29 May 2017

Indigenous fire management

Indigenous knowledge and practices are increasingly recognized and incorporated by non-Indigenous governments, businesses, and others into their own projects. While these engagements may often take the form of cultural appropriation or theft, we also see collaborations that generate benefits for allproduce new shared knowledge and opportunities, as well as new questions and tensions.

Prescribed Burn in High Park, Toronto, Canada
In the news recently we read about local governments in Australia and Toronto, Canada incorporating Indigenous fire-management into forestry management. Known in forestry management as "asset burns" or "prescribed burns," these selective and controlled burns of dried vegetation in savannah ecosystems help to reduce dry-season wildfires. In Australia, "Indigenous rangers are collaborating with Northern Territory Parks and Wildlife rangers in Nitmiluk National Park to manage its savanna burning program, in an Australian-first agreement." This collaboration helps park and Indigenous rangers protect cultural artefacts like rock art in these areas, as well as creating carbon credits.

Historically, in the area that is today the City of Toronto's High Park, "Indigenous groups maintained fires when hunting and clearing riparian areas. European settlers suppressed the fires from the 1870s to 2000 due to safety concerns as houses were built in closer proximity to the park." In recent years, prescribed burns have been reincorporated into the human-plant relationship in this park, opening up space for anthropological interrogations of these relationships.

Anthropologist Natasha Myers's current project with Ayelen Liberona, "Becoming Sensor in Sentient Worlds" explores the possibilities of decolonizing ecology in urban park sites like Toronto's High Park. They write
Fire is of course not just a “natural” force; people all over the world use fire to sculpt lands. Oak savannahs depend on people with knowledge of fire and the skills to care for the lands. Toronto’s remnant black oak savannahas, including those in High Park, are millennia in-the-making.  These lands are the traditional territories of the Wendat, the Haudenosaunee and Anishnaabe Nations. Toronto stands on the lands of the Mississauga’s of the Credit River. Indigenous peoples cared for this land with fire for millennia before colonization. Many thousands of Indigenous and Métis peoples live and move through this region today.
Oak savannahs do not survive without people. After years of settlers’ grazing sheep and lawn mowers, Toronto’s Urban Forestry team have brought back the fires in an effort to save the oak savannahs.  Here “nature” is valued more than the Indigenous cultures that gave this land its contours and significance. In this sense, restoration efforts participate in an ongoing colonial project that continues to enforce the dispossession of Indigenous peoples from their lands. Can we do ecology otherwise?
How do these examples of Indigenous ways of caring for the plant-people relationship suggest other ways for thinking about "nature" and "natural environments"? How might these examples contribute to or provoke classroom discussions about systemic inequality, epistemology, and decolonization?

Quick links and further reading:

25 May 2017

Teaching Resource: Social Inequality and Teaching in the Academy

As anthropologists, we frequently teach about power dynamics and social inequality in our classrooms. Especially in the context of efforts to decolonize anthropology, many of us reflect on these relationships within our classrooms, within the university, in our relationships with our students, and the course content/ materials we teach.

In this vein, we offer this five-part series (2017) in which sociologist Elaine Coburn explores "Social Inequality and Teaching in the Academy." Coburn writes that "We live in an unequal world; these inequalities do not stop at the university classroom door." In this series, she considers "some ways unjust inequalities are (re)produced in the classroom" and through our relationship with our students.

Part I: Pedagogy is Not (Just) About Technique
Part II: The Problems with the Conscientious Pedagogue
Part III: The Practical Challenges of Broadening the Scholarly Canon
Part IV: As Professors, We are Not All Equal Before Our Students
Part V: “Imagine Otherwise” – Ways Forward

How might Coburn's reflections and suggestions be useful for how you plan your next class?

Additional resources:

22 May 2017

Undergrad & MAs career paths

If you're familiar with anthro everywhere! you might know that we have a special page addressing where and how people are Applying an anthropological perspective outside of university. Most of these links profile folks with PhDs in (sociocultural) anthropology making careers outside of the academy in "alt-ac" or applied careers.

Anthropology Major Fox
In my department, most anthropology majors or Masters students also follow career paths that take them outside of the university. A growing number of anthropology departments do offer some information on where their grads find jobs (e.g. University of British Columbia, York University, University of Toronto, Simon Fraser University). Yet, it can still be difficult to find these examples and other hard data to share with our students -- or prospective students who aren't quite sure how a background in anthropology will serve them well after they graduate. There isn't a clear career path from anthropology major to anthropology job! It's with this in mind that this post offers a few links directed specifically toward undergraduate and MA-level anthropologists and their career choices and possibilities.

In 2016, the AAA Blog published this post to answer the question, What exactly are Anthropology MAs doing with their anthropology? You might also want to check out the (2010) report “Changing Face of Anthropology” from the AAA’s Committee on Practicing, Applied, and Public Interest Anthropology (CoPAPIA), which provides some data regarding length of time to employment, types of jobs and tasks, the role of anthropology in respondents' workplaces/ work, and skills training.

For undergraduates who don't plan to pursue graduate studies, there are still many ways in which your anthropological training and perspective matter. Jason Antrosio's post Anthropology Major Jobs: Advice for Undergraduate Majors (Living Anthropologically, 2015) is a good place to start (re)thinking what majoring in anthropology might mean for your career prospects. Professional anthropologists offer a lot of great advice in the comments on this post, and on the FaceBook post for undergrads. You might also want to check out the AAA page Antrosio links to providing some more data on the kinds of careers (American) anthropology majors pursue.

More resources:
  • Our ability to conduct qualitative research -- including interviewing -- is an important part of the anthropologist's toolkit. So, it only makes sense that students use these skills in gathering information about potential future careers! One way to do this is through "informational interviewing," which we wrote about earlier this year. Informational interviewing is also a good way to begin networking with professionals working in fields that you might be interested in working in after graduation.
  • It's also important to learn how to think and talk about your anthropological training in a way that makes sense to people who might never have heard of anthropology. Have a look at our post on Articulating the Anthropological Toolkit to Non-Anthropologists for some tips on how to do this -- and also how to rethink what it is that you learn as an anthropology major or MA.
  • Our Advice for Grad Students page covers a lot of ground, but you might want to check out the "Professional Development Strategies" section for tips on how to start thinking about and preparing for life after university.
  • Check out this post (reviewing Field notes: A Guided Journal for Doing Anthropology) for a discussion of some of the insights that ethnographic methods training and experiences in the field allow anthropologists to develop.
  • Although a resource created by VersatilePhD, this Career Finder contains a lot of really useful information about careers in different sectors for Social Sciences & Humanities grads. Click on the "General information" tab to read a summary of what careers in a wide range of fields are like, including Business, Finance, Government, Institutional Research, K-12 Education, Law, Marketing, Nonprofits, Policy, Publishing, Technology and more.

Quick Links:

18 May 2017

Islamophobia is Racism Syllabus

Adding to the impressive list of open access teaching resources, the Islamophobia is Racism Syllabus provides texts for "Teaching & Learning about anti-Muslim Racism in the United States."

The authors identify the following goals of their Syllabus:

  1. Define anti-Muslim racism as an alternative to the concept of Islamophobia
  2. Understand the relationship of race and religion to white supremacy through the racialized figure of the Muslim
  3. Provide an intersectional and comparative analysis to anti-Muslim racism
  4. Strategize ways to challenge anti-Muslim racism and resist white supremacy
  5. The syllabus is organized by the following themes and topics, which move from broader framing issues to more specific examples. Later readings may benefit from the contextualization provided by earlier sections.  

Bringing into conversation a wide variety of interdisciplinary texts -- both scholarly and popular -- this syllabus interrogates the relationship between Islampohobia and Racism through the following sections:
I. Race, Empire and Islam
II. The Production and Reproduction of Anti-Muslim Racism
III. The Impact of Anti-Muslim Racism
IV. Policing, Security and Anti-Muslim Racism
V. Resisting Anti-Muslim Racism
VI. Further Reading and Resources
While this syllabus provides a valuable resource for teaching on these topics, what further reading suggestions would you like to add to this collection? Do you have additional ethnographic or anthropological texts you would like to propose? Or perhaps texts that interrogate this relationship in non-American contexts? If so, email (anthrolens@gmail.com) or tweet us (@anthrolens) with your suggestions and we'll add them here!

