Category: "Open Access Anthropology and Knowledge Sharing"
Dai Cooper’s Anthropology Song has fascinated people all over the world. Around
10 000 39 000 people have seen the video on YouTube so far, it was sent around via facebook, twitter, mailing lists, and was already shown in many anthropology classes. Maybe nobody has better explained what anthropology is all about.
I got curious and asked her if I may interview her for antropologi.info. I’m glad, Dai Cooper, who is now doing a Masters in Anthropology at University of Toronto in Canada, said yes. So here is the (email-) interview:
- What a great song! Sounds like you’re a professional musician, do you sing in a band?
- Hah far from it! I bought my guitar for $60 at a second-hand shop in Vancouver about two years ago and taught myself to play a little, mostly watching YouTube tutorials and with occasional insight from guitar-playing friends. I’ve always loved singing just as an expression of self. I think everyone can sing, and it’s great when people feel empowered enough to do so. But I don’t think you need to be professional to create or appreciate music.
- How did you get the idea to writing this song AND uploading it to YouTube?
- I just started grad school in a new city, and to be honest, I came up with the first two verses of this song one morning after a long night of writing and little sleep. I was kinda charged up (and a tiny bit caffeinated), it was just before class, and the words just came to me. I got all excited and started playing around on the guitar with them. The tune got stuck in my head, and it quickly became almost an obsession to write down and work out all the new lines. I wanted to be able to express all the reasons why I love and am inspired by Anthropology. A day and a half later I sat down in my room in my new little apartment and turned on the camcorder.
- YouTube just seemed like the best way to make that expression of awesomeness available to whoever was interested in seeing it; I originally wrote it with mostly my family and my Anthro professors and friends from my alma mater back at University of British Columbia (UBC) in mind, but it seems to have really resonated with a lot of people beyond that.
- Why do you address your parents in the song?
- I love my parents, and they’re definitely the people who have supported me the most through my education. They always pay really close attention to the things I’m passionate about, and I’m really grateful for that. At the same time, it’s challenged me to ask myself some of the same questions that they’ve had so what exactly is Anthropology, anyway? Why are you studying it again? and I think in many ways the song addresses some of those same questions. So the song is sincerely dedicated to them.
- I also think it adds a humorous element to frame the song in a way that insinuates coming out as an anthropologist to your family having to dispel some misconceptions and explain some new ways of thinking.
- What kind of reactions did you get?
- Really inspirational ones! I was just expressing happiness and inspiration through the song, and apparently that’s made a lot of other people happy and inspired too, which is wonderful. Anthropology to me is all about human connexions, and it’s been so amazing to feel like people from all over the world have been feeling those connexions with each other through the song. I’ve had profs in my new Toronto department come up to me and exclaim, you’re the girl on YouTube! So apparently it’s a great way to meet people, too! In addition to strangers, I’ve also heard a lot of positive comments from people back home; old friends and people in my old department, who I felt really close to, and its great to renew those links as well.
- It sounds that you could be invited to sing your song at conferences. What do you think?
- Hah actually several people have suggested that by now. I’d be super flattered if that happened! I did actually offer to play it at the AAA conference in December, it was half-joking, because I don’t think they’d take me up on it - but I’d just love to share the song and the sentiments behind it with anyone who likes it. It makes me happy.
- More ideas concerning music in anthropology, Public anthropology, and web 2.0?
- It’s interesting that you ask that actually, because one of the (many) inspirations that led up to me writing the song was watching Michael Wesch’s An Anthropological Introduction to YouTube, which is all about web 2.0 and thinking about internet forums as social spaces that allow people to connect and communicate in new ways. I think an anthropology of those networks and online spaces is something were hopefully going to see much more of in the near future, as it’s a fascinating subject.
- In maybe a similar way, music is probably one of the more powerful (and older) ways people communicate their ideas and humanity across culture and space and time as well. I know there’s a whole field of study called ethnomusicology that I don’t know much about, but it sounds like it would be great to write a song about
- Your interestes in anthropology and research plans?
- My own research throughout my undergrad came to focus on the production and significance of social spaces. I’ve also been focusing largely on an indigenous group called the Toba in northern Argentina, and especially their movements toward urbanization in barrios or shantytowns surrounding the big cities, where I actually got to spend some time living last summer. If anything has taught me about love, humility, poverty, generousity, and my own life here in Canada, it’s been that experience. I’m hoping to return there to conduct some fieldwork for my Master’s as well.
- Why did you choose to study anthropology?
- I think a lot of the reasons why I study Anthropology now come out in the song: seeking peoples stories, rethinking perspectives, and a common humanity. But as far as how did I get started, probably 95% of the credit goes to my first-year introductory anthropology professor back at University of British Columbia (UBC), Gaston Gordillo (who later became my advisor there), who is just an amazing person, passionate about the discipline and students and encouraging people to (un)think, and who continues to inspire me to this day especially as I’m now a teaching assistant (TA) and taking on that educational role myself, I find myself engaging my own students in many ways that I learned from him.
- And now you’re - according to your song - soon on the way to Vietnam and Peru?
- To be completely honest, Vietnam rhymes with Barack Obamas mom But I’m glad it does, because one of my best friends is from there, and I actually would love to experience Vietnam. Peru I love. It’s a land of mystery to many, and also includes many stereotypes, but it has loved and challenged and embraced me in my travels through many highs and lows in my life. Perú te amo.
Thanks a lot for the interview!
UPDATE 24.10.09: Dai Cooper was asked to play this song at the AAA meeting in December!
UPDATE 27.10.09: Good question by a PhD student:
I wonder if a second part to this song isn’t needed? One that takes on board the critiques that have been written about anthropology and the types of knowledge that we produce about people. I am (…) aware of the problems of our discipline and having worked with people who have had to and who continue to live in the shadows of anthropological knowledge about them, I wonder if you don’t gloss over that slightly.
That’s awesome and possibly the best constructive critique that’s been said. I agree that, being from a pretty personal perspective, the song really romanticizes the discipline, and you’re right, the effects of the production and dissemination of anthropological knowledge are more complex. If you want to nurture a creative streak, you’re MORE than welcome to write a new verse (as it says in the comments ^^) and post it as a video response, that’d be AWESOME!
The American Anthropological Association (AAA) and their publisher Wiley-Blackwell will be offering two months of free access to 10+ years of Anthrosource content during November and December 2009.
As a preview they invite us to view the Top 25 Anthrosource Articles of 2009 free of charge according to the AAA blog.
“It is our hope that this limited-time offer will encourage students and researchers from across the disciplines to discover anthropology’s rich legacy of scholarship as the study of humankind", the AAA writes.
The list of the Top 25 articles is interesting in itself. Here we find much stuff about islam, terrorism, genitical cutting, neoliberalism and human rights. A quite political list, in other words.
The number one hit is Do Muslim Women Really Need Saving? Anthropological Reflections on Cultural Relativism and Its Others by Lila Abu-Lughod. The article was written in 2002 and “explores the ethics of the current ‘War on Terrorism’, asking whether anthropology, the discipline devoted to understanding and dealing with cultural difference, can provide us with critical purchase on the justifications made for American intervention in Afghanistan in terms of liberating, or saving, Afghan women".
Number 7 hit is by the way Working for the Federal Government: Anthropology Careers by Shirley J. Fiske that also addresses the topic military anthropology.
A very exciting list, I’d love to start reading right away. A great idea to showcase what’s happening within anthropology. Let’s hope this will be a permanent offer!
A friend of mine sent me a link to the website of the Norwegian migration researcher Jørgen Carling http://www.dragoeiro.com It has an unusually nice design, but what I’m even more impressed about is the section “Research findings". Here, he lists selected findings from his own research on migration in a very simple but convincing manner like
“It is misleading to say that the ‘total effect’ of labour emigration is either positive or negative for a given country.”
“We are living in an era of involuntary immobility”
followed by a short explanation and link to the relevant publication.
I haven’t seen something like this on other websites, it looks like a great way to present one’s own research - and it might be even a good exercise for the reasearcher: What have I learnt through my research? What has anthropology taught me? Yes, what would you answer?
Today, ResearchGATE has launched a new Self-Archiving Repository. “This will make full-text articles available to the public, for free - the first application of its kind worldwide", ResearchGate claims in their press release:
Currently, there is no way for researchers to access millions of publications in their full version online. ResearchGATE is now changing this by enabling users to upload their published research directly to their profile pages (a system called the “green route” to Open Access).
ResearchGATE is not only a place to publish, but also a place to interact with other researchers. There are lots of features, looks interesting. The service is free and of course one is starting to wonder what the business modell is as it is not backed by universities or institutions: Will ResearchGATE end up like the anthropology repository Manao that after less two years in business went offline?
I asked Claudia Saalbach from ReseachGATE, and she confirmed that they “do not plan to charge the user for our service". But they “hope to get first revenue from our scientific job board, which was launched a week ago.”
ResearchGATE was launched in May last year and has already 140 000 members, among them several hundred anthropologists. I looked at some profiles, but it seems that you have to be a member to see all the details - a bit like facebook and less open than the profiles in the Open Anthropology
ResearchGate is not the first of its kind, see the posts at the Open Access Anthropology blog EduPunk Repositories and In Search of Anthropology-Friendly Subject Repositories.
Owen Wiltshire has followed the recent developments closely. In his most recent post, he offers his help to reopen Manao under a new name (“The Open Anthropology Self Archiving Repository”). Multiple universities should be invited to participate:
Libraries could contribute, and benefit from the openness, by contributing a little time to help catalog entries and ensure copyright issues are dealt with properly. This is important because almost every university is currently developing its own institutional self-archiving repository, and due to this a lot of work is being redone over and over. Institutional repositories are also important, but they also tend to suck for the very same reasons Mana’o did – they can never get enough manpower.
Open Access News is reporting regularily about repositories, some of the recent news are On sustainable funding for repositories, Report on libraries and repositories and A new model for OA repositories
Wow! Overwhelming! The British Library has made more than 23 000 sound recordings from all over the world freely available to everyone at http://sounds.bl.uk
“World and traditional music", “oral history", “accents and dialects", “environment and nature” are some of the categories on the websites. Right now I’m listening to Sunna Saora in India with his two-stringed Sora fiddle. Sunna went from house to house, asking for some rice grains and playing his songs.
“One of the difficulties, working as an archivist, is people’s perception that things are given to libraries and then are never seen again – we want these recordings to be accessible", Janet Topp Fargion, the library’s curator of world and traditional music, says in the Guardian.
To say the sounds are diverse may be understatement, according to the presentation in the Guardian:
There are Geordies banging spoons, Tawang lamas blowing conch shell trumpets and Tongan tribesman playing nose flutes. And then there is the Assamese woodworm feasting on a window frame in the dead of night. (…) The recordings go back more than 100 years, with the earliest recordings being the wax cylinders on which British anthropologist Alfred Cort Haddon recorded Aboriginal singing on his trip to the Torres Strait islands off Australia in 1898
Unfortunately, the website is optimised for Windows users and the people behind the website don’t seem to have much knowledge about other operating systems. For example, they advise Mac users to download “software such as Winamp or Windows Media Player” - which are Windows applications (VLC works fine). Their statement “Some features are unavailable in some web browser/operating system configurations” is not very helpful either.
(via AAA-blog) He was both president of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) and editor of the journal American Anthropologist. Now Walter Goldschmidt, born in 1913, is joing the growing anthropological blogging community at http://waltergoldschmidt.wordpress.com/
Electronic communication, and these things called “blogs,” represent a medium I am singularly unready for. My amanuensis has suggested that I use it to place various of my essays and monographs for public use, and I do find this appeals to me, and invite you to make what use of them you may. Among these, I shall offer presentation of a book of memoirs that I have long intended to write but am only now getting around to.
During the recent weeks and months, many other anthropologists have started blogging as well. Among others, there are two new group blog projects: Anthropoliteia - a blog about police, policing and security from an anthropological perspective and Anthropologyworks - a more general anthro blog that also provides overviews over “anthropology in the news". It is a project of the Culture in Global Affairs (CIGA) research and policy program at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C.. Then there is the blog Economics in Cultural Perspective that also looks very interesting. I’m very glad to see that two anthropologists from Scandinavia have joined us: Daniel Winfree Papuga with his blog Recontextual - Expressive culture in new formations and Johanna Sommansson who is blogging about her fieldwork in India at Anthromodernity.
Not all of them can be found on the blog overview at http://www.antropologi.info/blog/ I’ll update it later
It’s hard to believe that I have been running this blog already for around five years. It was in June 2004, I bought the domain antropologi.info and on the 7th of July 2004, the English blog was launched by anthropologist Simon Roberts from Ideas Bazaar who was the first one who found antropologi.info and blogged about it (see screenshot or the webarchive) - three weeks before I launched it officially in Norway (he is still blogging by the way).
There were only very few anthropology blogs at that time. So the news about a new anthropology blog spread fast. The same day, Dina Mehta, located in India, and Mónica Pinheiro in Portugal, blogged about it. Dina Mehta is still blogging, too, and was recently interviewed about her early blogging. And four days later, antropologi.info was mentioned on maybe the oldest anthropology blog, the ethno:log in Munich.
Blogging in 2004 (or even in 2005) was totally different from today. We were a very small anthroblog-community. There was no Savage Minds or Culture Matters. It was easy to stay up to date. People generally didn’t know what blogging was and rather looked upon it with suspicion. There was no web 2.0. Few used internet in their research and only few scholars published electronically. In 2004 there was no spam! I started with a simple blog script without any spam protection (see the old blog here)
My plan was creating an anthropology portal with both a news section, a calendar, link directory, forum, chat and some kind of magazine section - both in Scandinavian languages, in German and English. I found there is so much interesting research that should be wider known. I wanted to make anthropology more accessible - both to people outside and inside the university.
So I started scanning the news: But I also blogged about interesting posts by other bloggers. In the beginning, I wrote about every thesis that was posted online because this happened so rarely. I interviewed lots of people and also wrote some book reviews. I had lots of time as I just had quit my job. I missed my discipline. I tried to get up to date again, created this website and prepared possible phd-projects (that were never realised).
My first interview was with Eduardo Archetti (in Norwegian only) who died less than one year later. He had just returned from the largest European anthropology conference and I thought it must be exciting to know what knowlege was exchanged when so many anthropologists from all over Europe come together. Usually, this knowledge would remain unknown to the wider public.
I also tried to get anthropologists online, start blogging, publishing online (but only with limited success). I also offered free blogs on antropologi.info - one of the anthropologists is still blogging - Cicilie Fagerlid.
Things are very different now. Much has changed in a very short time. We have become a huge community. It is an amazing development! Many anthropologists have started blogging. In addition to pioneering sites like Savage Minds and anthropology.net, we now have several impressive group blog projects like Culture Matters, Material World, Neuroanthropology, Cognition and Culture, Somatosphere and more.
Blogging has become mainstream and blogs a central space for scholary communication.
One of the most impressive developments might be that mainstream organisations like the American Anthropological Association (AAA) and the Association of Social Anthropologists of the UK and Commonwealth (ASA) have started blogging. Today the AAA has one of the most active anthropology blogs. There are new posts nearly every day. Who would have thought that only one year ago?
Then, more and more papers and theses are published online, and the list of Open Access journals is growing. Some have started podcasting like the Society of Applied Anthropology (SfAA) or most recently The Informal Ethnographer (Alexandre Enkerli). German EVIFA has created an impressive anthropology online library (German / English).
Recently, Facebook has become a new arena for communication. Anthropologists are extremly active on twitter and the new Open Anthropology Cooperative has more than 1400 members.
I was once asked if the large number of blogs leads to competition. I answered that for me there are no competitors or rivals. Blogging is fun because there are so many other bloggers. It is because of the anthropology community (and the many friends I made via blogging), that I enjoy blogging and still do blog. Blogging in Norwegian for example is less fun than blogging in English. There is no Scandinavian anthrosphere online, and there is little interaction on the Norwegian blog.
So a big thank you to you who read these lines! Thanks also to everybody who sent papers and theses and contributed with book reviews, guest posts, articles and comments!
Nevertheless, the growing number of anthropological content online has also changed the content of this blog. Too much is happening, it is no longer possible to follow up and cover everything. But this overview feature is still available - on the “antropologi.info Newspaper site” http://www.antropologi.info/blog/ and http://www.antropologi.info/feeds/anthropology/
Feedback face to face, via email, links via other websites etc tell me that the website has been useful for anthropologists. But antropologi.info is not only visited by loyal readers. Most websites get the most traffic from occasional readers - via search engines like Google. I think it is funny to know that for example people who google something like “most primitive people” or “naked tribes” (happens several times a day) are directed to posts where I criticize the idea that there are primitive people. A few days ago, a Norwegian googled after a Norwegian doctor in Arguineguin (place in Spain where many Norwegians live) and then was directed to a blogpost about Norwegians in Spain not willing to integrate.
News travel fast. It was fascinating to see that few hours after I had published the news Anthropology in China: IUAES-conference boycott due to Uyghur massacre, the post was reposted on several Uyghur websites and even translated into Chinese. They weren’t regular readers. They either googled or used aggregators that notify them when new articles about Uyghur issues appeared online. Something similar (in much larger extend, though) might have happened to Maximilan Forte at Open Anthropology. His blog post on America’s Iranian Twitter Revolution received much attention. It was translated into Arabic and Farsi and even published by Al Jazeera. He was also interviewed by Egypt’s Al-Ahram Weekly.
Although it sometimes takes a week or more before a new blog post appears, I have no plans of stopping blogging. It might be necessary to stress that antropologi.info is a one-man project without any financial support. I say that because I often get emails that treat antropologi.info as an institution or organisation. I was for example asked if it was possible to visit antropologi.info’s office and an anthropologist in India even sent me a job application.