By Saidouri Zomaya, Graduate Assistant
How often do we come across a book that transforms our understanding of fundamental issues impacting society today? And how often do we feel the need to act upon this newly acquired knowledge to make a difference in the world? Humanity’s Last Stand, a book by Dr.Mark Schuller, incites such transformation and mobilization of knowledge by viewing local issues as universal struggles impacting society as a whole, calling for more empathy and solidarity as solutions for attaining justice and freedom.
The book presents a historical account of some of the most critical issues facing humanity today analyzed through an anthropological lens, addressing race, climate change, and migration as the primary focus. More importantly, the book explains the importance of employing an anthropological imagination to understand the interconnectedness of such critical issues, contrary to some beliefs that view them in isolation from one another. Dr.Schuller argues that there are other alternatives to these existing systems, but we need to approach them from an anthropological perspective. Nonetheless, such an anthropological vision requires humility and willingness to challenge fixed beliefs and open our minds to new ways of organizing society.
Humanity’s Last Stand calls on anthropologists and scholars to take action and to use their voices to support and work alongside activists in the fight for justice and equality. Dr.Schuller notes that this call to action entails a genuine and long-term devotion to such causes, which starts with anthropologists decolonizing the field of anthropology. A process he explains should stem from within the discipline itself.
Dr. Schuller concludes his book with a powerful message on solidarity and how we can utilize it to reconstruct humanity. His statement provides a plan of action on actively working together to achieve social justice. It is also a reminder of the importance of self-evaluation and having a teachable spirit that would uplift others and ourselves in the process. Humanity’s Last Stand is a reminder that, yet again, as humans, we are more alike than different.
Dr. Schuller has also provided educational resources that go along with the book and are available here.
BIO: Dr. Mark Schuller is Professor of Anthropology and Nonprofit and NGO Studies at Northern Illinois University and affiliate at the Faculté d’Ethnologie, l’Université d’État d’Haïti. Supported by the National Science Foundation Senior and CAREER Grant, Bellagio Center, and others, Schuller’
s research on NGOs, globalization, disasters, and gender in Haiti has been published in over forty book chapters and peer-reviewed articles as well as public media. He authored or coedited eight books including forthcoming Humanity’s Last Stand: Confronting Global Catastrophe. Mark is co-director/co-producer of documentary Poto Mitan: Haitian Women, Pillars of the Global Economy (2009). Schuller is co-editor of Berghahn Books’ Catastrophes in Context: a Series in Engaged Social Science on Disastersand University of Alabama Press’ NGOgraphies: a Series of Ethnographic Reflections of NGOs. Recipient of the Margaret Mead Award and the Anthropology in Media Award, he is active in several solidarity efforts. He is president of the Haitian Studies Association.