Handbook on Ethical Issues in Anthropology

Handbook on Ethical Issues in Anthropology 

Edited by Joan Cassell and Sue-Ellen Jacobs ( a special publication of the American Anthropological Association number 23)

Introduction : Joan Cassell and Sue-Ellen Jacobs 
Some Issues and Sources on Ethics in Anthropology : Murray L. Wax 
The Committee on Ethics: Past, Present, and Future : James N. Hill 
Cases and Solutions : Sue-Ellen Jacobs 
Cases and Comments : Joan Cassell 
Some Experiences in Teaching Ethics in Fieldwork Classes : Sue-Ellen Jacobs 
How to Hold a Workshop on Ethical Problems in Fieldwork : Joan Cassell

Introduction : Joan Cassell and Sue-Ellen Jacobs 

Many anthropologists perceive ethics as an abstract and, on occasion, intimidating set of injunctions. Discussions of moral principles--such as autonomy, nonmaleficence, beneficence, and justice--seem to have little relation to our daily activities as researchers, teachers, students, and practitioners. 

On occasion, the concept of "ethics" is used as a weapon: my beliefs differ from yours, therefore you are unethical. Anthropologists who speak of ethics in this sense wish to improve or, at the least, reprove the behavior of others. A "Code of Ethics" in their view is a mechanism to help regulate the behavior of those with whom they disagree. Unfortunately, as historians and ethnographers have documented, the attempt to control others in the name of morality is more likely to lead to confrontation than moral improvement. 

Many anthropologists were moved to enter the discipline because of a strong concern for the peoples of the world. During their fieldwork, most have developed a strong empathy for the peoples they have studied and have felt a sense of personal responsibility for their welfare. Hence, when they use, hurt, or endanger others, it is usually not because of a vicious disposition, but because they are under strong pressures, some of which are conflicting or difficult to reconcile, and they may then drift into an expedient course of action that proves unwise. 

The cross-pressures of modern fieldwork are severe, and they can easily induce an investigator to treat the host people as "subjects," rather than as fellow human beings whose autonomy must be respected. While completing a graduate degree, or submitting a prompt report to an employer or client, or resolving an intense emotional relationship, we may neglect to consider other factors in the situation or the consequences our actions will have for others. Convictions, leading presumably to the abstract and universal benefit of humanity, can be used to justify the violation of agreements entered into with good faith on both sides. Awareness that others are acting exploitatively or immorally can seductively encourage us to adopt a similar orientation. In the field especially, situations may be so complex, involve so many parties and so much factionalism, that it becomes difficult to decide what must be done. 

We do not wish to make ethics seem merely a matter of isolated choices in crucial situations. Much of our lives proceeds undramatically, and often our decisions are almost imperceptible, so that only with hindsight are we aware that our course of action had consequences that we had not foreseen and now regret. 

To improve the ethical adequacy of anthropological practice, we must consider not only exceptional cases but everyday decisions, and reflect not only upon the conduct of others but also upon our own actions. 

Despite difficulties in writing a code specific enough to use as a mechanism of social control, a code of ethics can help improve anthropological practice. When it is conceived as a way of reflecting upon our own practices and attempting to improve them, as well as a method for regulating behavior, a code can heighten sensitivity to professional conduct. In this twofold approach, a code is concerned with aspirations as well as avoidances; it represents our desire and attempt to respect the rights of others, fulfill obligations, avoid harm, and augment benefits to those we interact with as anthropologists. Such a code is less a set of categorical prohibitions engraved in stone, than a series of aspirations, admonitions, and injunctions to be considered, discussed, and periodically altered by the community of anthropologists. The process here is as valuable as the product. 

Case studies offer another way to heighten sensitivity and improve anthropological practice. An ethical dilemma may be difficult to recognize when encountered; "practical" decisions frequently turn out to have ethical ramifications. Reading and thinking about situations faced by other anthropologists can help us to recognize our own ethical dilemmas and to make sensitive and informed decisions. 

We hope this handbook, sponsored by the Committee on Ethics of the American Anthropological Association, will stimulate discussion and reflection on ethical issues. Chapter 1 contains a brief review essay and an annotated bibliography by Murray L. Wax. In Chapter 2, James Hill, a past chair of the AAA Committee on Ethics, presents the background to the formation of that Committee and the writing of the AAA's first code of ethics, the Principles of Professional Responsibility. This code, still in effect, has been revised substantially over a period of ten years. 

Chapters 3 and 4 contain a series of ethical dilemmas, first published in the Anthropology Newsletter. The column on ethical dilemmas, first called "Ethics and the Anthropologist," was originated by James Spradley in 1976, when he was a member of the Committee on Ethics. Spradley presented fictional dilemmas, providing possible solutions the following month; responses from members were invited. 

When Sue-Ellen Jacobs was elected to the Committee on Ethics, she reinstituted the column, drawing on dilemmas that had been posed to her or to the Committee as a whole. All were actual dilemmas. The solutions used by the anthropologists who provided the dilemmas were published the following month, with readers asked to comment on dilemmas and solutions. Chapter 3 contains dilemmas presented by Jacobs, with the anthropologists' solutions and additional comments by readers of the Anthropology Newsletter. 

Joan Cassell began to edit the column in 1982, when she was elected to the Committee on Ethics. She followed a slightly different formula, recruiting dilemmas from colleagues and Newsletter readers, and printing each dilemma with two comments solicited from anthropologists and ethicists. Chapter 4 contains the dilemmas and comments edited by Cassell. The cases are presented in the order in which they were published, with a title assigned to each case. 

In Chapter 5, Jacobs briefly describes how she has used the Principles of Professional Responsibility and other materials to introduce issues of ethical responsibility in a traditional course on kinship and in a fieldwork course on methods in life history research. 

In Chapter 6, Cassell offers guidelines on how to hold a workshop on ethical problems in fieldwork. These were developed and tested over a two and a half year period by Murray L. Wax and Joan Cassell, under a grant from the Ethics and Values in Science and Technology (EVIST) program of the National Science Foundation, to investigate the ethical problems of fieldwork. 

We have designed this Handbook on Ethical Issues in Anthropology to help social science faculty introduce discussions of ethics in their courses. Such discussions, we believe, are an essential part of the teaching of anthropological theory and methods. "The moral sciences" is the way the scholars of the British Enlightenment described the research that led to contemporary social science. We would like to think that the term still characterizes our discipline. 

Note: At the 1985 AAA Annual Meeting, a coin was tossed to see whose name would go first because we felt that our contributions were equal and there was no "senior" or "junior" author. 

Some Issues and Sources on Ethics in Anthropology : Murray L. Wax 

From its emergence as a distinct discipline, anthropology has been oriented toward ethics and social policy. Edward B. Tylor concluded his survey of human culture with the remark that "the science of culture is essentially a reformer's science" (1958[1871]:539). A. R. Radcliffe-Brown would claim that he was moved to initiate his studies of simpler peoples on the advice of the celebrated Russian anarchist, Prince Peter Kropotkin, for whom such peoples manifested a system of organization which could prove an exemplar in a world dominated by autocracy and nationalism (Srinivas 1958:xviii). In the period pre-World War I, this ideal of anthropology as an ethical calling above the petty rivalries of nationalism inspired Franz Boas to moral outrage when he suspected that the disciplinary role had been used to cloak espionage (1919:797). 

Until World War II, much of the anthropological literature on "morals" or "ethics" was directed from ethnology toward philosophy. The latter discipline was dominated by linguistic formalism in the service of a positivistic worldview, and philosophical ethics inquired as to the possible meanings of propositions such as "X is good" (MacIntyre 1981:Chapter 2). In this situation, it was a helpful contribution for MacBeath (1952) to use anthropological data to exhibit the varieties of ethical systems in natural societies. Brandt, a professional philosopher, studied Hopi ethics (1954), while Ladd studied Navajo ethics (1957), and Abraham Edel, the philosopher, collaborated with May Edel, the anthropologist, in interdisciplinary efforts (1955, 1959). Bidney, a professor of both anthropology and philosophy, labored to clarify the notion of "value" (1962). 

Insofar as "ethics" were topics of serious concern among fieldworking anthropologists, the central issues were relativism and intervention. Since the history of relativism within anthropology has recently been neatly summarized by Hatch (1983), there is little need for me to repeat the review, except to note that the issue did and does provoke considerable discussion among professional philosophers (e.g., Krausz and Meiland 1982; Wellman 1963). It is sufficient to note the exchanges between the humanistic student of civilization, Redfield (1953), and the "orthodox" defender of cultural relativism, Herskovits (1973). On "intervention" the issue was whether or not, or how, to assist the people with whom one was involved as a fieldworker. Typically, such peoples were subjects of a Western colonial power, whose administration an anthropologist might hope to influence. For many fieldworkers the problem was intensified because of the notion that each culture was an integrated whole whose harmony might be damaged by casual intervention. Likewise, many felt constrained by the methodological ideal of the natural scientist, who was intrinsically detached from the objects of study. 

These concerns were rendered nugatory by the rise of Nazism, fascism, and totalitarianism, regimes which conquered, enslaved, or massacred many peoples. In the ensuing war, anthropologists found themselves encouraged to serve in a variety of capacities. Faced with the threats of fascism and Nazism, most did so with great willingness, and, in this context, "ethics" became defined as the willingness to sacrifice professional career, or even life and limb, in the cause of "the Free World," of which the U.S. appeared to be the military and spiritual leader. Because of their cross-cultural training, a number of anthropologists were recruited into military intelligence, including the Office of Strategic Services (which was to be the forerunner of the CIA); others were commissioned as officers. Some were also involved in the complex processes after World War II, which involved peoples who had been enslaved, decimated, or displaced and were now liberated from brutal regimes. In accepting these roles, anthropologists could regard their conduct as simply the logical extension of their earlier benevolent roles acting as cultural broker or mediator, assisting peoples with simpler technology in their encounter with the civilized world. 

After World War II, a polar fission of political worldviews erupted within the discipline. Federal agencies and private foundations were encouraging the growth of anthropology to match the responsibilities that the U.S. government now saw itself shouldering. A generation of dedicated and educated young people were studying anthropology and conducting fieldwork in the far comers of the earth. They returned with a sober and disenchanted view; they perceived great misery and continued oppression; projects that were publicly rationalized as benefiting tribal peoples were in fact actually benefiting members or strata of the ruling powers. Most important, the new anthropologists were encountering political rebelliousness guided by a sophisticated elite. Where, in an earlier age, fieldworkers had dealt with nonliterate peoples isolated from modern communications, now they were encountering leaders familiar with the rhetoric of Western political discourse, including its nationalism, populism, and Marxism. (Asad 1975 contains critical appraisals of the roles that anthropologists had played in the earlier colonial context.) 

In North America, the witty satire and sage intercultural critique of Vine Deloria, Jr., (Sioux) heralded a new age in which anthropologists were to be called to account by Indian representatives. While he is known among the public for his ridicule of fieldworkers, in collegial communication he urges anthropologists to reflect seriously about the effects of their work and to assume a helpful role in relation to the abundant problems of Indian peoples (1980). Other Native American leaders have unfurled the banner of "Red Power" and provoked a series of dramatic confrontations with federal authorities (e.g., the occupations of Alcatraz, Wounded Knee, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs offices in Washington, D.C.). These became exciting events for the media but troublesome cases for anthropologists, because it was not clear what was desired by--or desirable for--the larger aggregate of Indian communities (Washburn 1985). 

Where the pre-World War II generation of anthropologists had regarded their national military and intelligence services with an ethically neutral (or, in some cases, beneficent) eye, the following generations developed the suspicious and antagonistic view of Third World leaders. From this perspective, employment with these national agencies was a prostitution of valuable professional talents for monies and prestige; it was a betrayal of the peoples whose welfare anthropology had claimed to cherish. "Ethics" were now defined as a conscientious refusal to accept such monies or employment. Nevertheless, many of the older generation continued to have faith in the difference between a democratic United States and its (past or present) totalitarian rivals (Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Imperial Japan, Stalinist Soviet Union). Where one group was impressed with the exploitation of peoples struggling under colonial or imperialist rule, the other was impressed with the miseries under fascist and Bolshevik-Leninist regimes. These differences erupted with the case of Project Camelot. 

Emerging out of the intricate infighting within the federal government, and reflecting the goal of the Department of Defense to outmaneuver the Department of State, the Project was inherently self-contradictory. On the one hand, it was to be staffed by academicians and its data were to be publicly available; on the other hand, it was to be of service to the military in stabilizing friendly regimes and inhibiting their overthrow. On the one hand, its orientation was to protect democracy; on the other hand, to safeguard the allies of the United States, regardless of the shape of their regime. Such an intermixture had led to successful projects during the Second World War, when the target peoples had been either enemies or the passive subjects of one or another military hegemony. But, in the post-World War II era, it encountered the strenuous opposition of the intellectual and political leadership of the Third World. U.S. social scientists found themselves accused of being tools of Yanqui imperialism, or, at the least, unforgivably naive. Meanwhile, in Washington, the rivals of the military used the embarrassment as an opportunity to restrain its abilities at sponsorship within limits that excluded much of the comparative studies that were the province of anthropology. The military could sponsor research in high technology, but not in culture, social organization, and political stability. To the older generation of anthropologists, this signified that the military was to remain encapsulated within a technical worldview, and this was a source for regret and concern; to the younger generation, this was a step in restraining a military service that had become the instrument of overt imperialism (Beals 1969; Deitchman 1976; Horowitz et al. 1967; Wax and Cassell 1979). 

By the time that the United States had become militarily involved in the conflict in Southeast Asia, the pendulum had thus swung far in the direction where "ethics" were defined as a refusal to have any dealings with the military side of government, or with any aspect of government that seemed to sustain an imperialistic orientation. While the political rhetoric was heated, the literature dealt with important and difficult issues. (See the essays by Berreman et al. in "The Social Responsibilities Symposium," 1968.) 

In the revulsion following the Nuremberg trials, there emerged a powerful social movement emphasizing the notion of individual moral responsibility, regardless of the dictates of the officials of the state or of other organized bodies. Correlatively, there emerged the notion of monitoring the conduct of physicians and biomedical researchers, so that they did not abuse or exploit their patients in the name of science or any other ideological principle. The regulatory system thus instituted spread to include any scientific discipline that could be regarded as having "human subjects" who were subjected to procedures that imposed risks, or that might, without their consent, be inflictive of harm. The resultant biomedical literature is now considerable, and while it is diverse and uneven, at its core are essays of depth which illuminate the critical social issues (see National Commission 1978). If there is a weakness to the literature it derives from the predispositions of mainstream U.S. culture, namely its individualism, its reluctance to accept the notion that there may be values more significant than life (brute existence), and its inability to face the dilemmas that ensue when social resources are finite. 

As this movement (Wulff 1979) gained momentum, anthropological fieldworkers found themselves confronting Institutional Review Boards (IRBs), whose existence was mandated by the federal government as a condition of institutional eligibility for participation in the economy of grants, fellowships, and contracts. Since the relevant commissions had taken no testimony from anthropologists about the moral issues of their research, the regulations were framed to control the activities of biomedical researchers, and so applied but clumsily to the process of fieldwork. Meanwhile, university administrators were using the regulatory system as a device to regulate or even suppress such activities as public opinion polls conducted by student newspapers. The resulting institutional friction generated not only movements of protest but of inquiry and research that have helped to illuminate the ethical issues in anthropological fieldwork (Wax and Cassell 1979). In this process, "ethics" for anthropologists became redefined as having to do with the nature of interaction between fieldworker and hosts, and, in particular, with such issues as "informed consent" and with whether or not benefit (or harm) might issue from the project (Cassell and Wax 1980). The morality of covert field research remains a key issue; it is noteworthy that this issue could not and cannot arise in many traditional anthropological contexts (e.g., Raymond Firth in Tikopia; Jean Briggs among the Utku of Chantrey Inlet), but it can and does arise when fieldwork is attempted among modern urban populations (Bulmer 1982). 

The ferment among social scientists led the federal government to revise its regulations (Thomson et al. 1981 appraises the new regulations from the perspective of the American Association of University Professors). Despite these revisions, some researchers have continued to be critical of the very premises of the regulatory effort (Douglas 1979; for a critical British view, note Punch 1986). Critics such as Warwick (1982) assert that social researchers have wrought much harm; opponents such as Galliher (1980) respond that the regulatory system serves to protect malefactors from exposure. 

An incidental consequence has been that a number of philosophers have moved from the linguistic analysis of moral statements to an engagement with social policy. Others have reviewed the history of ethical deliberation from a standpoint that is influenced by the sociology and anthropology of knowledge. Particularly outstanding has been the work of Alasdair Maclntyre (1966, 1981), a professional philosopher who has an excellent familiarity with the social sciences. 

Summary Recommendations

Barnes (1979) is oriented historically, viewing social research as having first begun within a "natural science paradigm" where ethical considerations were minimal. Moving beyond that paradigm, one realizes that social inquiry initiates dealings with fellow scientists, citizens (hosts, informants, respondents), project sponsors, and gatekeepers. From each, one may anticipate criticism and either assistance or restrictions. Familiar with a wide range of literature, and knowledgeable about the criticisms that inquiry has provoked, Barnes has performed an anthropological critique that is of great value. 

Barnes (1977) contains the texts of three lectures delivered in Bangalore, India, and so is especially sensitive to the concerns of non-Western peoples. In illuminating fashion, he reviews a number of instances of research, including the Wichita Jury Study, the Glacier Project (study of a London factory by a team from Tavistock), Kashmiri Pandits, Zuni, and Camelot. The issues include deception, and knowledge as power and as property. 

Appell has been a pioneer in the modern concern over fieldwork ethics. For those who are interested in case materials, his 1978 volume contains a large variety solicited from a number of working anthropologists. 

Sieber (1982) and Beauchamp et al. (1982) grow out of the same project, sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and attempting to bring social research within the orbit of discussion of protection of human subjects. The essays in the Beauchamp volume focus mainly on psychological and sociological research, with the notable exception of an essay by Cassell. By publishing her collection as two volumes, Sieber has managed to make of the one listed here a collection of especial interest to anthropologists, with essays by Cassell, Glazer, Johnson, and Wax. 

Cassell and Wax (1980) is the product of a series of conferences of fieldworkers. A special issue of the journal Social Problems, it contains contributions by the philosopher-theologian William F. May, the American Indian spokesman Vine Deloria, Jr., anthropologists Appell, Chambers, Jacobs, Schensul, Trend, and the team of Hessler, New, and May, as well as sociologists Galliher and Thome. 

Rynkiewich and Spradley (1976) contains a variety of cases focusing predominantly on the issues created for subordinated peoples (and fieldworkers) by powerful bureaucracies. While the cases may be dated, the issues remain vital. 

Green (1984) is a special issue of The Wisconsin Sociologist featuring essays by anthropologists Barnes, Montandon, and Wax. 

Warwick is experienced in cross-cultural research in the South Pacific. In his 1980 essay he effectively communicates the criticisms that such research has provoked, and this makes it of value for cautioning those who hope to conduct overseas projects. Perhaps because he is himself so critical (1982) of the ethical practices of social researchers, he does not always take pains to differentiate the rhetorical flailings of Third World gatekeepers from the actual failings of Western researchers. 

Many of the formal textbooks on the protection of human subjects in social research have concentrated on psychological experimentation and sociological surveys. Depending on their projects, anthropologists may find value in some of them (e.g., Diener and Crandall 1978; Bower and de Gasparis 1978). Reynolds (1979) has a useful set of appendices containing such items as "The Nuremberg Code" (1946), "The Declaration of Helsinki (1964), and "a composite code; use of human subjects in research." 

In this review, I have focused on issues as they have been posed for North American anthropologists, but I have tried to cite some other literature. In addition to the works of Barnes, Bulmer, and Punch, already cited, I should mention Akeroyd (1984) and Kloos (1985). 

References Cited

Akeroyd, Anne
1984 Ethics in Relation to Informants: The Profession and Governments. In Ethnographic Research: A Guide to General Conduct. Roy F. Ellen, ed. Pp. 133-154. London: Academic Press. 

Appell, George N.
1978 Ethical Dilemmas in Anthropological Inquiry: A Case Book. Waltham, MA: Crossroads Press. 

Asad, Talal, ed.
1975 Anthropology and the Colonial Encounter. London: Ithaca Press. 

Barnes, J. A.
1977 The Ethics of Inquiry in Social Science. Delhi: Oxford University Press.
1979 Who Should Know What? Social Science, Privacy and Ethics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 

Beals, Ralph L.
1969 Politics of Social Research: An Inquiry into the Ethics and Responsibilities of Social Scientists. Chicago: Aldine. 

Beauchamp, Tom L., et al., eds.
1982 Ethical Issues in Social Science Research. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press. 

Berreman, Gerald et al.
1968 Social Responsibilities Symposium. Current Anthropology 9:391-435. 

Bidney, David
1962 The Concept of Value in Modern Anthropology. In Anthropology Today: Selections. Sol Tax, ed. Pp. 436-453. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 

Boas, Franz
1919 Correspondence: Scientists as Spies. The Nation 109, No. 2842 (December). 

Bower, Robert T., and Priscilla de Gasparis
1978 Ethics in Social Research: Protecting the Interests of Human Subjects. New York: Praeger. 

Brandt, Richard B.
1954 Hopi Ethics: A Theoretical Analysis. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 

Bulmer, Martin, ed.
1982 Social Research Ethics: An Examination of the Merits of Covert Participant Observation. New York: Holmes and Meier. 

Cassell, Joan, and Murray L. Wax, eds.
1980 Ethical Problems of Fieldwork. Social Problems (special issue) 27:259-378. 

Deitchman, Seymour J.
1976 The Best-Laid Schemes: A Tale of Social Research and Bureaucracy. Cambridge: MIT Press. 

Deloria, Vine, Jr.
1980 Our New Research Society: Some Warnings to Social Scientists. Social Problems (special issue) 27:267-271. 

Diener, Edward, and Rick Crandall
1978 Ethics in Social and Behavioral Research. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 

Douglas, Jack D.
1979 Living Morality versus Bureaucratic Fiat. In Deviance and Decency: The Ethics of Research with Human Subjects. C. B. Klockars and F. W. O'Connors, eds. Pp. 13-33. Beverly Hills: Sage. 

Edel, Abraham
1955 Ethical Judgement: The Use of Science in Ethics. Glencoe, IL: Free Press. 

Edel, May, and Abraham Edel
1959 Anthropology and Ethics. Springfield, IL: Charles C Thomas. 

Galliher, John F.
1980 Social Scientists' Ethical Responsibilities: Looking Upward Meekly. Social Problems (special issue) 27:298-308. 

Green, Charles S., III, ed.
1984 Sociology as Moral Inquiry. The Wisconsin Sociologist (special issue) 21:4. 

Hatch, Eivin
1983 Culture and Morality: The Relativity of Values in Anthropology. New York: Columbia University Press. 

Herskovits, Melville J.
1973 Cultural Relativism: Perspectives in Cultural Pluralism. New York: Vintage. 

Horowitz, Irving Louis, ed.
1967 The Rise and Fall of Project Camelot: Studies in the Relationship between Social Science and Practical Politics. Cambridge: MIT Press. 

Kloos, Peter
1985 Anthropological Problems: Whose Problems?: Working Paper No. 54. Leiden: Institute of Cultural and Social Studies, University of Leiden. 

Krausz, Michael, and Jack W. Meiland, eds.
1982 Relativism: Cognitive and Moral. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press. 

Ladd, John T.
1957 The Structure of a Moral Code: A Philosophical Analysis of Ethical Discourse Applied to the Ethics of the Navaho Indians. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. 

MacBeath, Alexander
1952 Experiments in Living: A Study of the Nature and Foundation of Ethics or Morals in the Light of Recent Work in Social Anthropology. London: Macmillan. 

Maclntyre, Alasdair
1966 A Short History of Ethics. New York: Macmillan.
1981 After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press. 

National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research
1978 The Belmont Report: Ethical Principles for the Protection of Human Subjects of Research. 2 vols. DHEW Publication Nos. (OS) 78 0013, 78 0014. Washington, D.C.: USGPO. 

Punch, Maurice
1986 The Politics and Ethics of Fieldwork. Beverly Hills: Sage. 

Redfield, Robert
1953 The Primitive World and Its Transformations. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. 

Reynolds, Paul Davidson
1979 Ethical Dilemmas and Social Science Research: An Analysis of Moral Issues Confronting Investigators in Research Using Human Participants. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. 

Rynkiewich, Michael A., and James P. Spradley, eds.
1976 Ethics and Anthropology: Dilemmas in Fieldwork. New York: John Wiley. 

Sieber, Joan E., ed.
1982 The Ethics of Social Research: Fieldwork, Regulation, and Publication. New York: Springer-Verlag. 

Srinivas, M. N., ed.
1958 Method in Social Anthropology: Selected Essays by A. R. Radcliffe-Brown. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 

Thomson, Judith Jarvis, et al.
1981 Regulations Governing Research on Human Subjects: Academic Freedom and the Institutional Review Board. Academe 67:358-370. 

Tylor, Edward Burnett
1958[1871] Primitive Culture. Volume 11: Religion in Primitive Culture. New York: Harper Torchbook. 

Warwick, Donald P.
1980 The Politics and Ethics of Cross-Cultural Research. In The Handbook of Cross-Cultural Psychology. H. C. Triandis and W. W. Lambert, eds. Pp. 319-371. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
1982 Types of Harm in Social Research. In Ethical Issues in Social Science Research. Tom L. Beauchamp et al., eds. Pp. 101-124. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press. 

Washburn, Wilcomb E.
1985 Ethical Perspectives in North American Ethnology. In Social Contexts of American Ethnology: 1984 Proceedings of the American Ethnological Society. June Helm, ed. Pp. 50-64. (Washington, D.C.: American Anthropological Association. 

Wax, Murray, L., and Joan Cassell, eds.
1979 Federal Regulation: Ethical Issues and Social Research. AAAS Symposium No. 36. Boulder: Westview Press. 

Weliman, Carl
1963 The Ethical Implications of Cultural Relativity. Journal of Philosophy 60:169-184. 

Wulff, Keith M., ed.
1979 Regulation of Scientific Inquiry: Societal Concerns with Research. AAAS Symposium No. 37. Boulder: Westview Press. 

The Committee on Ethics: Past, Present, and Future : James N. Hill 

This article sets a brief historical context for a consideration of the future of the Committee on Ethics (COE) of the American Anthropological Association, a future which is very much open to debate at this time. 

Should the COE continue to exist? If so, what should it be doing? For example, should the Committee continue to try to handle individual grievance cases involving tenure, plagiarism, and the like, or should it be concerned only with ethical problems that might damage the reputation of the Association or the profession? Equally important, should the Committee on Ethics evaluate and recommend action to the Board of Directors (the former Executive Board) on cases involving only members of the Association, or on cases involving anthropologists who are nonmembers as well? Finally, should the COE be investigating cases at all? Perhaps it should simply continue its role of educating the membership on ethical matters, by writing columns in the Anthropology Newsletter, by writing books, by organizing panels and symposia on ethical issues, and so forth. 

Before discussing these and other questions, let me review briefly the history of the COE. Why was it considered necessary to have an ethics committee, and are these reasons (or others) still important today? To set the context, we must go back to the beginning, before the COE existed as a formal entity. 

This takes us back to 1965, when the Association's Executive Board received expressions of concern over the U.S. government's support of social science research in foreign countries. It was alleged that the Department of Defense, and other governmental institutions, were using anthropologists to gather data to help them in their insurgency and counterinsurgency activities. The most notorious instance was Project Camelot in Chile, where the army had a contract with American University to study sociopolitical factors that could lead to internal warfare in that country. The army, it was believed, was directly and indirectly funding clandestine social science research, the results of which were to be used to prevent "the natives from getting restless" and revolting against the Chilean government. Public protests over this alleged perversion of professional research goals led to the project's cancellation by the Department of Defense, but the matter hit the presses worldwide, and a result was that many legitimate social science research projects in Chile were forced to suspend operations (Beals 1967:2). 

Since that time, evidence has been presented which suggests that these allegations greatly exaggerated and oversimplified the actual situation with respect to Project Camelot. In fact it now seems, to some at least, that the allegations of clandestine anthropological research (which are still believed by many) represent myth rather than fact (cf. especially Horowitz 1967; Deitchman 1976; Wax 1978). 

It is not a concern of this paper to resolve this or related issues. What is important is that because of Project Camelot, and later conflicts (especially the Vietnam War), it was widely believed that various U.S. government agencies (such as the Department of Defense, the Department of State, and the CIA) had large-scale involvement in contracting with universities, private agencies, and probably individual anthropologists, in order to gather mission-oriented intelligence data under the guise of legitimate anthropological research. The fear was that anthropologists were, wittingly or unwittingly, serving as spies for the United States and other so-called friendly governments. Questions were raised concerning the ethics of this, especially given that the research was allegedly clandestine, and the results were believed to be secret and not subject to free publication (Beals 1967)./1/ Government funding of all social science research became suspect: these activities were seen as posing a threat to the integrity of the universities sponsoring social research, to the social sciences themselves, and to the individuals allegedly involved in the research (Beals 1967:4). While the story was far more complex than I can convey here, the major fears of many anthropologists were twofold: (1) that anthropology's resultant bad reputation would close off future field opportunities abroad, and (2) that the information being gathered would be used by our government or others to control, enslave, and even annihilate many of the "Third World" communities that were being studied. This was the era of the Vietnam War, and it is well known that such atrocities were in fact taking place. 

If the war had not been so unpopular, the ethical dilemmas involving government-funded research would probably not have surfaced; but they did, and in November 1965, the Executive Board of the AAA presented a report on the matter to the Council of Fellows, which in turn resolved that the Board should investigate the situation in detail. The Board then constituted itself as a special "Committee on Research Problems and Ethics," headed by Ralph L. Beals (UCLA). The subsequent "Beals Report" was presented at a plenary session of the AAA in November 1966, and later published in the Fellow Newsletter (Beals 1967); it claimed to substantiate the existence and gravity of the situation I just described, and led the Executive Board to prepare a "Statement on Problems of Anthropological Research and Ethics" which was adopted by the Council of Fellows in 1967. This was and is a code of ethical conduct for anthropologists. In the meantime, there were more reports of alleged unethical conduct, and a great deal of controversy was generated. 

In 1968, the Executive Board appointed an official "Interim Committee on Ethics," which met once in 1969 to deal with its twofold assignment: (1) to plan the nature of a standing committee on ethics, including its tasks, authority, scope, membership, relationship to the Executive Board, and so on, and (2) to make recommendations on issues involving the nature of ethical relationships anthropologists should have with one another, with students, with host peoples, host governments, host scientific societies, research sponsors, funders, their own government, their universities, and their employers. The committee was also asked to explore means by which any standards of ethics could be enforced (a problem which has never been resolved). 

The committee report (Aberle and Schneider 1969) proposed an elected standing "Committee on Ethics," responsive to the membership and independent of the Executive Board; it also presented a draft code of ethics. The report was highly controversial (see, for example, Leeds 1969), some anthropologists charging that "such a committee is not needed and won't work" and "a committee on ethics is itself unethical." 

Nevertheless, a nine-member standing COE was elected in 1970 (see AAA 1971a), its first charge being to recommend to the Executive Board what its role and functions should be. The main caveat was that the COE was constrained to work through the Executive Board, never independently; it could do virtually nothing without Board approval. This is still true today. (Although the "Executive Board" became the "Board of Directors" in 1983.) 

In March 1970 (still during the Vietnam War) the issue of clandestine research surfaced again, this time with respect to social science research in Thailand. Some documents allegedly implicating a number of Thai experts in unethical complicity in U.S. counterinsurgency programs in Thailand were stolen from a university professor's unlocked files, given to the Student Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam, and published in The Student Mobilizer (Chis et al. 1970: most of this was written by Alan Myers). The documents were also sent to the chair of the COE who, with another member of the COE, proceeded to condemn publicly the actions of numerous Thai experts without first informing them of the charges. 

The essence of the accusation was that these anthropologists (and others) were being funded by, and were contracting with, agencies of the Departments of Defense and State, and were (wittingly and unwittingly) gathering data useful to the counterinsurgency programs of the United States and the Royal Thai government. They were allegedly gathering data on tribal villages that would be used to help ensure that the villages would remain loyal to the Thai government in the face of Communist incursions. These data would either be used to "aid" or "develop" these villages so that they would not want to join the insurgents, or they would be used to police or annihilate disloyal villages (Chis et al. 1970). Moreover, it was alleged that some of these data were secret, and not subject to freedom of publication and peer examination. 

The essence of the defense in this situation was that the anthropologists were certainly not consciously aiding governmental counterinsurgency policies and practices; on the contrary, they claimed to have been using their expertise in a conscious effort to educate the government agencies to ensure that agency activities would be helpful rather than damaging to the Thai villages. It thus appears that many of the anthropologists were aware of the counterinsurgency activities, and felt that their best recourse was to remain associated with the agencies in an effort to "put them straight" or make them "see the light," so to speak (Beals 1970; Moerman 1971:9-11; Davenport et al. 1971:2). They also claimed that none of their research or contracts were secret. They did, however, continue for a time to receive research support from these agencies--especially the Agency for International Development, the Academic Advisory Council on Thailand, and the Southeast Asia Development Advisory Group (Beals 1970; Davenport et al. 1971:2). 

The result of the initial charges made by the two members of the COE (and later by all but two of its members) was that the AAA Executive Board reprimanded the two accusing members, and the COE as a whole, for irresponsibly going beyond its mandated duties. The Board said that the charges were premature, unfair, and unjustified. While it agreed that if clandestine research were going on, such research was unethical, it also slapped the wrists of the accusers and instructed the COE "to limit itself to its specific charge, narrowly interpreted, namely to present to the Board recommendations on its future role and functions, and to fulfill this charge without further collection of case materials or by any quasi-investigative activities" (AAA 1969, reprinted in Weaver 1973:54 /2/). 

The COE objected (Committee on Ethics 1970a), but did carry on with its assigned duties. it proceeded to develop its revised code of ethics called the Principles of Professional Responsibility, as well as a document called Role and Function of the Committee on Ethics (Committee on Ethics 1970b). Both were adopted by the Council of the Association (formerly the Council of Fellows) in 1971, and later distributed to all members of the Association. 

Nonetheless, there was heated debate, and two factions developed within the AAA: (1) those who believed the activities in Thailand to be unethical and punishable, and (2) those who did not agree. The latter were accused by the former of engaging in a "cover-up" in order to protect anthropological harmony and maintain the good reputation of the Association (Weaver 1973:53; Isaacs 1971). Each faction was calling the other unethical! 

As a result, in November 1970 the Executive Board established a three-member ad hoc committee headed by Margaret Mead to investigate the entire affair (AAA 1971b). This committee gathered and analyzed 6,000 pages of documents. It concluded that it was "very likely that secret and clandestine intelligence work among Thai people has been conducted at the instigation of special U.S. military and government intelligence units," but that it could find no conclusive evidence of it (Davenport et al. 1971:3). It also said, among other things, that the controversy was "conspiratorial," and that the accusations against the Thai specialists were not warranted by the data. It concluded that "no civilian members of the American Anthropological Association had contravened the principles laid down in the 1967 Statement on Problems of Anthropological Research and Ethics in his or her work in Thailand" (Davenport et al. 1971:4). The committee report (commonly known as "The Mead Report") also maintained that some members of the COE had behaved unethically in making unfair and unsubstantiated charges, and in not allowing the accused the benefit of due process (Davenport et al. 1971:4). 

The Committee's report was presented at the Association's annual meeting in New York in 1971, where it was emotionally and overwhelmingly rejected by the membership as a whitewash of the Association. Many still believe this today. The controversy did not end; it did, however, lead to the adoption by the Association in April 1973 of a clear-cut set of grievance procedures, so that the concerns of "due process" could be met in future cases of alleged unethical behavior. 

The Thailand issue, and the entire issue of secret and clandestine research, passed (temporarily?) into history by 1972, essentially with the ending of the Vietnam War. Since that time, the cases and inquiries presented to the COE have been quite different and varied. The Committee receives roughly three to six cases per year, the most common of which involve grievances concerning collegial relationships. The most frequent of these have concerned plagiarism, followed distantly by a variety of cases involving faculty-student relations (including faculty exploitation of graduate students). These kinds of grievances, between and among individuals, are increasingly the most common ones lodged with the COE. 

Next in frequency, after cases of collegial relationships, have been cases and queries involving alleged unfairness in promotion and tenure decisions; these appear to be increasing in number. 

Such grievances seem to be tied in frequency with disputes over the ownership, confidentiality, public accessibility, and rights of publication of data derived in connection with contract research. These cases often involve ethical problems encountered by anthropologists working for or consulting with government and private corporations, where the ownership of data may be unclear; or, more commonly, they arise where the data are owned by an agency which has control over the accessibility and dissemination of the information, and may keep it secret or use it in unethical ways (whether the anthropologist, the researcher's informants, or the peoples studied like it or not). 

Following these in frequency have been cases involving the relationships between anthropologists and their informants or host groups. These ethical problems have involved such things as protection of human subjects, informed consent, anonymity of informants and communities, payment of informants, exploitation of informants, and the failure to foresee the repercussions of one's research on the peoples being studied. 

Other kinds of cases and queries since 1972 include discrimination of one sort or another in various contexts, misleading advertising in jobs, misleading public statements by anthropologists, misrepresentation by anthropologists (of themselves and others), illegal traffic in prehistoric artifacts, the desecration of Indian graves, and so forth. (A complete listing is neither possible nor desirable here.) 

The point is, the kinds of cases and queries have changed since the Vietnam War. This appears to have been caused by four things: (1) the termination of that unpopular war; (2) the increasing number of anthropologists and the variety of contexts in which they work, especially in applied areas; (3) the inevitable increase in economic and political involvement by anthropologists; and (4) the increased competition for jobs and security of employment, and the competition for contract funds. 

The old issues have not gone away entirely, however, and perhaps never will; the problems posed by clandestine research, for example, are still with us, in connection with anthropological research in Third World countries in general, and more specifically in connection with the current U.S. military and CIA involvement in Central America (see, for example, AAA 1983:4). There is also increasing debate over whether or not anthropological consultants/contractors to private firms should engage in confidential research that is not for public view. 

Overall, however, there has been a clear shift in emphasis within the COE since 1972, from cases dealing primarily with general ethical issues (such as the ethics involved in accepting government funding) to an emphasis on interpersonal and intergroup disputes--i.e., grievance cases. 

But what, specifically, are the difficulties facing the COE today? First, with regard to grievance cases it is clear that the Committee is largely ineffectual. Frequently it cannot deal with cases submitted because not all parties to the cases are members of the AAA, and thus are in no sense under AAA "jurisdiction." Moreover, when the Committee does accept cases, either the COE or the Board of Directors (to which it makes recommendations on cases) operate so slowly that the cases "pass into history" before effective AAA action can be taken; the parties usually settle (or not) their own grievances in one way or another. 

This delay is caused by, among other things, a complicated, cumbersome and time-consuming set of case review and investigation procedures, and by the fact that there is a turnover of 40% in the memberships of both the COE and Board of Directors each year. The latter creates continuity and communication problems, making it difficult to coordinate action on cases either within the COE or between the COE and the Board of Directors. The delays are exacerbated by the fact that roughly one-third to one-half of the Committee work is done by mail and/or telephone, both of which can be awkward and slow. There are also delays caused by parties to the grievances. 

Such delay in action suggests that the COE is itself being unethical (or at least unfair) in misleading the membership into thinking that it can resolve their grievances (i.e., dispense some form of justice). 

A related problem is that the COE and Board of Directors have no "teeth." The AAA does not license its members or have quality control over them; hence it lacks the authority to punish members for unethical conduct, even if it had the investigative resources to prove allegations of such conduct (which it usually does not). Furthermore, it is clear historically that both the COE and Board of Directors are loath to disrupt collegiality by publicly denouncing the activities of colleagues; they would also be risking lawsuits by said colleagues. Thus, no teeth, no bite. The only definitive AAA sanction of a member I am aware of was in 1919 when Franz Boas was censured, stripped of his membership in the Association's governing Council, and threatened with expulsion from the AAA (because of his publication in The Nation of a statement alleging that he had proof that some anthropologists were acting as spies for the U.S. government in foreign countries) (Boas 1919; Stocking 1968:273 passim). 

Most cases are simply terminated somewhere along the line. At least one anthropologist has suggested that the COE was actually originated as a convenient device for ensuring that serious cases of unethical behavior would be dumped before they could reach public attention and create problems for the reputation of the Association (Anonymous, personal communication). While this is unlikely, it is certainly true that the complex sets of procedures by which cases must be handled serve to prevent timely action.  

Another major problem is that the Association's Principles of Professional Responsibility (our current code of ethics) grew out of the climate of a very unpopular war, and it is directed more to the ethical problems of that era than to those of today. While it is adequate for some purposes, it is woefully inadequate for dealing with the many diverse ethical problems that confront anthropologists working in the wide variety of nonacademic contexts they do today. I doubt that any single code can address all these "special context" problems. 

I estimate that since its inception in 1969, the COE has spent at least half of its time developing and continually revising the Principles of Professional Responsibility, the Role and Function of the Committee on Ethics, and the Rules and Procedures under which the committee operates. This appears to be a never-ending process, as it probably should be. 

This, as well as the matters discussed earlier, raises the serious question of what the COE's role and function should be (if anything). Should it handle grievance cases at all, or should it confine itself to activities and publications designed to educate anthropologists on matters of ethics? 

There is, however, another more fundamental question: who does or should the COE represent and serve? Should it serve only members of the Association as at present, or all anthropologists (many or most of whom are not members of the Association)? For that matter, who should the Association itself serve? Peter Hammond raised this issue eloquently in the October 1980 Anthropology Newsletter (Hammond 1980). 

With regard to the COE (and AAA) my own recommendation is that they should represent and serve all anthropologists, in whatever specific professions they happen to be; if they don't, the COE and AAA may shrivel away of their own accord. I think, in this light, that the AAA should develop a new, very general, code of ethics that is relevant to all professional anthropologists; it should set general guidelines for anthropological ethics, and not get bogged down in attempting to deal with the ever-increasing myriad of special context problems. It seems appropriate that these latter problems be addressed in more specialized codes of ethics that may be adopted by more specialized anthropological organizations to suit their specific needs. I think this is a recognition of reality. 

I also believe that the COE should continue to receive grievance cases; however, it should not do so with the intent or understanding that it will in any way resolve the issue(s) involved. It should be made clear to all that neither the COE nor the Board of Directors can effectively pretend to be judicial bodies, nor can they impose discipline on anyone (cf. Colson 1985). 

Then why receive cases? One important reason is that when cases go before the COE, peer pressure is presumably exerted on the parties involved, and this may be very useful in helping them to resolve the issue(s) in contention. Such pressure might be exerted, at least minimally, by simply notifying all relevant parties that the COE is discussing the case internally in order to gain increased understanding of current issues in anthropological ethics, and that the parties are encouraged to send the COE their viewpoints on the issue(s). (COE publication of such cases might be politically and/or legally impossible in the short run, but could be done after the passage of an appropriate amount of time if sufficiently disguised with regard to names, dates, places, and so on). 

A second reason for reviewing grievance cases is that anthropologists, like everyone else, often have need of a forum in which to air their grievances; this is a psychological need that the AAA should not ignore. Those who consider themselves first and foremost as anthropologists may strongly desire such a national forum, even though they will usually have other forums in which to vent their grievances as well. In short, it seems to me that the AAA has a responsibility to at least listen to those who consider themselves to be anthropologists, whether they are members of the AAA or not. 

A third reason for considering cases is that it may, under some circumstances, be possible for the COE to give either formal or informal advice to the parties involved. While in many cases the giving of advice on ethics could incur lawsuits against the AAA, this is not always the case; there are at least a few cases in which advice is all that is wanted or needed. Requests for advice will presumably come to the COE prior to whatever action is taken by the person requesting the advice, and therefore giving such advice can be very helpful (as was the case in an inquiry to the COE in 1981). 

The giving of advice could be a major and important function of the COE (or its individual members) if ways can be worked out to protect the AAA from lawsuit; this is because anthropologists often do not know where to turn for reasonable advice and discussion on ethical matters, and they would like to be able to turn to a respected body that has some experience in such matters. Surely it should be legally safe to provide advice that is clearly labeled as "informal, nonauthoritative, and without suggestion that it should necessarily be taken." Advice given a priori may often prevent the occurrence of ethical problems arising a posteriori. 

A fourth, and very important reason that the COE should receive cases, is that this is a good way for the AAA to gather information and keep abreast of the current state of ethical issues in anthropology. This information can be used by the COE to help raise the awareness of all anthropologists about the kinds of ethical dilemmas they may sometimes expect to encounter, and to offer advice on how the dilemmas might be avoided or resolved. 

This educational function of the COE is almost certainly its most important task (see Colson 1985). Moreover, the feasibility of performing this task has already been demonstrated, in part, by the regularly published "Ethical Dilemmas" column in the Anthropology Newsletter. Other kinds of contributions can be made in the educational arena as well. 


Acknowledgments. I gratefully acknowledge the members of the Committee on Ethics with whom I served in 1980-81 for their contributions of ideas, references, and editorial suggestions: Asen Balikci, Judith T. Irvine, Sue-Ellen Jacobs, Larissa Lomnitz, June Macklin, Benjamin D. Paul, Louise M. Robbins, and James W. VanStone. I also received helpful information and suggestions from several previous COE members: David F. Aberle, Gerald D. Berreman, David M. Schneider, Louise E. Sweet, and Eric R. Wolfe. Other significant contributors were Joan Cassell and June Helm. I am especially grateful to Michael Moerrnan for giving me material and insights regarding the Thailand controversy. 

This paper was originally written in 1980 when I was a member of the Committee on Ethics; it was written for, and at the request of, the COE, and was delivered at the 79th Annual Meeting of the AAA (December 1980) but not published. This revised version, while somewhat updated, has not been changed dramatically. I have attempted to provide a brief historical outline rather than a thorough scholarly history of the COE. 

/1/ Deitchman (1976) and Wax (1978) deny that Project Camelot involved secret research, and claim that all research documents were in the public domain. 

/2/ See especially Section 1: "The Social Responsibility of the Anthropologist," edited by Gerald D. Berreman, pp. 5-62, in To See Ourselves: Anthropology and Modern Social Issues, edited by Thomas Weaver (Glenview, IL: Scott, Foresman, 1973). 

References Cited

Aberle, David F., and David M. Schneider
1969 Report of the Ethics Committee. Newsletter of the American Anthropological Association 10(4):3-6. 

American Anthropological Association
1969 Statement of the Executive Board of the AAA. Bulletins of the AAA: Annual Report. Reprinted in To See Ourselves: Anthropology and Modern Social Issues. Thomas Weaver, ed. P. 54. Glenview, IL: Scott, Foresman, 1973.
1971a Association Affairs: Wallace Voted President-Elect. Newsletter of the American Anthropological Association 12(1): 1.
1971b Membership of Ad Hoc Committee on the Thailand Controversy. Newsletter of the American Anthropological Association 12(4): 1.
1983 Council Meets Late into Night. Anthropology Newsletter 24(l):1, 4-6. 

Beals, Ralph L., and the Executive Board
1967 Background Information on Problems of Anthropological Research and Ethics. American Anthropological Association Fellow Newsletter 8(l):1-13. 1970 Letter to the President of the American Anthropological Association, George Foster, May 1, 1970. (Unpublished, in the possession of Michael Moerman, UCLA) 

Boas, Franz
1919 Correspondence: Scientists as Spies. The Nation 109. Reprinted in To See Ourselves: Anthropology and Modern Social Issues. Thomas Weaver, ed. Pp. 51-52. Glenview, IL: Scott, Foresman, 1973. 

Chis, Alex, Barbara Chis, Rich Feigenberg, Paul Glover, Allen Myers, Carla Riehle, and Tommye Wiese
1970 Counterinsurgency Research on Campus Exposed. The Student Mobilizer 3(4). Washington, D.C.: Student Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam. 

Colson, Elizabeth
1985 Ethics and Codes of Ethics. Anthropology Newsletter 26(3):20, 13. 

Committee on Ethics
1970a Letter to the Executive Board. Newsletter of the American Anthropological Association 11(9). Reprinted in To See Ourselves: Anthropology and Modern Social Issues. Thomas Weaver, ed. Pp. 54-55. Glenview, IL: Scott, Foresman, 1973.
1970b Principles of Professional Responsibility and Role and Function of the Committee on Ethics. Newsletter of the American Anthropological Association 11(9). 

Davenport, William, David Olmsted, Margaret Mead, and Ruth Freed
1971 Report of the Ad Hoc Committee to Evaluate the Controversy concerning Anthropological Activities in Relation to Thailand, to the Executive Board of the American Anthropological Association, September 27, 1971. 

Deitchman, Seymour T.
1976 The Best-Laid Schemes: A Tale of Social Research and Bureaucracy. Cambridge: MIT Press. 

Hammond, Peter B.
1980 Correspondence: Reinventing the AAA? Anthropology Newsletter 21(8):2. 

Horowitz, Irving L., ed.
1967 The Rise and Fall of Project Camelot: Studies in the Relationship Between Social Science and Practical Politics. Cambridge: MIT Press. 

Isaacs, Stephen
1971 Anthropologists Battle Over Role in Thailand. Los Angeles Times, November 25, 1971. Part I-A. 

Leeds, Anthony
1969 Ethics Report Criticized. Newsletter of the American Anthropological Association 10(6). Reprinted in To See Ourselves: Anthropology and Modern Social Issues. Thomas Weaver, ed. Pp. 49-50. Glenview, IL: Scott, Foresman, 1973. 

Moerman, Michael
1971 Clarification in the Thailand Case. Newsletter of the American Anthropological Association 12(l):9-11. 

Stocking, George
1968 Race, Culture and Evolution. Glencoe: The Free Press. 

Wax, Murray L.
1978 Review of The Best Laid Schemes, by S. J. Dietchman. Human Organization 37(4):400-408. 

Weaver, Thomas, ed.
1973 To See Ourselves: Anthropology and Modern Social Issues. Glenview, IL: Scott, Foresman. 

Cases and Solutions : Sue-Ellen Jacobs 

The first 12 cases are presented in a format that asks the reader to solve each dilemma. The solutions used by the anthropologists will follow. Some readers disagreed with the "solution" presented by given fieldworkers. Their comments are also included. 

During the time that Sue-Ellen Jacobs was editing the "Ethical Dilemmas" column in the Anthropology Newsletter, a number of people wrote to her (and some called her) regarding specific problems they had encountered that raised general ethical issues. Each issue was officially addressed by the American Anthropological Association, through the Principles of Professional Responsibility or by resolutions passed by the Association during the preceding 15 years. Nevertheless, it appeared that it was often difficult for individuals to readily resolve problems in the field or in other circumstances that involved colleagues. Cases 10, 11, and 12 deal with problems between anthropologists; as such, they represent classic ethical issues faced by anthropologists during the past 50 years. 

The cases in Chapter 4 raise questions concerning possible courses of behavior. Comments by anthropologists and ethicists recruited by Joan Cassell for publication in Anthropology Newsletter follow each case. 

The names of the anthropologists in each dilemma have been changed and identifying details have been altered or omitted.

Case 1: To Medicate or Not to Medicate

Terry Kelly received a National Institute of Mental Health grant for research in the Western Tropics. As part of her personal gear, she took along a considerable amount of medication, which her physician had prescribed for use, should Kelly find herself in an active malaria region. Later, after settling into a village, Kelly became aware that many of the local people were quite ill with malaria. 

Kelly's Dilemma: Since she had such a large supply of medication, much more than she needed for her personal use, should she distribute the surplus to her hosts? 

Kelly's Decision

Kelly decided not to give any medication to the villagers who were exhibiting symptoms of malaria, even though she had a considerable surplus in her personal supply. She reasoned that since the medication did not confer permanent immunity to the disease and because she would not be present to provide medication during future outbreaks of the disease, it was more important to allow affected villagers to develop their own resistance to malaria "naturally. 

Readers' Response

Dennis Tully at the University of Washington wrote: 

"I am astonished at the solution that you printed to Case 1 in your newsletter column. While that may be what Kelly did, I would not propose it as a model for others. 

"Malaria is an extremely unpleasant illness. It is often fatal for the very young, and considerably less so for adults. While infant mortality may remove those who are most susceptible, adults do not develop immunity to malaria; it often continues to afflict an individual throughout his life, in episodes. These episodes can usually be relieved with drugs. When I have had episodes of malaria, I have always chosen to terminate it with drugs rather than suffering through in the hope that I would develop some resistance for the next time, in spite of my expectation of spending substantial time in malarial zones. While engaged in fieldwork in Sudan, I have made the same option available to all takers, through medication made available to me by the local health officials. To do otherwise, to allow affected villagers to develop their own resistance naturally seems to me callous. 

"There are more complex issues here. One might have a valid concern for ecological and demographic consequences, the effects of creating a demand for 'urban' medicine, or for the competence of the fieldworker to diagnose malaria and deal with side effects of the drugs. Cutting even closer is the problem of the medical anthropologist or demographer who would directly affect his data by providing medicine. . . ." 

Judith T. Irvine of Brandeis University wrote: 

"I disagree with the decision made by the anthropologist in Case 1, not to administer any treatment [for malaria] on the grounds that it would interfere with the 'natural' acquisition of immunity. As I see it, there are two main issues here: (1) the scientific basis of Kelly's argument about natural immunity to malaria, and (2) how the anthropologist lacking medical training should make a decision about providing treatment other than simple first aid. 

"Concerning (1): Although I am not as well versed in the facts as I would like to be before making a pronouncement, I do not believe one can acquire immunity to malaria the way one can acquire it to measles. It is true that where malaria is endemic, malarial attacks seem to be less frequent and less severe for the local population than for European or American visitors, but this difference is partly due to genetic rather than acquired resistance. In any case it does not alter the fact that serious attacks can still occur. They can pose a real danger, I believe, especially to an individual who is weakened by age or malnutrition, or who suffers from some other condition at the same time. Treating these attacks is a different matter from the preventive treatment administered to foreigners, although the drug is usually the same. I do agree that the preventive measures should probably not be undertaken by visiting anthropologists. But few anthropologists would have the enormous supply of drugs (let alone a reliable way to distribute and administer them) that would be needed for prevention anyway. 

"Still, the real point here is that neither Kelly nor I can make an ethical decision without informing ourselves of the medical facts. It may be, for instance, that the different strains of malaria present quite different possibilities for the acquisition of immunity. I would welcome the comments of a physical or medical anthropologist on this problem. 

"Concerning (2): As the case is summarized, Kelly apparently thinks that the decision whether or not to treat the local population for malaria is the anthropologist's alone. I think, however, that two other groups must be party to it: the prospective patients, and the health authorities responsible for the region. These are the people at risk and the people who have a long-term acquaintance with (and responsibility for) the area; the health authorities will usually include people with more medical training than the anthropologist has. Of course, particular circumstances will differ. But to refuse aid if both these parties request it, and if it is feasible for the anthropologist to provide it, presents an ethical problem in itself. 

"Like Kelly, I have worked in a country where malaria is a serious health problem, but my decision about treating malarial attacks was the opposite of hers. The basis for my action was largely issue (2) above; but actually, this incorporates issue (1). The local health authorities who advised me (and supplied me with instructions about recognizing and treating malaria and some other conditions) included physicians, both Americans and nationals of that country, whose understanding of the medical facts about those diseases in the local environment was clearly superior to my own. It would have been foolish of me to suppose that I knew anything about 'natural immunity' that they did not."

Case 2: Who Owns the Field Notes?

Jerry Vaughn contracted with a federal agency to conduct a social impact assessment of proposed topographic changes in an aboriginal habitat in a far north region of North America. The contract contained no stipulations regarding ownership of data. In order to determine the potential impacts on the culture of peoples living in that region, Vaughn engaged in participant observation (keeping a detailed field notebook of same); conducted in-depth personal interviews; and took over 1,000 photographs of people working, socializing, and enjoying other everyday and special activities. This work was carried out over a one year period. Vaughn was paid 75% of his contracted salary and other expenses before the fieldwork. 

Vaughn then wrote a 150-page report detailing the areas of social life that would be adversely affected if the plans were implemented. He further noted that, if the plans were implemented as proposed, there could be no mitigations that could prevent the people's culture from being totally altered. Because of these severe conclusions, the agency director instructed Vaughn to turn over his entire research record in order that the agency could solicit another opinion on the matter. Furthermore, the director told Vaughn that unless he would turn over the record, no further payment would be made to him. 

Vaughn's Dilemma: Should he turn over the interview materials, the photographs, and his field notes, all of which contained sensitive and personal information? Should he turn over only part of his record? Or, should he refuse to turn anything over to the agency? 

Vaughn's Decision

With an attorney's help, Vaughn developed a sound argument that stated that it was customary for anthropologists to keep the data they collected, that he had conducted his contracted work in good faith, that the contract contained no stipulations regarding ownership of the data, and that he was therefore due his full salary. 

Vaughn later realized that, since it is possible in many instances to collect data for one's own professional use, as well as the data necessary to fulfill the terms of a contract, one needs to know in advance to whom the data for the contracted research will belong. This will permit maintenance of separate files, from the outset. 

He won his argument and was paid in full.

Case 3: Witness to Murder

Mary Thompson had been conducting fieldwork in a Southeast Asian community for 18 months. Her house was ideally located on the edge of the village plaza, allowing her to readily observe daily activities that took place in the plaza. In addition to gatherings of women who shared food preparation tasks and talk, and groups of men working individually on carvings, the plaza was regularly a gathering place for men at night. 

One night while Thompson was working up some statistical problems in her house, she was distracted by loud, seemingly argumentative discussions in the plaza. When the noise of the argument reached a high pitch, she decided to investigate the situation. Just as she stepped from her doorway, she saw one of the men in the group of five, angrily raise his machete and deliver a deadly blow to another--Tom--in the group. Stunned silence fell over the other three men, as they watched their companion quickly bleed to death before their eyes. Moments later people from the other homes began moving into the plaza in response to the wailing that came from the man who had wielded the machete. Mournful crying and wailing was carried throughout the village. The family members of the dead man carried him to their home and began funeral preparations. The next evening, Tom was buried. The man who had dealt the deadly blow was allowed to participate in the funeral and to make a death payment to the family of the deceased. 

Two days after the funeral, three regional policemen came to the village. As part of a new governmental program designed to reduce blood feuds, the regional authorities now regularly sought to arrest and jail people who were involved in killings. They had heard about the recent death. 

They began questioning the villagers in an attempt to determine if Tom had been "murdered." Thompson had written a detailed description of the events of the night of Tom's death in her notebook which contained a running record of village activities. 

Thompson's Dilemma: (1) Since she knew the police would question her, should she quickly tear out and destroy the pages in her notebook where the events were recorded? (2) When questioned by the police should she, like the other villagers, plead ignorance concerning the killing? 

Thompson's Decision

Thompson decided to risk discovery of her field notes and consequently hid the notebook containing the description of the events surrounding Tom's death under coverings on her bed. When police asked her if she knew anything about Tom's death, she denied having any knowledge of the events of that evening. The police accepted her statements and did not search for her field notes.

Case 4: Hiding a Suspect

George Teller had been conducting research on an American Indian reservation for two years. During that time he developed strong, close relationships with many of the people who lived on the reservation. One morning while sitting at the breakfast table with the family he was staying with, the conversation became centered on an event that had occurred one week before. This is what was recounted. 

Six men and five women were gathered in one of the men's homes having a party. As the night wore on and the effects of wine and beer drinking began to be felt by the people at the party, one of the men--Ted--went into a bedroom. He returned wearing a holster which contained an ivory-handled pistol. He began showing everyone his "quick draw" and, while doing so, one of the other men--Mike--began teasing him. Ted responded to this teasing by putting the pistol against Mike's forehead. The stories that went around the next day expressed confusion over how the gun happened to go off and whether or not Mike was shot right then, or whether or not Ted had the gun when Mike was shot. Anyway, after the shooting everyone left Mike's home except his girlfriend, who called the police. After taking Mike's body to the mortuary, the police arrested Ted. Ted was released the next morning after a hearing where the tribal judge charged him with involuntary manslaughter and placed him on two years' probation. Now, at breakfast, people talked of a rumor going about the reservation that the ex-husband of Mike's girlfriend--Joe--had arrived at the party angry and "feeling high." Joe got into an argument with Mike and his ex-wife and wound up shooting Mike with Ted's gun. The tribal police were questioning everyone about this possibility, particularly since Joe seemed to be the center of a lot of recent violent activities on the reservation. 

Teller asked his hosts if they thought Joe had killed Mike: the answer was yes and that nobody had seen Joe for several days--"he's hiding out, as usual, now that the FBI is looking for him." 

Later that same day, Joe showed up at the house and asked Teller to take him to a distant town so he could catch a bus "for California." Joe said he was going back to his job for a while to earn money, and that he would be coming back to the reservation in a couple of months. Teller looked at his hosts for help in deciding what to do. They looked away, leaving the decision up to him. 

Teller's Dilemma: Should he or should he not take Joe to the bus station? In either case, if questioned by the Tribal Police, should he tell them he had seen Joe? 

Teller's Decision

Teller refused to provide transportation for Joe on the grounds that he was already committed to doing some work for someone else at that moment. Later in the day, when the Tribal Police came to the home of Teller's hosts, following his hosts' lead, Teller also denied having seen Joe that day.

Case 5: Anonymity Declined

Mira Walton spent two years in Melanesia conducting a broadly defined community study in a rural village with a population of about 1,500 people. She returned to the United States and wrote a 500-page descriptive monograph in which she included specific instances of conflicts of interest and dispute settlement in a variety of contexts: broken marriage contracts; instances of alleged encroachment of farming on neighbors' lands; a case of theft; a charge of mismanagement of community resources which was made against the village headman; family feuds; and blood feuds. Following the conventions of the AAA, Walton decided that the village and its location should be disguised and that pseudonyms should be used for all individuals mentioned in the published ethnography. 

A year after publication of Walton's ethnography, which was three years following her departure from the field, she returned to the community of study, taking along copies of the book. These copies were distributed to the people who had been most helpful during her original research project. Most of these individuals were literate and readily understood the contents of the book. Walton asked and received permission to conduct further study in the village. She settled into her task. 

Six months later, a meeting was called by one of the elders in order that the community members might discuss the book about them with Walton. Walton was surprised by the first remarks concerning the book; namely that, although she had done an accurate job of characterizing the situations of dispute settlement and the overall political structure of the village, they were surprised that she had (1) gotten the name of the village wrong, and (2) not given accurate names of the individuals involved in the disputes. More than 60 people were at the meeting, and these individuals represented a majority of the families in the village. The murmurings indicated strong agreement that she should have given the actual name of both the village and individuals. Furthermore, she was explicitly told that in the next book she should be more careful to use the correct village name and use the correct names of villagers who asked her to do so or who gave permission for her to do so. 

Ironically, Walton had debated the issue of anonymity with colleagues in the United States. She had argued that in order for further studies to be done accurately by other researchers, it was necessary to specify the precise location and name of the village. And, in order to judge credibility of information obtained from the villagers, she had wanted to provide the names of the individuals who worked most closely with her. They had argued that it was her responsibility to protect "her informants and her community" from outside interference or other possible negative consequences, and cited examples of villages and villagers who had come to harm because the anthropologists in question had used real names. 

Faced now with the villagers' criticisms, Walton was in a quandary. 

Walton's Dilemma: Given that she had a contract for a new book about the community and that the community expected her to publish this new book, should she (1) defer to the villagers' insistence that she publish the correct name of the village and the correct names of villagers who had asked or given permission for her to do so? Or, (2) should she rely on anthropological conventions and cautions (as stated in the Principles of Professional Responsibility of the American Anthropological Association) and use pseudonyms in the new book? 

Walton's Decision

Walton finished fieldwork, returned to the United States and wrote the second book. When the manuscript was in the final stages of revision, having been accepted by a publisher, she sent a copy of the version being revised to a trustworthy friend in the village, along with a letter requesting comments on the manuscript and a direct response to the question asking if, once they saw the book, they would still want the actual name of the village used, as well as individuals' names. 

Walton's actions were based on the following rationales. She wanted the book to be in as near final form as possible before sending a manuscript copy to the villagers so they would have a chance to assess the overall quality and accuracy of the book and comment on it generally. This would give them a chance to make an independent judgment of the book as a whole, deciding whether or not they liked the book before deciding whether or not to have the actual name of the village and individuals published. Further, Walton feels that it is the fieldworker's responsibility to assure that informed choices are being made, when one gives informants options, thus her determination to have the context for decision making about anonymity well laid out. Walton also felt that she was obligated to make the final decisions in terms of serving the best interests of the community and the best interests of the book. 

Accepting the ultimate responsibility for use of names in the book, and not having any reply to her direct question regarding the use of actual names, Walton decided to use the same pseudonyms published in the first book, except when a statement about an individual would, in her judgment, be acceptable and pleasing to the person.

Case 6: Anonymity Revisited

Mary Jones had spent three years, 1969-72, working as an applied medical anthropologist in an urban black community in the United States. In order to provide the social science communities with some data on her project, she wrote a series of articles to be published in relevant professional journals. The data included sensitive materials concerning specific epidemiological problems faced by members of the community as well as strategies and tactics used to improve health care delivery by the local community. Before submitting her articles for publication, Jones asked specific members of the community if they would read the papers for comments and criticism. Individuals from the community health center who had been part of the applied project did so and set up a meeting for discussion of the contents of the manuscripts. 

The discussion began with several individuals complimenting Jones on her accurate characterization of the local situation and the sensitive way in which she addressed their health care problems and ways they chose to solve some of these. Several moments of silence passed after these initial remarks. Then an elder asked Jones why she had not given the accurate name of the community health center where much of this activity took place. Immediately, someone else asked why she had not given the accurate name of the town where the center was located. A third person asked why there were no names given for the people at the center and in the community who were involved in the project and in the "struggle to improve health care for our people." 

Jones countered with explanations regarding anthropological conventions which specified the use of pseudonyms in certain types of anthropological reporting, specifically if there was any chance that individuals or a community might be harmed. She provided some examples of instances in a nearby town where people had been harmed because the actual name of the town and the names of people there had been published in a scientific report. The participants at the meeting told her that she should use her own judgment in the final analysis, but they felt that even if she could not see that using the name of the health center might help them, at least she should name some of the people who had helped Jones and her students during their three years of work, even though Jones and her students were on the applied project to help the community. 

Jones's Dilemma: Should she defer to the community health center members' desire that she publish the name of the health center, the town in which the health center was located, an&or the names of individuals who had asked or given permission for their names to be published (during the meeting described above)? Or, should she retain the use of pseudonyms throughout her papers? 

Jones's Decision

Jones decided not to publish the actual name of the health center or the name of the town where she had worked. Her rationale was that, although the articles in question contained little in the way of "sensitive" materials, future publications might since such materials were in her records. She therefore chose to protect the anonymity of the community. She did, however, acknowledge the support and assistance of specific community people (by name) in footnotes to the articles.

Case 7: Robbers, Rogues, or Revolutionaries:
Handling Armed Intimidation

Daniel Peters was beginning his fourth month of fieldwork in an isolated Central American community. His research on family health care practices required the close cooperation of several households, and friendly relations had been painstakingly developed. 

One morning shortly after dawn, as he was preparing for another day of work, Daniel teamed that five armed men in civilian attire had been seen near town asking about foreigners and referring to him by his first name. Hastening to the plaza, he found that the municipal authorities had not yet arrived. Before he could consider what to do next, he realized that the five strangers were heading up the road into town. From the heavy arms they shouldered in plastic sacks and from the way they spread themselves out upon reaching the plaza, he knew they were not ordinary thieves. 

The next few minutes pressed Daniel's role management skills to the limit. Two of the men greeted him and claimed to be there to help a foreigner by his name who had suffered a misfortune in a nearby town. After proceeding to inquire about his finances (minimal), his transportation (no vehicle), and his visits to other communities (infrequent), they admitted to not having a surname to go on and left as suddenly as they had appeared. Some boys reported that they later left the area in a government vehicle. By nightfall, many rumors were circulating and inquiries by municipal authorities to state officials remained unanswered. 

Peters's Dilemma: (1) Suspecting an affiliation more serious than the robbers that most people believed the strangers to be, should he disclose his belief to others? (2) Should he attempt to find out why he had been sought out? (3) Should he attempt to dissuade frightened individuals from withdrawing from his study? (4) Should he take any action to prevent rumored, and potentially real, recrimination against his cooperating families? (5) Finally, should he terminate his research? 

Peters's Decision

Daniel decided to find out what he could locally without going to state officials. When told confidentially that the men were not robbers or soldiers intent on bribery, but a mission under government auspices, he did not pursue the matter. He felt that disclosing such information publicly could invite further harassment, perhaps directed at people other than himself who might be offended by the act. He assured those helping him that he was not in trouble and asked them to continue to participate, but let one family withdraw quietly. He also removed all names from materials he kept with him. 

He has come to realize that in volatile situations, individuals who cooperate with an anthropologist may be targets of future oppression, especially where the existence of factions and informers may be encouraged secretly by outside forces. Choice of field assistants and samples takes on a potential life or death significance, and entails such responsibility that he continues to wonder whether research interests warrant the risk to local people. Nevertheless, his knowledge of the local situation compels him to work through networks of scholars and solidarity groups to increase public awareness of the repression being experienced by poor civilians in that country.

Case 8: The Case of the Missing Artifact

For his own aesthetic purposes, Marcus Randolph had collected Pueblo Indian arts and crafts for many years before becoming an anthropologist. Randolph's fieldwork sites for ten years were located in Latin America. However, as a result of personal contacts, he was asked to conduct a brief ethnohistorical study in one of the Rio Grande pueblos. As his study progressed, he learned that an important item had been missing for about 20 years from the collection of paraphernalia used by one of the religious leaders in the community. According to this individual, ceremonies had never been complete since the item had disappeared. Crop failures and other community problems were partially attributed to this loss. 

After obtaining a full description from the religious leader and checking this against information about the item with colleagues in local museums and universities, Randolph realized that there was a good chance that the item in question was at least similar to, if not identical to, one he had purchased 15 years previously from a trading post. 

Randolph's Dilemma: Should he offer the item in his possession to the religious leader? Should he even show the item to the religious leader? Or, should he simply make a note regarding the missing religious piece and not disclose his personal possession to anyone in the community? 

Randolph's Decision

During the time that Randolph was considering this problem, he learned that over a 30 to 50 year period, several regional museums had acquired a great quantity of religious items from many different Pueblo Indians. He told religious and political elders in the community where he was working about the items he had seen in these museums and asked if their absence from the Pueblos had had any adverse effects on the communities and whether or not they wanted to reclaim them from the museums. 

The opinions expressed by elders were that (a) the loss of these items was part of the loss of cultural heritage that could not be reclaimed, so (b) there was no value in asking the museums to return the items to them (at least not at this point in time). On the basis of these discussions, Randolph decided not to disclose his personal possession to anyone in the community, but kept a record in his field notes regarding his investigations into and discoveries of "missing" religious and other material culture items.

Case 9: "Hot" Gifts

Rose Stone moved into an urban ghetto in order to study strategies for survival used by low-income residents. During the first six months of research, Stone was gradually integrated into the community through invitations (which she accepted) to attend dances, parties, church functions, and family outings, and by "hanging out" at local service facilities (laundromats, health centers, recreation centers, and so on). She was able to discern that there were two important survival tactics used by the community residents which she could not engage in: the first was a system of reciprocity in the exchange of goods and services (neither of which she felt she had to offer), and the second was outright theft of easily pawned or sold goods (clothing, jewelry, radios, TVs, and so on). 

One night, a friend from the community stopped by "for a cup of coffee" and conversation. After they had been talking for about two hours, Stone's friend told her that she had some things she wanted to give her. The friend went out to her car and returned with a box of clothing (Stone's size) and a record player. Stone was a bit overwhelmed by the generosity of the gift and protested her right to accept such costly items. Her friend laughed and said, "Don't you worry, it's not out of my pocket," but then she became more serious and said, "Either you are one of us or you aren't one of us. You can't have it both ways. " 

Stone's Dilemma: Suspecting that the items she was being offered were probably "hot" (e.g., stolen), she was afraid that if she wore the clothes in public, or had the record player in her apartment, she would be arrested for "accepting stolen goods." At the same time, she knew that "hot" items were often given to close friends when it was observed that they could use them. Still, this implied that there would be reciprocal giving (not necessarily in kind) at a later date. So, should she accept or refuse the proffered gifts? 

Stone's Decision

Stone decided to accept the clothing, but not the record player. She made her case for the decision this way: she was in need of a warm coat, wool slacks, and sweaters. These attractive items would be worn during her work periods in the community (and at other times). When she received compliments on them, she could acknowledge acceptance of the gifts from her friend, thereby notifying people that she had accepted entry into the social credit system with an obligation to repay the gifts at a later date. 

She told her friend that she did not have use for a record player since she seldom had time to listen to the few records she owned. She suggested another individual to whom her friend might give the record player. Her friend was satisfied with the compromise. 

Before her fieldwork was completed she had numerous opportunities to fulfill these obligations. Some examples of repayment included: childsitting for a relative of a friend, lending money to another relative, and providing transportation to a distant city for her friend, among others. 

Reader's Response

Timothy Perper of the Henry Frank Guggenheim Foundation wrote: 

"It is an absolute necessity to set this `dilemma' into its own ethnographic context, which is `street-culture' and the `underground economy.' In that world, an offer of a `gift' is not always a gesture designed to elicit or invite reciprocity. . . . Sometimes it is a provocation, and a message. The message is you are not one of us. The provocation lies in the recipient's not knowing what it would mean if the gift were accepted. . . . 

"The appropriate answer for Rose Stone to make would be something like `Say, thanks. But why are you giving me this stuff?' This is not the same as saying, `Well, I don't know if I can accept this, let me think about it,' or saying `Thanks, but I don't really need this,' or anything else. Just ask why the offer was made. If it is a provocation, then a skilled fieldworker can bring that into the open, and talk about why such provocations are made, and to whom; if it is not, then the giver's answer will express genuine concern or generosity (and will require reciprocity later, in the Maussian sense). . . . 

"There is a strong possibility that the `gift'was a test. If so, why was it made? Why was it necessary? The answer is all important, for it may well imply that Rose Stone is held in suspicion, and in distrust, and has already been rejected. . . . if so, then find another project, for all that Rose Stone will get hereafter is lies and misinformation, and will hear oust barely) a lot of laughter directed at her. 

"Note, though, that here I am assuming that the giver spoke the words in the quotation. And if she did, then her statement has a message--and this I infer from the fact that the giver even used the serious, formal language of her comment--a message which means that Rose Stone has already deeply insulted the giver, and which means that Rose Stone is already outside and an alien. . . . 

"However, it is probable that the statement in quotations is merely Rose Stone's own paraphrase, and an expression of what she thought the giver was challenging her to do. If so, then maybe the future of the project is less bleak. In that case, the situation is even more interesting, for it depends totally on the fieldworker's ability to drop away from the sense of superiority that being a `scientist' entails (here I am discussing only fieldwork in one's own culture). The all-important point to remember is that Rose Stone and the giver are members of the same culture, and share an immense amount. 

"It is easy for fieldworkers to believe that, because they are `scientists,' they are above the people they watch. . . . But this viewpoint is naive--to be generous. In fact, all the rules apply to your relationship with the people you are watching as would apply if you were not watching them, but instead, actually and in reality living with them, as one of them. 

"It is here that the `ethical' and `theoretical' dilemmas arise. The ethical dilemma is more easily solved than the theoretical one. Simply ask what the gift means, explaining that you are not familiar with such things. Turn the offer into an opportunity to learn from the giver what the gift implies and entails. Since the giver knows that Rose Stone is a student (or is doing fieldwork), she will begin to explain these matters. Here Rose Stone must be honest, and say that where she comes from such things don't happen much, and she'd like to know more about it, and so on. Never--if I may offer advice--try to hide the fact that you are interested in how people live; if you do, you are a liar, and you will be detected. Meanwhile, the clothes and the record player sit on the floor and slowly become something to `talk about.' Then, Rose Stone can decide if she wants them or not. 

"It is precisely because Rose Stone is a member of the same culture as the giver that she must talk openly and honestly. As a member of this culture, she is perfectly entitled to ask about being found out, about the police, about being ripped off herself, about being vulnerable. She is also perfectly entitled to ask what would happen if `someone' refused such gifts. 

"Then the decision itself. The query implies that Rose Stone has nothing with which to make reciprocity, which implies that she is poor. Thus, the ethical dilemma is not `ethical' at all. It is a practical dilemma: it is tempting to take the clothes and record player. The offer has meaning, and real meaning, since she wants to accept the offer. Now--alas for Rose Stone--we plunge into the underground economy. In that world, if you need something, and somebody offers it, you take it. You need it. There is no room here for `middle-class' dilemmas about ethics. . . . 

"[In accepting the offer, Stone] implies that she has taken on a new identity and that now she really--I mean really--is a member of the group she is studying. She faces what used to be called an `identity crisis.' One part says `I'm a nice middle-class person, and I don't accept stolen goods,' while the other part says, `Well, maybe I'm just like them, not because I am "studying" them, but because that's what I am.' 

"Indeed, I suspect that it is Rose Stone who is saying `You can't have it both ways.' She is quite right, but not because there is an ethical decision to be made, but because her own identity is at stake. Whether she knows it or not, understands it or not, accepts it or not, she is a member of her own culture, and there is nothing in this `case' of the problem of `going native.' Rose Stone is already a native . . . [hers is] a dilemma of identity within her own culture . . . [a question that] indeed is important for anyone working within their own culture.

Case 10: Professor Purloins Student's Work: Her Recourse?

Joelle Smith wrote an elaborate research proposal that was to be submitted to the National Science Foundation (NSF) for her doctoral dissertation research. Her dissertation supervisor signed off on the proposal indicating his support of the project and his willingness to supervise Smith's work. The project was funded for a two-year period. 

Smith went into the field and at regular intervals sent copies of her field notes and other written data, along with preliminary analyses of her field problem, to her dissertation advisor. At the completion of fieldwork, Smith returned to her university for one year to write her dissertation. 

During the writing period, she regularly read the journals related to her area of specialization. In one of the journals she read a paper published by her major advisor and was shocked to find statements taken directly from her letters, field notes, and data reports, with no credit given to her in the footnotes or elsewhere. 

Angered by this discovery, Smith was nonetheless fearful that a direct confrontation with her advisor would result in him becoming tyrannical about her dissertation and impeding her graduation. At the same time, she realized that other members of her committee might have read the article and expect her to cite it in her dissertation, and further to accuse her of plagiarism because she had used the same [her own] data in her dissertation. 

Smith's Dilemma: Should she confront her advisor directly? Should she go to the department head with her discovery? Should she just keep quiet about the matter and "stew in her own anger" (as one person suggested)? Or, were there other tactics she could use to settle this problem? 

Smith's Decision

Smith decided that the best approach was to confide in one committee member whom she felt might prove to be a friend. Although a junior faculty member, this individual was willing to set up an "arbitration meeting" as he called it. During the meeting, when the senior faculty member was asked by the student why he had used her field materials, he replied, "You would not have gotten the grant if you had not used my name. I am entitled to reap some of the rewards of my name's use and chose to do it this way. Not a bad article, wouldn't you say?" Smith replied that she felt her name should have appeared as coauthor, or at least in a footnote acknowledging that he had used her materials. The senior faculty member scoffed at this and said he did not think it was "such a big deal." He stated further, "Why don't you worry about finishing your dissertation and keep your mind off such petty matters. It's only a little scoop of your research materials, after all." 

Smith left the meeting just as angry as she had been before the so-called "arbitration" began. Friends advised her to see an attorney and sue her mentor for plagiarism. Smith decided to let the matter drop, finished her dissertation (which included a citation of her advisor's article) and has since enjoyed her career as an academic anthropologist. She is, however, diligent in checking references when she is asked to review journal articles, in an effort to catch plagiarism cases. 

She confides that she is still angry about her professor's blatant disregard for the ethical principles which state: "In relations with students . . . an anthropologist . . . should acknowledge in print the student assistance he uses in his own publications, give appropriate credit (including coauthorship) when student research is used in publication (Principles of Professional Responsibility, 4g). . . . [and] should not present as his own work, either in speaking or writing, materials directly taken from other sources" (3d). 

Reader's Response

An anonymous reader wrote: 

"Smith had little recourse once the situation had developed. Direct confrontation with the advisor is not advisable. He will, predictably, laugh at or ignore the protests. Complaints to the department head are futile. A chair has the responsibility to be aware of the ethics of the different faculty members. In Smith's case, the chair was either ignoring the problem or indifferent to it. Other faculty members will hesitate to support Smith since an accusation of plagiarism against one member can reflect on the department as a whole. Once the advisor's article was published, there was little positive action Smith could take other than replacing her advisor. 

"There are several steps she could have taken to minimize the possibilities of the situation ever developing. Actually, it is surprising that Smith, at a PhD level, would be so naive. She should have shared all correspondence, data, and ideas with all committee members. Including an influential committee member from another university can be beneficial. Departments obviously like to avoid situations where they can be accused of poor ethical standards by another university. 

"Smith could have arranged for all materials to be stamped by postal authorities, and particularly important papers to be notarized. Officialdom is a good deterrent to plagiarism. With dated proof of prior acquisition of data and prior development of ideas, Smith should never have been required to cite her advisor's article. 

"During the course of her research, Smith should have been sending semiannual or annual progress reports to her grant sponsor. These should have included discussions of her hypotheses, data, and preliminary analyses. She could have published abbreviated versions of such progress reports in appropriate journals, and arranged for brief summaries of her research progress to be read or displayed in a poster session at scientific meetings. All of these reports could subsequently have been cited in her dissertation and would have definitely predated any publication by her advisor. 

"It is unfortunate that a student has to incorporate such considerations into a graduate program, but it is pretty much up to the student to safeguard against being a victim of unethical practices. 

"One more thing: the `Smiths' in the universities do graduate and go on to responsible positions in academia, government, and industry. Recently, a `Smith,' citing his personal knowledge of poor ethical standards, refused to recommend a large grant for his alma mater. The particular university will never know why it lost the grant, but that's the way things work. Unethical practices don't pay."

Case 11: The Case of the Falsified Data

Mickey Jordan had developed a collaborative social-impact assessment project involving two colleagues and three students. The six-person team was responsible for collecting field data in a wide geographical area at some distance from their university. Each person was responsible for a specific region. The data were fed, by region, into a computer on a weekly basis and monthly meetings were held so that progress reports could be made by team members. At these meetings, names of individuals who had been interviewed during the preceding period were given as a means of checking off the list of identified community specialists, so that the overall progress of the project could be ascertained. Information filed in the computer did not contain informants' names or other identifiers, as a measure for maintaining confidentiality and anonymity of informants. Each member of the team was paid by the funds made available through a contract with a federal agency (the faculty members were able to buy release time from teaching with contract funds). 

Jordan had an occasion to be in the region assigned to one of the faculty members, Brian Cash, and happened to find himself talking with one of Cash's reported informants, Henry Jones. Jordon took the opportunity to ask Jones for clarification of reported data that had puzzled him. Jones appeared confused and asked Jordan why he was asking him "these questions." Jordan explained that he had been curious about specific details of Cash's report and thought this would be an opportune time to get further information. Jones said that he had never heard of Brian Cash, much less having ever talked to him, and furthermore he did not even know a research project was being conducted in his community. 

Jordan's Dilemma: Should he accept Jones's statement as a denial of participation in the project to maintain anonymity? Should he accuse Jones of lying? Should he drop the matter for the moment and later tell Cash about the incident? Perhaps Cash had lied about interviewing Jones? Should be confront Cash with this suspicion? Since it was some distance to the field site from the university, should he [Jordan] now seek out other informants Cash had reported on to determine whether or not they had been interviewed? Or, were there other tactics to be employed? 

Jordan's Decision

Jordan decided to let the matter drop after his conversation with Jones. Later in the day, he went to the homes of two other individuals with whom Cash had reportedly held interviews. Both of these individuals denied having talked with Cash. 

The next day, Jordan attempted to contact Cash, but was told that he was in the field. It was another week before Jordan was able to confront Cash with his "findings." Cash admitted that he had not talked with Jones or the other two individuals prior to the time Jordan was in the community. He admitted that he made-up the data he presented at the meetings and fed into the computer. But, he argued, he "knew what those people were going to tell me anyway and, sure enough, they did this past week. So what harm has been done?" Jordan became angry and told Cash that he was fired from the project, citing item 2b of the Principles of Professional Responsibility; namely, that since the project was to have direct application to public policy formulation, Cash had abrogated his responsibility to the public as well as the project (2b states that an anthropologist "should not knowingly falsify or color his findings"). Cash responded to Jordan by saying that he could not fire him since the contract was awarded to him as much as the other two senior project members. 

Jordan then went to the department head and explained the problem. The department head agreed with Jordan that Cash should not have lied about the data in his original report, but that since it all seemed to have worked out okay about the data, Jordan ought to let the matter drop, and finish the social impact assessment. 

Jordan agreed to do this, but he developed a plan for verification of the data base in Cash's region. Using personal funds, Jordan hired two students who interviewed all of Cash's reported informants. The results of these interviews were kept in a separate file until the field portion of the project was completed. At the time of the analysis, the data from Cash's region was called up on the computer. This was compared with the students' data collected in the same region. There was sufficient difference in the two data sets so that, coupled with the fact that many informants told the students they had not talked with Cash, Jordan decided to throw out Cash's data and request a return of all payments to him. 

Faced with the full range of evidence against him, Cash complied with Jordan's demand for payment and resigned from the project.

Case 12: Possible Conflict of Interest

Bill Quinn is the State Archaeologist for one of the states in the Midwest. He is thus an employee of the state. Among the many responsibilities of his office is the issuance of antiquities permits to allow qualified archaeologists to do contract archaeology within the state. In this context, his office often defines the scope of the archaeological work to be done, prepares requests for proposals to do the work, evaluates proposals (often submitted by private firms in a competitive bidding situation), decides who will be awarded the contract, and ultimately judges the adequacy of the work performed. 

Mike is another full-time state employee as the State Highway Salvage Archaeologist. He has decided to open his own (private) firm on the side, and has applied for an antiquities permit so that he too might bid on and receive some of these lucrative contracts. Bill is concerned about this, because even though Mike is an honorable person, he will be placing himself in a potential conflict of interest situation. This is because Mike, as a part of his official duties as a public servant, can take part in (and potentially influence) some of the archaeological contract decisions and evaluations mentioned above. He and/or others in his office would, among other things, be in a position to have prior knowledge of future contracts and be in conflict of interest through the contract process. In short, it would be possible for Mike to use his position as a public official to gain unfair advantage over his competitors in the private sector. 

The Twofold Dilemma: (1) Should Bill issue an antiquities permit to Mike? (2) Is it ethical for a public official (Mike, in this case) to be, or allow himself to be, in a potential conflict of interest situation of this nature, even though in fact he has no intention of abusing his official position for personal gain (i.e., no actual conflict of interest has occurred)? Or, is it unethical only if he actually acts in conflict of interest? 

Quinn's Decision

Bill decided that it would be inappropriate for Mike to hold an investigative permit which would give him the authority to bid on any activities actually or potentially related to federal, state, or local compliance or associated competitive processes. Because problems emanating from prior knowledge and conflict of interest are common to both public and private sectors of employment, Bill used the following guidelines to assess the present situation and to develop policy for future comparable situations: 

From the Principles of Professional Responsibility, item 5, "Responsibility to Sponsors": "[An anthropologist] should be especially careful not to promise or imply acceptance of conditions contrary to [his] professional ethics or competing commitments." 

From the proposed revisions, AAA Code of Ethics: "Anthropologists must seriously consider their own moral responsibility for their acts when there is a risk that an individual, group, or organization may be hurt or jeopardized physically, legally, in reputation, or in self-esteem as a result." 

In this instance, the individual, the company, competing companies, and the primary (public) agency come into potential conflict. 

Bill further considered the following: Even if individuals do not compete within their own agency for contracts, it is inevitable that they would at some time be in competition for contracts with groups which would fall under the regulatory review, inspection, or proposal review and award function of their primary agency employer(s). By the agency anthropologist engaging in such competition, his or her disinterest would necessarily be suspect and the credibility of the agency itself called into question.

CHAPTER 4 : Cases and Comments : Joan Cassell

Case 13: The Suspect Questionnaire

While setting up a study of interaction between physicians and parents of critically ill inner-city children, a young anthropologist contacted the chair of the Department of Pediatrics of the medical school affiliated with her university. During a discussion of the prospective study, the researcher mentioned that she was working on an interview schedule for parents. "Something like this?" queried the physician, handing her a first-rate questionnaire for parents of sick children. Wishing to contact the author, the anthropologist questioned the pediatrician, who became evasive and refused to discuss the matter. Subsequently, she received three different copies of the same questionnaire from friends who knew of her study; all were traced back to the same physician. His secretary then told the researcher that the schedule came from a National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant proposal for which she had typed his unfavorable review (the anthropologist was unable to substantiate this information). Unable to reach its author, the researcher did not use the questionnaire. Was there anything else a powerless junior researcher could do to deal with distressing, and possibly unethical, behavior on the part of a powerful senior physician? 


John C. Fletcher, Assistant for Bioethics, Office of the Director, Clinical Center, National Institutes of Health: 

This case may be about the three most common violations of ethical principles: lying, cheating, and stealing. (I say may because it is open to question whether in fact the physician had obtained the questionnaire from an NIH grant proposal.) 

The first consideration is to whom in authority the anthropologist should turn for help in clarifying what happened. The first moral choice is whether to ask for help from those in authority who have the legitimate power to discover the facts. If authorities have created an open climate for such actions, asking for help is easier. How the anthropologist goes about seeking help will also affect the outcome. She should first write an account of what happened and the questions she needs to have answered. In fairness, she can give the chair of the Department of Pediatrics a copy, with a message that she deserves his cooperation, or else she will go to a higher authority (e.g., the dean of the medical school faculty) to resolve the ethical questions provoked by his behavior. The anthropologist then needs the help of her own department chair to convince authorities that special action is required. It is not the task of the anthropologist to investigate the physician's ethics; it is her task, however, to refer the matter to authorities effectively and fairly. 

Let us suppose that the physician did obtain the questionnaire from a grant proposal. To take and use improperly another's work is theft. Moreover, when queried about the author's identity, the physician evaded an answer. The young anthropologist is neither enemy nor adversary; she is a colleague, a member of the same university faculty. Withholding information owed to another with whom one is bound in relations of fidelity and duty is a form of lying. Finally, to gain an advantage by dishonest means Is to cheat. The physician was in the role of grant reviewer when he first saw the questionnaire. This role does not grant a license to use the author's material without permission but only to make a judgment about its validity and fitness for the proposed study. Having stolen the document, the physician is then able to portray himself as the all-provident helper of young researchers with just the right instrument at the right time. 

My thesis is that just because unethical behavior takes place at a high level does not excuse us from attempting to prevent its recurrence. If the facts turn out to be against the physician, several steps must be taken. The NIH should be notified, because a breach of rules for reviewers has occurred. The anthropologist should be thanked for bringing the matter to light. Finally, the true author of the questionnaire should be notified and offered an apology. 

The NIH Division of Research Grants has explicit rules for reviewers that stress the confidentiality of grant documents and protect the research ideas of applicants. The clear-cut application of a research method or instrument, as in this case, is a violation of ethical conduct for a reviewer. 

Were the suspicions of the anthropologist truly unfounded, with the physician being in fact the author of the questionnaire, a wise physician would thank the anthropologist for bringing up the matter, so that questions about his ethics would have been answered. Everyone needs moral criticism. Without it, we become distanced from colleagues and the rules that protect us from aggression and dishonesty. 


William F. May, Southern Methodist University: 

The case reminds one of the story Nathan the prophet told King David, after learning that David has taken to bed the wife of Uriah the Hittite and sent Uriah off to battle where he is sure to be killed. 

A rich man, Nathan says, once took the sheep, the only sheep of a poor man, instead of one of his own large flock, to feed a hungry man. David grows righteously indignant at this high-handed abuse of power and vows to punish the rich. Nathan turns on the king and says "Thou art the man." 

The powerful professor in this case helps out the needy young anthropologist and perhaps several others--by conveying to them not work of his own, but a questionnaire which he has poached from the work of another, work which he considered good enough to take but not to support. 

What can the "powerless" junior researcher do? First, just how powerless is she? Admittedly, she is junior; she works in the same university; and, as a specialist in medical field research, she may not be able to afford enemies on turf to which she needs access. Further, the university apparently has not regularized judicial procedures for reviewing such a case. She clearly lacks the power to subject the physician to external sanctions or to institute the machinery for such sanctions. 

But, beyond that, she is not utterly powerless or wholly vulnerable. The physician, after all, is not her boss. She enjoys more independence, even as a junior member of the university staff, than, let us say, Nathan does as a member of David's kingdom or Moliere's uppity housemaids do toward the lord of the household. If she acts by confronting the physician directly with her worry, she does not automatically subject herself to martyrdom. 

In the absence of judicial procedures, she just might muster the courage to assume the role of an academic Nathan or a Dorine and talk to him directly. 

Failing that level of moral courage, she might take care not to yield to the other temptations that beset the outraged and powerless: disillusionment, cynicism, and a subtly growing obtuseness about one's own behavior that eventually may prompt a young, powerless, but braver junior colleague to step forward much later on another matter and say to her, as a senior professor, "Thou art the woman."

Case 14: The Hazardous Consent Forms

As part of a long-range investigation of the social and physiological effects of heroin, Jim Sanders, an anthropologist affiliated with a medical school, set up a study of pregnant women and their infants. The study design involved statistical comparisons of the course of pregnancy, birth, and infant development in 30 addicts and 30 nonaddicts; data were to be gathered from hospitals and public health clinics in three inner city neighborhoods. 

The medical school Institutional Review Board (IRB) approved the study, with the requirement that the women sign detailed consent forms indicating that they understood the purpose of the study and agreed to take part. It was agreed that the clinic nurses would read the consent forms to the women and ask them to sign. 

Two months into the study, Sanders, visiting the research sites, discovered that few nurses were using the consent forms; instead, informal undocumented consent was being obtained. 

Sanders was in a quandary. Institutional Review Boards are designed to protect those studied from harm and, also, to make sure that people do not unknowingly or unwillingly participate in research that might put them at risk. The medical school IRB, accustomed to biomedical experiments posing the risk of physical harm to subjects, routinely required written consent from those studied. In this case, however, the research posed no possibility of physical harm; instead, the only risk to those studied came from the signed consent forms: these would document that addicted women were engaging in illegal behavior. 

Should Sanders go back to the Institutional Review Board and attempt to educate them about social research? This might obstruct his project or endanger his research subjects. Should he leave well enough alone, let the IRB think he was following their procedures while allowing the nurses to continue obtaining verbal undocumented consent? In deceiving--or at least, not enlightening--the IRB, he would protect his research subjects. What else might he do to protect his subjects and his study without condoning deception? 


Thomas Weaver, University of Arizona, previous chair of Human Subjects Committee (IRB): 

Sanders makes several unwarranted assumptions about the risk the study population faces and about the goals and potential actions of the Institutional Review Board. The description of the case states that the only risk faced by the subjects is from the signed consent form. This, of course, is not true. The signed consent form should spell out the potential risks to the subject and, if properly written, should include the potential risks from divulging names or other information received from the subjects. The form or an accompanying document should detail the measures being taken by the investigator to protect the confidentiality of the records and forms, who will have access to them and what will be done with the data once the project has been completed. The subjects should be told about plans to publish the results or whether papers will be given on the material. The subjects should also receive assurance that their names will not be used, and that procedures will be taken to assure that their identity cannot be traced through the consent form or other identifiable characteristics of the population. 

The second assumption made by Sanders is that the Institutional Review Board is a regulatory or policing agency of the U.S. government. The fact is that the IRB functions to protect its parent institution and as such is interested in assisting the researcher to do the best research possible while protecting the rights of the subjects of that research. IRBs remind researchers of the necessity to do what they should want to do anyway if they follow their own profession's code of ethics, perhaps suggesting some means to do it better, suggestions which are garnered from having read many other proposals. It seems that Sanders's attitude is one of protecting his subjects from the IRB. Members of the Institutional Review Board are also researchers or persons who have had experience in dealing with similar problems and are most acutely aware of the necessity for protecting the confidentiality of records and the identity of research subjects. The records of the IRB are also confidential, with no one other than staff and members having access. 

So, in answer to the questions posed, the IRB has had prior experience with similar cases and is undoubtedly aware of the problems involved. However, there may exist institutions where there is little social science research (Sanders may be in one of these) and so the IRB may have to be enlightened about the special problems involved. Usually the IRB is accustomed to dealing with the special problems endemic to different fields and is open and teachable. 

From what has been said above, it should be clear that subjects will not be placed at additional risk by virtue of a discussion with the IRB. In fact, a frank discussion with the Board is called for since the procedures submitted by the investigator and approved by the IRB are not being followed; the investigator is in violation of federal rules and regulations, placing his research and the institution in jeopardy. The rules and regulations under which the IRB and the investigator operate have the force of law and include penalties for their violation. 

Other actions that might be taken by Sanders include filing an amended consent form which calls for verbal rather than written consent; here a description must be provided of what each subject will be told, by whom, and signed by the person doing the explanation and, perhaps, a witness. Another possible action is retraining the nurses to handle the consent forms and supervising them to make certain they obtain consent in the approved manner. The IRB may suggest one of these actions when they are made aware of the situation. (Our institution requires periodic reports from investigators to ascertain that approved procedures are being followed. An on-site inspection may be made periodically to assure that appropriate procedures for record keeping are being followed, including the signing of consent forms.) 

Whatever Sanders does, he should avoid deception of any kind. 


Lucy M. Cohen, Catholic University: 

Four questions have been raised about this case. I would like to address, first, the question of the nurses who were the contact persons with the women in the study. In my discussion, I am keeping in mind the fact that Dr. Sanders is two months into the study and that he proposes a "long-range investigation." 

1. The question of decisions about "consent of human subjects" within organizations such as hospitals and clinics should not be conceptualized as an issue that involves only a researcher and the formal group established to approve proposals and examine procedures. Research is a process and decisions about how to obtain consent often involve many groups of people. Both the formal and the informal "gatekeepers" in a system should be involved. It appears as if Sanders did not do much to discuss his proposed research with the key nurses prior to his contacts with the IRB. The nurses may have some valid reasons for suggesting that consent should be elicited in a different manner. Why not listen to the concerns and questions they have? Their fears may go beyond the perceived risks to the informants. 

2. It is difficult to understand why this researcher should want to go back to the IRB to "attempt to educate them about social research." This is not his role in the organization. What is important, at this early stage in his research, is to see how the consent form was designed. It is said that the document posed risk to the women because it would document that "addicted women were engaging in illegal behavior." As I understand this case, the design involved comparison between the two groups. The form should have been worded so that no one would know from the form whether the woman in the research was addicted or not. The form should not be a document to identify any of the women as addicted or as engaging in illegal behavior. This is a standard procedure in this type of social research. Is Dr. Sanders aware of this? 

A related question that no one has raised is whether the form has beenin a way that the participants can understand its contents. Assuming that the participants in the study can read and write, was this issue considered? 

3. We are asked if the researcher should "protect research subjects" and not inform the IRB about the concerns raised by the nurses. My discussion in (1) and (2) addresses these issues. 

4. I do not see the problem as one where the researcher is asked to "condone deception." I have suggested, rather, that we examine the process through which the researcher has established the principles that guide his research. This is a process that, in summary, involves not only a focus on the formal aspects but also the informal aspects of social relations in the settings where research takes place. 

Prior to IRB approval, a researcher needs to understand the system within which he works and he needs to invite the cooperation of the grass roots personnel whose time will be taken up doing him favors associated with his work. I have discussed this process in an article written jointly with Leila Calhoun Deasy in "Patients in Programs at Area C Community Mental Health Center" (Washington D.C.: Department of Human Resources, 1971). With the collaboration of the nurses and possible advice of community persons from the area where informants reside, Dr. Sanders should be able to revise the form, if necessary. Since he is only two months into the study, it appears feasible to go back to persons already contacted and eventually obtain uniform consent from all participants. 

5. A final point has to do with the settings for this research. It is difficult to tell whether the hospital and public health clinics are part of the same system or not. If they are not, Dr. Sanders needs to address the question of permission and consent of informants in both types of settings.

Case 15: The Case of the Egyptian Travel Agent

John Crane, an anthropologist who teaches at a small community college in a high-income suburb of a West Coast city, had three years of fieldwork experience in Egypt and was delighted when Professor Randall of the Classics department asked him if he would lead a summer tour to Egypt. These costly tours, designed and previously led by Randall, draw well-educated and well-traveled adults from the area. The tour group seemed happy with Crane's leadership and Crane indicated interest in conducting future tours. The following year, however, Randall, with the aid of his wife, resumed leading the tour, indicating that his popularity was necessary to the tour's success. 

Two years later, Crane teamed from a travel agent, an Egyptian specializing in cultural tours of Egypt, that the tour was in trouble. The agent, with whom Crane had had previous business dealings, attributed the tour's difficulties to the fact that it was being switched from his firm, which had handled it for 15 years, to another cut-rate firm, lacking Egyptian connections and experience. According to the agent, the college provost was attempting to take control of the tour. 

Crane talked to the provost, who said he had teamed that Randall had a standing arrangement with the travel agent, giving him 10% of every traveler's payment, or about $6,000 a year. In addition the college paid him for leading the tour. The provost was upset about this arrangement and had decided to quietly terminate it. 

At first Crane did not believe the story, but when he telephoned Mrs. Randall she indicated that standard practice in the travel business includes such payment. She also said that in Egypt, successful tour planning requires personal long-standing relationships in each city. 

Crane realizes that the Randalls operate in a business and a culture where such kickbacks are standard practice. It occurred to him that perhaps Randall insists upon leading the tour himself so that no one else will become aware of these payments. When he discussed the matter with his colleagues, no one seemed upset and, in fact, his department chair said that publicity would hurt the college and told him to forget the matter. (The chair had previously criticized Crane for not being a "team player.") 

Randall is now being considered for promotion to full professor and his colleagues are being interviewed about his qualifications. Crane teamed that two members of his own department recommended Randall and wonders what to say if he is asked his opinion. He believes that publicity about Randall would reach the market population of the tour and injure the college as a whole. In addition, Crane is himself coming up for promotion review next year and would like to enter the situation at peace with his colleagues. 


Murray L. Wax, Washington University in St. Louis: 

Strangely enough, in this entire account no mention is made of the academic qualifications of Randall, his performance as a classroom teacher, his productivity or other contributions to the welfare of this small community college. Surely these should be primary in a judgment about whether or not he merits promotion. If the issue is his moral conduct, then one would wish to know also about his behavior in these other and easily observable aspects of campus life. Since Crane seems unprepared to concern himself with an overall evaluation of the qualifications--scholarly and ethical--of Randall, then his best strategy would be to avoid being placed in a situation where he is called upon to judge. If explicitly asked, his best tactic would be to state that Randall is in a different discipline and that he feels unprepared either to endorse or not to endorse him for promotion. 

The marketplace for guided tours is extremely competitive in terms of both quality and price. Tours are offered--and implicitly endorsed--by a variety of educational and benevolent associations and institutions. Given the plethora of consumer choice and the fact that the tours in question are being proffered to educated and autonomous adults, there seems no moral compulsion upon this bystander to intervene. The situation would be far different if those recruited were students who were being given a chance to earn academic credit (or other goodies) by purchasing the tour. The situation would also be different if those who purchased the tours indicated dissatisfaction or, worse yet, a sense that they had been defrauded. But, again, no mention is made of this possibility. Rather, it sounds as if the travelers are receiving a pleasant and educational experience for their monies. 

Since the tours are offered under the auspices of the college, its administrators have a responsibility to see that the travelers participate in an educational experience. Also, as the sponsoring institution, the college would naturally wish to receive the major share of profits or windfall from the tour. Since the provost has been alerted to the kickback arrangement, there is no need for Crane to take further action, unless he wishes to emerge as perennial tour leader and is willing to do so without the additional income that Randall has been receiving. The college itself has the alternative of allowing Randall to continue as tour leader, but declining itself to supplement his kickback income with summer salary, on the theory that he is already receiving sufficient compensation. 

In short, my judgment is that this is a capital instance where one should rely on the mechanisms of the market. If the tour were overpriced for the experiences it delivers, one presumes that few sensible adults would purchase it, or, if they chose to purchase it, the responsibility for their folly would be primarily theirs; the situation would not call for evaluation by an outsider. Indeed, one would like to know about the costs and benefits of comparable tours to this "Egypt." Would the participants in a minimally priced, cut-rate tour--without kickbacks and "graft"--be left to stand for hours in queues at the airport and then find themselves occupying hotel rooms that were filthy and without amenities? This, too, can be educational, but would hardly qualify the tour for being priced at a high fee. 


Art Gallaher, University of Kentucky: 

The ethical issue posed here is how to deal with one's knowledge of the apparent ethical indiscretions of a colleague. As is often the case, it is compounded by the lack of conventional guidelines, and by the mixing of both personal and professional issues. 

Crane's dilemma in assessing Randall's ethics, forced by the possibility of having to render a judgment regarding his promotion, runs to three interrelated issues: whether to be influenced by (1) Randall cutting him out of the tour business; (2) Randall's indiscretion with the community college as reported by the provost; or (3) Randall taking a kickback in a cross-cultural business arrangement. Against this background, and seeking the advice of his colleagues, the notion of institutional welfare is invoked as a basis for ignoring the issue, for not "rocking the boat." An added pressure on Crane is that he, too, will soon be up for promotion and does not wish, therefore, to alienate his colleagues. 

Given the statement of facts in the case, what follows is based on the premise that Randall is not self-employed in the tour business, but rather operates on behalf of the community college in which he is employed. This being the case, the critical issues are simply the appropriateness of the cross-cultural kickback and whether other relevant cultural norms override those of Randall's own culture. 

Randall's posture that his kickback is an acceptable business practice in Egypt begs the obvious question of whether it is a cultural requisite for doing business there. The practice does not, for example, have the ritual connotation of the "lucky penny" in Irish trade relationships, or similar rituals elsewhere. Further, it begs even more the important question of whether one should seize advantage in a cross-cultural situation merely because there is the sanctioned opportunity there to do so. As stated, the advantage in this case flows directly from the college as contractor to the travel agent as seller. While a kickback to secure business might be acceptable to the seller, there is no reason to assume in this case that such payment is required by the contractor to avail of the seller's services. To postulate otherwise is to suggest that favor is endowed on an Egyptian by taking a kickback from him. Since this is not the case, Randall's actions are thus forced into the context of his own culture: by taking the kickback he compromises the ethical position of his employer, whom he represents in the tour arrangements, and leaves the impression of personal aggrandizement at the expense of parties cross-culturally. Put simply, he yielded to a bribe. 

The kind of ethical issue defined here should not be rationalized to protect either the college image or one's self-interest. It goes to the heart of what the academy is about and, because of that, is an important variable in assessing qualifications for appointment and promotion. It is very unfortunate in this case that Crane's decision is not made easier by what appears to be the tacit collusion of several parties, for whatever reasons, to ignore the issue. 

Reader's Response
Ralph J. Bishop of Educational Resources in Evanston, Illinois, wrote: 

"In the case of the Egyptian travel agent, Crane's ethical dilemma is not what he should say about Randall. He has no documentation of the man's activities and would be foolish to level such a serious charge as bribery without it. 

"Crane's problem is that the ethical standards of the college in general seem to be lower than he is comfortable with. He can try to live with this; he can try to raise the tone of the place (a difficult task which will win him no friends and may jeopardize his career); or he can leave. This college sounds like a fairly corrupt place. 

"First, Crane is reasonably certain that one of his colleagues is working with a travel agent for tens of thousands of dollars in kickbacks; second, the provost of the college takes the easy way out by changing agencies and then tells Crane some of the damning details in what is either a monumental indiscretion or a shrewd attempt to put Crane into an ethical dilemma and evaluate the way he resolves it (note that Crane wouldn't necessarily have known about the kickbacks if the provost hadn't told him); third, Randall's wife tells him in effect that her husband has done nothing wrong, nobody Crane talks to seems to think there is anything to get upset about, and Crane's chair tells him to shut up and forget the whole thing, for the good of the college (and, by extension, of Crane's career). 

"Unless he has the stamina and guts of a crusader, he should start looking for another job, but even then he may feel that he has yielded to expediency and compromised his standards. Poor Crane! `Where ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise.' " 

"Note: This famous quotation is from Thomas Gray's poem, `On a Distant Prospect of Eton College,' the whole of which has interesting resonances with this case, in that it is basically an elegy on the loss of innocence." 

Case 16: What's in That Bottle? What's in That Pipe?

The following case was sent by a reader of the Anthropology Newsletter:

"The dilemma I write about is that of alcohol abuse and culturally sanctioned intoxication. As an archaeologist I probably confront this less frequently than do ethnographers establishing long-term contacts with native groups in their villages. I feel the need to straighten some issues out in my own mind, however, so that I will be more comfortable entering different cultural situations in the future. 

"While working in the Southwest I have always refused under all circumstances to make liquor runs for Native Americans, and I have never brought liquor into an area in which we were in close contact. While visiting friends in one of the Pueblo villages, however, I frequently saw bootleg deals, drinking, and consumption of substances that are against the laws of the United States. I am certain that such situations must be experienced even more frequently by trained ethnographers. I have enough contact with ethnographers to hazard a guess at the general standards of our discipline in this regard. Most would strongly discourage the consumption of substances that are foreign to the biological and cultural systems of a people, as alcohol is to the Native Americans. 

"On the other hand, were I to return to West Africa and witness the production of palm wine and the ceremonial intoxication that goes along with it, I doubt that many in the discipline would find fault with me for following the crowd. These dimensions of human behavior are poorly understood, and the biological dimensions of culture contact are very complex. I hope we can continue to enjoy the experience of native celebrations without either leaving impressions of strict moral abstinence or corrupting those whose cultural patterns we are trying to learn." 


Jerrold Levy, University of Arizona: 

The correspondent raises the interesting question of whether it is ethical to drink with or in any way to encourage the drinking habits of Native Americans in the Southwest. The impression is given that the consumption of alcohol by American Indians is (1) against federal law; (2) somehow intrusive and dissonant to native cultures; (3) in some undefined way, physiologically more damaging for them than it is for Anglos or Blacks. 

Indian prohibition was repealed in 1953 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Indian reservations, however, remained dry unless they opted to permit the possession and sale of alcohol on the reservation. Presently, all reservations in Arizona and New Mexico are dry except for the Fort Apache reservation. The Papagos have local options for each reservation district and the Mescalers Apaches allow alcohol on their reservation at the Inn of the Mountain Gods which is tribally owned. The simplest ethical approach is to obey local law and to neither drink, bootleg, nor in any way to aid in the commission of a crime. Perhaps because of our national rejection of prohibition many cultural anthropologists have been willing to make exceptions, however. Many feel, for example, that it is alright to drink with Indians in government settlements or in the homes of good friends when the drinking is not to excess. Most frequently, tribal police do not enforce the law in areas where Anglo federal employees reside. It seems wrong to feel free to drink with the Anglos but not with those Indians who are similarly employed and who may live in the same compound. 

I do not know how long the correspondent thinks it takes for a borrowed culture trait to become an integral part of an Indian culture. In any event, Indians today are best conceived as ethnic enclaves, since national institutions have penetrated reservation society at every level. Prior to contact, fermented beverages were used from southern Arizona to Mexico. The Pimas and Papagos used alcohol for ceremonial purposes. The Yumans, Apaches, and Zunis used it informally and secularly, according to Harold Driver. By 1776, the Pueblos of the Upper Rio Grande had been encouraged by the Spaniards to learn viniculture to supply wine for church needs. By 1850, these Pueblos purchased whiskey from shops located within the villages themselves and refused to have dealings with Indian Agents unless gifts of whiskey, sugar, and coffee were made. While alcohol consumption had and continues to have many deleterious consequences, Craig MacAndrew and Robert Edgerton, in their book Drunken Comportment, have shown that the state of intoxication was not incompatible with the values and behaviors of most of the tribes of North America. Societies that valued dreams and visions as the means to enter the realm of the supernatural did not immediately see the difference between alcohol and the already familiar lobelia inflate, data stramonium, peyote, tobacco, and so on. It seems somewhat biased to be concerned solely with the ravages of alcohol among the Indians while ignoring the extent of the problem in the general population. To do so gives the impression that Indians are qualitatively different from other Americans, requiring a different set of ethical standards. 

The idea that the American Indian has some racial trait that makes him unable to hold his liquor goes back about 200 years. At one time, the same was thought of the Irish immigrants in this country. Any drinking behavior offensive to the sensibilities of the dominant social stratum was attributed to inherent racial characteristics. Today, differences in drinking styles are thought to be determined by cultural and not physiological factors. While there has been some research which suggests that Orientals and, perhaps, Indians, metabolize alcohol more slowly than whites, the differences are not sufficient to account for the great variability in drinking styles observed in these and various white populations. Because there is great individual variation in rates of alcohol metabolizing within any population, making a blanket decision about Indians forbids alcohol to those Indians who metabolize at the average Anglo rate while permitting it to Anglos who metabolize at the Oriental or Indian average rate. 

As Indians are citizens and do not comprise isolated societies with their own pristine cultures, it seems best not to dwell on what might have been done with Indians during the colonial period but rather to extend to them the same rights, privileges, and ethical considerations that are due to all of us. 


Vine Deloria, Jr., University of Arizona: 

After reading the complaint of the archaeologist who is asked to make "liquor runs" for Native Americans when doing scholarly work in their communities, my sympathy is wholly aroused. Native Americans have a similar ethical dilemma when confronted with non-Indians who desire to know "what's in that pipe" or who demand that Indians take them to certain ceremonies or assist them in obtaining buttons of peyote which, as everyone knows, are illegal substances for non-Indians who do not practice the religion of the Native Americans. Strangely, I believe that the pressures are considerably greater on Native Americans to provide non-Indians, particularly curious scholars, with substances which are not wholly within their cultural traditions than are pressures on non-Indian scholars to make liquor runs for Native Americans. 

What can we do about these two problems? Prior to the repeal of the liquor prohibitions by federal law in 1954, the pressure on non-Indian scholars must have been intense. Since that time, however, they must have moderated since most of the Indians I know would only ask a scholar to make a liquor run if they themselves had insufficient funds to make the purchase, not because they were prohibited by law from obtaining the substance. I am further worried about the tendency of non-Indian scholars to force alcoholic beverages on Indians only to satisfy their longing for a sense of fellowship or belongingness with Indians. I seldom drink to excess but I do serve on a board with a former president of the American Anthropological Association. He quite frequently asks me to have a drink with him after these board meetings. He is usually very hurt if I refuse, so I find myself in dingy New York bars downing drink after drink with him. I can't tell whether he believes he can pry longstanding tribal secrets out of me after he has plied me with alcohol or whether he is truly lonely and simply wants a drinking companion to chat with before he takes the train back to Washington, D.C. 

There are just no good guidelines to inform one of the proper behavior in such circumstances and I must often rely on my nativistic intuition before making a decision to drink with him. 

One additional thought comes to me. Every so often I am in Washington, D.C., and I receive photocopies of government documents that are not generally available to the average person. The government employee who gives me these documents, and this can vary from a senator or congressman's aide to an Assistant Secretary of the Interior, often wants me to share these documents with other Indians. I know that the white man's tribal secrets are really part of his heritage and the last several administrations have gone to extravagant lengths to prevent such "leaks," as I believe they are called. Should I inform on the person who has provided me with these documents or should I immediately get up and depart the premises before I am involved in anything illegal? The clash of cultures often presents one with novel dilemmas for which there is no good set of guidelines. 

Hopefully, what we are discussing is merely a transitional phase of culture contact and will fade away as we become more sophisticated in dealing with cultures different than our own. My best advice is to face each situation as it comes up and use one's best judgment. In the meantime I am not going to disclose what's in those pipes. 

Case 17: The Case of the Damaged Baby

Halfway through a research project in a newborn Intensive Care Unit, Sarah Michotte, a medical anthropologist, learned that a premature infant had not been given the state-required test for phenylketonuria (PKU), a pathological condition that can be reversed by diet and medication. Without immediate therapy, cretinism develops. 

The ten-weeks' premature infant weighed only 700 grams (one and one-half pounds) and had to be fed intravenously; this may have confused the staff, since the test must be given to a baby who has had approximately six oral feedings. 

The error was not discovered until two months after the test should have been given and the infant suffered permanent damage. The unit staff as a group "felt bad" about the mistake but had no one specific to blame. The house officer in charge of the case initially had finished his training in pediatric intensive care and had been transferred to another department; the nurse in charge had left her job. 

In communicating with the parents, the staff did not mention an error. Instead, the working-class parents, still in their late teens, were told that the baby had a long-term incurable problem. The parents were enthusiastic about their infant and told the staff, "We'll love her anyway, God made her." 

What should the anthropologist do? Leave well enough alone, protecting access to the field situation? Alert the parents that they have cause for legal action? Inform the appropriate state agency? Anonymously use the Baby Doe hotline available in the nursery? 


Sue Estroff, medical anthropologist, and Larry Churchill, medical ethicist, Department of Social and Administrative Medicine, School of Medicine: 

Two of the most troublesome situations for an anthropologist conducting research in a clinical setting are presented: (1) getting caught between patients and staff, and (2) being privy to unethical and perhaps illegal conduct by staff. 

It is tempting to see the medical ethical problems as the same as the anthropologist's. They are not, however. The ethical problems facing the medical staff provide the context for the conflicts facing the researcher. She cannot and should not attempt to resolve the ethical dilemmas of the staff. Nor should she intervene with the parents at this point. 

In a clinical research setting, both patients and staff are research subjects and informants for the anthropologist, regardless of the specific focus of the inquiry. Sarah Michotte is aware that some of her subjects, the staff, have committed acts that resulted in increased and perhaps avoidable harm to other subjects, a patient and family. First, the staff, apparently collectively, neglected to perform a test for PKU in a timely fashion. (In this and many other states this test is required by law, so there is some possibility that the staff acted illegally.) Second, they deceived the parents of the patient by (a) not telling them that under routine conditions their child's retardation might have been prevented or lessened, and (b) not telling them that staff error occurred. The child and parents were harmed by the failure to perform the test at the proper time; the parents were wronged by the subsequent deception about this error. As ethical concerns for the medical staff, the deceptions are as grievous as the error itself and the results. For the anthropologist, the deceptions and the increased damage to the child and the burden on the parents are of most concern. 

In devising a plan of action, the researcher has obligations to both the patient and parents, and the staff. If the anthropologist were to take any of the actions listed at the end of the case, without first attempting to move the staff to act, she would unnecessarily violate a trust with the staff. If she fails to act at all, she colludes in the deceptions and behaves irresponsibly toward the child and parents. The researcher's goal must be to get the staff to deal with the parents and the child in the honest, responsible, and competent ways they have thus far failed to do. 

Protecting access to the field is not an acceptable reason to refuse to act. This would place a greater value on the anthropologist's project than on the quality of life of parents and child. "Protecting" the parents from any pain, anger, or sense of betrayal they might feel upon hearing of the error and deception likewise does not justify inaction. Such paternalism would severely limit the knowledge and subsequent choices of the parents, compromise their opportunity to find some significance in their situation, and perhaps even restrict their abilities to care for their child appropriately. Similarly, to blow the whistle on the staff or initiate litigation without first providing the staff with a chance to generate a responsible resolution is to value punishing over restitution and repair. Whatever indignation and outrage the anthropologist may experience is secondary to concern for the welfare of the damaged child, burdened parents, irresponsible staff, and the deceit-ridden (and decidedly anti-therapeutic) relations between the staff and patient. 

Sarah Michotte should first inform the senior attending physician responsible for the Intensive Care Unit of the situation. There is no mention of a person in this role in the case description, but there was undoubtedly a responsible authority supervising the resident at the time the error was made. She should request a meeting with the unit staff, the head nurse, and the resident (wherever they may be), chaired by the attending physician, to discuss the situation and decide on a course of action. There will, no doubt, be a good deal of debate about establishing that, in fact, the damage to the child could have been prevented in any case, and the difficulty of assessing the degree of increased harm to the child and burden to the parents will probably be raised. Ambiguity on a technical issue, however, should not overshadow the ethical questions for the staff. The fact of the deception remains. 

The anthropologist's goal must be to restore the integrity of the staff-patient relationship without getting in the middle. This is especially important because of the nature of the child's problem, and the need for a trusting and functional relationship between the parents and other physicians and health professionals. Since PKU is genetically linked, these parents are at increased risk for having another child with the same problem. Careful regulation of diet and frequent medical monitoring are essential to the health of the current child. If these parents learn to distrust doctors and hospitals, and thereby avoid appropriate health care, their child may suffer even more damage, and their future children may needlessly have a similar fate. Again, the researcher's goal must be repair and restitution not revenge or righteousness. 

One way to avoid such research dilemmas is to make prior arrangements with the staff. The anthropologist can, in the form of staff and patient consent procedures or via contract agreements with the hospital or agency, spell out a procedure that will be followed if or when a circumstance such as this occurs. A staff person can be designated to receive information from the researcher. The researcher can (and should) make explicit that she or he will report to some agreed upon authority the occurrence of unethical or illegal conduct. In this way, all informants are aware that they should not expect the researcher to collude, remain silent, or interfere in the case of a conflict. Being clear about procedures will not prevent the inevitable surge of emotion and tension surrounding these events. But it will set out an orderly, professional standard that will respect the rights and obligations of all the interested parties. 


Eric J. Cassell, Clinical Professor of Public Health and Director of Cornell Program for Ethics and Values in Medicine, Cornell University Medical College: 

Anthropologists who work in medicine, no matter how unique, specialized, or isolated the setting, should make themselves familiar with those concerns of physicians and other health professionals that are common to all areas of medicine. Otherwise, like Michotte in the case presentation, they are liable to misunderstand the significance of events, or even their own importance. (I believe the same advice might be extended to fieldworkers in any strange culture.) 

Awareness of the problem of malpractice--its causes, prevention, and consequences--pervades medicine. But malpractice is only a special instance, albeit an extremely important one, of error in medicine. Physicians have been concerned with error and its consequences since the dawn of medicine, and there is a literature on the subject that Michotte should look into. The librarian of her hospital will undoubtedly be happy to assist her. Since in this case she has discovered evidence of not only error, but malpractice, she should read in that area as well. Because the error has already been made and is irrevocable, and no emergency exists, she would be wise to know more before she acts in any fashion. 

The case is presented in a manner that implies that the error is being covered up. If that is true, the personnel involved are unsophisticated in the extreme and risk exposing themselves and their hospital to greater trouble. It is highly improbable that the diagnosis will not be discovered by the child's parents. The simple test that was not performed in a timely manner can still be done, and when the records of her neonatal care are requested by subsequent physicians--the baby will continue to require care--the error will come to light. When it does, the parents will probably bring suit. They have plenty of time to do that because the statue of limitations extends for a period of years after the child reaches 21. The chance of a very large settlement will be increased by the attempt to conceal the error. 

Hospitals know these facts and many of them have instituted Risk Management programs whose function is to minimize the hospital's exposure to malpractice suits and to attempt to reduce the cost when they do occur. Malpractice insurance carriers require that they be notified as soon as a possible malpractice incident has occurred, and before suit has been brought. It is in the hospital's interest to know about the incident described in the case and to take action to both settle the case as judiciously as possible and institute procedures to prevent similar errors. That responsible staff had left the unit is irrelevant to the hospital and to them. 

The chief of pediatrics in whose department this incident took place has almost certainly been made aware of its occurrence. If not, he or she has rightful cause to dismiss the physician who failed to report it. Note carefully that the doctor will be fired for failure to report the error, not for its occurrence (at least for the error described). Mistakes happen in medicine. Nobody wants them to, but they are inevitable and the consequences can be disastrous. No one likes having just killed a patient. Many physicians never enter practice or assume primary responsibility for patient care because they cannot handle the inner emotional and moral consequences of their errors. 

What should Michotte do? First, as noted, she should do some reading on the problem. She should discuss the general problem of error and its management with the senior staff of the unit in which she is working. She should request their advice on how to act if she believes she has discovered an error. These discussions should have taken place when she first started her study. In doing all of this, she ought to act as if she has become a temporary but especially privileged member of the staff of the neonatal Intensive Care Unit. She is especially privileged because the staff, at their risk, have allowed her access to something without the training and socialization required of everybody else on that unit who is responsible for the lives of others. If, after all of this, she believes that an error is being concealed from a patient but is known to all those in the chain of responsibility, I believe it would be unwise of her to act independently of the social system that she has entered. This incident alone should make her aware of the complexities and burdens imposed on individual caregivers by the constant danger of error. She is not required to suspend her critical judgment out of sympathy for the staff, but if she sees them as the adversaries of both the patients and herself (an attitude implied by the case report) after she has carefully studied this problem, there may be other aspects of her work where her understanding fails. 

