19 October 2017

Conferencing: Contributing to the Conversation

Our past few posts have focused on tips for conference-goers, which are timely with the upcoming #AmAnth2017 in November. To date we've shared some tips on Writing better Conference Abstracts and crafting better PostersTips for Moderators, and How to be a great Chair. Today we are focusing on the Q&A and networking during conferences in general -- useful tips for grad students and veteran conference-goers alike.

The conference Q&A -- if the chair has done their job well -- can often be the most rewarding part of a panel discussion. It is a place for audience members and panelists to respond to the ideas and data presented, elaborate on points of interest, and possibly spark new and necessary conversations. Unfortunately, the Q&A can also be taken over by those academics in the audience who like to spend quite a lot of time discussing their own research interests and then pretend it was a question.

So, how do you avoid this kind of all-too-common faux-pas and help contribute to a constructive and enlightening discussion?

The Guardian has some answers in their "Don't be a conference troll: a guide to asking good questions." The gist of this advice is that we should find positive or constructive ways to frame questions, even when they are critical. Think about asking questions in a way that opens up conversation rather than shutting it down. It shouldn't be that difficult to do, considering that we're anthropologists. What I would add to this advice -- perhaps especially a pitfall because we are anthropologists -- is to be careful of providing too much context for your question. How can you succinctly ask your question without taking too much time by oversharing your own research experiences that inspired your question?

For speakers, the Guardian also has this advice:
When you’re the one in the spotlight, how should you respond when faced with a question that feels inappropriate or hostile? Remember that a bluntly worded question is not necessarily a malicious one. Audience members have little time to prepare their questions. It may be helpful to respond in a tone and style that is slightly friendlier than the questioner’s. In some cases, this is all that is required to smooth the waters and enable dialogue.
For those of us -- particularly graduate students new to the conference scene -- who struggle with asking questions or approaching speakers during or after the Q&A, check out our past post on A guide to academic conversations (6 June 2016). You might also be interested in prepping for your conference experience by reading UA's Essential networking tips for graduate students, and Academic EQ's PhD Networking Tips for Introverts.

Happy conferencing!

Quick links and further reading:

16 October 2017

Conferencing: How to be a great Chair

With #AmAnth2017 on the horizon, we've been sharing some timely tips for conference goers over the past two posts. Today we are sharing some resources on how to be a great chair.

The chair of any panel or roundtable at a conference has a number of important tasks. The chair must introduce the panel, the speakers, keep time, and ensure an orderly question and answer session. The chair is also usually responsible for providing some concluding comments for the panel.

As The Guardian's Higher Education Network suggests, doing these tasks brilliantly can be accomplished though adhering to a 6-point checklist. An excellent chair should be: Organized, Inclusive, Selfless, Attentive, Firm, and Positive.

In many ways, these different points come back to the chair's ability to keep good time during their session.

We all have our pet peeves during conferences. Mine is when panelists go well over their allotted time! When a speaker goes over their time, it means that everyone else -- panelists and audience -- has less time to share their ideas and questions. In effect, it means that the panel will not be as inclusive as one that gives everyone time to share their ideas, comments, and questions. It is up to the chair to be firm about how much time a speaker may take. When I have chaired, this is a conversation that I begin over email leading up to the conference, helping to ensure that everyone presenting is on the same page.

We also lose time during a session when we struggle with technology. As chair, make sure that you have a good understanding of how to work the AV equipment your panelists will need, who to contact in case it doesn't work, and take the time to load all presentations before the session begins. (A note to presenters: When everyone's PowerPoint Presentation is labelled some variation of ConferenceNameDate, it can be tricky to find the right presentation even when it is pre-loaded. Why not label your presentation some variation of YourNameConferenceNameDate?)

As the Research Whisperer has noted, "Conferences are a necessary and fun part of academia. The more professional consideration and support that’s spread around at them, the better!" So, use these tips and check out our recent posts on abstracts, posters, and moderation to help make your panel the talk of the conference... in a good way.

Quick links and further reading:

12 October 2017

Conferencing: Tips for Moderators

In keeping with our post last Thursday on Writing better Conference Abstracts and crafting better Posters, and with #AmAnth2017 next month, I thought it timely to share this article on Tips for Moderators: Don’t Be the Barrier that Prevents Expression (Medium, 15 Sept 2017).

More than just a list of tips on how moderate (rather than dominate) a conversation between speakers, this article also provides a cautionary tale about power dynamics and voice in public platforms. At what sounds like an amazing recent event in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, "Gloria Wekker and Philomena Essed shared their experiences and thoughts as scholars, women, women of color, teachers." Amazing, except these speakers and the audience were saddled with a moderator who stole focus from the speakers rather than guiding their conversation with the audience deeper. As the author of the Medium piece laments,
The biggest failing of the moderator was one I’ve seen at nearly every panel discussion I’ve ever attended, particularly in the Netherlands. I’m sure others will recognize it. It comes from inviting brilliant people and then limiting their space for interacting with each other and engaging in meaningful conversation. It comes from misplaced and misdirected questions. It comes from the habit of control.
So, what lessons can we learn from this event and take with us as we moderate the panels or round tables or public discussions in our futures...?
  1. A good moderator knows their stuff
  2. A good moderator shuts up
  3. A good moderator listens
  4. A good moderator changes tacks
  5. A good moderator asks what the speakers expect of them
  6. A good moderator backs down
Check back on Monday when we will continue the conferencing tips theme by posting about how to be a great chair!

05 October 2017

Writing better Conference Abstracts and crafting better Posters

We originally planned to write this post for grad students, but really, couldn't we all benefit fit from learning a bit more about how to write a great conference abstract or an eye-catching poster?

Here are a couple of interesting resources for helping you do just that.

