Enactments of Expertise
Published on Oct 21, 2010in Annual Review of Anthropology2.70
· DOI :10.1146/annurev.anthro.012809.104948
Every society recognizes expertise, and anthropologists have long documented the culturally and historically specific practices that constitute it. The anthropology of expertise focuses on what people do rather than what people possess, even in the many circumstances where the former is naturalized as the latter. Across its many domains, expertise is both inherently interactional, involving the participation of objects, producers, and consumers of knowledge, and inescapably ideological, implicated in the evolving hierarchies of value that legitimate particular ways of knowing as “expert.” This review focuses on the semiotics of expertise, highlighting four constitutive processes: socialization practices through which people establish intimacy with classes of cultural objects and learn to communicate that familiarity; evaluation, or the establishment of asymmetries among people and between people and objects; institutionalization, wherein ways of knowing are organized and authorized; and naturalization, or the essentialization of expert enactments as bodies of knowledge.