in Afro-Colombian river regions, marginalized medical practices in South Asia, solidarity unionism in New York City, communal agriculture in Malawi, shack dweller democracy in South Africa, biodiversity in Brazil, restorative justice in Ohio, digital commons, independent media, and autonomous food systems in Japan--these are only some of the examples of the areas where our students do their scholarly and activist work.

We welcome students interested in becoming activists and scholars. Anthropology and Social Change offers an opportunity to develop both theoretical and practical knowledge relevant to careers in education and social justice work. Our graduate students will work with some of the most prominent activist scholars and progressive organizations in San Francisco Bay Area, as well as with core faculty from the department and the Institute. In this process of encounter and co-learning, students and faculty are expected to share scholarly ideas, debates, and practices, as well as practical skills in research, organizing, grant writing, policy analysis, legal and environmental work, and media. In addition to theoretical and research seminars, we offer activist media skills (strategic film-making, writing and publishing, internet skills, radical radio), and activist organizing skills (legal skills, policy analysis, environmental skills, campaigning, art-making, and organizing skills).

Recently, the Anthropology and Social Change department signed a specific agreement defining collaboration between two outstanding programs. The Graduate Department of Sociology, part of the Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences at the Autonomous University of Puebla (BUAP), is one of the finest social movement, critical theory based programs in Latin America. According to this newly signed agreement, Anthropology and Social Change MA students who are fluent in Spanish would have the option to continue their doctoral studies in Puebla's flagship social science department. Students would be able to work with a number of celebrated figures of ​Latin American critical thought, including Raquel Guttierez Aguilar, Sergio Tischler, John Holloway, and many others. Please contact us for more information.

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