Wedel Founds Anthropology Interest Group

Posted: February 16, 2006 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Maura Kelly

Janine Wedel
Janine Wedel

Growing numbers of anthropologists study public policy issues, says Janine Wedel, professor in the School of Public Policy. To provide an institutional framework to help foster their work, Wedel co-founded the Interest Group for the Anthropology of Public Policy (IGAPP), which was recently accepted by the American Anthropological Association to be affiliated with the larger organization.

“The study of policy deals with issues at the heart of anthropology, such as institutions and power and local-global interactions,” says Wedel, explaining why she started the group with Greg Feldman, an anthropologist from the University of British Columbia who specializes in international migration.

“Anthropologists have long engaged in research that deals implicitly with policy issues. Our goal is to make the relationship between anthropology and policy more explicit.”

IGAPP, which currently has 238 members from around the world, hosted a series of kick-off events in December in Washington, D.C. Its members study topics ranging from the introduction and impact of Freedom of Information Act legislation in Eastern Europe to the outsourcing of information technology and military services in the United States.

Last year, Wedel was asked to write an article, “Toward an Anthropology of Public Policy,” for a special issue of The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science about the contributions of the different disciplines to public policy. She invited colleagues, including Feldman, to collaborate on the piece, which appeared in the July 2005 edition of the journal.

A four-time Fulbright fellow, Wedel was the first anthropologist to win the Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order (an honor typically given to scholars in political science) for her 2001 book, “Collision and Collusion: The Strange Case of Western Aid to Eastern Europe,” second edition.

This article originally appeared in SPP Currents in a slightly different format.

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