Who are “we”?

Who are ‘we’? The web project

**An invitation to anthropologists around the world: Share your thoughts and experiences here!**

Who do ‘we’ anthropologists think we are? And how do our collective identities and relations – as part of wider communities, movements, disciplines, ‘schools’ and so on – shape our methods, theories and analyses?

Although we’ll be grappling with these questions at our workshop in September, we’re also very keen to open up the discussions to as many people around the world as possible. To this end, we’ve put together a list of questions, below, that we hope will spark some discussion and debate.

You’re warmly invited to respond to all or any of these – or just to the general theme – in one of three ways: i) via our Facebook page; ii) by leaving your comments here, in the box below; or iii) at the Open Anthropology Cooperative’s dedicated forum. Or just drop us an email. You don’t need to be a ‘professional’ anthropologist or even an anthropologist to participate, and you can write anything from a paragraph to a treatise…or send us a non-textual response! Whatever the case, we look forward to hearing from you.


  1. Who are “we”? Anthropological texts commonly refer to an “us” or a “we” – an imagined anthropological (or other) community – that is engaging with the text. Do you follow this convention? And what/who do you see this “we” as comprising?
  2.  Is your anthropological practice shaped by how you relate to certain collectives, real or imagined – language communities, regions, disciplines, ‘turns’, departments, specific audiences, etc.?
  3.  To what extent are certain anthropological methods, theories and concepts premised on the existence of shared backgrounds, politics, preoccupations, etc. among anthropologists?
  4. What do you make of concepts aimed at either broadening the discipline or demarcating a particular anthropological sub-set? E.g. “peripheral anthropology”, “world anthropology”, “other peoples’ anthropology”, “applied anthropology”, “digital anthropology”…etc.
  5. Does anthropology have its own internal “Others” and/or “elites”? How are they produced?
  6. Why are alterity and affinity extensively analysed by anthropologists when it comes to studies of the “Other” but less so when it comes to “us”?
  7. Historically, has the anthropological “we” changed its form? If it has, how? If not, why not?
  8. If one were to reimagine an anthropological “we”, what would it look like?


Liana Chua (Department of Anthropology, Brunel University, London)

Nayanika Mathur (Division of Social Anthropology and CRASSH, University of Cambridge)

Graduate assistant:

Ryan Davey (Division of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge)