Ethical Responsibility in the Face of the Incoming Administration

By Kurt E. Dongoske

For most people, the beginning of a new year offers a renewed sense of hope, happiness, and prosperity for the future. For me, as the Zuni Tribal Historic Preservation Officer and an archaeologist working in cultural resource management in the Southwest for 40 years, the dawning of 2017 brought anxiety; anxiety born out of a feeling of foreboding that our future, the future of our careers in cultural resource management, and the future of our environment are in imminent danger. Normally, I’m a pretty optimistic fellow, but the results of the recent presidential election left me feeling more than pessimistic. My sense of foreboding is based, in part, on the campaign platform of the President-elect in which he promised to diminish or abolish regulations, underscored by his anti-science, anti-climate change and fact denying rhetoric. Moreover, his recent announcements of identified individuals for key administrative positions heighten my apprehension.

Once the President-elect is in office, I fully expect an executive and legislative branch assault on all environmental and historic preservation legislation and regulation that industry currently views as being unnecessary impediments to so-called ‘development.’ The incoming administration most likely will move quickly to effectively promote and encourage gas, oil, and coal extraction on federal lands and couple this with a move toward seriously reducing compliance with environmental protection legislation and strong arm tactics to any push back by environmental or professional organizations.

Closer to home, I anticipate that the incoming administration will act to fundamentally undermine the preservation community’s commitment to protect, preserve, and interpret historical properties and cultural resources. Now more than ever, as the natural resource extraction industry is afforded unique privileging by the federal government, archaeological sites, sacred sites, traditional cultural properties and landscapes may be threatened with destruction without the current appropriate consideration or treatment. Efforts by the new administration to exempt categories of development projects from Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review, including reforming NEPA and the Section 106 process (e.g., diminishing or exempting compliance for privileged projects), will have a deleterious effect on cultural resource management.

But it is not just archaeological sites, historic properties, places, landscapes and the environment that will be threatened. The Republican Congress may entertain bills that seek to change what types of research are funded under the National Science Foundation (NSF). Republicans have already introduced legislation to remove archaeology, anthropology, and other social sciences research from NSF funding. If the attempts to eliminate NSF funding for these fields of research are successful, it will have a profound impact on academic-based anthropological and archaeological research for professors, graduate students, and the communities with which they work. This will cause negative reverberations throughout the academy and, even more importantly, historically and geographically marginalized communities that rely on the academy to make their voice, concerns, and struggles more public and responsible entities more accountable.

While the new Republican held Congress is anticipated to work toward diminishing environmental and historic preservation regulations, they may concomitantly attempt to curtail federally required Tribal consultation by reversing previous Executive Orders on tribal consultation. Should this occur, it will have a profoundly negative effect on the ability of Tribal Nations to put forth meaningful and effective voices in the protection of their places of sacred and traditional cultural importance. One need only look at the Dakota Access Pipeline, the resistance by the Standing Rock Sioux and the militarized response by the oil industry as an example of what may be in store for Native people. The “other”-izing of immigrant Mexicans and Muslims by the President-elect can be anticipated to extend to Native Americans as a form of delegitimizing and dismissing their claims of primacy of association to the landscape and to natural and cultural resources. If all of this occurs, not only will archaeological sites, traditional cultural properties and landscapes be threatened, if not completely disregarded, but also it will result in the violation of basic human rights for Native Americans to express a meaningful voice in the protection of their sacred places, cultural identities and living heritage.

As anthropologists and archaeologists, we should be deeply troubled with the President-elect’s past and current turgidity toward dismantling or decreasing legislation that provides for the consideration and protection of clean air, clean water, and healthy ecosystems. We have a professional ethical responsibility to work collaboratively and effectively to advocate for and protect the archaeological and cultural resources record and to speak out and work against any and all efforts that threaten these important places. Moreover, as anthropologists we have a profound ethical responsibility to advocate on behalf of indigenous people when they are being disenfranchised from a regulatory process that has been altered to privilege oil, gas, and coal extraction efforts on their ancestral lands.

The American Anthropological Association (AAA), the Society for American Archaeology, and the Register of Professional Archaeologists all have ethical principals or codes of conduct that define our responsibilities to the archaeological record. For example, the Society for American Archaeology’s ethical principle No. 1 calls upon all members of the Society to be "both caretakers of and advocates for the archaeological record for the benefit of all people," and "to use the specialized knowledge they gain to promote public understanding and support for its long-term preservation." Recently, the Society for American Archaeology’s Board of Directors issued direction to the membership (Our Ethical Principles, Our Actions: Member Responsibilities in a Time of Change) in response to what is viewed as a pending time of change. They added the following directions to the membership regarding ethical principle No. 1:

As members, we will therefore oppose any initiatives to weaken the present legal protections of archaeological sites and materials, be these through legislative process, rewriting of agency regulations, or other means. Moreover, our stewardship responsibilities require that we support and defend initiatives aimed at mitigating the impacts on cultural heritage of accelerating climate disruptions.

The AAA’s code of ethics speaks to our professional responsibilities to support and defend the rights of indigenous peoples and this is important for us, as anthropologists, to never forget and always act on. The AAA represents all anthropologists and archaeologists working in the United States and our collective economic viability and our ability to secure federal funding for academic research and cultural resource management projects will be under assault. It seems to me that every archaeological, anthropological, historic preservation and environmental professional organization has a dog in this fight and must be willing to speak out and lobby against any efforts to abolish or decrease environmental protection and historic preservation legislation.

As members of professional organizations we should encourage and support our organizations to establish strong lobbying coalitions with fellow environmental organizations in order to actively and effectively thwart any legislative or executive efforts to weaken current legal protections for the environment and historic properties, places, and landscapes. As individuals, I encourage each and every one of us to act locally, at the state level and nationally by contacting your congressional representatives and senators and expressing your concerns regarding the movement to rollback regulations, for those regulations not only help protect our collective cultural heritage and a healthy environment for generations to come, but are the backbone of providing appropriate consideration for and attention to various places that are central for the identity and ongoing traditional practices and benefits of countless indigenous and traditional communities.

Beyond Stuff-based Ownership: Do Archaeologists have an Obligation to People?

Sarah M. Rowe and Patricia A. McAnany, InHerit (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)

The first principle of the AAA Ethics Statement is “Do No Harm.” An archaeological addendum to this principle advises archaeologists that “given the irreplaceable nature of the archaeological record, the conservation, protection and stewardship of that record is the principle ethical obligation….” A similar sentiment is stated in the ethical principles of the Society for American Archaeology (SAA) and the Society for Historical Archaeology (SHA).

The stewardship imperative has been critiqued on a number of fronts since it was introduced into archaeological ethics in the late 1990s, not the least because it utilizes the primacy of scientific authority to reinforce the archaeologist’s privileged position to speak about the past (Wylie 2005). These authoritative discourses about the past are not value-free; they can serve to either disrupt or perpetuate power imbalances present in today’s society. Particularly when working within a colonial or post-colonial context in which people’s history with land and archaeological objects often is one of dispossession, the assumption of professional stewardship should be approached with care.

As archaeologists working under the broad rubric of “community archaeology”, we propose that professional obligations to the materials that constitute the archaeological record exist in a dynamic tension with another set of professional obligations—those extending to the people with whom we relate as practicing archaeologists. In this regard, a “virtue ethics” framework applied to archaeology by Colwell-Chanthaphonh and Ferguson (2006) deserves another round of consideration. Such a framework encourages practitioners to identify and reflect upon the relationships of trust and respect that can be formed with various publics. Noting that imbalances in power often prevent the development of trust relationships, Colwell-Chanthaphonh and Ferguson (2006) hit upon a raw nerve in the practice of archaeology in Latin America, which demands that “foreign” archaeologists satisfy nationalist requirements that can position them sideways to local and particularly indigenous communities.

Given this complex tapestry of power and authority, thinking nationally and acting locally has the potential to create an ethical conundrum. Efforts to build relationships of trust and respect concomitantly need to occur at many levels. Through a University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill program called InHerit (, we have focused on the grass-roots level and interactions with members of local and often indigenous communities. In these activities we emphasize education as a key way of addressing power imbalances and building trust. Not, swoop-in-and-tell-people-what-you-want-them-to-know education, but a two-way street of exchanging ideas about the past and engendering a dialogue about how we (humanity writ large) can build an understanding of the past. InHerit has undertaken projects with local partners throughout the Maya region. For instance, we have worked with a local NGO called ProPetén in El Petén, Guatemala to re-formulate a comprehensive curriculum for grades 3-6 that incorporates indigenous knowledge, maternal language, site conservation, and archaeological interpretation. To encourage Maya archaeologists to take that extra step to create a reciprocal exchange of information with local communities, we sponsored a grant competition called the Bi-Directional Knowledge Exchange (BKE) grant. BKEs provide small funds to enable archaeologists and local people to engage in the back and forth exchange of ideas that is crucial to the establishment of a trust relationship.

An emphasis on virtue ethics disrupts the distinction between ethics and morals that is outlined in the preamble to the AAA Principles of Professional Responsibility. As archaeologists committed to working closely with communities this distinction does not feel either practical nor justified. We do feel a moral obligation to people who are impacted by archaeological research and an obligation to build relationships of trust and understanding that move well beyond the stuff-based stewardship principles that have been archaeologists’ primary concern. It’s time to acknowledge the triadic sociality of our profession. People are part of the picture. It’s not just us and the potsherds—if it ever was.

Colwell-Chanthaphonh, Chip and T.J. Ferguson
2006 Trust and archaeological practice: towards a framework of Virtue Ethics. In The Ethics of Archaeology: Philosophical Perspectives on Archaeological Practice, edited by C. Scarre and G. Scarre, pp. 115-130. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.

Wylie, Alison
2005 The promise and perils of an ethic of stewardship. In Embedding Ethics, edited by L. Meskell and P. Pels, pp. 47–68. Berg Publishers, Oxford, UK.

InHerit (
SAA Principles of Archaeological Ethics (
SHA Ethics Statement (

Steward the Past and Avoid Harm?

Charles Golden
Brandeis University

Andrew Scherer
Brown University

The ethical guidelines of the Society for American Archaeology (SAA) call archaeologists to stewardship, and exhort us to serve as “both caretakers of and advocates for the archaeological record for the benefit of all people.” To act for the benefit of “all people” is, however, easier said than done and our efforts to steward the past can have complex implications for the communities where we work. The AAA Statement on Ethics acknowledges these difficulties, enjoining us to do no harm, to act honestly, to obtain necessary permissions, and to weigh competing ethical obligations recognizing that “defining what constitutes an affected community is a dynamic and necessary process.” What happens, though, when our role as stewards conflicts with the beliefs and interests of local stakeholders?  How are we to operate when local stakeholders have competing visions for the use of the land and its resources, or when local communities with their own claims over the past do not recognize the authority of the national or local government?

For a little over a decade we have faced these issues while leading a regional research project focused on the political world of the Precolumbian Maya in the Usumacinta River valley, which today forms much of the border between Guatemala and Mexico.  In Guatemala we work in the Sierra del Lacandón National Park (SLNP), where the renowned Classic Maya capital of Piedras Negras is located.  Park managers work closely with the well-established agricultural cooperatives around the borders of the SLNP to achieve a balance between environmental and economic sustainability.  The park is, however, frequently at risk from “invasores,” illicit settlers who occupy parkland without legal permission.  These illicit settlers loot archaeological sites and clear forest without proper fire controls, destroying the cropland and natural resources of legal communities.  They also create security risks for park rangers and researchers, some of whom they have attacked and held captive.  Such actions have frequently impinged on our ability to mount effective investigations and thwarted the conservation efforts of park authorities.

The larger political and economic situation in Guatemala means that while some invasores are connected to ranching or narco-trafficking interests, some are merely people in search of land to support the basic needs of their families.   As archaeologists involved in the conservation of the cultural resources of the park, we find ourselves working in the public domain as advocates for park authorities who seek peaceful, legal means for the relocation of these illicit communities to areas outside the park.   In so doing, we are acting from the position that while some economic harm may come from the relocation of these families, there is a greater good in protecting the cultural and natural resources of the park in the interests of the people of Guatemala and especially those licit communities that ring the park and legally take advantage of its resources.  Many of these communities have existed for decades and suffered heavily in Guatemala’s civil war.  They depend on a healthy ecosystem to practice sustainable use of the forest and look to the possibility of eco- and archaeo-tourism development in the longer-term.

