Service-Learning and Anthropology (2004)

Guest Editors: Arthur Keene (University of Massachusetts-Amherst) and Sumi Colligan (Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts). Abstracts Service-Learning and AnthropologyArthur S. Keene, University of Massachusetts-AmherstSumi Colligan, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts This special journal issue is devoted to an exploration of the intersection of service-learning and anthropology. We are interested in the contributions that the field of anthropology can make to community service learning (CSL) and we are interested in how service-learning can and does inform anthropological practice. The assembled papers, 8 case studies and a commentary, illustrate that both anthropology and CSL are enhanced when incorporating the sensibilities of the other. Yet, despite strong affinities with CSL, anthropology as a profession has been surprisingly slow, if not reluctant, to explore this approach. We point out the common ground shared by anthropology and CSL and explore some ironies associated with the apparent invisibility of CSL within anthropology. Strengthening Pedogogy and Praxis in Cultural Anthropology and Service-Learning:Insights from Postcolonialism Maryann McCabe,University of Rochester This article argues cultural anthropology would make a good partner to service-learning pedagogy because it offers students a theoretical approach for understanding community life and its power structures. Anthropologists have been dealing with power vis-a-vis the people they study using concepts relevant to the reflection process in service-learning. A liaison between anthropology and service-learning would help orient students toward systemic change in society. This responds to a desire among service-learning educators to prevent perpetuation of power imbalances and social injustices. The rich experience of service-learning would help anthropology further its interest in praxis. Power and Privilege: Community Service Learning in Tijuana Michelle Madsen Camacho,University of San Diego As social scientists engage their own subjectivity, there is greater awareness of their own touristic "gaze," or at least the power relations that are evoked in the researcher-subject interaction. In teaching students involved in community service learning, the challenge is to provide a learning experience that addresses power inequities between student and served. How do we teach students to recognize axes of provilege, be critical of their roles, and be sensitive to the multiple dimensions of power relations among and between server and served? This article proposes to examine how service-learning can be a catalyst for examining the important issue of subjectivity. Drawing from qualitative data of students working in migrant labor camps and community development projects in the context of Tijuana, I discuss how students viewed power differentials and came to consider their relative social class and racialized differences in the context of the Mexican border zone. Acompanar Obediciendo: Learning to Help in Collaboration with Zapatista Communities Jeanne Simonelli, Wake Forest UniversityDuncan Earle, University of Texas-El PasoElizabeth Story, Wake Forest University Joint service-learning programs of Wake Forest University and the University of Texas-El Paso are working to develop an anthropologically-informed service model for/with the authors' Universities, our students, and our community colleagues. Building on extensive ethnographic fieldwork and experience leading experiential programs, the model results from consultation and communication with the communities we 'serve.' This paper provides a case study of the authors' experience in Chiapas, Mexico, where collaboration with community partners is producing a refined theory and practice of service. It begins with the community's own definition of assistance and service, and continues through a commitment to acompanar (accompany) the group before, during, and after the service experience, producing a program and relationship based on symmetry and sustainability. Teaching Critical Reflection Through Narrative Storytelling Nancy P. Chin, University of Rochester Medical Center Anthropological concepts and methods provide an important framework for organizing community service learning. Critical reflection is central to both anthropology and community service learning. However, an anthropological approach to reflection stimulates the learner to consider their own cultural background. Little is understood about how to teach critical reflection. This article explores narrative storytelling among medical students, as a pedagogical process for reflection on cultural assumptions and to spur subsequent action toward social change in the practice of medicine among the poor. Students generated stories based on their own experiences to illuminate how unconscious cultural assumptions can create medical care that is harmful or useless to patients on the margins and stimulate a re-thinking of how unexamined assumptions may render care not in the patients' best interests. The article concludes with 'best practice' recommendations for teachers in community service learning programs. Public Interest Anthropology: A Boasian Service-Learning Initiative Peggy Reeves Sanday, University of PennsylvaniaKarl Jannowitz, University City High School This article describes the theoretical rationale and practice related to two connected anthropology courses at the University of Pennsylvania and University City High School, a predominantly African-American school on Penn's border. The courses are part of Penn's ABCS (academically-based community service) program. Grounded in the Boasian legacy of cultural anthropology, the courses share much in common with the principle of service-learning to "link community service and academic study so that each strengthens the other." It is suggested that anthropology is uniquely relevant to the educative function of community service learning because of the role the concept of culture plays in the development of multiculturally-sensitive citizens. Youth Participatory Action Research: A Transformative Approach to Service-LearningJean J. Schensul and Marlene Berg, Institute for Community Research This article describes a model of participatory action research and service-learning conducted with urban, high school African American, West Indian/Caribbean, and Puerto Rican/Latino youth and adult facilitators, in a nonclassroom setting, in a mid-sized northeastern city. Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) integrates critical theory, research paradigms that incorporate positionality, interactive ethnographic methods, and dialogic approaches to service-learning. It provides a context for examining questions related to instructional methods, reciprocal learning, information as service, and the nature and practice of service-learning as reproducing or transforming traditional structures of power and positionality. This case example, though it reflects work done with high school students, has implications for the ways both secondary and higher education can change to ensure service-learning programs that utilize research for social transformation. Implementing Community Service Learning through Archaeological PracticeMichael S. Nassaney, Western Michigan University The Anthropology Department at Western Michigan University has sponsored an annual archaeological field school since the mid-1970s. Over the past decade, students have worked with community and government organizations, learning to apply archaeological methods to real world problems to preserve and interpret significant heritage sites. They come to see historical knowledge as subject to political controversy - a valuable civics lesson that emerges from the realization that the community consists of multiple audiences with different visions and interpretations of history. Engaged archaeology promotes civic involvement and moves beyond the rhetoric of serving the public good that characterizes conventional archaeological training and scholarship. Examples of collaborative research drawn from partnerships with several public and private agencies illustrate the benefits of this approach for learning and service. The Urban Nutrition Initiative: Bringing Academically-Based Community Service to the University of Pennsylvania's Department of AnthropologyFrancis E. Johnston, Ira Harkavy, Frances Barg, Danny Gerber, Jennifer Rulf, University of Pennsylvania   The Urban Nutrition Initiative (UNI) is a University of Pennsylvania/West Philadelphia schools academically-based community service program that integrates academics, research, and service through service-learning and participatory action research. UNI is based academically within Penn's Department of Anthropology and administratively within the Center for Community Partnerships. University and school student learning is based upon problem-solving, with theory and methods utilized from across the disciplines. As active learners, students generate knowledge through engagement with the community, which can then be applied as appropriate to other situations. UNI focuses on nutrition-related diseases, including obesity, that constitute an epidemic in the United States, especially among disadvantaged minorities, and contribute to prevalent health disparities. Student research has demonstrated UNI has positive impacts on schoolchildren's diets and Penn students' educational experiences.