13 March 2018

AAA in San Jose - Anthropological Concepts for Non-Anthropologists

As blogger Rhiannon and I slog through the end of the semester, we're striving to post at least 1 blog post per week. Despite our want to continue our biweekly posts, life/administration/teaching/striking is getting in our way.

Instead, the bloggers of Anthro Everywhere! are cooking up an idea for a panel at the next AAA conference in San Jose. The theme this year is Change in the Anthropological Imagination: Resistance, Resilience, and Adaptation

One potential idea that we were throwing back and forth is the idea of writing an edited book about Anthropology (its concepts and uses) for non-Anthropologists.

Here is the idea in its nascent form - posed by blogger Long to partner-in-crime Mosher:

What do you think about writing a text that defined, described, or compared and contrasted anthropological concepts terms used in industry (e.g. ethnography in user design or market research) or other disciplines to our own? These terms could come from other social sciences, hard sciences or technology, engineering or maths. 

It would be an applied anthropology text but one that could also be used in interdisciplinary courses or by industry partners who want to understand the root of the terminology they're using. It would include examples and activities as well, which could be workplace or community-based experiences. 

This text could also serve as a guide and translation piece as to the usefulness and the pliability of anthropology - coincidentally anthropology's greatest secret and which "people" are taking way to long to figure out. I also thought it would help recent anthropology graduates articulate their skillset and knowledge to employers. 

We could write a book proposal for the AAAs timing this year (I'm going, are you?) while checking interest at the same time. 

Therefore, in a potential AAA panel proposal, we'd ask authors to identify a term, and present its application in either a work or community-based concept. Additional notes on the application of this term and its use within anthropology would also be required. 

As organizer and chair, Mosher and Long could present answers to such lingering questions as:

How would such a text be similar or different to other texts already out there, for example, Caroline B. Brettell's Anthropological Conversations: Talking Culture across Disciplines (2015).

Would such a text be more like a handbook or a textbook? Would it be an accessible text for anthropology majors/ grad students/ instructors? Would it be aimed at those who believe that most anthro grads are not going to be academics and need some guidance on how to speak to prospective employers about the value of an anthropological perspective?

Would the text be more useful if instead of presenting the info from a disciplinary perspective, it instead took a more career-stream oriented approach? More like a So what are you going to do with that? but anthro-specific approach? Or both?

Dear AnthroEverywhere! readers, what do you think?

Is there need for such a book?

Would such a text help/behoove the anthropology community? Its research participants? Its stakeholders? Its practitioners or students?

If you'd like to be a part of this panel or this book, please email us at anthrolens (at) gmail.com or tweet to us @anthrolens

01 March 2018

Precarity in Canadian Academia... A Working Bibliography

Unfortunately, precarity in academia has become a well-worn cliché... not least of all for those of us living in this state of ontological insecurity.

In Canada, most university labourers -- whether tenured faculty, adjuncts, teaching, lab, or research assistants, librarians, as well as service staff -- are often protected by a labour union, yet we still face the challenges of the neoliberal university. This year, many unions in Ontario, for instance, bargained to renew our contracts. York University is currently poised on the precipice of a strike as the university admin and the contract academic labourers responsible for approximately 60% of teaching struggle to agree to a fair deal by the end of this week.

It's therefore very timely that we share anthropologist, Dr. Deidre Rose's Working Bibliography on Precarious Academic Labour in Canada.

Writing from her position as a member of what is becoming known as the precariat -- here describing adjunct, sessional, and other temporary academic labourers -- Rose invites others to help add to her years of research "on the conditions of contingent faculty." 

This annotated bibliography adds to the growing research and reflection on precarity in academia, and in anthropology, and is an important resource for thinking and teaching about the current state of academic labour.

Do you have resources or publications to add to Rose's bibliography, or our post? Follow Rose's Research Gate link to connect with her project, or tweet (@anthrolens) or email (anthrolens@gmail.com) us to add to our links below!

Quick links and further reading:

Precarity in the Canadian context:
Precarity in American anthropology:

26 February 2018

How to frame your career transition

Today we are revisiting some still sound advice on How to Explain Your Career Transition that The Harvard Business Review first published back in 2013. This advice is especially relevant to those of us working on transitioning into alt-ac fields where anthropologists thrive... once we get our feet in the door.

HBR notes that making a career transition, especially one where the connections aren't immediately clear, can be confusing to outsiders including hiring agents. Luckily, anthropologists are in a good position to win over career-transition skeptics.

According to Dorie Clark, the "most important step in getting others onboard with your career transition is crafting a compelling narrative." What is it about your past employment (and we would include grad studies here!) that actually demonstrate the kinds of skills and experience suited to the role and field you want to pursue? For anthropologists, a good place to start brainstorming is this list of Skills in Anthropology from Simon Fraser University.

In your narrative, it's important to identify the underlying themes that help create a sense of career continuity rather than rupture. What is it that you see connecting these different career paths or fields? Remember that not everyone sees the logic that you might in how an anthropology background is a great fit in software design, finance, marketing... Be ready to demonstrate those connections!

Lastly, "it’s important to explain your trajectory in terms of the value you bring to others." Even though this career transition is very much about you, your career transition narrative should address why it's not only about you. For some ideas about how to frame this part of your narrative, check out our post on Articulating the Anthropological Toolkit to Non-Anthropologists and the Anxious Anthropologist's post How Does an Anthropologist Add Value to the Workplace?

If you are a PhD/ student, you might also want to check out some of From PhD to Life's Transition Q & As. These short interviews with a wide range to PhD grads and former students can be really useful for thinking about how to frame your transition narrative, and for thinking about what kinds of careers you might want to transition into!

Quick links: