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Campus News
Your faculty and staff news since 1965
May 10, 2004
Volume 39, Number 15

On the Bookshelf

Jimmy Carter endorses anthropology book

By Greg Johnston

Human Rights, Power and Difference: The Scholar as Activist
Society for Applied
Anthropology, 2004
Edited by Carole Nagengast.

A book on human rights activism, edited by Carole Nagengast, UNM chair and professor of anthropology, has received an endorsement from former United States President Jimmy Carter. “Human Rights, Power and Difference: The Scholar as an Activist,” links human rights activism with academic cultural analysis.

In an endorsement of the book, Carter said, “We at the Carter Center have been committed to blending scholarship and action for more than 20 years. Texts like ‘Human Rights, Power and Difference’ offer indispensable analysis that will guide human rights scholars and activists for years to come.”

Nagengast is a former chair of the board of directors of Amnesty International, USA. She devised the idea of the book in hope that it will further enhance the academic centrality of human rights and inspire other academic researchers to investigate and teach about human rights issues. At UNM, Nagengast teaches a popular anthropology course on human rights. She is a long-time activist who combines her academic and human rights pursuits.

Composed of original writings by anthropologists and human rights researchers, the book uses diverse approaches in the social sciences to better understand human rights issues. The book is co-edited by Carlos G. Vélez-Ibáòez, director of anthropology at the University of California Riverside, and is published by the Society for Applied Anthropology as part of its Monograph Series.

“Our goal is to give a human face to the issues of human rights by providing case studies from around the world, but also to approach them with methodological rigor,” Nagengast said. “Moral indignation, important as it is, is not enough. We believe that along with it and the legal, social and political points of view that accompany human rights discourse, we also need to apply meticulous methodologies and a cultural analysis.”

For the book Nagengast wrote an article dealing with cultural relativity and women’s rights, as well as the introduction and conclusion.

Nagengast has written several articles on human rights. She is the author or co-author of several monographs about the Mixtec-speaking people from the state of Oaxaca, Mexico who migrate to the United States to find work.