Erica James: The anthropology of humanitarianism (MIT News)

Photo of Prof. James standing in front of a bookshelf.

The work of MIT anthropologist Erica Caple James focuses on, as she puts it, “critical junctures at which human life, liberty, and equality are bound or constrained by institutions — whether for good or ill.” (Photo by M. Scott Brauer)

MIT anthropology professor Erica James is profiled today by MIT News:

The anthropology of humanitarianism

Anthropologist Erica James examines the effectiveness of aid to those on the margins of society.

Peter Dizikes | MIT News Office
May 1, 2014

Erica Caple James conducted her dissertation research in trying circumstances: in Haiti, following the 1994 removal of the country’s military leaders. It was a time of social conflict and discord, yet the sense of the anxiety many Haitians felt during their everyday lives was not, to James, an incidental hazard: It was the subject of her work.

Indeed, throughout James’ career as a medical anthropologist, she has specialized in studying people confronted with social, economic, and political uncertainty. James, now an associate professor of anthropology at MIT, has often sought to address a particular question about people placed in such difficulties: Are their psychological and civic needs being addressed by the social organizations that purport to help them?

Or, as James puts it, her work centers on studying “critical junctures at which human life, liberty, and equality are bound or constrained by institutions — whether for good or ill.”

You can read the full story here, and explore Prof. James’s teaching in these OCW courses:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s