From the LSE Impact Blog, you might like to read Your essential ‘how-to’ guide to writing good abstracts and their follow-up post How to write a killer conference abstract: The first step towards an engaging presentation. These posts contain some useful tips for grad students applying to a conference for the first time. Veteran conference-goers may also benefit from reviewing these suggestions, and considering how conference abstracts are different from article abstracts.

Conference posters are often less common among social anthropologists than paper presentations. As a visual medium, posters present unique challenges for researchers whose work is based in narrative. However, we're not the only discipline who struggles with how best to represent our findings in this format. Luckily, there are many resources available to help you craft an informative and eye-catching poster:
We've also taken the opportunity to update our page on Advice for Grad Students | Writing Tips with this information on conferencing. If you're getting ready to head to a conference, you might also want to check out our collected tips on networking on our Advice for Grad Students | Professional Development Strategies page.

02 October 2017

Anthropologists everywhere! Filming heavy metal with Sam Dunn

The first time I met Sam Dunn was in the smoking room (when those still existed) of a dive-y bar that my cohort of Dalhousie MA students used to ritually visit on Thursday wing-nights in Halifax. One of my colleagues, a die-hard metal fan and Marxist sociologist, called me over to his table and introduced us. Dunn had completed his MA at York in 2000, and we had both accepted offers to begin our PhDs in Social Anthropology at York University in Toronto in September, 2006.

By September, he decided to postpone and eventually declined his acceptance to the doctoral program -- with good reason!

Dunn had already filmed Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey (2005), and would soon film a sequel of sorts, Global Metal (2008). Yet, rather than a departure from anthropology, both of these films and others made throughout Dunn's career are informed by his anthropological training and perspective.

Besides being a cool example of what you can do with a degree in anthropology, I have found Dunn's work to be a really useful teaching tool. For instance, Global Metal is a great resource for teaching about globalization, and how cultural forms and practices are always reinterpreted locally, sometimes deeply changing the meaning of the original cultural producers.

Check out more about Dunn and the connection between his work and anthropological background in the following links... and more about finding anthropologists everywhere:

28 September 2017

The Event! Designing Human Futures

Dr. Paul Hartley came to McMaster last night to give us a talk about Reassessing our (i.e. Humans') Relationship with Technology.

The talk was extremely useful in that it provided attendees with an 'archaeology' of technology.
What do I mean by archaeology? Archaeology, in a Foucaudian sense, examines "discursive traces and orders left by the past in order to write a 'history of the present'. In other words archaeology is about looking at history as a way of understanding the processes that have led to what we are today" (Clare O'Farrell for Michel-Foucault.com, 2007).

Dr. Hartley's main premise of the talk was to reassess how we think about our relationship with technology because much of what we think about technology and the future, is steeped in mythology of the past. If we think technology will 'save' us by making life easier, that it necessarily drives (good) change, or that technologies will bring the human race to the pinnacle of progress - these narratives are not new - in fact, he traced their lineage over centuries - and they do not necessarily have to dictate our future relationship.

Dr. Hartley spoke of the importance of using a human-centered (what he called the Human Futures Framework) to re-articulate this relationship in future design and innovation projects.

In so doing, he gave the audience 5 steps to this process (i.e. the framework):
1. Deconstruct - what you know about your project/product/problem
2. Observe - for the purpose of building a better picture of the context
3. Understand - analyzing collected data within the context
4. Speculate - identify possible future pathways (of design, of interest, of intent, etc.)
5. Activate - generate next steps and understand the implication of the investigation.

In all, Dr. Hartley's talk helped frame our understanding how the technology - as we understand today - came to be. It also helped attendees recognize what steps they could take to use a human futures approach (where the human bookends the technology - as a hybrid form that enables humans instead of any other scary apocalyptic scenarios where robots take over for humans) in our everyday design practices.

25 September 2017

The Anthropology of Humor - Responding to Everyday Racist Comments and Jokes

In the face of so much bigotry flying around on social media and in our daily lives, it's good practice to remind ourselves of the best practices out there when dealing with everyday racist comments and jokes.

How do anthropologists think about humor as a cultural trait?

According to Anthropologist Robert Lynch, a joke...is like a little brain scan: When we laugh, we reveal what's inside us. In an interview for NPR, Lynch is described as saying: When you and I laugh at the same joke, we signal to each other that we share the same values, the same beliefs. This may be why people all over the world want friends and romantic partners who share their sense of humor. His research on humor can be found here and here.

What are some simple practices we can follow when responding to racist humor?

Emma Thomson and Anne Pederson, Psychologists at Murdoch University, advocate that one simply disagree with a racist statement or to not laugh at a racist joke (acknowledging the importance of personal safety in the face of anger when doing so).

The Southern Poverty Law Centre is a rich resource for those wanting to know how to respond to everyday bigotry. In Speak Up: Responding to Everyday Bigotry, the authors include a diversity of response scenarios, including responses depending on the relationship between the oneself and the individual/structure. From siblings and joking in-laws, to real estate bigotry, unwanted emails as well as one's own personal bias. This is a gold mine.

At the end of this list - they advocate six steps:

  1. Be ready
  2. Identify the behaviour (call it out - not the person - the behaviour in order to receive a less confrontational response)
  3. Appeal to principles (moral humanistic principals)
  4. Set limits (for example, that you're unwilling to hear such jokes, etc.)
  5. Find an ally/Be an ally (find solace in similarly-minded folks)
  6. Be vigilant (making small steps)


Quick Links:

21 September 2017

What can Anthro do? .... Discuss the Future Relationship of Design, Technology and its Human Creators

On September 27th, McMaster University will host Dr. Paul Hartley, a Senior Anthropologist at Idea Couture in Toronto, ON and now, co-founder and Director of the Institute for Human Futures.

