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Insects-as-food Survey

AAA member, Julie Lesnik at the University of Illinois-Chicago is conducting a survey regarding insects-as-food. This survey is open to all researchers who may have observed the practice of eating insects by either a human population or nonhuman primate population. The goal of the survey is to 1) identify general global patterns, and 2) initiate the development of a global database of standardized scientific identifications and nutritional values.

Please go to http://www.entomoanthro.org/survey.html for more information and a link to the survey, or email Julie Lesnik at jlesnik{at}uic{dot}edu.

Join the This is Anthropology Team at the Annual Meeting!

Over 390 anthropologists have joined the AAA’s new public outreach website, www.thisisanthropology.org since it launched in November 2012! Thanks to all of you who already contributed photos and profiles to the website. This is Anthropology is always a work in progress and it is not too late to join. The development team for This Is Anthropology will be at the annual meeting in Chicago with even more new ways for you to participate. We hope you’ll join us at the events below:

Opening Reception

Join us at our booth during the Opening Reception in the Exhibit Hall on Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013 from 6:15-7:30 PM. In addition to the food and fun of the reception, we will be on hand with This is Anthropology swag (while supplies last!) and we’ll have our cameras rolling to capture some impromptu video interviews.

This is Anthropology Booth

Even if you can’t join us at the reception, stop by our booth in the Exhibit Hall to learn more about the website and how you can be a part of This is Anthropology. It’s never too late to create a profile on the site or to share TIA in your community.

Reaching A Broader Public: The “This Is Anthropology” Project Roundtable

Join Jason Miller and Charlotte Noble on Friday, Nov. 22, 2013 from 12:15-1:30 PM in Hilton Conference Room 4M for a roundtable about the This is Anthropology project. After a brief discussion of the origin and goals of the site, we will open the floor for comments, feedback and a brainstorming of ideas for how to disseminate anthropology to a broader public.

Video Project

Finally, be on the look out for our roving camera crew during the meeting. We’re looking for anthropologists to answer one of five questions about anthropology on camera. The footage will be used to create short videos about what anthropology is, anthropological skills and careers and how to become an anthropologist.

Have further questions? Contact the TIA team at thisisanthropology@aaanet.org or participate in our conversations at #thisisanthro on Twitter!

November is Native American Heritage Month

Today’s guest blog post is by AAA Member, Guven Peter Witteveen.

We Still Live here

In honor of Native American Heritage Month, PBS will stream We Still Live Here for free throughout November. The film is especially relevant now, as it features members of the Wampanoag Tribes of Massachusetts, descendants of the people we celebrate every Thanksgiving for the help they gave the “Pilgrims.” We Still Live Here tells the near miraculous story of present-day Wampanoags reclaiming their language and rediscovering their culture. Click here to stream for free at PBS.org, or buy the DVD on their site Here.

Oppose devastating cuts to the National Endowment for the Humanities!

Now that the government shutdown is over and Congress is beginning new budget negotiations, the proposed 49 percent cut to the National Endowment for the Humanities is back on the table. Just last week, one of the budget negotiators invoked the cut as he questioned the appropriateness of NEH grants. You can make sure that his are not the last words that our elected officials hear on the value of NEH by sending a message today.

We need you, your friends, and your colleagues to send messages in support of renewed investments in the humanities. Thousands of messages from advocates helped to put the proposed cuts on hold this summer, and by sending this new message, you can oppose the cuts and help restore NEH’s critical support for the humanities.

Lend your name to the effort by sending a message to your elected representatives.

Click  here to send a message.

neh_at_logo

Background
In its FY 2014 budget resolution, the House of Representatives Budget Committee called for the complete elimination of funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities, writing that the programs funded by NEH “…go beyond the core mission of the federal government, and they are generally enjoyed by people of higher-income levels, making them a wealth transfer from poorer to wealthier citizens.” The House subcommittee that oversees the NEH’s appropriation has followed through on the spirit of this resolution by approving a 49 percent cut to the agency’s budget.

Funding for NEH is already at just 29 percent of its peak and 62 percent of its average.

After years of deep cuts, the Obama Administration has proposed restoring some of NEH’s capacity with a 12 percent increase in funding.  

Click  here to send a message.

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Susan Hyatt: An Anthropologist Back to School

Today’s guest blog post is written by Dr. Susan B. Hyatt.  Dr. Hyatt is currently an Associate Professor of Anthropology at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). During the 1980s, she spent 8 years working as a community organizer in South Chicago, which is where she first developed her interest in  community collaborative projects. Dr. Hyatt has volunteered to lead a program in the Anthropologists Back to School initiative. Her program will take place at The Field Museum. This new initiative seeks volunteers to lead and assist programs at various host sites throughout Chicago on Wednesday, November 20 from 9am to12pm. Share your passion of anthropology while giving back to this year’s host city – Chicago. Learn more about how you can participate in Anthropologists Back to School and register today!

Photo courtesy IUPUI

Photo courtesy IUPUI

I am looking forward to participating in the Anthropologists Back to School initiative at the Field Museum in Chicago on November 19th.  My workshop will be based on a collaborative ethnographic project I carried out in Indianapolis, which brought together university students, a synagogue, a community center and a Black Baptist Church in an endeavor we called, “The Neighborhood of Saturdays.”

In 2010, Anthropology students from my institution, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) began conducting oral history interviews with former residents of what had once been one of the most multi-ethnic neighborhoods in Indianapolis—the near Southside.  We focused on two groups who had occupied that space between 1920-1960— the children of Jewish immigrants whose families hailed from cities formerly located in the Ottoman Empire in the early years of the 20th century, and African Americans whose families arrived from the south during the Great Migration.  During the 1950s, many of the Jewish families began moving to the more affluent northside neighborhoods where many of the Jewish communal institutions had already relocated.  Ten years later, the remaining African American community was displaced by the construction of an interstate highway that bisected the old neighborhood, destroying both residential properties and a once-vibrant commercial strip.

Photos courtesy of Angela Herrmann

Photos courtesy of Angela Herrmann

Former African-American and Jewish neighbors largely lost contact with one another after the highway came through.  Once a year, however, the African-American former southsiders continued to gather in a small park in the old neighborhood for a reunion picnic, held on the first Saturday in August.  I learned about the reunion picnics and began attending them in 2008 with the idea that students enrolled in my Ethnographic Methods class would collect life histories about the old Southside and about the reunions, which were then in their 35th year. I had assumed that the neighborhood had long been primarily African-American, however in my interviews at that first picnic, several folks shared with me their recollections of how special they felt it had been to grow up in a multi-ethnic neighborhood, especially in that earlier historical era, and they reminisced in particular about their former Jewish neighbors and about the many Jewish-owned businesses that had once thronged the main thoroughfare, Meridian St.

Through a chance encounter, I met later met a member of one of those Southside Jewish families and she put me in touch with others.  Both communities were excited and enthusiastic about coming back together to work with the students toward the goal of writing a book about their community.  We changed the name of the project from “First Saturday in August” to “The Neighborhood of Saturdays,” which incorporated references to both the picnic and to the Jewish observance of the Sabbath on Saturdays.

Photo courtesy of Angela Herrmann

Photo courtesy of Angela Herrmann

Over a two-year period, Jewish and African-American Southsiders gathered regularly with the students to record their life stories and to talk about the on-going research and plan the book.  In addition to carrying out the oral history interviews, students also engaged in archival research about the neighborhood and they organized several events we called “scan-a-thons.”  The scan-a-thons were held at a community center, at the synagogue and at the Black church, where we invited people to bring old photographs, church bulletins, newspaper articles and other memorabilia about the neighborhood which we scanned using laptops and portable scanners.  All of that material was organized and catalogued by our university library’s Digital Scholarship team and it is now available on a library web site, along with some of the publicity that the project garnered, including an article from the New York Times and a recent story on our local NPR affiliate.