On the Mexican side of the river there is a very different economic and political environment. Towns of private landowners are interspersed with communities that hold land as inalienable communal property.  Both private and communal landowners are often reluctant to permit archaeological work.  Some refuse us entry out of the fear of government expropriation of their property.  Others simply want nothing to do with the central government; as archaeologists with permits held from that government we are viewed as its agents.  Some people know that archaeological work would impinge on what they view as their own perfectly legitimate efforts to mine ancient architecture for building materials for modern homes.  For others, there is a desire to see immediate, often unrealistic, economic gain that we are unwilling to falsely promise.  While field research can offer short-term economic benefits from employment, archaeological projects are typically not long-term development projects and archaeologists are not well-trained in development. We do our best, however, to work with communities on local museums, touristic development, or other efforts initiated by the community.

Despite these challenges our work has moved forward in large part thanks to a few local interlocutors.  These long-term collaborations have helped us develop relationships of trust in the communities where we work and opened doors for further research.  Patience and dialogue have been fundamental.   When prevented from documenting a site we have chosen not to leverage the legal recourse available to us from national authorities that might permit us access. Any short-term gain would simply come at the cost of eroding local trust in the long-term.

Ultimately we find ourselves balancing the necessities of research against the diverse interests of the communities in which we work. Our ideal research goal in both Guatemala and Mexico would be full-coverage survey. In reality we must accept a more patchwork outcome that reflects our contemporary entanglements. That we consider the needs and interests of local communities and have been unable to document some sites has been indirectly attacked in national grant applications.   At least one reviewer has lambasted our approach as “drive-by archaeology.”  We would ask what such a reviewer imagines are the rights and responsibilities of an archaeologist?

Archaeologists must accept that we are frequently arrogating to ourselves the right to decide what past, and present, should be stewarded and what the least harmful course of action may be.   We must do our best to engage all local stake-holders in stewardship, though some may refuse such engagement.  We must accept that there are times we cannot, and perhaps should not, protect the cultural patrimony that we hold dear.  We must also accept that despite our best intentions we may not be able to protect that patrimony without doing harm of some sort to local communities, and we must weigh this against the benefits for other stake-holders.   Finally, it is an ethical imperative that we do a better job of preparing our students – the next generation of archaeologists – to wrestle with such conundrums, to acknowledge the ambiguities and perhaps be yet better and less harmful stewards than we ourselves sometimes are.

The Ethics of Collaborating with Artifact Collectors

Bonnie L. Pitblado

In October 2013, more than 1,100 people attended the well-publicized “Paleoamerican Odyssey” (PO) conference in Santa Fe.  Professional archaeologists constituted 46% of the attendees; non-professionals the other 54%.  The conference featured the usual array of scholarly presentations and posters, but it also offered secure space for 39 museums and universities and 11 organizer-vetted private individuals to showcase collections of Paleoamerican artifacts.

The collections room was packed much of the time with interested professionals and non-professionals alike.  However, some archaeologists—not a majority, but more than a few—vocalized their view that inviting private artifact collectors to share their finds at PO had violated archaeological ethics.  For most who expressed this perspective, the perceived ethical breach lay in the domain of commercialization, with the concern being that showcasing privately held material culture increased its monetary value and thereby facilitated, even promoted, its sale on the private market.

As well-meaning as they may have been, such views bothered me at the conference, and as time passed, my discomfort with what I had heard increased.  It took a bit of introspection to understand my strong feelings on the subject, but ultimately I realized that they were themselves rooted in the ethical precepts professional archaeologists have pledged to uphold.  By expressing blanket rejection for conference participants who shared Paleoamerican artifacts they legally owned, archaeologists themselves teetered perilously close to violating nearly all of our discipline’s ethical mandates.

In 1996, the Society for American Archaeology (SAA) established eight “Principles of Archaeological Ethics.”  Conference attendees concerned with the potential commercialization of the privately owned material were responding to the third of these.  However, their wholesale rejection of interaction with all private artifact collectors at PO held the very real potential to violate no fewer than six of the remaining seven principles:  stewardship, accountability, public education and outreach, intellectual property, and records and preservation.

Notably, even the “commercialization” principle that anchored the view of those who rejected the presence of private collectors is in reality quite nuanced, stating that “archaeologists should…carefully weigh the benefits to scholarship of a project against the costs of potentially enhancing the commercial value of archaeological objects.”  Rejecting the presence of all private individuals who own artifacts clearly fails to “weigh the benefits to scholarship” that accrued both to conference attendees who could view the collections and to the owners with an unparalleled opportunity to interact one-on-one with professionals.

