Would you like to get an overview over the most recent anthropology blog posts? The old newsticker did no longer work reliably, so I've created a new one. It is still work in progress, but so far it seems to work well. I tried to make it look more attractive, with a newspaper look, images and short excerpts with responsive design that also looks good on mobile devices. It also provides a tagcloud from all the categories that the blog authors assigned to their posts, a probably useful tool for exploring previous posts.
The feeds are updated every two hours. Have a look at the new Anthropology Newspaper here http://www.antropologi.info/feeds/
So far, 100
70 blogs are included, so far only English and German ones. I might add more languages later. Please let me know if there are other blogs that I should add or if things are not working as expected, either here in the comment field or via the contact page.
As mentioned, I'm still working on it, there is a lot more that can be done with the current set up. It was not easy to find a good solution. I was about to go for a commercial solution but then I was so happy to find the free and opensource feed aggregator FeedWordPress by "web developer, student of Philosophy, and sometime political activist" Charles Johnson. The more I more I've used the more fascinated I became by this plugin. I am also very thankful for the smart template Ocomedrev that web developer Antonio Sánchez created. I only modified it slightly.
Lots of new anthropology blogs have been started up recently, most of them have made it into the overviews here at antropologi.info: the anthropology blog newspaper http://www.antropologi.info/blog/ and the - I think - more reader-friendly anthropology blog news ticker http://www.antropologi.info/feeds/anthropology/ (if not, let me know!)
Now, I'd like to mention especially two blogs. The first one is Thomas Hylland Eriksen's blog at http://thomashyllanderiksen.net He is one of the most visible anthropologists in the public, he set up his first website already back in prehistoric 1996 (recently rebuilt and moved to http://hyllanderiksen.net). So finally, we will get more frequent updates about his work and thoughts on his blog.
Some of the recent posts include Fossil addiction: Is there a road to recovery?, Whatever happened to prog? and About Progress, where he dares to criticize the ruling rightwing-populist Progress Party in Norway. Within few hours his post stirred up a bit of controversy in the media.
The other new blog is by Sindre Bangstad at http://www.sindrebangstad.com/ I am glad he finally set up his first website. I've been following him on facebook for a while where I enjoyed his daily comments about the state of the world and the numerous interesting links he posted. His main focus is islamophobia and racism.
Regularily, new initiatives are launched to make anthropological knowledge more accessible to the general public. A few weeks ago, PopAnth was launched - a highly ambitious project that “translates anthropological discoveries for popular consumption” as they explain:
We take anthropology’s collective knowledge and translate it for mainstream audiences, much in the way that popular science books, tv shows and trivia quizzes make even the hardest of sciences accessible. We strive to provide you with the best of anthropology in a format that makes you go, ‘Wow! I didn’t know that!’ Our cross-cultural stories aim to help you discover things about yourself and the world you live in.
That sounds - apart from the corporate PR-language - good and is exactly what we need more of in the social sciences. And already after a few weeks, there are a lot of articles about a wide range of topics about everything from backpacking, human emotions and Japanese consumers. And yes, they are all written in an easily understandable language. Yeah!
This also applies to the book reviews, where they also chose to focus on books that might be able to attract a wider non-specialized readership like Watching the English by Kate Fox or Haiti After the Earthquake by Paul Farmer.
And they’ve also set up a discussion forum.
But as a look at their first articles also reveals, this project suffers from similar shortcomings as many others we find online. It is a rather Western / US-centric endavour in the sense that the “we” that is invoked and articulated in many articles means “We Americans” or “We in the metropolitan West”. Most of the authors have an US- or Britain-based background.
In my opinion a thematic focus and stronger connections to current issues and bigger questions would benefit the site and attract more readers. The content of the articles seems to be somehow arbitrary, and their focus sometimes too narrow.
Maybe more articles are needed who ask such big questions as Edward F Fischer does in his interesting piece Can reducing our choices increase our happiness?
Another thing that struck me as typical for our time is the cry for attention, the cry for being shared and liked. Big sharing buttons everywhere, one of them even covers parts of the text, and makes it unreadable. And when we are approaching the end of the article, we get attacked by a huge popup with the message “You’ll probably get a kick of these too”.
Two years ago I looked at a similar initiative with a very similar name, and as the title of the post I chose Popular Anthropology Magazine = fail. This journal does not seem to exist anymore. All we see is a post called Welcome to Popular Anthropology Relaunched, but all the articles are gone. But there are ads for firewood and business intelligence software… …
“At the age of 18, why do I want to settle down and commit myself to Medicine when I can really investigate for example why there are health differences between the different classes and areas in Britain?”
Teenthropologist is the name of a new anthropology blog, written maybe by the youngest anthro-blogger around. She is 19, from Durham University in Britain. In her opening post she explains why she chose to study anthropology instead of medicine (or before studying medicine sometime later as anthropology provides useful perspectives for doctors).
Interestingly, she also asks “How on earth had we never been told of this course [anthropology] at school before? And why were so few people doing it?”
A very promising blog, I think, with so far two more posts: Train Journey – Class, Caste, Kinship…anthropological heaven? and a review of In Search of Respect (one of my favorite ethnographies…).
I also like the way she defines anthropology in her about page. She does not use the standard and somehow outdated views about anthropology = dealing with “understanding foreign cultures”. Instead, she uses Gillan Tett’s work about the financial crisis and her own study about teenage girls shopping to explain what anthropology is about.
PS: I’m going to update the anthropology blog newspaper at http://www.antropologi.info/blog/ soon. Currently, the overview over new anthropology blog posts at http://www.antropologi.info/feeds/anthropology/ is more up to date
The Dictionary of Man: Will Bob Geldof and the BBC reproduce racist anthropology? was the title of a (rather sceptical) post back in 2007. Now this ambitious project, four years ago described as “the largest ever living record of films, photographs, anthropological histories, philosophies, theologies, economies, language and art, as well as people’s personal stories” is ready for the TV-screens and partly for the web as well.
Human Planet is it called, now focussing on “man’s remarkable relationship with the natural world” with stories from “eighty of the most remote locations on Earth".
The website is beautiful. Stunning photographs, videos, text, music and lots of links to external websites. Unfortunately (not surprisingly, though in our economic system), most people on this planet won’t be able to view the videos (within the UK only, I suppose).
UPDATE: Sian Davies from the BBC writes to me and informs that some videos are availabe worldwide, f.ex Walking on the sea bed (Bajau fisherman, Sulbin, freedives to 20 metres to catch his supper.), Pa-aling divers (One of the most dangerous fishing methods of all. A 100 strong crew in the Philippines dive to 40 metres, breathing air pumped through makeshift tangled tubes by a rusty compressor), and Gerewol courtship festival.
Several anthropologists have been involved. Nevertheless, the question remains how people from around the world are represented. Is it the usual exotisation or has the BBC chosen a more innovative approach?
Have a look yourself - here are two (visually fascinating) videos from the Human Planet YouTube playlist
>> Human Planet Production Blog
Check also the comment on Culture Matters Bob Geldof – the “saviour” of the cultures of the world? (19.4.2007)
Another new initiative - more academic, though, to showcase this planet’s diversity is the Global Ethnographic, “a general interest, peer reviewed web journal featuring the field research and perspectives shaping our social world. Free and exclusively online, Global Ethnographic is multi-media driven and cross-disciplinary, bringing you the scholarly conversations on daily life as it is lived and experienced around the world.”
The website is already online, but the content will be launched the 31.1. 2011.
Inspired by the relaunch of the anthropology repository Mana’o, I have finally finished a first overview over anthropology repositories and archives here http://www.antropologi.info/links/Main/Archives
The overview is far from complete and if you know of some more I should know, leave a comment or sent an email. Not all the repositories are user-friendly and it wasn’t always easy to find anthropology theses and papers, especially in the U.S.
In these archives we’ll find texts like Urban transformation and social change in a Libyan city: an anthropological study of Tripoli by Omar Emhamed Elbendak (NUI Maynooth, Ireland), Reclaiming the past. The search for the kidnapped children of Argentina’s disappeared by Ariel Gandsman (McGill, Canada), The ‘problem’ of ethics in contemporary anthropological research by John Campbell (SOAS, UK) , Inevitable change: an ethnographic analysis of transformation in formerly Afrikaans primary schools by Ingrid E. Marais (University of Johannesburg), Xhosa male circumcision at the crossroads by Ayanda Nqeketo (University of Western Cape), Being in the World (of Warcraft): Raiding, Realism, and Knowledge Production in a Massively Multiplayer Online Game by Alex Golub (mana’o), Everyday life resistance in a post-colonial global city. A study of two illegal hawker agglomerations in Hong Kong by Chi Yuen Leung (Hongkong University) or Depression, the internet and ethnography by Michael Andrew Hawkey (Massay University, Australia), Pastoralists in Violent Defiance of the State. The case of the Karimojong in Northeastern Uganda by Eria Olowo Onyango (University of Bergen, Norway) or a large collection of free books from Amsterdam University Press, the newest one Identity Processes and Dynamics in Multi-Ethnic Europe.
Have a look yourself!
In a new blog called Anthropology & Publicity several authors discuss the reasons for the underexposure of anthropological knowledge and explore ways to improve its dissemination and application in society. The blog is part of a workshop at the Radboud University Nijmegen, Netherlands. One of the organizers is Martijn de Koning, author of the blog Closer
One of the posts is written by Daniel Lende from the Neuroanthropology blog about Public Anthropology: The Example of the Culture of Poverty. Here he explains why he had to respond to a recent article in the New York Times ‘Culture of Poverty’ Makes a Comeback. “By being timely, building a voice, and taking advantage of online dissemination, anthropologists can engage the public", he writes. “Those are basic lessons I have learned in the three years I have written on Neuroanthropology. The other is that people want substantive content.”
What is public anthropology? Already in 1999, when he had started his Ph.D project, Martijn de Koning has made his first anthropology website. In a very interesting blog post with many links, he is looking back at 10 years public anthropology online:
In 1999, when I just had started my Ph.D project in Gouda, I had a fantastic idea. An idea so fantastic that in the next 10 years I would dedicate a huge amount of time to sustaining and developing it. Too much time perhaps because sometimes it destroyed my time to sleep. The idea was that I would launch a website about and for my research and that also dealt with all kinds of issues related to it.
He sees his current blog Closer as one of his contributions to a public anthropology. He discusses several examples of good public anthropology. Public anthropology is not only about reaching a broader public. It is not just about giving answers to questions the public has. Public anthropology means also questioning why particular issues are addressed in the way they are (f.ex debate about islam) and what the consequences of that are. What are the historical and cultural contexts? What is taken-for-granted and what does it mean?
Public anthropology is not the same as anthropology in public (interesting debate!). It is rather about making the work accessible to the wider public, including people anthropologists write about. “This means that anthropoligists should write better: clear and accessibly", he writes:
Many people in my current research project have read my PhD thesis, there have been discussions about it in chatrooms in which I present for my current research and several people emailed me, contacted me in the chatrooms and on MSN wanting to discuss my book and the publicity about it. Opening up your research in fact already begins at the initial stage when you have to explain to your informants what you are doing and why you are there where they are.
In my experience, the conversations that follow from this are not only a good a way of improving your ‘translation’ skills but also provide relevant input for your research. The same can be said about the questions people asked after reading my book and articles. As good public science indeed can produce better social science because the public is allowed to question and test the hypothesis of the researcher and even the significance of the whole research.
Public anthropology should be multilingual. Martijn de Koning is therefore blogging in both Dutch and English:
The current development in social sciences that only writing in Anglo-Saxon journals is valued above anything else (or better, the rest doesn’t matter) could lead I’m afraid to a situation in which social sciences are not relevant anymore for native, non-English publics and render the cause for a public anthropology futile or even ridiculous.
Together with his colleague Henk Driessen he is going to organize an international workshop on anthropology and publicity in 2010.
His anniversary might be an opportunity to remind of recent posts about Public Anthropology at Neuroanthropology.net, for example Top Ten Ways for Anthropologists to Make A Difference and Expanding the Top Ten Ways for Anthropologists to Make a Difference or Varieties of Public Anthropology.
Furthermore. Maximilian Forte has started a series of posts about “Zero Anthropology“, about “knowledge after anthropology” - posts that will bring his blog unfortunately to a close.