Last February, we self-published the book, The Neighborhood of Saturdays: Memories of a Multi-Ethnic Neighborhood on Indianapolis’ Southside.  Elders who were involved in the project have continued to organize events around the city to share their memories of growing up together and to reflect on their experiences reuniting after more than 50 years to work on the book.

Photo courtesy of Angela Herrmann

Photo courtesy of Angela Herrmann

The students and I were surprised to learn that during an era when Jim Crow was a de facto aspect of life in Indianapolis, in the “neighborhood of Saturdays,” people had once come together across racial and religious boundaries to forge friendships that were revived by our research project. For my Back to School workshop, I plan to share some stories about this project and to perhaps show the students some short videos of our elders talking about the old neighborhood.  I hope to help them think about how urban neighborhoods change through time, and to understand how we can use strategies like mapping, interviewing and scanning old photographs to discover stories that might surprise us today. Like Sabiyha Prince, I also hope that some of them will think about working on their own neighborhood history projects, and about perhaps organizing their own story-telling sessions and even scan-a-thons with their family elders and neighbors.   If nothing else, hopefully they will learn that the communities where they live now and that they take for granted in their current incarnations may once have looked very different, and that they can use some of the strategies we used to uncover their own neighborhood’s “hidden history.”

The Second Issue of Open Anthropology is Here!

Open Anthropology 150x150Violence is the theme of the second issue of Open Anthropology. The collection “On Violence” offers information, revelations, historical facts, descriptions of context and portraits of situations over time and place, a sampling of anthropological findings on the subject. Ten articles, two book reviews, and “The Editor’s Note” comprise this anthology written by anthropologists across time, sub-discipline, and journal title culled from the full AAA collection. 

“Taken as a whole, this collection deepens understanding and draws attention to the critical ingredients in the making of violence, a phenomenon ubiquitous in the contemporary world,” notes editor Alisse Waterston (John Jay College, CUNY). Synthesizing major anthropological viewpoints on the topic, Dr. Waterston identifies a key feature of violence and raises central questions that anthropologists answer:  “Domination is a critical element. In what specific way is the playing field of social life uneven? Who uses violence, of what types, and to what ends?”

Content in Open Anthropology is selected from the full archive of AAA publications, curated into issues, and freely available on the internet for a minimum of six months, permitting any user to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search or link to the full text of these articles. Each issue is dedicated to topics of interest to the general public, and that may have direct or indirect public policy implications.

Popular Anthropology: Buttering Up Humanity

Today’s guest blog post is by Erin B. Taylor (ICS-UL) of PopAnth.

Some years ago, when I was working at The University of Sydney, a colleague of mine stopped me in the corridor to complain. “Nobody listens to anthropologists,” she lamented, “We have so many interesting things to say about the world, but people don’t pay any attention.”

I was puzzled. Not because I disagree on either count: I think she’s right that our voice gets subsumed to that of economists, political commentators, and publicists. I also agree that anthropologists can provide a historically-grounded, cross-culturally informed perspective on contemporary events that is of real social value.

My puzzlement, rather, was because to the best of my knowledge, this particular colleague never made any effort to be heard. She published exclusively in academic journals behind paywalls, didn’t do press releases, didn’t write for newspapers, didn’t even blog. Did she really expect that public servants, the media, and people at large would go to the effort of seeking out her and her opinions?

This encounter triggered a personal quest to find out more about the state of public anthropology. I quickly discovered that I wasn’t the only one. Thomas Hylland Eriksen, in his book Engaging Anthropology, writes that “Anthropology should have changed the world, yet the subject is almost invisible in the public sphere outside the academy” (2006:1). One of my favorite articles on the subject is by Greg Downey who, on his Neuroanthropology blog, argues that anthropology’s difficulties with engaging the public is at least partially a branding problem. He then presents a series of fascinating ideas on how to fix it.

There are plenty of anthropologists who are doing something about it. Anthropologists globally are publishing their work in news venues such as the BBC, the Financial Times, and the Trinidad Guardian. Hundreds, possibly thousands, of us are blogging our thoughts on personal and collective websites, including The Huffington Post and The Conversation. Others are interviewed on radio shows or run community workshops. The California Series in Public Anthropology provides an incentive for authors to write about their engagements with communities and policies. Our brand is looking better since Eriksen published his book in 2006.

One thing I noticed, however, is a lack of ways for anthropologists who would like to write for the public to get started. This is partially because too few academics are aware of what the possibilities are, as the work of their more public-facing colleagues remains largely invisible. There are also relatively few venues in which people can experiment with this kind of writing. Personal blogs are a beginning, but a chronic lack of feedback means that it’s hard to know whether you’re on the right track. And without having a sense of how you’re doing, it can be daunting to submit an article to a newspaper.

PopAnthThis was a major reason why Gawain Lynch, John McCreery and I began the community website PopAnth: Hot Buttered Humanity. We began building the site in July last year, after an exhaustive search turned up exactly zero generalist anthropology websites that are truly written for a popular audience. There are many brilliant blogs out there, but they either focus on narrow topics, or include academic content such as jargon or calls for papers. We deliberately designed PopAnth to cover all branches of anthropology because we wanted to see what kinds of topics would prove popular.

In just over a year since launch, the site has grown surprisingly fast, and last month we had 90,000 unique visitors (bots largely edited out of our analytics). This is a pretty impressive feat for a non-profit website that relies on a small crew of committed editors. I’m particularly happy that authors have been courageous enough to send us off-beat stories that otherwise might never have seen the light of day. Our articles have covered topics as diverse as the history of Rastafarianism in Jamaica, land use rights among footballers in Trinidad, metal theft in the United Kingdom, drug markets in Colombia, consumer freedom in Germany, and angry tourists in Madagascar.

What makes PopAnth work? In my opinion, it’s the effort we put in to making popular anthropology visible. We don’t just promote ourselves, we use our website and social media to promote popular anthropology wherever it is published: newspapers, blogs, books, TED talks, and so on. This increases our audience base and helps make anthropology a household name.

Crucially, we provide a mentoring service to new public writers, helping them polish their articles for PopAnth and gain confidence to submit their work to other venues. We also act as a hub connecting new popular authors to old hands. Because we publish on merit, not qualifications, our authors are just as likely to be undergraduates as they are to have regular columns in The Huffington Post or Psychology Today. This means that up-and-coming authors who aren’t sure where to publish can gain inspiration from seeing what their colleagues are doing.

What’s the next step in getting public anthropology out there? My feeling is that cross-promotion will help us all build our audiences and contributor bases. To this end, I’ve begun talking with people people from other groups, such as Savage Minds, DANG, Ethnography Matters, the Society for Visual Anthropology, and others about how we can best work together to stay in communication and build collaborations. I’d like to invite everyone to join the conversation in the PopAnth group at the Open Anthropology Cooperative. And, of course, if you want to write for PopAnth, you can check out our Contributions page. The more we write for the public, the more the public will be able to listen.

An Opportunity to Experience the Mexican American Community in Chicago

Pilsen

Photo courtesy Stephen L. Schensul

On Friday, November 22 from 8:00-9:30 am, anthropologists Stephen L. Schensul and Gwen Stern and colleagues from Mujeres Latinas en Accion  will present the session, “Anthropological Involvement in Advocacy and Development in the Mexican American Community in Chicago: A Forty-Five Year (1968-present) Case Study.” Following this session, participants are invited for a guided visit to the Pilsen Mexican American community, four miles from the Chicago Hilton, accessible by public transportation or an inexpensive taxi ride. We will start the visit at Mujeres from 10:30 to 11:30 to learn more about current research and programs, visit the National Museum for Mexican Art (just five blocks from Mujeres) from 11:45-12:45 and have lunch at a community restaurant. There will also be opportunities to purchase pan dulce in the panderias, shop in La Casa del Pueblo for chile, spices and salsa and purchase the finest tortillas in North America at El Milagro Tortillaria.