The Institute for Human Futures is busy trying to reset the way we see our relationship with technology and to help everyone benefit from new approaches to build more ethical, sustainable, and human-centric technologies. Our purpose is to foster creative dialogue between thought leaders in the business world, design labs, and academia, and to develop actionable solutions to the problems inherent in integrating technology into our lives in a more holistic manner.

With words such as human-centric, dialogue, and (particularly) holism, Dr. Hartley's anthropological background is genuinely apparent.

Screen Shot from The Institute for Human Futures Homepage Video, 2017
Dr. Hartley's talk entitled Designing Human Futures: Reassessing our Relationship with Technology 
will be of interest to those wanting to know more about sustainable, ethical, and effective technological futures.

Full description of talk below:
We live in a technological world that is not entirely our own. Much of what we understand about our technologies and ourselves was crafted in the past, and our approaches were developed in response to the problems of the time. Many are no longer relevant, but we still apply them as we develop increasingly sophisticated tools. To build a more sustainable, ethical, and effective technological future for ourselves we have to shed many of these older ways to thinking and reassess our relationship with technology. This talk offers an alternative perspective on our relationship with the tools we build and explains how we are missing many opportunities for positive transformation by remaining stuck in outdated assumptions about what technology is, what it can do, and what it should do as we design a new future for ourselves. Together, we will reconsider our technological past, reassess our present, and look to futures that are currently closed to us because we still take a technology-first perspective in designing the tools of the future. Along the way, Dr. Hartley will introduce the human futures perspective and offer a vision of how it can be incorporated into design, development, and implementation of new technologies, products, and services.

Anthro Everywhere! has written about Dr. Hartley and his work in the past - as a Canadian anthropologist working outside academia - and @anthrolens blogger @JennLong3 is proud to promote this event hosted by the W. Booth School of Engineering Practice & Technology in Hamilton, ON, Canada.

Are you in hearing Dr. Hartley speak? Come out to this free event and register at designinghumanfutures.eventbrite.com

@JennLong3 will write a follow up post about the event in the coming weeks.

Quick Links and Further Reading:



18 September 2017

Innovative Like Me: Best Practices for Writing Unbiased Job Ads

Below is a post @anthrolens blogger @JennLong3 wrote on LinkedIn. In this post, I write about diversity and bias in Canadian job ads.

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While drinking coffee this morning, I came across a job ad for an internship at a Toronto-based subsidiary of a FP500 Corporation.

In addition to one’s resume, cover letter, and copy of transcripts, the employer asked for:

  1. An overview of projects the applicant had worked on in the past - be they work or school-related or a personal project;
  2. Two in-depth case studies about any of these projects which highlight the process, insights or design principles, the output generated, challenged encountered; and,
  3. A list of the top three books or articles with the biggest influence on their practice and a description of why they’re important to the applicant.

For such a tall order, the employer explained their wishes:

They wanted to understand ‘how the applicant worked’ because ‘the documentation process was just as important to the final product’. They also requested that applicants provide specific details about their methods and frameworks because they were interested in understanding the why and the how of their process.

As a Communications instructor for the W. Booth School of Engineering Practice and Technology – I saw myself mic drop and walk away from this glorious display of the importance of communication in technical fields. This sophisticated call for applicants helped prove the importance of many topics covered in my class including: project documentation, reading widely in one’s field, the importance of discipline-specific vocabulary, putting theory into practice, self-reflection during project work, tailoring documents to specific audiences…I could go on.

In the end however, the ad stated ‘feel free to use whatever format or length…’ to showcase the applicants work. That’s where I stopped.

I teach my students that there are prescribed methods of communication in Canadian workplaces; that is, whether they know it or not, workplace correspondence and documentation follows long-standing formats of technical and professional communication. To do otherwise slows down progress, creates confusion, and has the potential to ruin work relationships. In class, we learn about direct and indirect writing styles, best practices of professional communication, and more. I tell my students that in following these best practices, they will get more done and make a better career for themselves.

The brief overview request aside, how should we teach students to write case studies and describe their favorite book without returning to the genre of essay writing or book reports that they left behind in primary or secondary school? Do the employers think their applicants will have sufficient expertise to write a business case study? If so, what are the implications of sharing such intellectual property during a job search process?

Perhaps this open-ended request is a symptom of the creative industry, that is, that they want to see what applicants can come up with; yet, there remain standards for communication in all workplaces that the intern will have to follow. Will they end up with a creative soul who can't interact professionally with a client? In a more practical sense, do they want to read thousands of book reports? (Obvious answer: No, you don't) As someone who has faced stacks of essays and literature reviews, it was those well organized, efficiently written (length requirements be damned) submissions which caught my eye and won out.

As a social science scholar teaching in STEM, I’m often struck by the ‘isms’ of Canadian workplace culture that bubble to the surface in everyday practice. In this case, I imagine that such a job ad would locate an applicant whose creative expression matched the recruiter's and whose well-loved book list matched their own. It begs the question: Is this the best way to source an applicant? In a word, no. Innovation – a word sprinkled throughout the ad – does not come from sycophantic following but productive conflict, i.e. difference in thought, in life experience, in world view. Written as such, this ad reflects the implicit bias found in the Canadian hiring process (see Ottawa Citizen, the Star) where employers hire similar and like-minded employees - and so the inequitable hiring and promotion cycle continues.

If you want an applicant who knows about the design process – why not have a quiz to test their individual knowledge? If you want to see creativity in practice, why not have a second stage where culled applicants respond to a past company project filled with real world issues. This would allow them to respond to situations from the brainstorming to production phase. Along the way, ask them to reflect on why they made the decisions they did, and how they would deploy their methods. Otherwise, include a template of a case study to level the playing field (and limit the page count). If you want different thinking, why limit creative knowledge to books and articles – a genre biased toward a particular readership? Instead, suggest potential interns submit a photo and write 250 words as to how this photo inspires their perspective on innovation or design practice.

In the end, I advocate the same thing to employers as I do to my students. Write reflectively, in a manner that considers the audience’s needs and which follows best practices of workplace communication. To do less, creates unproductive communication and has the potential to stymie innovative work processes.

14 September 2017

Solutionism - The Role of Technology in Solving SocioTechnical Problems

It all began, over a year ago (June 2016), with what author Ethan Zuckerman described as hate-linking. Through this practice, Zuckerman stumbled upon and read an article by Shane Snow who is the co-founder of a content-marketing platform. Briefly, in his article, Snow advocates for change in US prison systems - to lessen the financial burden and remove instances of violence - by locking everyone in a room...indefinitely and by feeding them the Silicon Valley version of Ensure. The role of technology - a crucial point to Zuckerman's response - in this prison life would be to give all those incarcerated access to VR (virtual reality) equipment and video games to socialize and learn. Snow's thought is that with less contact, there will be less violence and deaths.

In his lengthy response, The Perils of Using Technology to Solve Other People's Problems for the Atlantic, Zuckerman systematically pokes holes in Snow's proposed solutions to the US prison system (as a design developed out of context and without input from those living and working in such a system) and questions the role of technology as the prolific savior in sociotechnical issues.

As an engineering instructor at MIT, Zuckerman is interested in finding ways to: disrupt better, challenge knowledgeably, and engaging (or codesigning) new and better technology alongside the intended or target audience. Zuckerman drives home what he sees as an issue in (most) engineering design processes where many of the technologies we benefit from, weren’t designed for their ultimate beneficiaries, but were simply designed well and adopted widely.

Zuckerman draws attention to Evgeny Morozov's critique of “solutionism” which Morozov describes as the act of focusing on problems that (only) have “nice and clean technological solution at our disposal.” The problem with the solutionist critique, Zuckerman argues, is that it tends to remove technological innovation from the problem-solver’s toolkit. He advocates that robust solutions to social problems must incorporate technology as one of many levers toward social change.

Zuckerman mentions the work of Genevieve Bell at intel to briefly mention the role of ethnography and ethnographers in collecting important user information in the design process. He writes:
Understanding the wants and needs of users is important when you’re designing technologies for people much like yourself, but it’s utterly critical when designing for people with different backgrounds, experiences, wants, and needs.

Although an older article, Zuckerman's response to Snow's design situates anthropological and ethnographic analysis into the heart of the design process, where the heart does not represent the centre of a process, but the life blood of design and innovation. It's here that the expert - that is the user or client or target audience - and their knowledge is paramount.

Quick Links: 
  • Perils of Using Technology to Solve Other People's Problems: What will it take to design socio-technical systems that actually work? Ethan Zuckerman in the Atlantic (June 23, 2016)
  • How Soylent and Oculus Could Fix The Prison System (A Thought Experiment) - note, this has been revised due to feedback from the wider community - Shane Snow (Sept 23, 2015) 

  • For more links about technology on AnthroEverywhere!
  • Isuma TV - Indigenous Media collective (Sept 4 2017)
  • Anthropology Podcasting (Aug 24 2017)
  • Remembering & Memories: there's an app for that... (Jul 17 2017)

  • 11 September 2017

    Resources for Anti-Racist Pedagogy

    As a scholar who "grew up" in anthropology decades after the crisis of representation debates emerged, I am well aware of the colonizing power dynamics in our discipline's past, and how these power relations continue to reverberate through our work today. But, what does it look like to address these kinds of questions in the everyday of our classrooms?

    In 2013 I took a teaching course offered through my university's Teaching Commons. It was free for students to complete and was specifically directed at Teaching Assistants, who do the bulk of small-classroom teaching and assessment for larger lectures at my university. It was a really valuable experience, and I learned a lot about things like pedagogy in general and creating and evaluating assessment tools.

    During this semester and since, one of the questions that I have kept coming back to has been how to create inclusive classroom spaces for all of my students.

    How do I strike the right balance for inclusivisty in my teaching between my intersectional privileges, the diverse identities and experiences of my students, and the course content? 

    As anthropologists, we may be used to critiquing the complexities and nuances of power relations and underlying structures in the context of our research -- but are we examining or accounting for our own positionality in the classroom, vis-à-vis our students, our topics, our pedagogical choices...?

    Hopefully, yes -- even if it demands an ongoing process of growth, including missteps and teachable moments for ourselves and our students. I'm sure we can all think of a few of these missteps, and what we've learned from them.

    It's with these questions and issues in mind that we share some new resources for anti-racist pedagogy, and point up a few more of these kinds of discussions from previous posts and pages:

    There Is No Apolitical Classroom: Resources for Teaching in These Times (2017, National Council of Teachers of English)
    • This page contains a wealth of resources on anti-racist pedagogy. These resources are not intended for university-level educators, but offer important points for reflection, strategies, and approaches for thinking about race/ racism and other forms of discrimination in the classroom grouped under headings like: Resources for Working with White Students, Resources for Understanding White Supremacy, Resources for Understanding Bias, and additional articles.
    Inquiry into Practice: Reaching Every Student Through Inclusive Curriculum (2011, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto)
    • This edited volume includes discussions of research into a variety of classroom issues, especially in the Canadian context. Again, these chapters are not directed at university-level educators, but are written by academics specializing in education. The end of the document also includes an annotated reading list of further resources that "have been selected for their relevance on issues of inclusion in the Canadian context, their focus on classroom practice and strategies, or their ability to raise awareness of individuals or groups in society" (2011, 124). Resources include texts as well as multi-media sources.
    From anthro everywhere! here are a few relevant posts and pages for thinking about anti-racist pedagogy, collegiality, and the role/ perspective of anthropology:

    07 September 2017

    Fake News: Questions and Resources for Back to Class and All Year Round

    Ah, fake news.  As a phenomenon, its truthiness is both fascinating (from an epistemological perspective, at least) and highly troubling (from the perspective of anyone who cares about information literacy, quality research, social justice, ...). Many anthropologists and others have spent a lot of time not only countering fake news messages -- the recently infamous Google Memo is a good example -- but trying to understand how and why fake news works. For instance, take Scientific American's Anthropology in Practice articles on "Understanding The Social Capital of Fake News" (28 November 2016) and "Three Historical Examples of "Fake News"" (1 December 2016).

    Discerning valid arguments based on evidence from what might be called "fake news" has always been an important part of a university education. Yet, the challenges we face in how we teach this kind of critical thinking seem to be becoming ever more difficult in the current climate and through the proliferation of messages in our contemporary media.


    Luckily, hardworking librarians exist to help uphold information literacy teaching and learning, like those at the Toronto Public Library. Toronto librarians have put together an accessible page on How to Spot Fake News that poses important questions to consider (and why to consider them) when assessing the validity of a message, article, post, or news site, as well as links to additional resources. While some of these additional resources are available only to TPL patrons, many more are accessible to anyone, such as this list of Research Guides:
    Now that you are armed with these great resources and questions, happy back to class!

    Quick Links and further reading:

    04 September 2017

    Isuma TV - Indigenous Media collective

    We recently came across Isuma TV, "a collaborative multimedia platform for indigenous filmmakers and media organizations. Each user can design their own space, or channel, to reflect their own identity, mandate and audience."

    The result of this non-profit collaboration is an amazing collection of "over 6000 videos, and thousands of other images and audio files, in more than 80 different languages, on 800+ user-controlled channels, representing cultures and media organizations from Canada, U.S.A., Greenland, Norway, Sweden, Russia, Australia, New Zealand and all over Latin America."

    Where some viewers might be attracted to content in channels like Inuit knowledge and climate change, others might be interested in how Indigenous communities are using the platform to help teach and share knowledge about Indigenous cultures and languages.

    Check it out, and let us know how Isuma TV might be useful in your classroom via twitter @anthrolens or email anthrolens@gmail.com.


    31 August 2017

    Thinking about careers outside of the Academy: NIH's OITE Careers Blog

    The American National Institutes of Health (NIH) has a thorough Career Services blog providing a wealth of advice that will be of use for recent grads and graduate students.

    While the blog is more natural sciences than social sciences oriented, much of the advice will still be relevant for anthropology and other social sciences/ humanities students. It offers advice, resources, and tips on wide range of different topics, such as grant writing, grad school applications, academic careers, interviewing, teaching and mentoring, wellness... the list goes on!

    One thread that caught our attention was Careers Outside of the Academy, and we're adding a few of these links to our Advice for Grad Students page.

    For instance, check out this Guide to Cover Letters, which provides examples for a variety of potential career paths, including for graduate students applying to industry positions, applying fro postdocs, and postdocs applying to faculty positions. You might also want to check out a few interesting posts, such as:


    Quick links and further reading:

    28 August 2017

    What do Cultural Anthropologists do? "Decode" Human Behaviour

    According to a recent article (August 3, 2017) in the Financial Post, Martin Birt discusses the work of Johanna Faigelman, CEO and founding partner of Human Branding.

    In answer to a few questions including how deep is your understanding of the needs and behaviours of your customers or employees? Faigelman responds that traditional market analysis is too superficial. It relies on 'consumers as experts' and simply reports on what 'consumers know they know.' This is a risky approach given the scope and potential exposure of many business investments.

    In speaking of how to launch a new product successfully or 'innovate', Faigelman identifies three importance aspects, that is, understanding (1) human-centric insights, (2) business needs and realities, and (3) socio-cultural factors. To accomplish this, a business — with appropriate support — should do a deep dive into societal trends, gain an understanding of unmet human needs, and the dynamics of the business category. Layered onto this complexity are cultural and generational differences.

    Birt goes on to write that [e]very business is under pressure to grow and to anticipate market and competing trends. Even before a new product is developed, for example, anthropological research and insight can help a business decode socio-cultural factors that set the context for what people are saying … and what they are not saying. This can help a business think in a way that is future forward. They’ll be able to identify latent (and therefore unmet) needs, define and harness unarticulated emotions and predict real life behaviour.

    It's important to acknowledge how the write-up by a non-anthropologist (although this is not confirmed), the editing process, or the need to grab views might influence how the practice of anthropology is worded. However, describing anthropological methods as a means to define and harness unarticulated emotions and predict real life behaviour  would likely be seen as problematic. Earlier in the piece, Birt describes Faigelman's methods as involving “naturalistic unobtrusive observation” (being the fly on the wall), in-depth respondent-driven interviewing, and participation. 

    This flies in the face of postmodern critiques of the method, that is:
    1. What role does the ethnographer play as an 'expert' in describing the culture (behaviours? thoughts and perceptions?) of others?
    2. Where does the role of the ethnographer (as a research tool) come into play in - in this case - market research?
    Here on Anthro Everywhere!, we've written about the packaging of anthropological knowledge (see quick links) and asked a number of questions including: What language or terminology will reach which audiences? Why?

    We also made a note in our first post about packing anthropological knowledge...a caveat

    *Note, the authors of this article use somewhat problematic language as 'eavesdropping' which may spur an ethical conversation among anthropologists but the focus of this post is about the nature in which the work of anthropologists is described by non-anthropologists (who may or may not have anthropological training).

