27 February 2017

Anthropology Webinars

Since 2014 the AAA has been hosting regular webinars that are free for anyone to view. You can join in the conversation live, and importantly, catch the lecture/ discussion as an archived video afterward on their website.

Leveraging advances in social media and digital technology, these webinars offer a valuable opportunity to bring scholars together from diverse and distant locales to participate in discussions on breaking research, applied careers, and more.

For instance, you can check out the upcoming Townhall with Anthropologists Action Network for Immigrants and Refugees (15 March 2017) on "Protecting Immigrant and Undocumented Students." Or you might want to scroll through the archived webinars to watch anthropologists working on the frontlines to understand Zika, or catch Amy Santee's discussion about "Practicing Anthropology in User Experience, Design and Business."

Quick link:

23 February 2017

What are Anthropology jobs?

According to at least one Anthropology Department Chair, the two most googled questions students have are, "What is anthropology?" and in a close second, "What can I do with a degree in anthropology?"

This second question often gets answered with a laundry list of jobs framed as "Anthropology jobs." In many ways, this list of job titles limits both undergraduate and grad students. Instead, we'd like to see students approach thinking about what they can do with their anthropology degree in terms of how the skills and perspective learnt through studying anthropology can align with the kinds of projects and issues/ areas/ roles that students find meaningful.

Take for example, the new Executive Director of Pride Toronto, Olivia Nuamah. Nuamah "earned an undergraduate degree in international development and social anthropology from the University of Toronto. She earned a Masters in Social Anthropology of Children and Childhood Development from Brunel University."

Since then, Nuamah has been working on many different social and economic justice projects, as an "executive leader, policy expert and social justice advocate": from British Prime Minister Tony Blair's poverty reduction pledge, to Toronto-based projects to help deliver healthcare to homeless communities. These are all "anthropology jobs" -- even if the job ads weren't advertising for an anthropology background, or an ethnographer.

Quick links & further reading:

20 February 2017

Book Report Entry #1: Field notes: A Guided Journal for Doing Anthropology

This blog will feature a series of posts on a new (2017) resource for first-time and long-standing ethnographers - a 'guided journal' for doing anthropology by Luis A. Vivanco. The incentive for reviewing certain features of this coil bound book are its uniqueness as a resource and its usefulness as a tool of reflection for those experienced ethnographers.

Much of this blog is dedicated to the application of anthropology and ethnography which is why it was with great pleasure to come across Vivianco's first chapter entitled "Fieldwork Skills are Life Skills."

Vivianco argues that competently conducting fieldwork, which he defines as "participant observation in a community to investigate its behaviors and beliefs" (2017, p.10). affords anthropologists the following list of life skills (explanations are paraphrased and at times expanded upon):
  1. Directed learning - from our participants/interlocutors and about matters they find important.
  2. Curiosity - a habitual approach to research and life in the field.
  3. Asking good questions - formulating questions that elicit meaningful answers (perhaps through trial and error, and learning more over time about what is meaningful and to whom)
  4. Accuracy and attention to detail - the focus on documentation for accurate data collection and interpretation.
  5. Listening - Vivianco references active listening as one being at the 'heart of fieldwork'. This simple act speaks to the many things, including the primacy of the participant in anthropological fieldwork, the construction of worldviews through personal experience, and more.
  6. Negotiation - while we're starting to sound like lawyers here - Vivianco is speaking to the balancing and building of relationships.
  7. Networking - fieldworkers identify, understand and use networks to cultivate relationships
  8. Adaptability - a requisite value for contemporary workplaces - speaks to the ambiguous grey zone that anthropologists typically work in and through  
  9. Communication - about one's project - a skill that most researchers require and few master.
  10. Recognizing, respecting, and working with difference - such an important skill and one which anthropologists rarely mention. Some might identify this as uniquely anthropological not just for their use of practical realism but in their approach to theory, data, and our attention to multivocality.
  11. Critical thinking - a skill for researchers when collecting, analyzing and evaluating their data. 

16 February 2017

Scholarly paths that lead beyond the university

I'll admit, my love of cardigan sweaters was what first caught my attention and prompted me to read this article about professional development and careers beyond academia: Life After Academe: My Blazer Is a Cardigan (CHE, 2013).

But, even if you're not as passionate about button-down sweaters as I am, author Jocelyn Dawson nonetheless offers some sage advice for graduate students thinking about their future career paths -- and how theirs might (and probably will) take them away from the university sector. Yet, as Dawson notes, the "choice of a nonacademic career does not mean forsaking the reasons you chose a scholarly path in the first place."

If this sounds like you (or your students!), Dawson's article is a good place to start thinking about the possibilities after graduation. Then, you can head over to our Advice for Grad Students page for tips and strategies that you can use to help prepare you to think more broadly about what that scholarly path might look like further down the road. You can also peruse the links we've gathered for where some anthropologists are working beyond the ivory tower. Don't forget your cardigan...

13 February 2017

Anthropology Timeline

The Anthropology Timeline is a massive undertaking to chart the history of the discipline of anthropology. The timeline is an interactive site that charts anthropology's history along two arcs -- "publications (books, articles, etc.) and institutions (everything that isn't a publication)" -- through individual anthropologists.

According to Alex Golub, who hosts the project, it "grew organically over time. It is meant to be part of a larger research project on the history of anthropology in the UK, USA, and France from 1927 to 2027." All events are colour-coded: red - America, Canada; blue - France; yellow - UK, Australia, New Zealand; purple - Europe; Orange - Africa; Green - Latin America; light green - Asia. You can read more about the timeline's organization here.

A project like this certainly has to begin with decisions about how to organize the material it notes. The geographic/ national organization might be a useful starting place for a discussion about our discipline itself: Why are certain national histories (and languages) privileged over others? What are the effects of methodological nationalism on the discipline of anthropology?

09 February 2017

An Anthropologist, a Climate Scientist, and a Geographer walk into NASA...

The joke introduces a recent news article describing a new project that brings together various scientists to study changing patterns of urbanization and land use in the Himalayan region. This project will combine satellite imaging data with other qualitative data including census information, data concerning flow of remittances and land use, as well as the results of new ethnographic studies. These latter projects will take place in India, Nepal, and Bhutan for the purpose of understanding 'why' and 'how' different economic, political and social forces influence urbanization.

This overview of the research reads like a well-crafted SSHRC proposal, outlining the knowledge mobilization: Turin and Shneiderman (two Canadian UBC Anthropologists) hope to create conduits for effective information transferring between the researchers and local communities, national governments and development organizations. Such channels will help ensure that the results of the study can be broadly disseminated, but also that the needs and concerns of those in the communities being studied can be communicated back to the team to further inform the direction of the research.

The article ends with Turin describing how he will leverage the partnerships he and his wife (Dr. Shneiderman) have built over the last 25 years to connect with local need and take the results back to communities at all levels. 

This quick article in the Ubussey highlights some really interesting research collaborations for anthropologists and highlights some of the unique attributes they bring to such an endeavor.

06 February 2017

Imaginative Ethnography Syllabi (CIE)

The Centre for Imaginative Ethnography has gathered links to a number of syllabi that "attend to some combination of performance, theatre, visual media, writing and ethnography."

This treasure trove includes inspiration from courses such as:
  • GIRL STORIES: RACE, POLITICS, AND PEDAGOGY, Melissa Harris-Parry and Dani Parker
  • ANTHROPOLOGY OF THE SENSES, Zulfikar Hirji and Natasha Myers, Department of Anthropology, York University
You might also wish to have a look CIE's page on "Pedagogical Experiments" or our page on Reading Lists & Syllabi Resources.

02 February 2017

Neanderthals, racism, science

This New York Times article offers an interesting discussion about how Western European scientific racism also played a significant role in how we classified and described Neanderthals.

"Neanderthals Were People, Too" (2017) asks us to think about how the same racial thinking that supported the brutalities of Western imperialism also filtered into our understanding of pre-history.

As long-form journalism, this would be an interesting piece to assign alongside anthropological classics on scientific and systemic racism, racial thinking, and colonialism as part of the history of anthropological thought. Alternatively, it might be a good discussion piece for thinking about epistemological questions, and how science is part of a deeply cultural worldview.