Reader's Response

Akkaraju Sarma at Temple University wrote: 

The ethical dilemma, as seen by Sarah Michotte, assumes that phenylketonuria (PKU) is simply determined by a single test and that immediate therapy must be instituted. Also, she appears to believe that when so treated, irreversible damage to the nervous system can be avoided. However, present data indicate that diet therapy should be instituted before three months of age. Literature points out (see C. Henry Kempe, Henry Silver, and Donough O'Brien, Current Pediatric Diagnosis and Treatment, p. 957, Los Altos: Lange, 1978) that 10% of newborns have classic hyperphenylalanemia in the first three to four days of life, and optimal screening is done at two weeks and later again at six weeks of age. Neurological impairment is usual but not universal. In the newborn, the differential diagnosis would include (a) Classic PKU (poor intolerance to phenylalanine is present throughout life), (b) Mild PKU (tolerance to phenylalanine is higher), (c) Transient PKU (intolerance to phenylalanine is transient, and when present, treatment with restriction of phenylalanine must be instituted), (d) Dihydropteridine reductase deficiency (features of Classic PKU are found but seizures and psychomotor retardation progress in spite of diet therapy), (e) Hyperphenylalanemia (diet therapy is not needed), (f) Tyrosonemia of the newborn (probably a benign condition), (g) Maternal PKU (virtually all are retarded and diet therapy is not indicated), and (h) Miscellaneous hyperalalanemia. 

"Given the complexity of PKU, this ethical dilemma fails to give needed additional information and states only that a test was missed. What was the exact diagnosis (given for this) premature infant? The infant is said to weigh one and one-half pounds, and life would have been difficult to support at that weight unless particularly intensive care was given (presumed so here). Given the case history (of ten-weeks prematurity), the general anticipated weight of the infant at this gestational age would be close to 1,700 grams, or about three pounds. 

"Sarah Michotte's first obligation is to go to the chief of the pediatric Intensive Care Unit, explain her findings, and seek clarification on the exact picture. It is unusual but not unknown that, in a complex case, errors in management occur; mechanisms to correct such errors first go through the hospital's internal system. With the sketchy picture of alleged PKU, which presumes its reversibility, the questions of Sarah Michotte's ethical obligations really avoid the other major issues that should be raised. The pattern of PKU presentation is provided above to illustrate the complexity of these issues. The medical anthropologist in this case has been provided rare access to acutely sick pediatric management information as well as steps taken in management of the case. Before taking any precipitous action, she must obtain as complete information as possible, including discussion of the issues with the head of the pediatric Intensive Care Unit. As indicated in the above comment by Eric J. Cassell, there are Hospital Risk Management programs, which include incident reports that are to be signed by the physician(s) managing the case. It is not that the anthropologist has found something out of line, but that she did not make the effort to find out what remedies were instituted. In addition to this, while the health care delivery system might benefit from the input of an anthropologist (under appropriate circumstances like the one discussed), the obligation on the part of the anthropologist must include a good reading of the materials on the problem (e.g., PKU). We certainly need good and knowledgeable persons in both aspects of the discipline. 

"Finally, the role of the medical anthropologist is not to precipitate any action unilaterally that would worsen the severe malpractice crisis that pervades the situation. Fortunately, not all clinical disciplines need the same type of insurance coverage (not as yet, probably not forever), but surely we do not need to buy such coverage for medical anthropologists for now or in future. Any unilateral action without sufficient details and justification is fraught with danger. 

Case 18: "A Little Thing Like Plagiarism"

The following case was sent by a reader of the Anthropology Newsletter:

"The following incident took place a few years ago, and I am still not sure that it was handled correctly. 

"I was teaching a course in my specialty and ordered a newly published text. In the course of the semester, I discovered to my dismay that one chapter of the book consisted of large portions of a paper I had published several years earlier. Although the article was cited at the beginning of the chapter, the verbatim passages were not enclosed in quotations, and included several pages of my article. 

"I wrote to the publisher, and received a somewhat cute letter in return, asking if I would let a little thing like plagiarism stand in the way of using such a nice text. I then turned to the AAA, since they seemed to hold the copyright on the article. But the holder turned out to be the Regents of the University of --------. The Manager of their Rights and Permissions Office at the University Press advised me that there was no infringement of the copyright law, since the appropriation of my prose fell within `fair use.' However, he advised me that there had been plagiarism. He suggested I send the evidence to the editorial board of the publishing house and to the department chair of the guilty author. But I wasn't out for vengeance; I simply wanted credit for my own prose. I asked for a written apology from the author and for assurance that my work would receive quotation marks in any subsequent edition of the book. 

"The dilemma is, what does an author do when her material has been plagiarized? What is plagiarism and what is copyright infringement? I wonder how many other anthropologists have confronted their own prose under someone else's authorship." 


George Spindler, Stanford University and University of Wisconsin:

In my experience as an editor of more than 150 case studies, five collected volumes, and the American Anthropologist, I have never encountered a case of outright, intentional plagiarism, though I have heard accusations of it and have acted as a third party in the settlement of it. 

In one instance (all shall remain anonymous) a prominent senior anthropologist accused an author of plagiarizing his hard-won demographic analysis of a tribal population in a remote geographic area. As it turned out, the author in question had acquired the data from the same source as the student--a colonial office. 

In another case a senior anthropologist accused a junior colleague who did fieldwork with the same people of plagiarizing his description of a certain ritual. As it happened, both had observed the ritual performed by the same small group, though at different times. The ritual was repetitive and the two anthropologists were good ethnographers. There was no plagiarism, despite the close parallels between the two accounts. 

A third case involved a review of a just-published textbook. The reviewer complained that the author of the text committed near-plagiarism, at least, because the text followed certain sources too closely, even though all sources were cited, and plentifully. The reviewer modified his statements in the initial draft of the review, removing all suggestions of plagiarism. 

In a fourth case an anthropologist engaged in a federally supported research project published his findings in a xeroxed volume with limited professional circulation. A few months later he was surprised to see several pages of his prose replicated in another similar report. Words had been changed here and there but it was clear that the pages were essentially replicated. After some unsatisfactory exchanges on the matter, he submitted a brief statement for publication, exhibiting his original alongside the plagiarized material. His statement was published. The person responsible stated that he was unaware of the source of the material submitted for the volume he circulated by one of his junior co-workers on the project. 

I do not believe there is much outright, intentional plagiarism in our field, or in academia in general. When it happens it is usually inadvertent. But the penalties for inadvertent plagiarism can be heavy, as for one recent dean who resigned because a text for which he was responsible included, in a chapter he did not write, some inadvertently plagiarized pages. The reviewing committee appointed by the administration agreed that the plagiarism was inadvertent, but censored him for carelessness unbecoming a scholar. 

It seems to me that when apparent plagiarism does occur, the victim should first contact the offending party, request an explanation, and secure amends in the form of a public acknowledgement and appropriate notice in future editions or printings, if there are any. If appropriate amends are not forthcoming, the publication of the documented instance in a professional journal seems justified and desirable. Such publication will alert others to the problem and to the penalty for even inadvertent plagiarism--disgrace--if not amended. 

Our prose, clumsy or smooth, piercing or pusillanimous, is our visible capital. We don't have much else. Students take notes in our classes, and sometimes years later ideas we never published spring forth in their writings. They themselves think what they wrote was original, their own creation. We hear each other's papers at meetings, we engage in discussions, we participate in panels and symposia. Our ideas are formed from this interaction and we contribute to forming the ideas of others. This is the way it should be. No one wants to shut down the exchanges or turn off the eager students. Ideas are evanescent. They flow and mingle. They cannot really be owned, despite strenuous efforts to make them property. It is a more successful effort in patentable ideas, of course, but even there, ambiguities exist. 

Our published works, or words written but not published, are finite and discrete. They are property. They can be stolen and when the crime occurs, it should be, if possible, set right, and if not, publicly noted and censored. 


Michael J. Lowy, a legal anthropologist with a general law practice in Hayward, California, who also teaches anthropology, administration of justice, and paralegal classes at De Anza Community College, Cupertino, California: 

The dilemma, as posed, generates two types of questions: one set appears to be legal, the other appears to be moral. In this situation, as in so many others, law and morality may reflect two quite different sets of concerns. 

I believe the differences between copyright infringement and plagiarism is based on the differences between the common law right, which an author possesses prior to publication in the exclusive ownership of her or his original work, and the statutorily created right an author possesses, after securing a copyright under the federal law or by general publication, in the exclusive ownership of her or his original work. 

One of the remedies available for violation of an author's common law right is a tort action for plagiarism. A violation of an author's copyright is called infringement. A source of confusion is the fact that, as in the dilemma, people use the term "plagiarism" to denote "copying" without regard to whether or not the original work copied is protected under the federal copyright statutes. 

The 1976 Copyright Act has modified previous court decisions concerning the legal doctrine of "fair use." This doctrine limits the exclusive rights by the owner of a copyright. Among the factors used to determine whether or not a particular use of copyrighted material is "fair" are: the purpose of the use and the impact such use has upon the value of the copyrighted material. Under the present set of facts, the manager probably concluded that the author's paper was of a scholarly nature not likely to be decreased in value by the "use," and furthermore, that the purpose to which the copyrighted material was put was educational. It is possible that the manager was incorrect, since the "use" was for a commercial nature and the amount "used" from the copyrighted material was substantial. The manager may well have decided that the cost of attempting to enforce the copyright was just not worth the potential benefits, if any, to the press. 

Authors who transfer the ownership of their copyrighted original work may not realize that they can negotiate retention of their right to sue for infringement. In the dilemma, if the author had retained this right, she or he could have tried to enforce the copyright on their own. So much for the law. 

The moral issue, in my opinion, is that some of the nonlegal remedies are perhaps more immediate and ultimately more harmful to the "copier" than the legal remedies. The author implicitly recognizes this, when she states, "But I wasn't out for vengeance." Bringing the matter to the attention of the editorial board might adversely impact upon the textbook author's future ability to publish at that press, and to resort to the department chair might affect the author's future promotions and his or her scholarly promotion. I believe that the offended party took the proper action under the circumstances. The legal remedies are too slow, uncertain, and costly. The initial nonlegal remedies are too quick and potentially too harmful. What the author of the article wanted was the professional recognition she deserved, not the professional ruin of the textbook author. 

The dilemma points out a need for a mediation service within the AAA. Apparently the past formal grievance procedure proved to be unwieldy and is being discarded. However, the availability of a structurally neutral and well-informed third party might be useful to help parties in such situations resolve their differences without the delay, expense or destructiveness of the currently available remedies. 

Case 19: Backstage Maneuvers

Laila Ibrahim, a medical anthropologist of Egyptian extraction who had spent two years doing fieldwork in Egypt, was hired as a consultant by the United States-Egypt Institute (USEI), a nonprofit institute established to improve relations between the two countries. Her work involved setting up and implementing a program for visiting Egyptian physicians who spent a year in the United States observing American medical techniques. The project, funded by the Health and Development Foundation (HDF), a small private foundation, is now seeking $170,000 from HDF for its third and final year. 

Laila is also on the board of directors of Women and Children First (WCF), a small nonprofit organization that supports projects to improve the health of women and children all over the world. Recently the organization was approached by Egyptian officials, interested in setting up a project to improve maternal and child health in Upper Egypt. Upon the request of the board and executive director of WCF, Laila visited the sites, met the proposed project personnel, and assessed the feasibility of success. WCF then paid her to prepare a grant proposal for HDF, whose executive director had expressed interest in the project. 

The president of USEI knew that WCF was seeking funds from HDF, the same foundation that supported the USEI project. He also knew that Laila was on the board of WCF, but he did not know that she had already met with the executive director of HDF and, upon his request, was preparing to submit a grant proposal for the WCF project. The president of USEI told Laila that HDF had just requested that he cut his application for funds in half for the final year of the visiting physician program; he asked if WCF could delay applying to HDF for a year, so that the two requests would not compete with each other. 

The executive directors of HDF and WCF do not want to wait. Moreover, the Egyptian officials have begun their bureaucratic arrangements (including a leave of absence from teaching responsibilities for the head of the proposed project). 

What should Laila do? (1) Tell the board and executive director of WCF that their project represents a conflict of interest for her and that someone else from WCF should work on the proposal? (But no one else really knows the situation; at this point, only she can do it properly.) (2) Ask WCF and the Egyptian officials if they can hold off for a year? (3) Ask the executive director of WCF if they can submit the proposal to another foundation? (But HDF is eager to fund the project, which will cost about $225,000, and it would be difficult, perhaps impossible, to find another organization with sufficient interest and funds.) (4) Submit the WCF proposal to HDF, divulging as little as possible to the president of USEI about her involvement? (But the president would probably never trust or hire her again.) (5) Talk to the executive director of HDF, tell him she has a problem and ask his advice? 


M. G. Trend, Senior Research Analyst, Auburn University Technical Assistance Center: 

The president of USEI is out-of-line. He assumes that his project will receive money for additional operations, if only the folks at WCF can be persuaded to postpone or drop their request for funding from the same foundation. Maybe this desperate ploy will even work, though I doubt it. 

Ibrahim would be foolish to allow herself to be gulled into helping with zany backstage maneuvers. Presumably, her reputation as a consultant rests upon her expertise, and not upon her willingness to try to "wire" proposals for clients. 

I'd decline to do the president's bidding, and I'd also mention the problem to the executive director of HDF. As things stand now, Ibrahim doesn't have a conflict of interest or any ethical dilemma that I can see. Understandably she doesn't want to offend the president of USEI. But if it comes down to either doing that or risk losing the regard of the other parties in this problem, the choice ought to be easy enough for her to make. 


Dorothea J. Theodoratus, California State University, Sacramento, and Clinton M. Blount, Theodoratus Cultural Research: 

This is a dangerous situation that might result in far-reaching antagonism and competition. The funding agency, HDF, may be attempting to accommodate two worthy programs that are linked both geographically and in area of action. The two programs appear already to be in competition, and the president of USEI sees WCF as the spoiler in USEI's request for a final year of funding (although it is not clear if HDF has told him that the WCF request is the reason he has been asked to reduce his funding request). Antagonism between programs may serve to irritate a generous sponsor, and there is the danger that these and future programs will suffer. Ibrahim's position with the USEI program, while important both personally and professionally, certainly seems less important than ensuring that the worthwhile goals of both programs are met. 

Of the options offered above, (5) comes closest to a solution. If Ibrahim hides her involvement (4) or requests WCF to have someone else prepare the proposal (1), she has not attempted to solve the basic dilemma. Open communication between the three parties is required, especially if WCF and USEI are beginning to view each other as competitors for the same funding. Ibrahim's acquaintance with the director of the funding agency is the starting point. She should determine if, in fact, the two programs are in competition. If they are not, USEI should be informed by the sponsor of the reasons for the funding reduction, and Ibrahim is free to pursue both projects. If they are competing, the funding agency should explain its reasons to Ibrahim, WCF, and USEI. The sponsor might be operating with misinformation about the goals of the two projects, and a change in the foundation's strategy might develop. If this dialogue does not produce a solution, Ibrahim has the option of going to the board of WCF and asking them to seek alternate funding (perhaps for the first year) or waiting a year to submit the proposal to the funding agency. If all parties are intractable, Ibrahim should consider her commitment to the completion of an existing program and ask to be released by WCF from what has essentially become a competitive bid for funds. 

Case 20: Power to the People

The Western Power Company operates an energy-producing project, composed of a series of reservoirs and powerhouses on federal land, which is now up for relicense. Recent federal rulings state that a municipal power agency may take over an energy-producing project if the agency can show it will operate the project as well or better than the private company, and Municipal Electric Company files a competing application to take over the project. 

The project lies in the territory of a tribe of Native Americans, who have had a troubled relationship with Western Power and other private utilities. Western Power hires Jones Cultural Consultants to investigate the concerns of the community and make preliminary recommendations; Municipal Electric hires Lambert Anthropological Consultants for the same purpose. Strict secrecy is imposed on all the studies, and only after protests is the Indian community able to obtain both sets of reports. The relationship between the Indian community and Western Power deteriorates further, and the community demands land and revenues from the company if the project is relicensed to Western Power. Drawing back from the conflict, Jones Consultants resigns. Having nothing to lose, Municipal Electric takes a more open approach with the community and, as a result, Lambert Consultants finds it easier to act as an intermediary. 

A second round of studies, involving intensive ethnographic research and negotiation on recommendations, is required of each company. Western Power has difficulty finding anthropologists to complete their study and, after the Indian community states that it will accept Lambert Consultants as Western Power's representatives, approaches the Lambert firm to do the study. 

Western Power and Municipal Electric each want a separate series of negotiations and "deals" with the community, and the Lambert directors find themselves in a dilemma. Their primary loyalty is to the Indian community and they worry that events might cause them to leave a group they have worked with for several years. They are not sure their firm can abide by the secrecy requirements posed by the two companies and wonder whether the struggle between the two will help or harm the community. The Lambert directors have considered the following options: 

1. Accept both offers and, no matter who wins, make sure the community benefits from the competition; 

2. Predict which company is likely to do the most for the Indians and accept their offer; 

3. Continue working for Municipal Electric because it has been more open and willing to cooperate with the Indians; 

4. Approach the two companies and suggest a single study and recommendations package, thus removing the Native American issue from the competition, even though this might diminish the benefits to the community. 


John Peterson, Mississippi State University: 

Since the Lambert directors have worked with the Indian community for several years, it is understandable that they maintain loyalty to them. But the abstract does not seem to indicate any sense of loyalty by the directors to a past client, Municipal Electric. The open approach adopted by Municipal Electric in the first round of studies was apparently in accord with the advice of Lambert Consultants and made their task easier. In fact it is this success with both their client and the community which raises the question: Can Lambert take on a second competing firm as a client? The Indian community apparently sees no problem here. The Lambert Directors wonder if their firm can abide by secrecy requirements posed by the competing two companies while working for both. Obviously they cannot. The problem is not just the secrecy requirements. Lambert has successfully carried out the first stage study for Municipal Electric under secrecy requirements. But Lambert cannot work for two competing electric firms on studies that must remain secret. I believe that working for competing firms is a more basic problem than the secrecy requirements. 

The statement of options by the Lambert directors does not seem to recognize that the firm can probably only carry out a study and make recommendations. The actual negotiations will probably be out of Lambert's control and should be beyond their responsibility unless they are specifically employed by one of the parties to actively negotiate for them. Since the two electric firms are in competition, each firm must do their own separate negotiation with the Indian community on the basis of study recommendations. The Lambert firm should make it clear to the community (as well as the electrical firms) that their role must be limited to a study and recommendations. The negotiations over these recommendations must be the responsibility of the community and the individual firms. I believe it unrealistic to believe that either electric firm will involve a consulting firm in actual negotiations beyond the study and recommendations. 

The primary concern for Lambert should be how to carry out the best professional study and recommendations to reflect the true concerns of the community; it is the quality of the study which will best represent their concern for them. Lambert, Municipal Electric, and the Indian community were all pleased with the open approach developed in the first stage study. 

I recommend that Lambert suggest a joint open study and recommendations as a first choice along the lines of option (4). But first, Lambert should make sure that Municipal Electric has no objection to Lambert investigating the possibility of a joint study and recommendations package under joint funding by both power companies. This must be an openly negotiated agreement between Lambert, Municipal Electric, and Western Electric, with the concurrence of the Indian community. 

If this proves impossible or unacceptable to Municipal Electric, I believe that Lambert should follow option (3) and continue working with Municipal Electric.. Not only has Municipal Electric been more open and more willing to cooperate with the Indian community, but also this would continue a successful client relationship. 

Option (1), working for two competing firms, is impossible. An attempt to do this would only discredit Lambert in the eyes of both concerns. The idea that Lambert can manipulate the results is naive. 

Option (2) also reflects an unrealistic view of the ability of the firm to predict the outcome of negotiations and a subsequent licensing process. For Lambert to switch from having Municipal Power as a client to Western Electric without cause would, in my opinion, tend to discredit Lambert as a reliable consulting firm. Since Lambert has already worked successfully with Municipal Power as a client in the first stage study, the consultants will probably have greater success and more influence in continuing to work with Municipal Power in as open a study as circumstances permit. 


Sue-Ellen Jacobs, University of Washington: 

In this dilemma, it is stated that Lambert Consultants' "primary loyalty is to the Indian community." I interpret this to mean that they will do whatever is possible to assure that the community benefits from the competition. If that is what is meant, then of the four options offered, they must accept number (1), after having discussed this openly with the appropriate members of the Indian community. 

Given the Lambert firm's "loyalty" to the Indian community and their desire to retain a good working relationship with "a group they have worked with for several years," a fifth option would include portions of (1) and (4), developed in collaboration with members of the community; namely, approach the two companies and suggest a single study that will directly involve members of the Indian community and the two companies, and allow no secrecy restrictions. The open competition that might result from this could be very advantageous to the community. Offers of greater revenues, acreages , capital improvements, and so on, might be laid on the bargaining table by each company while the second round of studies is being undertaken. This could make for an interestingly dynamic, but tolerable shift in some aspects of data within the study. I would expect that the single recommendation package to be presented to all three "parties," before it was turned over to the federal agency in charge of licensing, would include descriptions of various scenarios resulting from the proposals from each company. These scenarios can only predict, not guarantee, benefits or effects that might accrue to the Indian community. 

It is just possible that each company's planned project (i.e., what will be given to the Indian community in exchange for being able to lease the resources in the "tribal territory" that is simultaneously designated "federal land") would confer equal benefit to the Indian community. However, in the case of energy-producing projects there are often heavy costs, in the form of adverse ecological, community, individual, and other effects, that clearly outweigh anticipated benefits. A report that reveals details of such costs might lead each company, in turn, to up the ante on land, energy, and water, economic benefits that would accrue to the community and individuals in the short and long run, simultaneously stressing how these added benefits outweigh or mitigate adverse effects. 

The single study would have to break out the costs/benefits associated with each company's approach to the project so that the Indian community can reach the most informed decision, and then be involved in the final deliberations concerning licensing of one or the other company. A final recommendation would be that if a single study is acceptable to all parties. Lambert Consultants initially set up two in-house teams to begin the second study phase from the point of view of each company. At a given point in time, the two teams join to share research data and formulate the recommendation package. 

Having survived a similar situation, I appreciate the quandary and stress the dilemma poses. Regardless of the option chosen, the researchers are going to be working under a great deal of pressure in effort to produce the best research and the fairest recommendations. The degree to which the Indian community is dependent on Lambert Consultants' "best guesses" for promotion of their best interests is the degree to which the firm must commit its best resources. Options (2), (3), and (4) clearly would not allow such a commitment. 

Reader's Response

John N. Seaman of MacLean, Seaman, Laing and Guilford in Lansing, Michigan, wrote: 

"The ethical dilemma presented in this issue of the Anthropology Newsletter is interesting, because of the puzzling disregard by the commentators of the legal obligations of the Lambert consultants. The proposal to accept both offers is not permissible unless, after disclosure of all the facts, both competitors agree. It is a violation of the basic principle that an agent cannot serve two masters. Furthermore, entering into a contract with either utility involves another conflict of interest, if the consultant does owe its primary loyalty to the Indian community. 

"Finally, as agents of a utility, the consultants have not got the right to bend the results in favor of the Indian community. 

"The whole thing is no different from a lawyer who would not set out to represent three clients, all of whom have conflicting interests. He would probably soon find himself disbarred." 

Case 21: Ethical Dilemmas and Moral Responsibilities

After 14 months of fieldwork, plus nine successive summers, Becky Ross went into the field for her 11th season with a southwest Indian tribe. When she first entered the field, she had been accepted as a granddaughter by an elderly couple with whom she had always lived; the couple's three grown children and their spouses, who lived close by, treated her as a sister (or sister-in-law). Becky planned to spend the summer catching up on genealogies and reviewing a rough draft of her book on the tribe with her hosts. 

When she reached the field, Becky learned that her "grandfather-father" was not well: he had Alzheimer's disease and diabetes, exhibiting distressing signs of senility, and drinking heavily and hallucinating. (The illness was particularly painful for Becky, whose parents had moved in with her when her father developed Alzheimer's). After a week of settling in, Becky learned that her "brother" Bob had an urgent project in a distant city and that he and his wife would not be back until late August. Soon afterwards, Rita, her "sister," told her that she and her husband were leaving on vacation; the next day, Conchita, the third child, announced that she, too, had an urgent project and was leaving with her husband. In addition, her two "cousin-nieces" left; one had spent a great deal of time doing errands for the old couple; the other lived just across the path, making her available for emergencies. Before leaving, Conchita said, "We've been doing it all year. It's your turn. We waited till you came to make our trip." 

What could Becky do? She felt she had no choice. She behaved like the "granddaughter-daughter" she had always been called. She felt put upon in a way, but she also felt that a sense of responsibility accompanied her role as "occasional kin." 

The elders needed a great deal of care: Becky sat up nights with her "grandfather-father" when he was delirious; took them wherever they needed to go; did their shopping; cleaned the home; and helped her "grandmother-mother" prepare the food. Her "siblings" returned shortly before she was scheduled to begin the new semester of teaching at her university. The manuscript had not been reviewed. The genealogies were not updated. 

She remembers the summer with distress. It was exhausting, frustrating, and mostly unrewarding. More than a year later, her book is still unfinished. 

The following summer, however, she found her relationship with the extended family had changed subtly. Several family members spent a great deal of time helping her nephew, a boy with emotional and educational difficulties whom, with the encouragement of the family, she had brought for a two-week visit. And, for the first time, Becky joined freely in family disputes about rights and responsibilities: "I had the same arguments with everyone they have with each other," she reported. Becky's response to the family's needs created a temporary dilemma for her, but it helped transcend the temporary character of her relationship with the family. 


Elizabeth Colson, University of California-Berkeley: 

Becky Ross's experience provides both an example of responsibility in a fieldwork situation and a warning--a warning that entry into fictional or quasi-kinship relationships entails expectations and claims that the anthropologist may find onerous, especially if the relationship continues over the years as the anthropologist makes repeated visits to the same locality. Reliance on an individual or a family for assistance during periods of field research sets up counterobligations. Becky Ross honored the claim in a manner few of us would have the courage to do and behaved admirably. 

Joan Cassell (personal communication) sees Ross's behavior in terms of its exemplary character rather than as a dilemma. But in ethics, one is rarely provided with a clear-cut choice between right and wrong. In fact, one is having to choose amidst contradictory claims in most cases. The case as given to us does not say whether or not Ross had received a grant to finance her summer of fieldwork. If she did, what then? Ought she to return the grant because she was unable to carry out her proposed research? Or would the grantor be assumed to regard Ross's new position within her adopted family as an adequate recompense for the failure to check genealogies and complete the manuscript? What obligations do we have to those who finance fieldwork? How many of us in fact do what we said we would do when we asked for funding? Given the highly contingent character of fieldwork, the specificity of research proposals probably burdens all of us with unfulfilled promises. 

Ross's experience also raises the question of whether those beginning field research should be advised against entering into the kind of close personal friendships or quasi-kinship relationships which are so reassuring and satisfying when we are the gainers from the relationship. At the very least, we ought to alert novices to the fact that they are creating obligations and they ought to learn what these may entail. 

Case 22: Forbidden Knowledge

The following case was sent by a reader of the Anthropology Newsletter:

"In my research on the language of the _______, a small group of Indians dwelling in the Southwest, I obtained a good deal of ethnographic information as windfall from my intensive linguistic study. There has been only one ethnography written about the _______, a master's thesis written in the 1930s. Not only is this work difficult of access, it is also incomplete. Because no major ethnographic work has been done on the group, it is generally assumed in the literature that their culture is identical to a larger group with whom they were associated in the 18th century. I have found out that this is not so, and that they have (or had, as their culture is rapidly westernizing) a distinctive culture, especially in the areas of religion, ritual, and the supernatural. My dilemma is this: Although the group does not object to descriptions of their former material culture, they are strongly opposed to any discussion of their nonmaterial culture. I was told outright that these beliefs and practices were not the property of non-Indians, and that I had been told about them only because I had found out about certain aspects of these ideas, and they did not want me to be in error about them. In conclusion, I was told that these things should not be published. 

"Because of the opposition of my consultants, I have done little with my ethnographic notes. At one point I had begun to write an article on their culture, but abandoned it because I felt moral qualms about going against the expressed desires of my consultants. My question is this: Do the wishes of my consultants override the need of science for an ethnographic description of a little-known culture that is becoming westernized? Would it be ethical to produce a work that would appear only after all of my consultants are dead, which could be 20 or 30 years? Or does the right to privacy, which my consultants insisted on, have to be observed as long as the _______ people maintain their independent existence?" 


Nancy Lurie, Milwaukee Public Museum: 

The dilemma as posed is a choice between responsibility to one's discipline and responsibility to the people one works with. This narrow interpretation allows only one choice. Confidentiality is confidentiality. 

Concern for the interests of the _______ people in general rather than concentrating solely on one issue of special interest to the researcher opens up new potentialities for finding common ground. Has the researcher pointed out to these people that they are misrepresented in the literature about them and, if so, does it bother them that outsiders have an incorrect view of them? Assuming the researcher has followed this course or can return to determine their reaction, and it does bother them, it would seem that mutual agreement could be reached as to how much could be included in a general ethnography of their traditional culture to demonstrate their distinctiveness. The account indicates the people are concerned about accuracy and states that they have no objection to publication on their former material culture (it would be helpful to know if they are actively interested in preserving this information as many groups are). They just are opposed to any discussion of their nonmaterial culture which, in the statement of the case, is equated exclusively with "religion, ritual, and the supernatural." 

Their distinctiveness, however, is described as relating "especially" but, one must assume, not entirely to sacred matters. Nonmaterial culture includes a lot more than sacred matters. Would it not be possible to straighten out the ethnographic record (which is an important, but not the only, consideration) by reference to distinctiveness in less sensitive areas such as economic activities, social organization, kinship, and perhaps even material culture? It might even be possible to refer to the clincher evidence of sacred data in mutually agreeable terms as suggested without revealing what people do not want revealed. The researcher certainly could make clear that the presentation is less than complete in deference to the _______ people. There is not enough information provided to know what kind of rapport exists between the researcher and the _______ people, and whether the situation is one where they could or would want to be involved in the scholarly enterprise of describing their own traditional culture for publication. The possibility certainly should be pursued. 

We all have a responsibility to make explicit provision for archiving our field notes. Field notes always contain information which for various reasons never gets included in researchers' publications but might be useful to other scholars, or might indicate new or additional interpretation than the published form in light of new data unavailable to the researcher. Notes placed in an appropriate depository either during one's lifetime or as a bequest can include restrictions. Since the _______ people are becoming rapidly "westernized," it should be easier than in some cases to arrive at appropriate safeguards of confidentiality with them which would preserve information for their descendents, if they find this desirable on careful thought about the matter. 

Given the necessarily brief background information, the only possible recommendation is an ethical course of action: striving to discern the overall interests of the people one works with, leveling with them, and involving them as much as possible in presenting their own story. We must be prepared to accept that sometimes their interests will not mesh with ours and their interests must be respected, but probably more often than not a researcher's sincerity and candidness works to the benefit of all concerned. 


Keith Basso, Yale University: 

The wishes of the people with whom this ethnographer has worked must be honored at all costs. Native Americans are already wary of the motives of anthropologists (as well they have reason to be), and failure to abide by this simple request not to publish religious materials would only make the situation worse. But that is probably a selfish concern. Ethnographers are guests among the people whose cultures they study, and grateful guests (as this ethnographer gives every indication of being) should be certain to behave accordingly. Grateful guests should display sensitivity and respect--and sensitivity and respect are the fundamental issues here. Science must take a back seat. The controversial materials should not be published. 

Despite their strong feelings against publication, the people involved in this case would appear to have accorded the ethnographer a measure of confidence and trust. In doing so, they may also have accorded the ethnographer a handsome opportunity to participate more actively in their affairs and to work with them on projects aimed at improving the immediate conditions of native life. I refer, of course, to projects in areas such as nutrition and health care, education and legal assistance, economic development and the management of human and natural resources, and others. 

The extent to which anthropologists can be of service in areas such as these cannot be determined a priori. Every situation will in some ways be different from every other. But whatever the nature of the specific situation may be, confidence and trust are essential if true cooperation is to flourish and develop. And whenever it does--whenever the anthropologist can work with local people to bring about desired forms of change--the personal rewards are apt to be substantial. In the long run, I expect, these rewards are more deeply satisfying and permanently enriching than any which may result from professional publication. But that, of course, is a matter of opinion. 

And who knows? Much later on, after the people have come to know the ethnographer well, after their confidence in him (or her) has been increased, a responsible member of the local community may step forth with an unanticipated proposal. "You remember those things we didn't want you to put in a book? Remember them? Well, we've been talking about it, and maybe, if you still want to . . . " 

This sort of thing has happened before. People change their minds. But until they do--and until the ethnographer can be reasonably certain that they will not change them back again--publication must be postponed. Science must wait. God knows--and so do Native Americans--that there are dozens of other worthwhile things to do. 

Case 23: Slow Code

Francis Johnson was the first anthropologist to be hired for a newly created position of Clinical Social Scientist in a medical education program at a community teaching hospital. As part of a team research project, Johnson conducted ethnographic observations of "Code 99" events occurring on the evening shift. When "Code 99" was announced over the hospital loudspeakers, this was the signal for a team of doctors, nurses, and technicians to assemble to make strenuous attempts to resuscitate a dying patient. Although hospital policy demanded "coding" all patients who expired without a "DNR" (do not resuscitate) order on their charts, Johnson soon realized that residents in internal medicine, in advance and among themselves, were selecting patients who would receive a "slow code" on the night shift (a "slow code" being one that was intentionally conducted too slowly for resuscitation to occur). The residents offered three justifications for designating a "slow code" (one or more might be cited by different house officers to explain a decision about a particular case): (a) the patient was being kept alive by technology alone and should, as a moral decision, be allowed to die; (b) the patient had a chronic disease, which the residents found uninteresting, and from which they felt they could learn little; (c) the chronic disease the patient suffered from was beyond the resources of internal medicine, and the use of technology to prolong the patient's life was a waste of time and effort. 

The consequences of documenting this slow code would bear most strongly upon the house officers, who found themselves under considerable professional pressure and competition. Johnson had been hired as part of a new program to upgrade the hospital, which included an affiliation with a more prestigious hospital, and an attempt to rid the hospital's residency program of its longstanding reputation of being composed primarily of graduates of foreign medical schools. At least half the current residents were, in fact, graduates of foreign medical schools, several had been fired since the new program was instituted, and all were uneasy about the renewal of their yearly contracts. In addition, residents feared an interrupted relationship with the cardiology department, whose letters of recommendation were influential for obtaining fellowships for residents who wanted further subspecialty training. A new cardiologist and director of the Cardiac Care Unit was counting "successful codes," (those resulting in resuscitation) as an index of his success, and would surely consider slow codes inappropriate. 

Johnson felt a conflict. A decision to formally document the occurrence of slow codes bore not only on the welfare of the residents, but also on professional relationships within the hospital. Would documentation further polarize and politicize the uneasy relationships between professionals within the hospital? Would Johnson be perceived as an informer, a management "fink"? Would documentation betray his research population? Who, indeed, was his research population? Who was his "client"? And to whom did he owe primary loyalty? 


Mark Siegler, Director for Clinical Medical Ethics, University of Chicago, Pritzker School of Medicine: 

In its recently published ethics manual, the American College of Physicians recommended that "do not resuscitate" (DNR) orders for mentally competent adults be handled according to informed consent guidelines and be based primarily on the clinical indications in a case and on the preferences of the patient. There is general agreement that quality of life factors including age, mental illness, mental retardation, chronic illness, "uninteresting" illness, and cost of care, should not be primary grounds for withholding cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). 

There is also general agreement on the issue of "slow codes" or partial codes. The President's Commission commented: "Success" at resuscitation is rare enough when all efforts are expended, so limited efforts are usually doomed from the start. Thus, "partial codes" become a kind of dishonest effort that needs to be justified by reasons stronger than merely the providers' discomfort in discussing DNR decisions" (Deciding to Forego Life-Sustaining Treatment, pp. 250-51). 

My own view goes even further. The decision to refrain from CPR should be clear, definite, and communicated in writing to all relevant parties. "Slow codes" or "show codes" should be repudiated as dishonest. If there are sound medical reasons to select among the techniques of resuscitation (that is, partial codes), then they should be clearly noted in the record. 

The residents who practiced nocturnal slow codes acted in ways that were detrimental both to their patients and to themselves. Their three justifications for their (in)action were based on a confusing mixture of a dash of medical indications with a large measure of quality of life judgments, which seem to ignore completely any input from the patients. Further, by guaranteeing the failure of all their resuscitation efforts, they were courting the displeasure of the new cardiologist and were jeopardizing their own careers. Simultaneously, their actions constituted bad medicine, bad ethics, and bad personal judgment, and warranted censure if not outright dismissal from the program. 

We turn now to the more interesting problem: To whom and for what was Francis Johnson, the Clinical Social Scientist, responsible? Specifically, should he reveal the existence of nocturnal slow codes? The answer to this depends largely on Johnson's conditions of employment and on his role and its obligations. The responsibilities of his newly created position as Clinical Social Scientist are described in different ways including (1) responsibility for medical education, (2) responsibility for a research project, (3) responsibility for ethnographic observations, and (4) "Johnson had been hired as part of a new program to upgrade the hospital. . . ." 

At times, these various roles of educator, researcher, ethnographer, and "hospital upgrader" may conflict and they do so here. But which is his primary obligation? The answer seems clear to me. Johnson has agreed to work for a salary primarily as an applied social scientist--a clinical anthropologist. The hospital has bought his expertise to help it improve its operation by developing applied research and education programs. In the course of his activities, he has uncovered a recurring pattern of bad practice--call it if you like "malpractice"--and it is his duty to his employers, not to patients, to "blow the whistle" so that hospital policy and function can be improved. In doing so, he will have earned his salary. 

Note that Francis Johnson is not functioning primarily as an observer who is conducting basic ethnographic research on the sort reported by Charles Bosk in his excellent book, Forgive and Remember. Johnson is not employed as a patient advocate. He surely is not employed as a physician advocate. And, unlike physicians and other health professionals, he does not have a primary commitment or role responsibility to patients. In each of these roles, he would likely face a conflict of interest and would have multiple and divided loyalties. Johnson is a lucky man; his responsibilities are undivided; he should be "a management `fink' " and should be proud of it. 

One final cautionary note. As this protocol indicates, clinical social scientists like Francis Johnson, should be very sensitive to the many ethical issues raised by their very presence in the clinical setting. In contrast to doctors and nurses, and even to social workers and chaplains, clinical social scientists do not provide services directly to patients, and thus do not have the legitimacy that these traditional health providers can claim. Clinical social scientists should begin asking the ethical question of how they gained access to the medical context, and whether this access is appropriate. It should be their responsibility to inform physicians and housestaff, other members of the health care team, and even patients of their plans to conduct ethnographic observation. Indeed, they should be expected to obtain informed consent when they are doing such research. Otherwise, they are violating patient and health professional privacy and confidentiality and they may be acting deceitfully and manipulatively with respect to both groups. I am also concerned that the presence of such clinical social scientists may interfere with medical activities and with the clinicians' intuitive judgments, which could cause harm to patients. Even more troubling is the possibility that some physicians might abdicate their medical responsibility by delegating difficult decisions to the social scientist expert. Naturally, the trained social scientist lacks technical medical knowledge, has not been prepared in the ethics of human caring, has no responsibility or accountability for decisions made, and has not been sanctioned by the patient to be making such decisions. Thus, the delegation of decision making responsibility to the social scientist would be detrimental to medicine and patients and clearly unethical for physicians. I merely wish to note that the presence of clinical social scientists or clinical anthropologists on the wards may generate some new ethical challenges that we must be aware of. 


Jessica H. Muller, Division of Medical Ethics, and M. Margaret Clark, Medical Anthropology Program, University of California-San Francisco:

Let us begin by addressing the final question first: to whom is Francis Johnson's primary loyalty? It is a commonly held axiom that the anthropologist's paramount responsibility is to those he studies (see Principles of Professional Responsibility). However, as this case, among others, suggests, research often involves more than the anthropologist and his or her informants, thereby rendering the question of primary loyalty more complex. It appears in this situation that there are in fact three constituencies to whom Dr. Johnson has some measure of responsibility: the director and staff of the medical education program at the community teaching hospital; the residents participating in the internal medicine training program at the hospital; and those seriously ill patients who may be candidates for slow codes. These three constituencies determine the courses of action open to Dr. Johnson. 

As we have seen, Francis Johnson has been hired as Clinical Social Scientist in a medical education program that has been developed to upgrade a community teaching hospital suffering from a poor reputation. Since Dr. Johnson was brought into the institution in this capacity he clearly has some obligation to his employer. We are not told who this is, but it was probably the director of the medical education program, possibly in conjunction with the hospital administration. As Clinical Social Scientist one of his duties apparently was participation on a team research project, one part of which was the study of "Code 99" decisions. Although we are not informed about the specific objectives of the research, it is possible that the research was being conducted, at least in part, to discover and document the strengths and weaknesses of the medical education at the hospital, specifically the residency training program. Any problems that existed could then be addressed by the staff of the medical education program or the hospital administration in the effort to upgrade the hospital. Presumably Dr. Johnson understood the duties associated with his position when he accepted it; therefore, he is ethically bound to his employer, and to the research team of which he was one member, to document what he has observed. If the practice of calling slow codes became apparent in the course of his research, he must respond to it in some fashion. 

This could be accomplished in such a way that would preserve the confidentiality of individual residents and patients, as well as shift the "blame" away from the residents themselves. He could, for example, profitably employ his knowledge and skills as an anthropologist to elaborate the social context of "code" decisions. What are the social and structural features of the setting that might influence the use of slow codes? Are attending physicians--who have the legal responsibility for writing a "do not resuscitate" order in the patient's chart--available when it is necessary to discuss with the residents whether a particular patient will be resuscitated in case of cardiopulmonary arrest? Are there particular characteristics of the residents' work that might encourage them to resort to an unofficial slow code policy, such as fatigue or being overwhelmed by other, more "salvageable" patients? Is the issue of "terminal care," including code decisions, being pushed aside in discussions in favor of the challenges presented by obscure diseases or advances in medical technology? Such an analysis might include an examination of the roles of all of the actors who may be involved in these situations, in addition to the residents, Including physicians, nurses, the patient, and members of the patient's family. 

Information of this nature could be analyzed and presented to the staff to illuminate how code decisions are made in general, as well as why slow codes in particular may be occurring. If this were done well, it could shift the focus of attention away from the residents onto the situation, with possible positive results for improving the ethical standards of the hospital. Needless to say, all documentation of this information must be done in such a way so the data are rendered anonymous, to preserve the confidentiality of both patients and residents. 

In addition to this research function, Dr. Johnson's position in the medical education program also involves an education and training component. In this capacity he could, for example, initiate discussions on the acceptable criteria for code decisions. One way of doing this would be to organize a Grand Rounds (a weekly meeting where topics of interest to physicians are presented and discussed) where a physician and bioethicist could discuss the general issue of the acceptable criteria to be used in making code decisions for the benefit of medical students, residents, and attending physicians. Furthermore, if Dr. Johnson discovered that other personnel, such as nurses, were participating in calling slow codes, he might also invite them to participate in the general discussion on code decisions. 

One issue that should be addressed in a general way in either Dr. Johnson's ethnographic account or in the public forum is the emphasis placed by the director of the Cardiac Care Unit on successful codes. If the residents are experiencing pressure to resuscitate patients, regardless of outcome--a poor quality of life or a chronic vegetative state, for example--then this must also be documented. The issue could be addressed in terms of the general policy implications of these actions, rather than the desires of a particular individual. 

A final issue concerns Dr. Johnson's ethical obligations to the patients. It appears to us that he is ethically obligated to raise the question of the treatment of patients who are not being allowed the possibility of being resuscitated. Although in raising this question he may in fact influence the professional relationships in the hospital, an overriding issue here is the welfare of the patient. In situations of conflicting ethical principles, there may be certain circumstances under which the anthropologist has to give high priority to the population most at risk within his or her purview. In this case, the patients are more vulnerable than the residents. 

In short, it appears to us that documentation goes with the job for which Dr. Johnson was hired. This can be done in a way, however, to protect individuals, to utilize materials for educational purposes, and to point out underlying structural problems in the institution that need to be corrected. 

Case 24: Site Unseen

A western archaeologist, who operates a consulting firm, wrote: 

"As you are probably aware, much of the work performed in my region is a result of energy exploration and other activities which take place on federally administered lands. Many of the jobs my firm performs are limited only to the portions of the projects on lands under federal administration. Most ranchers and others in this region have never quite accepted or approved the vast amounts of land retained under federal ownership and administration. A certain distrust and even animosity is felt toward the federal system; on occasion, this is directed at the archaeological consultant working on federal projects. 

"Several years ago we were conducting a cultural resource inventory (survey) of a proposed geophysical exploration project. At one point we had to cross private land to reach the project area. Since this was private land, the client was not required to have the project area examined for the presence of cultural resources; we were instructed not to do so, and that we would not be compensated for any time or expense in working off federal lands. 

"While driving to the portion of the project on federal lands, we discovered that a large site with both historic and prehistoric components was on the private land within the project area. We decided to record this `off project' site at our own time and expense. It seemed the proper thing to do, given the fact that the area would receive some adverse impact from the proposed action. Since it was on private land, however, there was no federal say on the matter. 

"Upon completion of the entire project, we contacted the private landowner, to learn something about the historic component and structures we had observed, so that the site forms would be as complete as possible. After we explained why we wanted the information, and told him how he would be helping to preserve data about early homesteading and ranching activities in the area, he become extremely uncooperative. He said it was his land and that the #$%^&*^# federal and state agencies had no business knowing what sort of sites were on his land. He was also concerned that knowledge of the sites by federal and state agencies might impede future projects, for which he receives royalty and damage payments. To him, the site represented a threat to the future development and exploration of the natural resources on his land. 

"Our dilemma was what to do with the information we had collected about the site. The rancher had specifically stated that he did not want this site form turned in to any federal or state authorities. We had already collected the information on a site, however, which, while probably not significant, would be adversely affected by a project. (Note that we were not violating his wishes when we originally recorded the site; we were unaware that he did not want us to record the site, and we had permission to cross his land to reach the federal portions of the project.) We wanted to honor the wishes of the private landowner, who technically owns the site; yet we felt an ethical and professional responsibility to report the presence of this cultural resource to the appropriate agency. 

"After much agonizing, we finally submitted the site form to the Bureau of Land Management, separate from our project report, and with the explicit understanding that the information would not be disclosed to anyone outside that agency. We hoped that this would preserve the data and facilitate future management decisions on the surrounding federal lands. We felt more than a little guilt in doing this, but it was a matter of finding the lesser of what seemed to be two evils. 

"I have always wondered if we did the proper thing, and would welcome some feedback on this issue. 


Keith W. Kintigh, University of California-Santa Barbara: 

There are many reasons that landowners might have for not wishing to have sites on their land recorded in federal or state files. Their wishes might be motivated by a desire to protect the sites (and landowners are generally better protectors of sites they own than federal or state agencies are of sites on public lands). The landowners might fear that having an unusual or interesting site in the records of a state or federal agency might generate the additional nuisance of archaeologists coming around to bother them for permission to visit the site, or of some agency coming to ask for a report on the site's condition. On the other hand, the intent might be to squeak around the federal compliance process, counting on a lack of diligence by the relevant agency in determining whether any cultural resources would be affected by some future development. 

I would be sympathetic to the first motive, and in large measure to the second, and would not report the site. The third case is more troublesome. If, under the future development, the site would be subject to federal or state protection, the archaeologist may essentially abet the landowner if the site is not reported. On the other hand, in that case (at least under federal law as I understand it), it would be the responsibility of the agency funding or licensing the development to determine if there are any sites that would be affected. While one hates to contribute, even indirectly to the destruction of a site, some of the suspicion of and resentment of federal and state agencies by ranchers is certainly warranted. 

If the site is reported, I would have to wonder what it means to have the site report kept out of the public record, what the legal standing of that assurance is, and more importantly, what the long-term access to the records would be in practice. Even given the assurance of the agency, I'd guess that it is not unlikely that the archaeologist's failure to comply with the landowner's wishes will become known to the landowner. Even though no promise was made, this realization will not enhance the owner's view of archaeology. If the owner considered the site enough of a nuisance (as many ranchers do), he or she would be legally entitled to destroy the site or have it professionally looted so long as it were not done with public funds. However, in this case, having reported the site there would be at least some record of it. 

On the balance, I'd say that there are circumstances in which a landowner's request to withhold site information should be honored. Given that, if distinctions are to be made they have to be based on the motives of the owner and the tradeoff between the marginal benefits to the profession of reporting the site and the difficulty of evaluating risks of doing so. My own inclination would be to honor most landowners' wishes unless it were clear that the landowner was likely to destroy the site in any event, in which case we should at least have some record. 


Ruthann Knudson, Woodward-Clyde Consultants, Walnut Creek, California:

The issue of who owns an archaeological resource, with its included information value, is critical today as archaeologists confront the public nature of those resources in the context of the U.S. Constitution's prioritization of private property rights (see Knudson 1986:395-400 in Meltzer, Fowler, and Sabloff, eds., American Archaeology Past and Future, Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press). Within this issue the concept of ownership of the resource information is usually not highlighted, and is the key to the western archaeologist's present dilemma. As introductory anthropology students we learn that northwest coast Indian value systems include the concept that songs or other kinds of information are private property, and we know about U.S. copyright and patent laws, but we are not accustomed to translating those concepts into everyday practice. 

As I have discussed elsewhere (ibid), the policy statements of American federal law (e.g., National Historic Preservation Act, National Environmental Policy Act, Archeological Resources Protection Act) identify American's prehistoric and historic properties as part of the public wealth. That is the basis for developing an ethic of archaeological practice, and is implicit within the statement of ethics of the Society for American Archaeology, the American Anthropological Association, and the Society of Professional Archaeologists. In marked conflict with this policy is the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which states "nor shall private property be taken for public use without compensation." There is no U.S. case law that resolves this issue. 