    Are anthropologists everywhere okay with having their method described as:
    1. Eavesdropping
    2. Unobtrusive observer (from fly-on-the-wall)
    3. The ability to predict behaviour
    Let us know what you think on twitter @anthrolens

    Quick Links:

    24 August 2017

    Anthropology Podcasting

    Heard any great podcasts lately? What about anthropology podcasts?

    We've posted about anthropology and podcasting before on anthro everywhere! as a way of communicating ethnography in a different format, as Dr. Lindsay Bell has done with her students. Podcasting can be an opportunity to engage a wider or different audience than text-based communications. The medium and our possible audiences might also challenge us to think through and present theoretical ideas and ethnographic details as a public anthropologist speaking to a perhaps non-specialist audience.

    So, what about the podcasts that are already out there? You might be surprised that so many anthropological associations and initiatives have jumped into podcasting to share our insights. From audio versions of academic lectures to more intimate conversations about ideas, here's a by no means definitive list for your listening pleasure:

    • As you might have suspected, the RAI Lectures podcasts are audio files of keynote lectures given mostly by anthropological rock-stars on a variety of topics.
    • This Anthro Life might be the best known anthropology podcast. Episodes run about 20-30 minutes, and are put together by a team of grad students on issues "inspired by Anthropologist Ruth Benedict’s claim that anthropology’s job is to make the world safe for human differences."
    • AnthroPod: The SCA Podcast is hosted by Cultural Anthropology  in line with their open-access format and mission. Many episodes deliver interviews with anthropologists on their work, while others explore particular issues more broadly. Episodes vary from about 30-60 minutes in length.
    • A Story of Us comes from Ohio State's Anthropology graduate students, with series themes from researchers in the department, such as childhood, death, and migration.
    • Anthropological Airwaves is American Anthropologist's new podcast series, and aims to mirror the journal's "four-field, multimodal research, the podcast hosts conversations about anthropological projects—from fieldwork and publishing to the discipline’s role in public debates."
    • Oxford Podcasts from the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography. With over 200 episodes since 2010, this podcast showcases lecture and seminar discussions from the department.
    • Thinking Allowed is BBC4's ethnography podcast, which bills itself as "New research on how society works." While the presenter, Laurie Taylor, is a sociologist by training, the focus really is on the value and power of an ethnographic perspective.
    • The Sociological Imagination podcasts from a sociological and interdisciplinary perspective, and is worth including in this list. It's also a great site to mine for further listening, through posts like "The LSE’s remarkable archive of public talks."
    • You can also check out AAA's Podcast Library and its impressive list of archived podcasts, which include episodes covering the four-fields of anthropology.
    Inspired to make your own podcasts? Check out this informative piece on the podcasting medium, "Talking Anthropology: Podcasting for the Public," (and Part 2) from Teaching Culture for ideas about how to craft your own and/or bring podcasting into the classroom.

    Know about other great anthropology podcasts that should be on this list? Tweet us @anthrolens or email anthrolens@gmail.com. Here are few more from readers like you:
    • Updated - 25 August 2017: From the Relevanth blog, Anthropologist on the Street interviews anthropologists and others about "today’s controversies, debates, and trending issues to examine the hidden cultural forces at play."
    • Updated - 27 August 2017: The Sausage of Science Podcast with Cara & Chris is a new podcast series from the Human Biology Association. This podcast "combines interviews and lectures with and by new researchers and research in science writ large and that applies to those interested in the field of human biology."
    • Updated - 27 August 2017: You might also want to check out The Leakey Foundation's Origin Stories, podcasting "about what it means to be human and the science behind what we know about ourselves and our origins."

    21 August 2017

    As the summer winds down...GET OFF MY LAWN!!

    At the beginning of the summer, Krystal D'Costa wrote an intriguing piece about The American Obsession with Lawns.

    Don't think you're interested in green, gardening? This post has it all with a history of lawn landscaping and culture, considerations of class, design and aesthetic, exclusion and social-indicators of belonging. One might also easily read racial bias into lawn culture and cultural critique. D'Costa's post is somewhat reminiscent of Rotenberg's Landscape and Power in Vienna (1995) where he demonstrates how groups and classes work to align with political movements and inform cultural meanings in everyday (and larger, for example municipal, national, etc.) life.

    Below is a snippet of her post:
    We are at a moment when the American Dream, inasmuch as it still exists, is changing. The idea of homeownership is untenable or undesirable for many. While green spaces are important, a large area of green grass seems to be a lower priority for many. With a growing movement that embraces a more natural lifestyle, there is a trend toward the return of naturalized lawns that welcome flowering weeds, and subsequently support a more diverse entomological ecosystem.
    Old habits die hard, however. And it is hard to also abandon this idea of a manifestation of material success, especially as it is so readily recognized as such. As of 2005, lawns covered an estimated 63,000 square miles of America. That's about the size of Texas. It's the most grown crop in the United States--and it's not one that anyone can eat; it's primary purpose is to make us look and feel good about ourselves.

    D'Costa ends with the following statement: Lawns are American. But they're also an anomaly. And they may no longer fit the realities of the world we live in. 

    The lawn factor may also translate for some living up here in Canada.

    Read more of D'Costa's analysis and about this history of lawn and lawn culture by clicking on the quick links below.

    Quick Links:

    17 August 2017

    Jediism as Religion: Anthropology for a Changing World

    Last Thursday, anthroeverywhere! wrote about Gillian Parrish's post on Jedi-training in the classroom, which they use as a means to teach implicit skills such as empathy to students.

    Today, we delve back into the connection between Jediism and Anthropology (because why not...) by pointing out a guest blog post on The Geek Anthropologist entitled When Science Fiction meets Religion: The Case of Jediism.

