Transdisciplinarity as a global anthropology of learning

Maguire, Kate ORCID: (2017) Transdisciplinarity as a global anthropology of learning. In: Transdisciplinary higher education: a theoretical basis revealed in practice. Gibbs, Paul ORCID:, ed. Springer International Publishing, Switzerland, pp. 163-178. ISBN 9783319561844, e-ISBN 9783319561851. [Book Section] (doi:10.1007/978-3-319-56185-1_12)

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In his opening page of his text book, What is Anthropology (2004), Eriksen draws on the wisdom of two great minds over a century apart. Make everything as simple as possible. But not simpler. (Einstein); He who speaks no foreign language knows nothing of his own. (Goethe). In doing so, he captures two attitudinal tenets fundamental for the practice of anthropology: the emic principle and the etic principle. The emic principle is a non-judgmental approach to observing and entering the context of the ‘other’ not with the researcher focused intention of understanding what is going on but of clarifying the understanding the member of the culture has about their own context, their artefacts, rituals and practices, how relationships are formed and meaning sustained through what constitutes that context. The observations of the other are not skewed by the anthropologist’s own lens. What is reported simply at first appears simple, but is not. The etic principle can be summed up as the function of what is learned from a new ‘culture’ is to question the understanding of the ‘culture’ from which the anthropologist has arrived. The new understanding that emerges in these bridging spaces between difference thereby contributes to knowledge of the universality of human behaviour. These two tenets have, from seafarers and traders, to anthropologists and archaeologists with a curiosity to learn about what exists outside their own experience, have shown themselves to be sound approaches to both contributing to and navigating complexity. I suggest that anthropology has much to offer our contemporary occupations with cohesion in a global context. This chapter focuses on two cultures of knowledge: the culture of the university which has over the last two hundred years held claim to discipline specific theoretical knowledge based on rigorous research, and organisations outside of the university who have claim to practitioner/experiential knowledge across a range of disciplines and sectors. In recent years, much like colonial influences on discreet islands, market forces have challenged the culture of the university and its place in the new order. In this chapter I will draw on the experiences of working with senior professionals who come into higher education to develop research skills which will enable them to bring about ‘change’ in work practices and organisational cultures outside of higher education.

Item Type: Book Section
Research Areas: A. > School of Health and Education
Item ID: 29869
Notes on copyright: This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of a chapter published in Transdisciplinary higher education: a theoretical basis revealed in practice. The final authenticated version is available online at:
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Depositing User: Shams Sadiqi
Date Deposited: 11 May 2020 22:03
Last Modified: 18 Jun 2021 17:31

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