I believe it is my ethical responsibility as an archaeological practitioner to understand both these positions, try to comply with both insofar as is appropriate, and accept the American Constitutional priority of private ownership if a conflict cannot be resolved. The key factors in my response to this query are: 

1. A contract was accepted by the archaeologist, and I presume that the contract provided that the archaeologist would work on the instructions of the client. The archaeologist was instructed, presumably by the client, not to look for cultural resources on private lands. The private lands subject to this instruction were presumably either within portions of a linear project area that also crossed public lands (use of which required a federal right-of-way grant), or were nonproject area lands over which trespass was required to reach the public portions of the project area. In any event, a contract was accepted, instructions were agreed upon (I presume, since it appears the client paid for the consultant's services), and land was trespassed with landowner's permission at least for such trespass. I would bet that the permission agreement did not specifically authorize any other kind of activity (e.g., archaeological recordation). 

2. The archaeologist saw a prehistoric/historic resource on private land, and recorded it without prior landowner permission, and in violation of an agreed-upon contract. 

3. The archaeologist contacted the landowner to get information about the historic component at the site, not to ask permission to record; at that time the landowner "specifically stated that he did not want this site form tuned in to any federal or state authorities." 

4. The archaeologist subsequently submitted the site form to a federal agency, "with the explicit understanding that the information would not be disclosed to anyone outside that agency." 

While I appreciate the conflicts the archaeologist is trying to resolve, I believe that the overall behavior was unethical on several points. First, the archaeologist accepted, then violated, a contractual relationship while accepting compensation for contractual fulfillment. Second, the archaeologist did not request authorization from the private landowner before recording the site, while (through the client's right-of-way agreement) accepting permission to trespass on the private land. Third, the archaeologist directly opposed the private landowner's requirement that the site's location or characteristics not be made known to any federal or state agency. 

I do not believe that science can ethically be practiced in isolation from the sociopolitical context of the studied resource. The prevailing American sociopolitical value system is stated in the U.S. Constitution. 

Case 25: The Runaway Wife

A reader wrote: 

"I experienced the following dilemma during fieldwork several years ago and never reached a satisfactory resolution to the problem in my own mind. 

"One evening a woman in tears came to my home in a rural Mexican village to ask if I would be driving into town the following morning. When I said yes, she asked if she could have a ride in order to run away from home. Her husband was an abusive alcoholic whose beatings were becoming more violent. Recently, in his rage, he had not only injured her but had destroyed all of her clothes. She said that her in-laws, with whom the couple and their three children lived, offered her no support or protection. She feared that if she tried to leave on the bus, she would be spotted and forcibly removed by her husband or one of his relatives. Despite his alcoholism, her husband was very influential in community affairs while she herself had not relatives living in the community. 

"The woman was so frightened during our meeting that night that at the sound of a knock on the door, she scurried to hide. 

"I wanted to help her but I also feared that the months of work I had devoted to developing relationships in the community would be jeopardized if not destroyed by doing so. I knew the woman only slightly and I really couldn't judge what the community's reactions would be were I to help. Her mother-in-law, whom I considered a friend, considered her daughter sloppy, insolent, and lazy. Moreover, male domestic authority was usually unquestioned in the community and wife beating not unusual; what happened within a household's walls were the concern of its members alone. 

"I agreed to give her a ride out of town the next morning, although I spent a restless night wondering whether I had made the right decision. Maybe I should have gone to speak with the woman's husband, or seen if I could learn more about the situation before I acted. Maybe I should have just canceled my trip to avoid becoming embroiled in the situation. The next morning I waited for the woman as I readied myself to leave. She never arrived. On questioning a neighbor I learned that she had left that morning on the early bus, taking the new baby but leaving behind the other children. 

"I still feel troubled whenever I think back to that time and grateful to the woman for having spared me from making any decision. 


Maria Luisa Urdaneta, University of Texas-San Antonio, and Tom Thompson, Social Science Research Association, San Antonio, Texas: 

The situation raises several points which almost every anthropologist confronts at some point during fieldwork. Should one interfere in what is essentially a domestic argument? 

The first thing that the anthropologist should do is determine if the person requesting aid is in pain or danger. That is, in this case, was the woman showing any signs of physical abuse, were there broken bones, and the like. After determining whether or not there are immediate problems needing attention, the anthropologist should try to place the matter in cultural perspective. What would a "native" do if a similar request were made? Assuming there is time to investigate, the anthropologist should ask a trusted informant(s) a hypothetical question: "What would someone here do if . . . ?" Use that information to construct a plan. 

Other questions that might be addressed are: Who is the person making the request?; Why is that person asking me instead of someone in the village?; Can I trust this person to be giving correct information?; Is there any reason for this person to want to mislead me? 

This woman was the wife of a power-broker. Is it in the fieldworker's best interests to get involved? Is there a way to be involved less directly than actually taking the woman from the village? That is, can the fieldworker help the woman get aid in the village from someone else? Is this a culture in which an outside "mediator" role is accepted and can the fieldworker approach the husband with the problem and try to mediate the dispute saving her own position in the community? Is there any reason for this woman to suspect the motives of the fieldworker and try to make trouble for her? That is, does this woman suspect the unattached, outsider female fieldworker of having designs on the husband? 

A less dramatic solution but possibly more practical is to invite the person in to have a cup of tea (or coffee) or whatever, let her unburden herself, commiserate about men in general, and tell some stories about "your culture" or your family and what people did to solve those problems, suggesting that she might try to use those tactics. Holding someone's hand in a crisis is often a very good way to help them think of how to solve their own problems. There are many ways to go about being a kind shoulder without having later repercussions from angry husbands and mothers-in-law. 

From this perspective the question seems to be, "Would you risk your field situation, and possibly career, for someone in the village?" This, obviously, is situational--how long the fieldworker has been there, how well understood the culture is, and how well known the person is to the fieldworker. 

Above all, a fieldworker really must be able to face these situations without panicking and jumping to premature conclusions. Follow the Ukrainian practice of "sitting down before you begin a long journey." It clears the route as well as the mind. 


Edith Turner, University of Virginia: 

Several points can be derived from this reader's story: one concerns the gross subordination of women within the social structure of this Mexican society, especially that of a young wife with children, living in the home of her in-laws. One can infer that attempted escapes such as the one described here are not uncommon. One would like to know more about this case, including a follow-up on the fate of the woman in town. Would she have been able to obtain employment easily in economically stricken, urban Mexico, or would she have had to engage in some kind of prostitution? 

The fieldworker wonders if she should have discussed matters with the husband and family, but obviously the woman's escape was supposed to be secret, in case she were "spotted" and forcibly taken back home. It seems that any discussion would have had a foregone conclusion. One is back in the dilemma, which is one of rapport and also conscience. Can a fieldworker have rapport with both sides of opposing factions at once, in this case a wife and the allied husband and in-laws? Both sides would be watching the fieldworker, weighing her up. And we have seen what happened. The abused wife came to the fieldworker for succor, and by doing so treated her as a real factor in her life. And our friend responded, thus becoming herself involved in a potential social drama. Our own western feelings are outraged by the patriarchalism ruling here; generosity dictates to help the women, and feminism tempts us to fight the system and change it. 

Yet the anthropologist is the guest of the society--as Mexicans put it, "My sad house is your house." How can one offend against this courtesy? The dilemma increases. 

I myself experienced dilemmas among the Ndembu both in the 1950s and recently. In the 1950s a woman of about 22 came to me for medicine, and as she stood in the yard of my grass camp, underwent a massive hemorrhage of the lungs; she was suffering from tuberculosis. I was encountering a fatal disease and, being a normal westerner, my reaction was that hospitalization was essential. But the woman's mother forbade such a move, because, she said, her daughter must stay and hoe the fields as was her duty. I could not let the matter rest there and contacted the authorities. To my horror two police officers turned up in an official jeep and practically arrested the patient before us all, and in a moment the jeep had disappeared up the road to town and the sanitarium. The story might end with the assurance that the young woman had a good chance of recovery, as many do with treatment. But the story doesn't end. The mother's offended and hostile face haunts me still. 

Should we try to alter the systems among which we find ourselves? Should we even judge them? Richard Rorty in his lecture on "Anti-Anti-Ethnocentrism," given before the Department of Anthropology at the University of Virginia in 1986, said yes, our system is objectively better, we liberals decry it too much. Others, including ecologists, point out that the imposition of western patterns upon ethnic ones have many times badly upset or destroyed the ecological balance, or marred a meaningful working religious system, often one that we have learnt to understand too late. Roy Wagner in The Invention of Culture (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1975) and Johannes Fabian in Time and the Other (New York: Columbia University Press, 1983) remind us that we have no right to judge using our own fixed standards. They ask each fieldworker, indeed each westerner dealing with ethnic groups, to create a new living ongoing relationship with their people--and they also imply that the westerner is herself a real person too, and does have the right to work out, "invent," some kind of workable, viable interaction with her people. I myself see anthropology as trying to give birth to a true version of some society. 

I do not believe this aim is necessarily deflected by such problem situations as in this example. In her very dilemma this fieldworker felt the system in her pulses, as Victor Turner used to say, and this would enrich her work. Furthermore, men anthropologists, far more numerous than women, have portrayed their societies from the men's point of view, willy-nilly. Now this reader is putting the women's side. That is in order, and is part of the completion of the dialogue between one society and another. 

CHAPTER 5 : Some Experiences in Teaching Ethics in Fieldwork Classes : Sue-Ellen Jacobs 

One of the best ways to encourage students to question research motives and procedures--their own and those of the anthropologists whose works they study--is to embed this learning in the fieldwork experience. 

Since 1968, 1 have taught at least one experiential field course each academic year, designed to involve students in the life of at least one other person for a specific period: during this time, students question that person about their life, family, experiences, beliefs, and feelings. The purpose of these person-to-person exercises is to augment, in a dramatic way, the reading and lecture materials covered in class, and to emphasize to students, through their own personal experience, the value of the subject matter and the importance of ethical issues. 

Elsewhere, I have described long-term, goal-oriented projects where students worked under the supervision of community and faculty (Jacobs 1979, 1974a, 1974b); because those research experiences were tied to concrete action projects, students were involved in ethical issues concerning research and practice throughout the course of their participation in the field projects. I concentrate here on two shorter field projects, assigned in courses taught at the University of Washington. 

Requirements for Research Involving Human Subjects at the University of Washington

In common with other institutions receiving federal funds, the University of Washington has specific guidelines that must be followed when conducting research involving human beings (subjects). When fieldwork projects designed by individual students vary, each must be approved on an individual basis. When a course with a specific fieldwork requirement is offered, however, students in that course are covered by the course application as approved by the Human Subjects Research Committee (HSRC). In the Department of Anthropology, each application is reviewed by a subcommittee; this applies to the field projects of individual students and to projects designed by professors as a course requirement. If the subcommittee members are confident that protective measures meet the requirements of the University of Washington Human Subjects Review Committee, they will approve the application; if not, they forward the application to the all-university committee. It takes a few weeks to several months for the HSRC to process an application. 
Ethical Issues Addressed in a Basic Kinship Course


For several years I taught a kinship course that required graduate and advanced undergraduate students to conduct a field project involving the collection of kinship data from someone whose first language was not English. Students found the individuals with whom they worked either among fellow students, or in the community. 

On the second day of class, after a brief discussion of the assigned readings in the kinship texts, I talked about general ethical issues discussed within the American Anthropological Association and other professional environments, passed out the AAA Principles of Professional Responsibility, described the research requirements of the University of Washington, and distributed the application forms for the HSRC. Although the class project had been approved in advance, I wanted the students to think about how to answer each question on the form, to gain experience in filling out such forms and to write a draft consent form. To do this, students had to think about practical issues involved in talking with someone whose first language is not English in a way that would provide them with basic knowledge of the kinship systems used by that person. At the next class meeting, we agreed on the answers to the questions and together wrote a final consent form; then we discussed the reasons for choosing specific answers to the questions. 

Students were often disturbed by the process of writing the consent form, filling in the application, and by the ethical issues involved in conducting the research described on the forms. They started discussing among themselves the ethical implications of collecting, what one student called "esoteric things like kinship labels." Initially, students often found the procedures to be an annoyance, asking why they should have do this for something so "nonthreatening as kinship terms." At the beginning of the term, during this period of HSRC application preparation, it was initially difficult for students to understand that kinship research may cause the people studied to experience stress. At this stage in their careers, graduate and upper division students have not yet teamed that collecting kinship terms can lead a researcher well beyond bits of linguistic and cognitive data into sensitive details about family matters. Nevertheless, they went through the exercise and then began to search for someone they could work with. They were required to find their collaborator by the end of the second week of classes at the latest (the University of Washington quarter system has ten weeks per term) The consent form contains so much information about the possible harmful and other aspects of the project that on occasion people who are going to work with a student become intimidated by it. Despite this, over the course of four years, only two people changed their minds about working with a student after reading the consent form. 

Students used a standard format for eliciting kinship terms in their informant's native language (later, they asked for the English words for these terms, as a means of cross-checking their understanding of the non-English terms). Meeting regularly with their consultants for these discussions, the students began to develop a sense of closeness to them. By midterm, they had to give a progress report to the class. At this time, they began to talk about the ethical dilemmas they were encountering. Some of the students wanted to stop their consultants from talking about their families, because all the student was "supposed to get is kinship information." At this point, a deep appreciation of kinship studies begins to develop: they now understand, in an experiential way, that kinship is about families. They begin to understand the contextual value of kinship studies, the ethical issues such research involves, and possible ways to solve certain ethical dilemmas. 

The students were graded on a paper based on the field project. By the end of the quarter, they could always present a good description of the individual and that person's place within the family, as well as data on how residence units are customarily formed, the organization of the extended family, and many other standard kinship questions. Genealogical and terminological charts were attached. Often students were given personal information that they did not use because, although they believed it might increase understanding of the person's kinship organization, they felt inclusion of this information might be harmful to their informant/friend. Students were learning in a classroom situation that making judgments about the use of information is part of being an ethically responsible anthropologist. They also learned that the least threatening field project or subject may create stress for informants . . . and even some devastating complications, in terms of individual family structure or individual sense of self, when research inadvertently calls forth unhappy memories from one's informants. 
Ethical Issues in Life History Research

Students who take this course typically expect to learn intimate details about a particular person. The course grows directly from the three year Washington Women's Heritage Project, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. That project was designed to document, through oral history interviews and collection of secondary sources, women's contributions to Washington State. The students (whose ranks range from second year undergraduate to advanced graduate students) are told on the first day of class that their work will be a major contribution to a growing state archive. They are informed that by staying in the course they agree to assume responsibility for conducting an accurate and complete in-depth interview of one of the women listed in the Heritage Project file. Although students may choose to interview someone who is not listed in these files, they are discouraged from interviewing a close friend or relative for their first experience doing life history research. 

The students are then given copies of the HSRC application and approved consent form to read and are informed about various codes of professional conduct that apply to research with human beings (subjects). Their first reading assignment includes chapters in several course texts that discuss professional ethics in life history research. They are instructed to read from the sources in the following order: (1) pp. 143-155 in L. L. Langness and Gelya Frank, Lives: An Anthropological Approach to Biography (Novato, CA: Chandler and Sharp, 198 1); (2) the entire handbook by Sue-Ellen Jacobs, Susan Armitage, and Katherine Anderson, A Handbook for Life History Research (University of Washington: Washington Women's Heritage Project, 1982); (3) chapter 2 on "Interviewing" in Edward D. Ives, The Tape-Recorded Interview: A Manual for Field Workers in Folklore and Oral History (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1974); (4) then, "Ethical and Moral Concerns" (pp. 117-143) in Langness and Frank. They are also required to study the interview schedule they will be using. /2/ 

In contrast to the kinship course, the focus in the life history course is to get as much personal information as possible from the person who is interviewed. We are specifically interested in the women, their experiences, their impressions, their feelings, their life stories. An open-ended interview format is used to elicit these. When the students have understood that they are going to make a "real" contribution to women's history sources, they become thoroughly engaged in discussing the ethical problems they might face when they are working with their informants. Their concerns range from "touching on taboo subjects, like abortion back then" to "what if I don't get the whole story right?" 

Each student is required to conduct a minimum of three one-hour interviews in the person's home. More often than not, students wind up with five hours of taped interview. They must then properly identify, prepare an index for, and summarize each tape. They also must prepare a brief (10- to 20-page) life history of their person, presenting a copy of this to their subject and to me. The life history summary, along with all the materials collected by the student and a release form signed by the interviewee, goes into the University of Washington Manuscripts and Archives division of the graduate library. 

Students give progress reports on their work with their interviewee at least every other week. They discuss problems in obtaining the kinds of information they "need," mistakes they have made during the interviews, concerns they have about public access to the information contained on their tapes, and ways to "protect" their (now) friends from harm that might come from unconscious or unwitting misuse of the taped interviews. Soon after they begin taping the interviews, most students realize that harm may come to the person they are studying if the collected information is not handled with care. In class discussions their comments begin to reflect a concern for research that makes others vulnerable, and they note that this vulnerability can exist in all phases of research: data collection, analysis, storage, and reporting. By the end of the quarter, it is not uncommon for students to have erased portions of tapes--usually, but not always, after having discussed this possibility with their interviewees--because they fear that in some way these sections might cause later embarrassment to "their" person. 

By the end of the quarter, it is always true that the hardest task they accomplish is writing the life history summary. Knowing that the person they have interviewed must pass on this summary before it can be presented in class, they work very hard to present a "true but positive" condensation of perhaps 80 years of another's life story. Every time I have taught this course (seven times as of 1986) at least one student has declared, "If only I could use the materials she told me off tape and in confidence, then I could explain better why [or howl that part of her life was like it was! Without that information you can't really understand her!" When this is stated with exasperation by one student, most of the others nod or otherwise indicate their support and understanding for the frustration caused by adherence to the confidentiality demanded by both the human subjects research consent form and by their own concern for the welfare of the person they studied. 


I conclude by noting that Cassell and I are emphatic about our belief that one of the most effective ways to teach ethics is in the context of practice. In this way, students are faced with the ethical dilemmas associated with research and actively seek the guidance provided by the course materials, their classmates, and their teachers. Although courses devoted entirely to ethical issues in social science can be brilliant, stimulating, and useful, there is always the disturbing possibility that these will appeal most to the students who least need them. This is why we both believe that faculty would do well to impart ethics as an integral part of anthropological methods. 


/1/ An earlier version of this, and the previous part of chapter 5 of this handbook, were read at the 40th Annual Meeting of the Society for Applied Anthropology in March 1980. The paper was entitled "The Human Subjects Review Committee Experience for Students." 

/2/ A copy of the most current syllabus for this course is available to those who request it. 
References Cited

Jacobs, Sue-Ellen
1974a Action and Advocacy Anthropology. Human Organization 33:209-215.
1974b Doing it Our Way and Mostly For Our Own. Human Organization 33:380-382.
1979 En Gracias de la Raza: An Approach to Educational Training. In Culture and the Bilingual Classroom. Henry Toffes-Trueba, ed. College Park, MD: Newberry House. 

How to Hold a Workshop on Ethical Problems in Fieldwork 

Joan Cassell 

One way to encourage reflection on the variety of ethical and moral issues that can develop in anthropological research is to hold a workshop on ethical problems in fieldwork. For purposes of definition, in this chapter, we broadly define fieldwork as research which utilizes the following methods: ethnographic fieldwork, community study, participant observation, unstructured face-to-face interviewing, and nonobtrusive observation. 

Organizers. The workshop can be planned and carried out by students, faculty, and/or anthropological, sociological, educational, and other researchers with interest and experience in addressing questions of fieldwork ethics. 

Panelists. Panelists should be fieldworkers with at least one year's experience in conducting fieldwork, more if possible. 

Invite five to seven panelists to present case studies and to raise critical ethical issues. Some panelists might present case studies and position papers, or they might present cases and questions for the audience to respond to. It is helpful if one or two of the panelists are particularly knowledgeable about ethics: you might recruit a philosopher, theologian, rabbi, priest, minister, or other ethicist who can comment on the presentations from the viewpoint of ethics rather than fieldwork. A thoughtful and articulate ethics consultant will add a valuable extra dimension to the proceedings. Try to arrange matters so that the strongest, liveliest--and perhaps most controversial--speakers are scheduled to say the most. 

Moderator. It is important to recruit a strong moderator, someone who is able to encourage members of the audience to share opinions and fieldwork experiences--and equally able to discourage hostile, irrelevant, and long-winded comments. The moderator can also present a case study; presenters can also comment on someone else's case study. 

Audience. The audience should include some researchers who have conducted fieldwork; their questions, comments, and ideas make for a lively and thought provoking session. 

Locations and Publicity

The workshop can be scheduled for national, regional, or local meetings of professional societies. It can be held at a college or university, medical center, or other research/teaching facility as part of scheduled classes, in-service education, or as an extracurricular activity. 

If the workshop is scheduled as part of a regular class session, make sure to put up some notices so that interested outsiders can attend. An ethics workshop can be successful when scheduled as part of a larger event. Still, it is best to post notices beforehand, or send announcements to local newspapers or journals. Publicize the workshop and the names of panelists as far in advance as possible and make it clear that audience participation is welcome. 


Ask four or five of the fieldworkers to be ready to present an ethical dilemma from their own personal fieldwork experience or that of someone they know. The dilemma can involve the conduct of fieldwork, relations with students conducting fieldwork, relations with other researchers and other colleagues in the field, problems in submitting or publishing research results, and relations with those studied before, during, and after research. Presenters should feel free to conceal or disguise identifying information if they wish to do so. 

Panelists should be asked to present their case studies simply, in story fashion, taking 10 to 15 minutes. Another panelist should be asked to deliver a five to ten minute commentary on the first person's case study. It is useful if the commentator has read or heard about the case study before it is presented at the workshop, but, since this is often difficult to arrange, it is not absolutely necessary if the invited participants and panelists are lively, intelligent, and verbal. One caution: as organizer, do your very best to learn in advance what &lemmas your panelists plan to present. You will find that some of the panelists may have chosen boring or inappropriate cases (for example, those dealing with research which cannot be categorized as fieldwork, or with dilemmas which cannot be classified as ethical in nature). Try to encourage people to change their projected presentation if you deem them inappropriate for the workshop. In lieu of this, it would be wise to be safe and ask for more case studies than you will probably need: ask four or five people to be ready to present; you will probably only need three or four of these. 

Sometimes an interesting dilemma can be found in the anthropological literature. This can be presented by a panelist as briefly or elaborately as necessary. Panelists and audience can then be asked how they might solve the dilemma. Then the author's solution, or lack of solution, can be presented and discussed. if the workshop organizers have difficulty finding enough experienced fieldworkers with dilemmas to present, there are two fine books of case studies they can use: Ethical Dilemmas in Anthropological Inquiry: A Case Book by G. N. Appell (African, Studies Association, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA: Crossroads Press, 1978); and Ethics and Anthropology: Dilemmas in Fieldwork by M. A. Rynkiewich and J. P. Spradley (New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1976). It is much more effective, however, to have fieldworkers present their own personal experiences. These have an interest and immediacy that is lacking in relating the experiences of others. Also, audiences often ask for additional information on the dilemma or problems presented which can be given only when panelists speak from personal experience. 


Schedule the workshop to last about one and a half to three hours. Again, letus emphasize how important it is to have a strong moderator who can involve the audience without slowing the pace. Cassell has found that the workshops are most effective when everyone, panel and audience, is seated in a rough circle. This seems to encourage participation from the audience rather than having them merely watch the panelists perform. (Don't try a circle if you have more than about 35 people in the audience, however; a circle can be unwieldy with a much larger group.) To repeat an earlier point, try to have a few more case studies available than you think you will need, just in case you find your audience has little to say. 

At the beginning of the workshop the moderator should introduce the panelists, briefly outlining their research experience, and then ask the first panelist to present a case study. The order of presentation and who comments on whose cases can be arranged before the session by the moderator; complex and formal arrangements are unnecessary. After each case study is presented, a commentator should briefly discuss the issues raised by this particular case. The audience should then be encouraged to discuss the case and the issues. 

During the general discussion, led by the moderator, panel members should also discuss and comment on the case. If you have chosen a good ethics consultant, you will find that she or he often has something of interest and value to say about each presentation. When the discussion lags, or gets rambling and repetitive, the moderator should invite the next panelist to present the second dilemma, with a comment by another panelist. 

When members of the audience have had extensive fieldwork experience, the moderator should allow the presentations to act primarily as eliciting devices to encourage the audience to share fieldwork ideas and experiences. Some of the most interesting and provocative material can come from the audience. Sometimes a small audience can be very lively and involved and want to discuss the issues as long as possible. At other times, even a large audience may grow lethargic and find little of interest to offer. This is when a stronger moderator is essential: the moderator must cut off discussion when it grows unproductive and, if necessary, end a workshop early if it seems to have lost all life. Another strategy for a workshop that has lost its impetus is for the moderator to arrange in advance for a panelist to present a short lecture or summary to end the session when and if proceedings seem to be lagging. This might be done by the ethics consultant or a particularly verbal and experienced fieldworker. The final point, then, is try to end the workshop a little bit before both the audience antipanelists have decided that the whole thing is over, so that interest and enthusiasm are still high. 

Joan Cassell is Research Fellow at the Research Institute for the Study of Man in New York City. 
James N. Hill is Professor and Chair of the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Los Angeles, California. 
Sue-Ellen Jacobs is Associate Professor in the Department of Women Studies and Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Washington, Seattle, Washington. 
Murray L. Wax is Professor in the Department of Sociology at Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri. 

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