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The theme of the 2010 APAD conference that was organised 20-23 January 2010 in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso focused on anthropological engagements and social change.In addition to the rich presentations and the lively discussions that took place during the conference days this APAD Bulletin is the first publication to come out of that important meeting.
Taken together these two tendencies reveal that, despite important works produced by scholars inside and outside of the APAD network, anthropological knowledge and analysis are often referred to, but much less practically integrated in, development interventions.
Yet at a time when the boundaries between development aid and public expenses are fuzzier than ever (Bierschenk et al.
How and when should anthropologists be actively involved in development efforts, and political jumbles?
What are the responsibilities of anthropology in studying social change?
2007), anthropological analysis is badly needed to understand and, by extension, influence development and social change.
While this seems to be largely accepted, today the main challenge is how and by what means anthropology may engage in development in practical and concrete ways, while respecting scientific rigor and methodological requirements.
It was in this context of ambiguous and yet mutually interdependent relations that the APAD 2010 OUAGA conference was organised.
Conference participants were invited to address the following central questions: What are the prospects for engaging anthropology in major challenges of poverty, inequality, corruption, social fragmentation, violence and ethnic tensions?
On the one hand, anthropology has become increasingly marginalised in development debates, where macro-economic and political reforms rather than contextualised socially and culturally sensitive development interventions have been promoted.
In budget support and sector-wide approaches anthropologists have had a hard time finding new ways of engaging in development.