This roundabout apologia for alternative anthropological employment tackles issues of civil service, contract work, and litigation. It first argues that the dismantling of psychiatric state hospitals in the postwar U.S.--and the subsequent taking shape of a "de facto mental health system"--offer unprecedented opportunities for applying anthropological tradecraft to issues of pressing public concern, especially with respect to persons with severe psychiatric disorders. Five are highlighted: attitudes in action, supported work, recovery, coercion, and social solidarity. Because much of that research can be expected to proceed under contract, it next surveys some distinctive entanglements that arise under the terms and conditions of such work. And because the courts have proven so critical in recent policy changes toward homelessness and mental illness, it examines finally a troubled instance of the anthropologist as expert witness--here, as author of a legal affidavit in an ongoing right-to-shelter lawsuit. I argue, perilously, that owing to the peculiar circumstances surrounding its production and consumption, an affidavit effectively constitutes a distinctive documentary genre. In an anthropology so applied, certain ethnographic sins ("refusals" of thickness in Ortner's terms) are both inevitable and, arguably, forgivable.

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