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On the Shoulders of Giants Or the Back of a Mule: Awareness of Multiplicity In Citational Politics

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Mwenza BlellORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).


Citational practices reflect values and valuation in academia. Far from being merely consciously or unconsciously political, they reflect academic “upbringing” in complex ways, and, although one may be unhappy at how they were raised, it still may not be clear how to live better. In this article, I highlight aspects of my upbringing in anthropology, noting how I was instructed in citational practice by senior anthropologists from biological and social anthropology. In exploring my journey from naivete to an understanding of citational politics, I describe two figures, the giant and the mule. These figures illustrate the impacts of the practices I was taught. One comes to us from the history of great white men of Europe, the other from Black feminist anthropological fiction of the United States.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Blell M

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Medical Anthropology Quarterly

Year: 2023

Volume: 37

Issue: 3

Pages: 211-216

Print publication date: 25/08/2023

Online publication date: 30/03/2023

Acceptance date: 02/01/2022

Date deposited: 12/10/2023

ISSN (print): 0745-5194

ISSN (electronic): 1548-1387

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.


DOI: 10.1111/maq.12760


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Funder referenceFunder name
Newcastle University Academic-Track Fel-lowship and a grant from the Kone Foundation (grant number 321711)