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."
  • Updated - 10 November 2017: Thanks to René Herrera for alerting us to AnthroAlert - live on Fridays or catch up on past episodes with this public anthropology project (@AnthroAlert).
  • Updated - 14 January 2018: Have you heard The Familiar Strange podcast yet? Besides having a great name, this project in public anthropology is supported by the "Australian Anthropological Society, and the Australian National University’s Schools of Culture, History and Language, Archeology and Anthropology, and the Centre for Public Awareness of Science." They've got a blog too!

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: