Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


Date of this Version

December 2004


Published in Intercultural Education 15:4 (December 2004), pp. 399–412. Copyright © 2004 Taylor & Francis Ltd. Used by permission.


In November 2003, the Council on Anthropology and Education honored John Ogbu with the George and Louise Spindler Award, for exemplary and long-term contributions to educational anthropology. But in March 2003, a noted economist condemned Ogbu’s work as serving an “oppressive function.” In this paper, such contradictory instances are cited as the author recounts his encounters with Ogbu’s scholarship. Disparate assessments of Ogbu’s ideas and legacy raise important questions. What responsibility do educational anthropologists have for how their research is understood? Which aspects of Ogbu’s legacy should we hold onto as his work is interpreted in politicized and polarized ways?