So, you’re about to enter the professional field of Anthropology. There are a number of traditional paths you can take; working as a participant observant studying how other cultures “make meaning, “ or even teaching the subject as a professor of a prestigious college. But the field of anthropology is expanding, crossing over to other fields creating an exciting diversity of job opportunities. One of the possible options presented in Emilie Venables’ piece on Anthropology and Humanitarian Aid, describes how anthropologists are working with the Doctors without boarders/Medécins Sans Frontières (MSF) aid program to help understand the culture of the people and places that require their assistance, and work with the doctors find ways to assist those people within their cultural limits and restraints.
In her article she recounts how she used her position to collaborate with doctors to help a pregnant HIV positive woman. This woman, in order to protect the stability of her child’s future, didn’t want to take the medication keeping her healthy and protecting her baby from the illness. She didn’t take the medication in his presence in fear that he would discover her pills. Due to her cultural background, she didn’t want the father, who was also her and her baby’s sole financial provider, to discover her health status. She was worried he would pull his financial support upon this discovery. For this case, the positon of the anthropologist is to work with doctors to assist the patient in the best way maneuvering within the cultural restraints and complications.
Venable concludes that due to the expansion of the field of anthropology, there are a plethora of new and interesting job options to best fit the interests of any expert entering the field. She also explains how by applying an ethnographic lenses to her specific humanitarian work, she is experiencing the true versatility of her discipline. She can’t deny she must work within the restraints of her domain, but due to the expansion, the professional work is realizing and taking advantage that the unique tools and outlook that anthropologists have.