Grappling with Societies and Institutions in an Era of Socio-Ecological Crisis is an autobiographical ethnography of the journey through various societies and institutions and how they function in the midst of an era of socio-ecological crises. The volume traces the steps of the author in becoming a radical anthropologist, namely through the experience of immigration and naturalization from Peru to the United States and then to Australia, politicization while working as an engineer in the aircraft industry during the late 1960s, socialization in and subsequent exit from Roman Catholicism, and experiences as an academic working in the corporate university. As well, the author illuminates the practices of research and engagement as a scholar-activist on various topics, such as the Levites of Utah and African American Spiritual churches, socio-political and religious life in East Germany, complementary and alternative medicine, the Australian climate movement, and democratic eco-socialism.
Hans A. Baer is principal honorary research fellow in the School of Social Political Sciences at the University of Melbourne.
Table of Contents
Part I: The Making of a Radical Anthropologist
1 – Immigration and Naturalization: From Peru to the United States and then to Australia
2 – The Sixties and the Aircraft Industry Company: Being Politicized within the Bowels of the Corporation during the Sixties
3 – Roman Catholicism: Leaving the Womb of Holy Mother the Church
4 – The Corporatization of Academia: From the Bush Leagues to an Elite Australian University
Part II: Studying Societies and Institutions
5 – Studies in Religion: Ethnogaphic Studies among the Levites of Utah and and African American Spiritual Churches
6 – Socio-Political and Religious Life in East Germany: Observations of a Fulbright Scholar and Ethnographer
7 – Complementary and Alternative Medicine in the US, UK, and Australia: Hanging Out with the ‘Quacks’
8 -- The Australian Climate Movement: Coming to Grips with the Ecological Crisis Down Under and Globally
9 –Towards Democratic Eco-Socialism as an Alternative World System
Epilogue: Retirement: Refusing to Retire from Life
Hans Baer—anthropologist, product of complex cultural interactions, and self-described gadfly—presents a deeply personal account of a world on the cusp of decision. He presents a stark choice: ecological justice and survival in a world of more modest but also more dependable resources for all, or a headlong rush into the cataclysm orchestrated for profit by the already grossly overpaid against the rest of humanity. This accessibly written account of an activist life should move us all to thought and action.
Perhaps the fate of being an anthropologist means always at some level being a “cultural malcontent,”’ Hans A. Baer muses in this wonderful memoir spanning seven decades, which reveals in sometimes painful ways how the personal and the political are intertwined. Turning his critical instinct into a virtue, Baer shows how engagement for a better world is possible for an academic, but at a cost. A lapsed Catholic, born in Peru of German parents, raised in the US and now settled in Australia, Baer’s fascinating story is about a wide-ranging and interdisciplinary, radical and uncompromising, generous and wise intellectual, but it also opens a window into a recent past of political and academic battles, some lost, some won – and as Baer reminds us, the struggle continues. Highly recommended.
How did the world came to be such a 'screwed up place?' Scholar-activist Hans Baer takes us on a rollicking journey through three continents; multiple corporate, religious and academic institutions; and a variety of political paradigms. Grappling with Societies and Institutions in an Era of a Socio-Ecological Crisis is one of those rare finds: a book that is both an enjoyable read, while also being a font of wise, inspirational ideas that have the potential to change the world.