Open Discussion – Sundar Sarukkai

Where does ethics enter? I used to think of it as entering at the point of thinking. After listening to these discussions over the last two days, I want to ask a more difficult question: why does ethics matter to anthropology? We seem to have given in too easily to the role ethic plays in anthropology. There is a whole history behind it, we should not undermine that. Instead, what I would like us to look at is: what does it mean to invoke ethics to study others in a global anthropological setting? What is the kind of ethics are we talking about? We understand that because the subjects of anthropology are human beings, there is ethics. But if you compare ethics in anthropology to the kind of rigorous ethical committees in medical institutions (which also deal in human beings), anthropology does not appear to engage with ethics in as real or substantial way. We neither have the rigid understanding of ethics as seen in medicine, nor are we looking at the deeper theories of ethics in anthropology. An interdisciplinary study I would be interested in is not so much the application of ethics, but the deep theories of ethics itself.

Sundar Sarukkai


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