chapter  36
34 Pages

: Public Interest Anthropology: A Model for Engaged Research

ByPeggy Reeves Sanday

Public interest anthropology (PIA) was named as such at a 1996 faculty seminar at the Department of Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania. The goal of this seminar was to find ways to join research and action, to cut across the subfields of anthropology, and to bridge teaching and community action in service learning programs.1 Among many other subjects, we discussed the possibilities for anthropologizing public interests, which we labeled “public interest anthropology,” building on the title of my 1976 edited book, Anthropology and the Public Interest. We agreed that, regardless of the subdiscipline, anthropologists who address public issues must deal not just with specific publics motivated by certain interests or characterized by definable needs, but with contested interests as well.