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The Death of the Secret: The Public and Private in Anthropology

Wenner-Gren Symposium #149
March 14-20, 2014

Since their foundation in the post-Enlightenment period, anthropology and cognate disciplines have addressed the often complex and troubled relations between public and private life, supplying insight into such matters as identity, politics and the public administration. Complex and technology-intensive 21st century societies, however, present distinctive challenges for public/private relations and for how we, as anthropologists, address this. One such challenge concerns the social and political value for public administration of personal knowledge of individuals and collectivities. How such knowledge gets into the public realm is dependent on such practices as disclosure, exposure and display. Telling and withholding of information and the related problematization of the secret are implicated in these private/public relations.

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