American Anthropological Association “principles of professional responsibility” likewise cannot be construed to support rejecting an entire class of stakeholders in any anthropological realm, including the PO conference. AAA Principles 1, “Do No Harm” and 4, “Weigh Competing Ethical Obligations” were particularly imperiled by PO professionals who in failing to comply with Principle 4 also violated Principle 1.  Putting myself in the shoes of a private person who had accepted conference organizers’ invitation to share artifacts in my possession, I would have felt betrayed indeed to learn of my condemnation by a few professional archaeologists imposing a black-and-white sensibility on a gray world.

A short blog post does not permit me the space to elaborate on the ethical judgments I have expressed here.  However, my recent article in “American Antiquity” explores in much more depth the ethics of archaeologist – collector collaboration.  Readers can also access a follow-up piece published in “Advances in Archaeological Practice” that offers concrete suggestions for how professionals can collaborate with artifact collectors in ways that benefit both parties—and the archaeological record we all treasure.

I also invite interested readers going to the 80th SAA meeting in San Francisco later this month to attend an Ethics and Public Education Committee-sponsored forum organized by Michael Shott and me, called “Cons or Pros? Should Archaeologists Collaborate with Responsible Collectors?”   The 12-participant forum will run 1:00 – 3:00 on Friday, April 17, and we hope to facilitate extensive audience interaction.  We will cover subjects including ethical arguments for and against collaboration, how professionals might persuade indifferent collectors of the value of documenting and sharing their collections, the many motivations that cause people to start (and stop) collecting, and case studies documenting the effects of collecting.


Who Owns My Fieldnotes? Protecting Informants and “Intellectual Property”

Posted confidentially on the author’s behalf by the ethics blog editors

In order to minimize risks to informants, students setting out to conduct dissertation research submit human subjects protocols to be reviewed by their Institutional Review Board. But what happens when you find yourself working or consulting in non-academic settings, where there is no IRB to answer to, and the standards for work products and “intellectual property” are different from the standards surrounding research in academic settings? This is something most anthropologists don’t learn while they have their sights set on finding a job as a professor at a university. As anthropologists increasingly explore non-academic roles, we need to know how to protect ourselves, protect our informants, and avoid misunderstandings—and even lawsuits—in a business world that operates according to a different set of norms and cultural rules. I learned this lesson the hard way.

While working as an Executive Director for a non-profit organization, my training as an anthropologist specializing in gender, health, and the Middle East put me in a position not only to design and implement programs, but also to evaluate their successes and challenges. Our organization had several projects underway across the Middle East. I proposed to undertake an evaluation of a center we had helped fund in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The goal was to assess how well the services our center offered were meeting community needs.

With the customary assurances of confidentiality, I began to conduct audiorecorded interviews with people who used the center. At first I asked simple questions like: How far do you have to travel to reach the center? How could the center better meet your needs? But when women began telling me stories of their experiences of living under occupation—the impact of the wall on their lives and villages, the settlers who threatened their children and livestock at gunpoint, the soldiers’ harassment of their sons and daughters, their sickness due to Israeli settlement waste trickling down the hills into Palestinian fields causing outbreaks of E. Coli and other sewage-related diseases, the destruction of Palestinian orchards and homes, and the constant, unrelenting harassment on every level of life—I could not stick to simply asking how many times a week they used the center and which programs they found most useful. Clearly, there was no way to understand the center’s functioning apart from the entire context of life under occupation. As an anthropologist and as a human being who could see these people’s suffering, I couldn’t keep focused on the center alone when people had stories of trauma they were eager to share.

But much of the information I recorded could potentially put people in danger if their identities, or even locations, were ever revealed. I obtained informed consent but documented it only orally, as many informants were illiterate and, more importantly, I knew that having their names on paper could put them at risk if the information was seized by officials at the checkpoints or the airport. In fact, I didn’t even carry the tapes out of the country, but sent them by DHL instead, for the same reasons. I emailed my field notes to myself at a different email address and then deleted them from both my computer and my primary email address. In writing up my observations, I used only initials rather than the full names of anyone I spoke to. In short, I made an exerted effort to minimize risk to my informants. But I didn’t think about who actually owned the original materials. I just assumed I was being paid to provide a report, and the recordings and notes were mine.