Register to attend the 112th AAA Annual Meeting today!

There Is Work To Do

Today’s blog post is written by AAA Executive Director, Dr. Edward Liebow (eliebow@aaanet.org).

The US government’s partial shut-down has ended, and anthropologists here in the States have some work to do. The federal government activities that were put on hold over the past 16 days furloughed employees, delayed federal benefits, shuttered museums and national parks, interrupted research, put cultural resources at risk, and created economic hardships in many communities. During this partial-shutdown, the AAA office issued blog posts with updates about the shutdown, invited members to tell their stories about how they were affected; we made visits to Capitol Hill where we talked about short- and long-term effects on issues of central interest to anthropologists, and we made contingency plans to refund affected federal workers after the official annual meeting refund date.

The agreement reached last night funds the government through January 15, suspends the debt limit until February 7, and calls for formal negotiations to determine a long-term budget plan by December 13. In other words, unless Congress and the President can work out a lasting plan, the US could find itself back in this same position again in just a few months.

I may be new to Washington, but not to policy-making. I hope that from my new front-row seat, I am able to watch the country’s elected leaders put the public interest first and find an enduring budget solution that embodies a long-term commitment to promoting environmental sustainability, education and research, health and social justice, while protecting cultural resources and human rights. This is the commitment the public deserves.

Some have speculated that last night’s legislative outcomes will further compel the current administration’s political opponents to renew their full frontal attacks on affordable health care for all, and on such pressing long-term structural issues as immigration reform, global environmental change, and the unevenly distributed problems in crumbling public infrastructure.

For anthropologists in the US, the immediate task ahead is to make sure that this new round of budget negotiations does not become the forum for airing petty grievances about public support for social science education and research. This affects classroom enrollments. It affects museum attendance. Also affected is the growth of knowledge by which we advance human understanding, and apply this understanding to tackling the world’s most pressing problems. We simply cannot let that happen. I’d like to encourage our US members to make their feelings known to their elected representatives about the importance of anthropologists’ work.

Online Open Forums on Revised Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education

ACRLThe Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) invites you to attend one of their free online open forums to learn more about the work of their task force appointed to oversee substantial revisions to the Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education that will be completed by June 2014. The Information Literacy Standards for Higher Education, first adopted in 2000, have defined information literacy for librarians, educators, and assessment agencies. The task force is working on a new approach that underscores the critical need for faculty members and librarians to collaborate to effectively address information literacy education that aligns with disciplinary content. While the exact approach is still under discussion, two new elements will be incorporated: threshold concepts and metaliteracy. These two foundational elements should provide the basis for more sustained collaborations with disciplinary faculty and create more aligned teaching and learning communities at the institutional level.

During the online open forum you will learn about the direction the task force is taking with the revisions, the composition of the group, and opportunities for you to provide feedback or ask questions about the process. Due to limited space we ask you to attend as a group under one registration. We encourage you to include stakeholders from across campus including but not limited to librarians, faculty, provosts, academic support services, general education curriculum committees, and members of accrediting agencies.

 

There is no charge to participate in an online open forum and each lasts one hour. Online open forums will be held:

         Thursday, October 17, 10am Pacific/11am Mountain/noon Central/1pm Eastern

         Tuesday, October 29, 8am Pacific/9am Mountain/10am Central/11am Eastern

         Monday, November 4, 10am Pacific/11am Mountain/noon Central/1pm Eastern

Sign up is limited to 300 logins for each event, first-come first-served. Register now! Links to the recorded online open forums will be posted afterwards on the website.

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