Quick links and further reading:

15 May 2017

Promoting publications behind paywalls... or anthro everywhere! in Anthropologica

Jennifer and Rhiannon at CASCA-IUAES
with Vol. 59, Issue 1 of Anthropologica (May 2017)
What a nice surprise to arrive at the CASCA-IUAES intercongress last week and see our new journal article "Agency and Agendas: Revisiting the role of the Researcher and the Researched in Ethnographic Research" published in the most recent issue of Anthropologica! This article was co-authored by the authors of anthro everywhere! (Rhiannon Mosher and Jennifer Long) as well as Elisabeth Le and Lauren Harding.

This is also an opportune moment to reflect on how we can best communicate about our new article through social media. During CASCA the publisher (University of Toronto Press) had made this latest issue open access, but now that the conference has ended, our article is once again behind a paywall. So, as Aidnography suggests in Don’t post direct links to your new journal article! (17 April 2017), here's a brief description of our latest publication. If you have access to Anthropologica as a CASCA member, or through your institution, we hope that you download and read the full text.

"Agency and Agendas"
"Agency and Agendas" came out of the discussions we had as members of a panel during CASCA 2015 with the late Pierre Maranda (1930-2015) on the researcher as starting point for ethnographic research. Growing out of that early discussion, this article focused in on how ethnographic research is an essentially collaborative project between the researcher and the researched, all of whom exert agency in how they choose to engage with the ethnographic project (or not), and in the service of their own agendas -- which may align or differ from those identified by the researcher in their project. This article doesn't focus on explicitly collaborative research approaches -- like PAR or activist approaches -- but thinks about how ethnographic knowledge is created more generally. In thinking through the diversity of moments that comprise what we come to know through this approach to social research, we find Anna Tsing's notion of "friction" useful, as it "engages not only the ‘‘awkward zone of encounter’’ but also the potentially generative results of diverse, even divergent, agendas and agencies coming together" (Mosher et al. 2017:154). As we write,
Tsing’s friction refers not to conflict or poor relations among the researcher or researched. Instead, friction refers to the idea that our interlocutors are agentive individuals who wilfully take part in, and influence, our research. How our interlocutors participate (or refuse to participate) deeply affects our work as ethnographers (Mosher et al. 2017:146).
In this article, we wanted to try to move beyond simply discussing reflexivity and positionality, and instead consider how the people who participate in our research co-create what we consider 'the field' -- how this interaction deeply "enables, shapes, redirects, and limits the kinds of research we may ultimately produce." Through drawing on our own research experiences, we argue that what we come to know through ethnography "is in no small part due to the agency and agendas of those we recruit as participants in our studies" (Mosher et al. 2017:147). As authors, we tackle these questions and hope to open up this discussion through addressing considerations of:
  • how our potential participants shape and direct our access to data. Our interactions with the people, places, and issues that we seek to understand are deeply entangled in the iterative process of ethnography.
  • what might be called the "observed" effect on our research. In what ways are we and our research agendas/ approaches shaped by becoming an object of scrutiny among our research community/ participants/ informants? 
  • the adaptation of ethnographic methods to non-academic research contexts. With the growing interest in ethnographic methods in industry, how can anthropologists pursue "thick" ethnographic relationships and insights in the context of rapid, industry research timelines (including where our research contacts have been pre-arranged by a third party)?
  • the afterlives of research. How do the reputations of past researchers among the communities we study impact or frame the kind of research we do in the present? How might our own research findings become incorporated into yet unimagined future projects and agendas, including among our former research communities?

Quick links:

01 May 2017

At #CASCAIUAES17 in Ottawa!

This week (May 2nd-6th) we are attending the CASCA/IUAES2017 Conference in Ottawa! This year, the Canadian Anthropology Society (CASCA) is having a joint Conference/InterCongress with the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (IUAES). This year's theme is Movement, with thematic streams including:
  • Worlds in motion,
  • Living landscapes,
  • Moving bodies, and 
  • Relational movements
If you can't join us at what promises to be an interesting meeting, you can follow some of the conference over Twitter using #CASCAIUAES17.

In the past, we've seen some great commentary (in 140 characters or less) from particular anthropological Twitter accounts during CASCA. Accounts to follow during (and after) the conference for some anticipated live-tweeting of panels and events include: