Things are changing: See how an anthropologist is introduced in this story: "As many anthropologists these days he holds a strategic position inside a global corporation." Juliana Xavier writes about Timo Veikkola - anthropologist at Nokia. His jobtitle: "Senior Future Specialist":
As Senior Future Specialist at Nokia Design, he looks at society to comprehend how there are going to be shifts in behavior and culture that can inspire their design team. Timo is a future teller.
Veikkola was one of the speakers at an innovation conference in London (by PSFK). Juliana Xavier has been there and writes that this was the second time in less than an year that an anthropologist came to speak at a planning/marketing/advertising conference:
Last year, Bob Deutsch from Brain Sell (...) talked about treating people as people rather than as consumers. Timo talked about that as well, but also about that as a crucial part of his work at Nokia, or better saying: about how to envision the future through trends, observation and – an expression that I liked a lot – informed intuition
Timo’s trend team is composed of a diversity of people from Brazil to India, from Chile to China - everyone sitting in the same room. It is a way to cultivate the atmosphere in the office, an atmosphere of global and cultural diversity. A good observer of the present wants to be close to people, is keen to get involved and has to seek stimulation through real experience.
Veikkola's presentation is available online
More and more Tibetan folk songs are disappearing. Led by anthropology professor Gerald Roche, the Tibetan Endangered Music Project (TEMP) uses digital media to capture tunes that are being lost. The volunteer-run program aims to put all the digital songs they collect online, as a way of archiving the material for future generations, the National Geographic writes.
So far the students at Qinghai Normal University have recorded more than 250 songs, including melodies for herding, harvesting, singing babies to sleep, and coaxing yaks into giving more milk. "The goal is to digitalize the songs we record and return them to our communities," said 20-year-old student Dawa Drolma. "We want to record as many songs as possible."
"It is quite remarkable how much they have been able to accomplish from such a remote place, thanks to the Internet and digital recording technology," said Jonathan C. Kramer, a professor of music at North Carolina State University who has worked with the students. "It is hard to imagine such a project even 20 years ago."
“One of the biggest challenges that we face at the moment is how to return the music to the communities it comes from,” says Roche, as there are few Tibetan communities with Internet access. “Putting it online is a start, but just a small start.” Tsering Lhamo from Ngawa, Sichuan suggests, “the music we have recorded [could be] taught in primary schools of Tibetan areas in order to preserve them.” according to That's Beijing.
TEMP is remarkable for many reasons according this blog: its ease of growth, use of existing technology with no budget, a method of preservation by people from the culture itself, and a prospect for real use by both local and global communities.
The Tibetan Endagered Music Project has its own website at YouTube with currently five videos.
You can light virtual candles for Shabbat, teleport to a Buddhist temple or consult the oracle for some divine guidance. In Second Life, an online virtual universe with 3.7 million users, religious diversity and participation have skyrocketed. For some people, Second Life is their only chance to participate in religious rituals according to the Washington Post.
Anthropologist Tom Boellstorff is going to publish a book on "cybersociality" in Second Life called "Coming of Age in Second Life: An Anthropologist Explores the Virtually Human." The avatar of the anthropologist (Tom Bukowski) has an office there, "Ethnographia," where you can visit him. These emerging virtual worlds pose fundamental challenges to anthropological theory, he writes on his website. "We are witnessing the birth of a significant new modality of human interaction."
He expected -- but hasn't found any evidence -- that Second Life would foster relationships among far-flung members of minority faiths. But the game does seem to be sparking community among followers of more mainstream faiths like among Jews, Muslims and Christians.
Washington Post also writes about Yunus Yakoub Islam who is writing his dissertation on religion in Second Life and runs Second Faith, an educational resource about religion in Second Life. Islam believes he's the only Muslim in his village in England and uses Second Life to interact with more than 200 members of the game's Islamic Society.
The days of anthropologists taking recordings away to Canberra where they might as well be lost to the community forever, are now gone according to ABC Radio (Australia) in a story about the National Recording Project. Its aim is to document the traditions of Indigenous Australia.
What's different here is that performers, and language experts from the communities are recognised as co-researchers, alongside the university based musicologists, linguists and anthropologists. Instead of the music being recorded onto tapes and taken away to vast archives in the southern cities, it's recorded digitally and is stored on solar powered local computers in remote communities.
In their paper The National Recording Project for Indigenous Performance in Australia: year one in review, the authors Allan Marett, Mandawuy Yunupingu, Marcia Langton, Neparrnga Gumbula, Linda Barwick and Aaron Corn write in the abstract:
Many Indigenous performers now keep recordings of their forebears’ past performances and listen to them for inspiration before performing themselves. In recent years, community digital archives have been set up in various Australian Indigenous communities. Not only can recordings reinforce memory and facilitate the recovery of lost repertoire, they can also provide inspiration for creative extensions of tradition.
>> read the whole paper (pdf, 596kb)
There are several related papers in the Sydney eScholarship Repository
(via del.icio.us) After his video about collaborative tools on the web (like blogs, wikis etc), Michael Wesch has become the most talked about anthropologist on the internet. In an interview with John Battelle's Searchblog, Wesch explains his interest in what geeks call web 2.0:
For me, cultural anthropology is a continuous exercise in expanding my mind and my empathy, building primarily from one simple principle: everything is connected.
For me, the ultimate promise of digital technology is that it might enable us to truly see one another once again and all the ways we are interconnected. It might help us create a truly global view that can spark the kind of empathy we need to create a better world for all of humankind.
He made his first website in 1998 and saw "a tremendous potential for transforming the way we present our research". Since then, he tells us, he has had a passion for exploring the latest technologies and how they an be used to communicate ideas in more effective ways.
Farther down in the comment field he explains:
The radically collaborative technologies emerging on the Web create the possibility for doing scholarship in the mode of conversation rather than argument, or to transform the argument as war metaphor into something that suggests collaboration rather than combat.
Personally, I prefer the metaphor of the dance and that we are all here in this webscape dancing and playing around with ideas. The best dancers are those that find a way to “lose themselves” in the music – pushing the limits of the dance without fear of tripping or falling because they know that it is all part of the dance.
As said, his video was widely debated, for anthropological comments see among others: mike wesch rocks the video essay (Savage Minds), Mike Wesch's Web 2.0 video makes waves, expands our understanding of this digital phenomenon (Anthropology.net), Anthropologists on Web 2.0 (TechnoTaste) and Internet 6 or Web 2.0: Video Edition (Disparate, Alexandre Enkerli)
His video is part of his work at the Digital Ethnography working group at Kansas State University.
Last year, Wesch was guestblogger at Savage Minds and blogged about new teaching methods.
Another example of how religious and cultural practices change: A soon to be released survey of religious practices in Morocco will show that the majority of Moroccans prefer to pray alone, and use audiovisual media and the internet for information on their religion, according to Magharebia.com:
About 65% of those interviewed pray on a regular basis and a significant portion of Moroccans practise their religion in an individual manner, rather than collectively. As for sources of religious knowledge, the survey has demonstrated the ever-growing role of satellite channels, audiovisual media in general, cassettes and the Internet. These channels have become essential sources, taking the place of traditional written sources, to the level of 85%.
The survey also picks up on the shrinking role of institutions providing religious teaching in the acquisition of religious knowledge. These institutions, such as the family, the mosque, the school, the brotherhood etc., do not play the role they used to play in giving Moroccan people a grounding in religion.
As for the status of women, the survey highlights the ever-growing role of women in the field of religion.
The survey was carried out by three Moroccan researchers -- sociologist Mohamed El Eyadi, political analyst Mohamed Tozy and anthropologist Hassan Rachik -- who were assisted by a team of field workers.
Now that I’ve officially finished my fieldwork, and with all the talk going on about Open Access Anthropology, I thought I’d try my own little Open Access experiment. I’ve decided to publish the question guide I’ve used for my fieldwork under the GPL. I’ve even indented and commented them in proper code fashion (or, at least, as far as I’ve been capable of emulating it). Also, at suggestion of one of my informants, I’ve answered my own questions (...)
In Opening the source, he explains:
Traditionally, anthropologists guard their questions and approaches fairly carefully as it does say a lot about how they think and act as anthropologists. A question guide can in this way be seen as the source code for one of their basic methods - the interview.
Lloyd has done fieldwork in the Ubuntu open source community and published several papers on technology and anthropology
Erkan Saka, one of the most active blogging anthropologists, has published his paper Blogging as a Research Tool for Ethnographic Fieldwork that he presented at the annual conference of the Association of Internet Researchers in Brisbane six weeks ago.
The paper is a good introduction into the topic. It was inspired by recent discussions on anthropology blogs.
His main points:
- Blogging occupies an interesting place between the personal and the public. The moment one starts blogging, s/he becomes public.
- Blogging brings immediate feedback; not only from the limited scholarly circles but from a wider public/audience which in turn exposes exposes the ethnographer to a much more effective issue of accountability.
- Moreover, blogging urges to see motives in a more regular sense, thus creates a strong sense of regularity that forces the ethnographer to produce on a regular basis which in turn produces a constant appeal to narrate what would normally remain fragments of field notes.
- Finally, blogging might be a remedy to the anxiety of being in 'after the fact' that is shared by many anthropologists. Blogging takes place in the present tense while actively engaging with 'the fact', with the emergent phenomena unlike the later edited institutionally accepted monographs most of which become outdated.
In this paper, Erkan Saka also compares blogging to traditional journalism and reviews relevant literature on blogging.