While in the field, I understood my materials to be two separate sets of information: one set of interview data directly related to the center, from which I would redact people’s identities and use to write up the report for my employer. The other information, unrelated to the center and my employment, explored the experiences of Palestinians living under occupation. I planned to use this latter information to write separate articles, as every Palestinian I spoke to pleaded with me to share their stories with the outside world.

My employer was fine with this way of thinking at the time. But some months after my return, my position was phased out, and the organization ordered me to turn over all of the tapes and notes from the work I had conducted in Palestine. I refused, on the grounds that (1) I had collected the data, (2) it contained sensitive information, (3) people had placed their trust in me when they consented to be interviewed, and (4) I was the only one whose responsibility it was to protect the interviewees. I concluded that I could not in good conscience hand over any of it.

I then received a letter from an attorney informing me that the organization had initiated a lawsuit against me, maintaining that I had stolen trade secrets and that the material belonged to them since they had paid my salary and funded the research. My employer’s stance was that this was intellectual property belonging to the company. My stance was that this data was protected by an obligation to “do no harm” to human subjects, and that social scientists have an obligation to protect their consultants’ identities—particularly in this high-conflict, militarized zone where lives could be at risk if certain information got out. I also felt that my own basic rights were being threatened: some of these field notes were like private journal entries; they contained my personal observations and emotions.

I started researching laws surrounding protections of human subjects, privacy laws, and cases involving other social scientists who had faced similar unfortunate circumstances and how they handled their situations. I found I was not alone in this predicament.

Sheldon Zink spent 18 months conducting ethnographic fieldwork at University of Pennsylvania on patients who had received artificial hearts. When one of these patients died, the family sued the hospital, and the hospital’s legal defense team subpoenaed Zink’s field notes (2003)[1]. Although she was prepared to spend time in jail to protect her informant’s confidentiality, at the 11th hour she managed to strike a deal to redact the notes and turn over an analysis, rather than the raw data. Sociologist Rik Scarce conducted his field research on eco-terrorism.[2] In 1993, he spent 5 months in prison for contempt of court, and for refusing to divulge his sources, one of whom was under investigation for a 1972 murder. Zink and Scarce were employed in academic settings, yet they too did not have adequate protection for themselves or their informants. While it might seem logical that the protection of anthropological consultants be consistent with the privacy laws that protect the patients of medical professionals—or at least journalists’ informants—legally, this is not the case. But these cases were not exactly equivalent to the situation I was facing: who owns the data in a corporate/non-profit setting?

In most university settings, researchers are legally the ‘stewards’ of their data: while the researcher is the one responsible for ensuring that the research is conducted ethically, it is the university that technically owns the data. For anthropologists who do consulting work, or conduct anthropological research as employees of non-profit organizations or businesses, there isn’t usually an IRB to report to, and the employee or consultant is paid for the work they do on a particular project.

Anthropologists are increasingly bringing their skillset to other work terrains in corporate America and non-profit work. Whether we step into the Intels, Googles, Facebooks, or Relief Internationals and other foundations, we have to come to terms with the fact that the standards regarding research materials may be very different from how we’ve been trained to think about our data. We need to become adept at negotiating contracts that explicitly spell out who owns the data and what information is being paid for before we engage in fieldwork.  Every social scientist who conducts qualitative, ethnographic work with human subjects should legally establish (1) who owns the recordings, notes, and other data they produce, (2) to what degree they can or cannot use this data in their own publications, (3) that they are being paid to provide analyses and reports of their findings with all identifiers redacted, not the raw data, as part of our ethical guidelines to protect human subjects. We must consider proactively how far we would go to protect our informants: Destroy tapes? Spend time in jail?

If this case had gone to court, and I had won, it would have set a precedent for social scientists’ right to protect their data. If not, however, the outlook for the protection of our work, and human subjects, would not have been as rosy. Luckily for me, after a year of attorneys’ meetings, and significant financial and emotional costs, my former employer dropped the case, we reconciled our differences, and I was able to stand by what I believe in. But I also learned the hard way that naiveté is a luxury we cannot afford when it comes to anthropological “data security”. While we are very fortunate that companies and organizations now recognize the great value of qualitative anthropological work—and ethnography is becoming the new buzzword in much of corporate America—we also have to adapt to an entirely different set of cultural circumstances. Other people’s lives could very well be on the line if we venture into these arenas blindly.