In 1992, I published an essay entitled “What is Good for Anthropology in Canada?” in the book Fragile Truths: 25 Years of Sociology and Anthropology in Canada, edited by William Carroll and Linda Christiansen-Ruffman. In that essay I tried to articulate what is distinctive about the discipline of anthropology as practiced in Canada. My conclusion was that Canadian anthropology is “a tradition that is not one,” unlike, say, British anthropology or American anthropology. I also proposed a set of criteria by which to judge the “goodness” (read: constitutionality) of an ethnographic monograph written by a Canadian anthropologist.
“What is Good for Anthropology in Canada?” inspired (or, rather, provoked) Tom Dunk, of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Laurentian University to write a critique of my “constitutional analysis” and advance his own “political economy” of the discipline in its place. Tom’s essay, "National Culture, Political Economy and Socio-Cultural Anthropology in English Canada, “ appeared in Anthropologica (2000), volume 42. It was revised and reprinted under a slightly different title as chapter 2 of Culture, Economy, Power: Anthropology as Critique, Anthropology as Praxis (2002), edited by Winnie Lem and Belinda Leach . Tom’s essay is a thorough critique, and one for which I have great admiration.
In 2004, I was invited to contribute an essay to Historiczing Canadian Anthropology (2006) edited by Regna Darnell and Julia Harrison. I used the occasion to restate my original views and write a rejoinder to Tom’s critique. Links to both his and my essay may be found below.
Thomas Dunk, “Bicentrism, Culture, and the Political Economy of Sociocultural Anthropology in English Canada”
David Howes, Constituting Canadian Anthropology