- On Secrecy, Disclosure, the Public, and the Private in Anthropology: An introduction to Supplement 12
- Current Anthropology
- Volume | Issue number
- 56 | 12
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
Anthropology and cognate disciplines have long addressed the complex and troubled relations of public and private life, supplying insight into such matters as identity, politics, and civic life. In the multiple, interconnected settings of an intricately globalized and mediatized twenty-first century, how secrets are made, maintained, and broken remains vitally important to social science and its publics. The special issue we introduce here brings together anthropologists and social scientists working in health, museology, media, and cultural studies to interrogate secrets and secrecy, the private and the public, in diverse yet interrelated domains and national contexts. Our introduction explores ways to think critically of secrets and secrecy and related ramifications for private and public life by highlighting some key ethical, intellectual, and epistemological complexities. We consider the contemporary forms of life of the secret in social settings and public institutions and then consider how secrets die, in the small metaphorical sense that they cease to exist in their telling, but also in the more literal sense in which secrets and privacy are displaced by social systems built on “big data” and the politics of transparency and exposure. We chart also the politics of secrecy, illuminating how secrets may be revealed through disclosure and exposure across multiple forms of media and myriad public spheres today.
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