Activist Research v. Cultural Critique: Indigenous Land Rights and the Contradictions of Politically Engaged Anthropology:

Charles R. Hale

With indigenous and Afro-Latin land rights in Central America as ethnographic context, this article makes the case for politically engaged anthropology. The argument builds from a juxtaposition between "cultural critique" and "activist research" distinguished mainly on methodological grounds. Activist scholars establish an alignment with an organized group of people in struggle and accompany them on the contradictory and partly compromised path toward their political goals. This yields research outcomes that are both troubled and deeply enriched by direct engagement with the complexities of political contention. A case in the Inter-American Human Rights Court, where an indigenous community called Awas Tingni forced the Nicaraguan government to recognize the community's ancestral lands, illustrates the promise of activist research, in spite of the inevitable contradictions that present themselves even when the struggle is ostensibly successful.

Access to this content is restricted.

  • If you are a AAA member please login to obtain full-text access.
  • If you are not a AAA member you can find out more information and join here https://avectra.aaanet.org/eweb/DynamicPage.aspx?webcode=verify
  • If you are a library patron of an academic institution, and are experiencing an access issue please contact your library administrator for assistance.
  • If you would like to purchase online access to this single article please locate the article on Wiley Online Library or contact a Wiley-Blackwell customer service representative at cs-journals@wiley.com.