New ways of thinking: From critique to optimism (but still in beta)

I don’t know if there’s something inherent to the discipline of
anthropology that moves us toward critique: the tendency to pick-apart any kind of human effort to do anything in the world. Modernization: homogeneous and violent. International development: bureaucratic and self-interested. Food aid: corrupt and exploitative. Humanitarianism: ineffective and paternalistic. It seems that our gaze upon the world is colored by darkly-tinted lenses; we see problems as if they were highlighted in neon; we even historicize them so as to find their roots, the concepts behind these global systems.

But critique itself can be a violent thing. It destroys everything in its path with a smug wave of its hand, and leaves nothing in place of what was there. Read more

Mali: New Family Code Law Debated

April 2008

Many African countries enforce laws which prohibit women from holding property or making decisions that affect their own lives without their husbands’ consent. Right now in Mali, a new family law code waiting to be adopted by Parliament is facing opposition from some Islamic groups who claim it goes against Islamic principles, particularly when it comes to proposed changes to the country’s marriage laws. Read more

Too Young to Wed: Eliminating Child Marriage

April 2008

After attending “Too Young to Wed,” a congressional briefing sponsored by the International Center for Research on Women, I can say that the problem of child marriage is much bigger than I had thought. Additionally, I am convinced that child marriage is a symptom of larger problems in developing countries, all of which are interrelated and stem from poverty. Read more