Generation, regeneration and social transformation: linking contexts of policy making and engagement through theory
Applied anthropology has often been downplayed as mere instrumental application of notions and theory generated through ‘true’ ethnography, fundamental research that is free from the conditioning and constraints that practical objectives inevitably insert in the research cycle. In connection with the fact that ethnography is epistemologically grounded in social practice, we rather note that new branches of the discipline, with articulated new theoretical propositions, developed through the deep insights gained by engaged anthropologists. Educational anthropology, anthropology of development and medical anthropology as some of the cases in point. Just as theory is grounded in practice, practice is grounded in theory. Making sense of our field-records is one of the main challenges of a methodology that does not proceed by falsifying and validating pre-selected theories. If we really want to understand the practical situations we engage with, we need to identify relevant theory, and eventually to develop new propositions.