Collins Dictionary named fake news its 2017 word of the year, an easy choice given the word’s “unprecedented usage increase” of 365 percent over the previous year. Collins defines fake news as “false, often sensational, information disseminated under the guise of news.” But this dictionary definition belies the shifting usage of the word in actual contexts of situation since the 2016 election.
Ever since the early years of the Internet, privacy and public conduct have been hot button issues. Some initial bad experiences taught me and my departmental colleagues that all emails should be treated as public documents, which means they are not the place for expressing opinions about tenure cases or job candidates.
After a series of discrimination allegations, Starbucks announced in April that it would close to eight thousand stores on May 29 to conduct racial bias training. Many applauded the multinational corporation for taking a stance against racism, while others scoffed. Anthropologists have long kept a pulse on how corporations pollute environments, depress wages, control workers, create war, and, as a mentor recently reminded me, how they “just kill people.”
How do I explain to my soon-to-be college graduate that she has to go to her graduation ceremony?
How do you balance a commitment to the discipline of anthropology with recognizing and valuing insights that are relevant and challenging but come from outside anthropology?
One of my friends in San Ignacio de Mojos, Bolivia was Don Santiago (not his real name). By the time I met him, he had already held several positions within the indigenous organizations that represent the Ignaciano community, and he had served as Secretary of Land and Territory during part of an extended legal battle to title land that indigenous communities farmed and occupied throughout the municipality. During one of our conversations, he reflected on his experience with this legal activism.
The evolutionary-racial othering that the concept of holism enacted does not only belong to anthropology’s past, in the nineteenth century. The division of the world into us and them has continued in many works, albeit not in the form of the “modern” us and “primitive” them that many anthropologists now recognize. This othering, itself political, operates regardless of whether the work in question explicitly engages with politics.
Remember when everyone feared the “normalization” of a Trump presidency? Well, it’s gotten to the point where the US president can now openly brag about lying to the Canadian prime minister, and his bald-faced maneuvers to discredit the Robert Mueller investigation and FBI have been openly joined by House Republicans under the deceptive moniker of “oversight.”
I admire the bravery of those who continue to put their lives and livelihoods at stake by making their dissent visible in public. But I also realize that the consequences that they will face for their valiance will be dire.
When the news broke that Special Counsel Robert Mueller III indicted a Russian “troll farm” and 13 individuals associated with it, news and commentary reacted with outrage over the allegations that a foreign government had interfered in a US election.