• 2016 AA Editor Search
  • Get Ready for the Annual Meeting

    From t-shirts to journals, 2014 Annual Meeting Gear Shop Now
  • Open Anthropology
  • Latest AAA Podcast

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 18,304 other followers

New booklet and installation showcase popular anthropology

Today’s guest blog post is by Erin Taylor and Gawain Lynch.

Where are anthropologists publishing these days? Most of us probably know that Gillian Tett writes for The Financial Times and Sarah Kenzidor for Al Jazeera. Paul Stoller has a column in The Huffington Post, and there is also the AAA’s Huffington Post blog. We occasionally stumble across various other articles penned by anthropologists.

A couple of years ago we began searching for anthropology that is written for a public audience. We now have a rather long and impressive list, and we’ve only just uncovered the tip of the iceberg. Around the world, we’ve found anthropologists publishing in places like The Guardian, The Conversation, Nigerians Talk, the Jamaica Gleaner, The Big Issue, O Magazine, Psychology Today, Scientific American, and many more.

But most of use aren’t aware of the extent of popular writing that anthropologists do – not even those of us who do it ourselves. This limits anthropology’s’ potential public voice.

We can change this by learning more about who is doing popular anthropology and by building connections between us.

First, if we share each other’s public work, we help to lift anthropology’s public profile. This helps anthropology have an influential voice in society. It also helps us as individuals: greater visibility for anthropology means that it will be easier to make our own voices heard.

Second, if we know who is writing for the public, we can learn from them. There are many anthropologists who believe that public communication is important and we write regularly on our own blogs. But these have a limited audience, and it’s hard to figure out how to take the next step. We need more avenues for mentorship and learning.

Third, if we network and collaborate as popular writers, we have a stronger bargaining position when it comes to our promotional committees and workplaces, who might not see the value in writing for the public. Most of us who produce popular anthropology do so as individuals. This makes it difficult to convince our workplaces need to understand that contributing to anthropology’s public profile has many benefits. But a show of force can change how popular anthropology is valued.

How do we do this? As a first step, we are running an installation at the AAA meetings in Washington D.C. on Friday 5 December. It will feature short talks by Agustín Fuentes, Rosemary Joyce, and Greg Downey. We’ll show a video of interviews with popular anthropologists, produced by Natalia Reagan from the BOAS network. And you’ll get to participate, too, as the bulk of the installation will be taken up by a Town Hall meeting.

In preparation for our installation, we’re pleased to launch “Showcasing_Popular_Anthropology”(PDF), a compilation of short articles published in newspapers and blogs. It includes contributions from Sarah Kenzidor, Joris Luyendijk, Keith Hart, Dori Tunstall, Susan Blum, Helen Fisher, Vito Laterza, Olimide Abimbola, Agustín Fuentes, Rosemary Joyce, Greg Downey. At the back is a list of further reading to help you learn more about who is doing what and where.

This is just the beginning of the conversation, and taking it further will require a collaborative effort. So, if you will be in Washington D.C., come along and tell us what you think we can do to help popular anthropologists to join forces. If you can’t make it to the AAA meetings, you can still get in contact with the many anthropologists who are doing public work. Communicating among ourselves is an important step on our path to communicating with broader publics.

Today! A Discussion On Genes, Race and Human History

Join us on Monday, May 5 at 1pm EST for a lively webinar, A Troublesome Inheritance – A discussion on genes, race and human history with author Nicholas Wade and Agustín Fuentes. This discussion will be moderated by AAA Executive Director, Dr. Edward Liebow.

Photo by The New York Times

Photo by The New York Times

Nicholas Wade received a B.A. in natural sciences from King’s College, Cambridge. He was deputy editor of Nature magazine in London and then became that journal’s Washington correspondent. He joined Science magazine in Washington as a reporter and later moved to The New York Times, where he has been an editorial writer, concentrating his writing on issues of defense, space, science, medicine, technology, genetics, molecular biology, the environment, and public policy, a science reporter, and a science editor. Wades latest book A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History (Penguin Press) will be available on May 6.

2012 Explorer PortraitAgustín Fuentes, trained in zoology and anthropology, is a professor of anthropology at the University of Notre Dame. Fuentes completed a B.A. in Zoology and Anthropology, and an M.A.& Ph.D. in Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley. His research delves into the how and why of being human. From chasing monkeys in the jungles and cities of Asia, to exploring the lives of our evolutionary ancestors, to examining what people actually do across the globe, Professor Fuentes is interested in both the big questions and the small details of what makes humans and our closest relatives tick. Fuentes is author of Race, Monogamy and Other Lies They Told You: Busting Myths About Human Nature (University of California Press).

The webinar is free; however, registration is required.

If you missed today’s webinar, stream it now: http://bit.ly/1jvlnDK

New Webinar! A Discussion On Genes, Race and Human History

Join us on Monday, May 5 at 1pm EST for a lively webinar, A Troublesome Inheritance – A discussion on genes, race and human history with author Nicholas Wade and Agustín Fuentes. This discussion will be moderated by AAA Executive Director, Dr. Edward Liebow.

Photo by The New York Times

Photo by The New York Times

Nicholas Wade received a B.A. in natural sciences from King’s College, Cambridge. He was deputy editor of Nature magazine in London and then became that journal’s Washington correspondent. He joined Science magazine in Washington as a reporter and later moved to The New York Times, where he has been an editorial writer, concentrating his writing on issues of defense, space, science, medicine, technology, genetics, molecular biology, the environment, and public policy, a science reporter, and a science editor. Wades latest book A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History (Penguin Press) will be available on May 6.

2012 Explorer PortraitAgustín Fuentes, trained in zoology and anthropology, is a professor of anthropology at the University of Notre Dame. Fuentes completed a B.A. in Zoology and Anthropology, and an M.A.& Ph.D. in Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley. His research delves into the how and why of being human. From chasing monkeys in the jungles and cities of Asia, to exploring the lives of our evolutionary ancestors, to examining what people actually do across the globe, Professor Fuentes is interested in both the big questions and the small details of what makes humans and our closest relatives tick. Fuentes is author of Race, Monogamy and Other Lies They Told You: Busting Myths About Human Nature (University of California Press).

The webinar is free; however, registration is required.

Erroneous Notions of Race and Human Biology

The latest discussions of anthropology in the New York Times has spurred conversation amongst AAA members. Below is a letter to the editor by AAA member, Agustín Fuentes in response to Nicolas Wade’s recent article.

Dear Editor,

Nicolas Wade’s article of Feb. 14th, 2013, presents erroneous notions of race and human biology. Wade distorts the findings of two studies on human genetic variation by couching the research in racialized terms not used by the scientists themselves. One of the studies proposes possible explanations for a genetic variant common in North-east Asian Han peoples (via human genes inserted into mice) and the other looks at patterns of genetic variation across 179 people from Nigeria, Utah, Beijing and Tokyo. Humans vary in complex and important ways, but Wade’s categories of “East Asian,” “African,” and “European” are not biologically valid groups. His assertions of what the two studies tell us ignore abundant genomic, morphological and physiological data and act to reinforce public misunderstandings of science. I urge the readership of the New York Times not to accept the myths offered by Wade, but rather to seek out what we actually know about human biology and evolution for themselves.

Agustín Fuentes
Professor, Department of Anthropology
University of Notre Dame

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 18,304 other followers