Engaged Anthropology

Part of the series Approaches to Social Inequality and Difference pp 121-145


Gender and Universal Rights: Dilemmas and Anthropological Engagement

  • Siri LangeAffiliated withChr. Michelsen Institute
  • , Inge TvedtenAffiliated withChr. Michelsen Institute

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Scandinavian countries lead most rankings on gender equality and women’s rights. Anthropologists who work in development are continuously confronted with perceptions and practises countering the type of universal rights in question. This chapter examines the ways that anthropologists engage with sensitive issues of gender rights in development cooperation. With reference to the issue of gay rights in Tanzania and polygamy in Mozambique, it is argued that the role of applied anthropology should be to produce research-based knowledge on the situation of poor and vulnerable men and women—who are the ultimate target of all Scandinavian aid programs. Research of this type must give equal emphasis to relevance and scientific rigor and be methodologically innovative in order to relate to time and resource constraints and reach central decision-makers.


Aid Gender Anthropology Tanzania Mozambique