    In their post, Maria (Polyhymnia) Menegaki outlines a paper they presented at the AlterNatives: Anthropological Knowledge for Changing World program organized by the University of Ljubljana in 2015.

    In this paper, Menegaki explores the growing global movement of the Church of Jediism and their quest to become a recognized religion. In this post, Menegaki questions the process in which religions are defined and likens this movement to those of other New Age movements that came of age in the 20th Century. Menegaki goes on to explore many topics that were likely further fleshed out in their paper, which include: the role of play, the perception of cohesion among followers, the difference between fandom vs. religious observance, and their failure to be recognized beyond an online community (as decided by the UK's Charity Commission in 2016).

    Menegaki ends this post stating that the exploration of Jediism can serve anthropologists as a topic of new forms of religiosity and/or as a form of social critique (the latter of which was not discussed in this post).

    These are interesting suggestions indeed. To read Menegaki's post follow the quick link to The Geek Anthropologist below.

    Quick Links:



    14 August 2017

    Syllabi resources for challenging systemic racism, colonization, and more

    In the wake of the horrific, racist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia this past weekend, it is important for anthropologists to think about our voice in university classrooms as a way of speaking to wide-ranging systemic inequalities in our lives, and the lives of our students. For many of us, challenging these systems of oppression by understanding the social processes and forms that underlie them is part and parcel of what contemporary anthropology offers as a holistic, empirically-grounded, critical way of seeing the world.

    With this in mind, we want to remind instructors of some of the inspiring resources that anthropologists, other scholars, and social justice activists have created to help educators bring contemporary issues into our classrooms collected on anthro everywhere!'s Reading Lists, Syllabi, & Teaching Resources.

    In addition to resources already documented here (e.g. Anthropoliteia's #BlackLivesMatter Syllabus projectEthnographic approaches to understanding Trump/Brexit/new rise of conservativism, Decolonizing Anthropology, or the Islamophobia is Racism Syllabus) We've also recently updated the page with the Anthropoliteia's list of course syllabi on Policing and the timely Charlottesville Syllabus:
    a resource created by the Graduate Student Coalition for Liberation to be used to educate readers about the long history of white supremacy in Charlottesville, Virginia. With resources selected and summaries written by UVa graduate students, this abridged version of the Syllabus is organized into six sections that offer contemporary and archival primary and secondary sources (articles, books, responses, a documentary, databases) and a list of important terms for discussing white supremacy. Only “additional resources” are not available online (but can be found either through JSTOR, at the library, or for purchase).
    We have also added a few great resources from Somatosphere on teaching medical anthropology and illness that might be of interest to instructors for this upcoming academic year.

    10 August 2017

    The Connection between Anthropology and Jedi Training

    Gillian Parrish wrote a post for Magna's Faculty Focus magazine entitled Jedi Training: Developing Habits of Perception in Our Disciplines.

    In this piece, Parrish describes how longstanding practitioners develop implicit skills that can be the source of some of the deepest learning for our students. Parrish argues that faculty must try and develop empathy in their students so that their knowledge learned can blossom into expertise and wisdom.

    To do this, Parrish advocates that faculty 1) identify the habitual, underlying modes of sensing in our disciplines, and 2) design assignments for practicing these modes in whole-person ways that engage our students not only intellectually, but in their embodied, emotional everyday lives.

    Parrish mentions activities that she uses to achieve these goals including developing students' listening and orientation skills by having them slip into an "ethnographic mode" for an activity (writing what they describe as 'the heart of the conversation complete with pauses and description). Parrish goes on to describe other approaches that would feel quite at home in an anthropologist's classroom; for example, when Parrish advocates that students need to acknowledge how they see the world around them, engage in self reflection, and notice (their) implicit habits of perceiving everyday life as a practitioner in your field.

    So why the connection to Jedi Training? Parrish states:
    Jedi-training exercises require the kind of close attention and new ways of thinking that can lead to love for our subject matter. This kind of whole-person learning guards against abstraction, keeps us in relationship with the wider world, makes us better caretakers of people and planet. For after all, as observed by my four-year-old niece: “We are all connected. In a web. Like the Force.”
    Read more of Parrish's post through the Quick Links below.

    Quick Links: 

    07 August 2017

    Perspectives: checking out the new #OpenAccess textbook

    In a recent post, Anthrodendum (formerly Savage Minds) highlights the new open-access teaching resource Perspectives: An Open Invitation to Cultural Anthropology.

    This new, open-access textbook is a project supported and sponsored by the Society for Anthropology in Community Colleges (SACC) and its members. As a collaborative project, each chapter is written by different authors addressing a key anthropological topic, allowing the authors to incorporate their personal experiences as anthropologists working on these questions in the field.

    Chapters cover major thematic questions in sociocultural anthropology, and are supplemented with some exciting teaching resources that address current questions and concerns in the discipline, such as the role of anthropology in our everyday lives and public anthropology.

    The text is available online and for chapter-by-chapter download. As an open-access textbook, the editors suggest in their Anthrodendum post that "choosing Perspectives for our classes, and eliminating the substantial cost of commercial textbooks from our syllabi, may open opportunities for us to adopt other books written by our colleagues and produced by university presses."

    Check out this interesting resource and other teaching tools and tips on our Reading Lists, Syllabi, & Teaching Resources page.

    Quick links:

    03 August 2017

    Anthropologists Visualizing Data: Packaging Anthropological Knowledge Part Three

    In line with the post from earlier this week, Anthro Everywhere! is revisiting the topic of visualizing data in accessible (i.e. easily consumable) ways.

