Comments on and Expectations of the International Journal of
Business Anthropology Vol. 1 (1)
Daisy Stevens Rojas
Cultural Expressions Consulting
The International Journal of Business Anthropology (IJBA) presents a useful and important tool for navigating our global community. Both professional practitioners and academic scholars in the field of Anthropology will find the case studies, real experiences and practical applications of anthropology informative and invigorating. Perhaps more importantly the business community will recognize the great value of cultural understanding and human experience through anthropological study necessary for sustained interaction. The formal acknowledgement of the merger of these two disciplines as demonstrated by the International Journal of Business Anthropology validates what both fields have known for many years--that a symbiotic relationship is necessary for the sustenance of each.
Applied anthropology seeks to work within communities to develop understanding and translation between cultures. The positive function of business culture seeks this knowledge to pursue organic growth with and among interested communities. Always in flux, human communities seek new opportunities and solutions to difficulties that can be fostered through the open dialogue created by publications such as IJBA. I found the Journal when searching for an appropriate venue for my own work on localized emergent financial markets aimed at assisting unbanked populations. Working as a consultant and freelance anthropologist, I have the freedom to choose my topics and research venues; but until now, have not had the opportunity to share work which provides advantages to both academia and the business community. Aside from having value as previously uninvestigated areas of interest, this type of anthropology is meant to provide resources and opportunities to socially conscious individuals and organizations.
As many in the discipline know anthropology is vital to our constantly negotiated relationships, both private and public. For academia, the pursuit of research for scholarly purposes sometimes means that practical application is lost in theory. Hopeful education of vibrant young people and inspired professionals are often the only means of providing an avenue for theory to interface with 'lived experiences'. My own desire to project elements of human experience in my work as taught by humanist anthropologist Edith Turner has provided an alternative view of a world whose language has been written for too long in statistics, graphs and trend data.
The bold decision to forge ahead with our dedication to cultural understanding and the belief that we can pass that knowledge on to members of other disciplines is the reason the International Journal of Business Anthropology will become an invaluable tool. At some point anthropologists come to a crossroads in the discipline; forced to decide between investigative academic research and professional applied research. Remembering our origins in American anthropology it seems that a fear of misuse clings to the ideas surrounding the field of applied anthropology. Whatever the decision, if we have taken our early lessons to heart we hope that our work will be used in appropriate ways. There is no reason to abandon our colleagues simply because they choose to pursue their ideals in a professional capacity instead of remaining in academia. Rather, to have a vehicle for disseminating information and sharing new research among applied anthropologists will assist in maintaining ethical principles for all members of the discipline.
Ann Jordan mentions in the very first article of the first volume, our dilemma as dedicated anthropologists is how to determine what questions should be asked (Jordan). This deceptively simple requirement involves dedicated ethnography, in depth engagement and focused time learning from interlocutors in the field. It was also a great comfort for me to see that articles present in IJBA Volume 1 (1) include the names of revered works from Malinowski, Levi-Strauss and Victor Turner listed in the references of the selected texts. Applied anthropologists have not forgotten the foundational elements of our discipline--we have instead sought to further understand and extend understanding to the world within which we live.
The Journal addresses meaningful issues present and pressing in our own lives as well as those of many others seeking knowledge from our discipline. The first volume of the International Journal of Business Anthropology discusses issues such as generation gaps within communities and this effect on labor systems, differing management styles among particularized communities, and the intricate balance of developing a firm dedicated to the business of anthropology (Zhou and Sun, Walle, Bronitsky). Providing useful information, pressing questions and open discourse to the business community allows Anthropology a voice in areas which have traditionally excluded human experience from the record.
The articles within the pages of this journal are written in clear language and make use of tools already familiar to the business community as well as those of the anthropological community. I suggest institutions, businesses, professors, professionals, scholars and interested community members to consider including it as a work resource. Support and participation through subscription and submission of new material develops our discipline and allows a critical eye of the work that members of our field are putting to a useful purpose. In many ways the work of applied anthropology has come to fruition through this publication. But with privilege comes responsibility, and those practitioners and scholars who recognize the value of this resource will also know the need we have to maintain a high level of variety, innovation and critical commentary.
Future works slated for publication include articles on modernism and post-modernism in industrial settings, intercultural training for multinational corporations, anthropology in small businesses, and the emergence of business anthropology in Latin America. I look forward to the future volumes of the International Journal of Business Anthropology with great expectations and hope other members of the field will provide feedback and material for this and subsequent volumes on a regular basis.
(Daisy Stevens Rojas is an Assistant Editor for the Journal of Anthropology and Humanism and President of Cultural Expressions Consulting. Her work involves studies that unmask potential among marginalized populations. She has published in the U.S. and abroad on subjects including social identities of indigenous peoples, establishing racial dialogue, and experiences of Latino immigrants in the U.S. Correspondence may be directed to www.culturalexpressionsconsulting.com or firstname.lastname@example.org)