Disciplinary knowledge in anthropology occupies a unique position in relation to quality education: anthropology in education and the anthropology of education. This essay differentiates between anthropology as a field, as a repository of content and disciplinary knowledge (anthropology in education), and anthropology as a tool, as a theoretical and heuristic device that allows us to study students, schooling, learning, and teaching (the anthropology of education). Drawing on Bakhtin’s formulation of centrifugal and centripetal forces, the author argues that anthropology has both enabled and limited possibilities for quality education. A retrospective look at the construct of culture is emblematic of this process. The author claims that the disciplining of anthropological boundaries has often resulted in disengagement of anthropology as a field from issues of practice. Furthermore, the argument is made that an engaged anthropology must confront the implications of its theories, especially as they are applied in the crucible of education and schools.
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