    What do I mean about easily consumable data visualization? Take for example, a non-anthropological sample from the Cornell Note-taking System from Cornell University's Learning Strategies Center about the Cornell Note-taking System, a useful tool for all undergraduate students seen below (for a clearer copy, click on the link above or below in quick links):
    Cornell Note-taking System by Cornell University's Learning Strategies Center

    Despite this interesting method, the below revision by Life Hacker (from 2006!) is arguably more accessible:

    Life Hacker's Version of Cornell's Note-taking System

    The question for today's post is: What kinds of accessible and memorable data visualization have anthropologists created? 

    There are likely many examples, one of which stuck in my mind was Grant Otsuki's portrayal of the number of dissertations produced by institutions. 

    According to Otsuki, the size of the circles is proportional to the number of dissertations in cultural anthropology produced by that institution since 1900. If a user his website, they can hold their mouse pointer over the circle to get the full name of the institution, and the number of dissertations produced:

    Otsuki's Portrayal of the Number of Dissertations produced by Institution
    Otsuki's larger work focuses on the question “What does it mean to be human in contemporary technological societies?” This example of dissertations per university is one example of anthropological visualizations of their data.

    But let's put the question to you: What other memorable and accessible visualizations have you seen by anthropologists? Let us know via email (anthrolens@gmail.com) or tweet us @anthrolens.

    Quick Links:





    31 July 2017

    The Packaging Anthropological Knowledge Part Two

    As an anthropologist teaching technical communications, I often reflect on the merits of active, concise, and accessible communication styles that I didn't learn while studying my undergraduate or graduate degrees.

    If I were to summarize how I would change my anthropological writing on account of teaching technical writing, I would advocate for the following three rules:
    1. Write in an active voice. Always. 
    2. Connect all the dots. Give readers a sense for what they're going to read, write it, then summarize it for them. It's not a mystery novel. Descriptive prose has a place of course (C. Geertz need not roll over in his grave) - perhaps in ethnographic vignettes or when describing initial contexts or landscapes.
    3. Write with information/knowledge dissemination in mind. Accessible writing will make your ideas spread further.
    Academia Obscura recently (Jul 28 2017) posted about a resource for academics, Doodling for Academics by Julie Schumacher. The publisher's website writes that the resources is a bitingly funny distraction designed to help you survive life in higher education without losing your mind. Sardonic yet shrewdly insightful, Doodling for Academics offers the perfect cognitive relief for the thousands of faculty and grad students whose mentors and loved ones failed to steer them toward more reasonable or lucrative field.

    Below are two sample doodles from the book. You can access a sampler of the book here.

    Doodle from Julie Schumacher via Academia Obscura

    Doodle from Julie Schumacher via Academia Obscura
    While this book is supposed to be a fun mental release from the hierarchies and pseudo-political power plays, the peculiar colleagues, the over-parented students, the stacks of essays that need to be graded ASAP - I also see these doodles as examples of repackaging knowledge in new and accessible ways. 

    While these doodles may be the starting point for larger discussions (as the medium would limit the capacity to elaborate on complex ideas), I can think of a place for such doodles in ethnographic texts perhaps as a means to personalize readers' experiences of the work as a colouring book (the original intention of Schumacher's book). 

    One could also use such doodles and the act of colouring as a methodology. For example, I'm reminded of Diane Farmer, Jeanette Cepin, and Gabrielle Breton-Carbonneau's article in the Journal of Social Science Education which can be found here Students’ Pathways Across Local, National and Supra-National Borders: Representations of a Globalized World in a Francophone Minority School in Ontario, Canada

    Any time that I see Anthropologists and Scientists try to disseminate their work in new and creative ways, I can see its role as publicly engaged intellectuals.

    Quick Links:

    27 July 2017

    Anthropology Blogs for the Affluent Tech-Thusiast?

    Scientific American identifies its 9 million strong readership as educated and affluent adults. The magazine is #1 when reaching “tech-thusiasts" who they define as individuals who own and use new technology and who are apt to buying the latest devices. Why is this important?

    This digital magazine has had a long running a series (since 2011) called Anthropology in Practice: Exploring the human condition. The main contributor is Krystal D'Costa who is an anthropologist living in New York City. Much like us here at anthroeverywhere!, D'Costa's posts explore everyday life from the anthropological perspective.

    The following list demonstrates the range of topics:
    These interesting reads would be useful discussion starters for a second year anthropology classrooms or as a quick link share for friends, parents or managers who are trying to answer: well, what can anthropology do?

    Quick Links: 

    24 July 2017

    Anthropologists everywhere! Alternative Anthro Careers

    There have been quite a few posts on this blog where we discuss not-so-run-of-the-mill jobs that anthropologists find themselves in (click on our label 'what can anthro do?', our page on Applying an anthropological perspective outside of university, and see quick links below). This is also the case for Christine Moellenberndt who is an Anthropologist & Community Manager at Reddit.

    In their post entitled Argonauts of the Internet: Anthropology and Community Management Mx. Moellenberndt describes what the discipline of anthropology is 'good' at doing...and (drum roll) it turns out to be quite a lot.

    Mx. Moellenberndt works in a field that is populated largely by those with marketing and business backgrounds and yet, the author finds that their anthropological training sets them up to ask questions that drive the very work that they do: While all of those fields can provide the bulk of the skills needed to be good community managers, it is anthropology that holds a key in tying all of these threads together for effective community management.

    Mx. Moellenberndt argues that While this may not be “fieldwork” in the traditional sense of going into a foreign culture and living in it for long periods of time, it is still fieldwork and the work that comes out of it can be ethnography (basically, this is kind of the end result of fieldwork; the write-up of what was observed and concluded). Without good, grounded ideas as to who your community is, what they want, and how they function, you can’t be an effective community manager.

    Read more about Mx. Moellenberndt's work at Reddit and the role of anthropology from our quick links.

    Quick Links: