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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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