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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.

Webinar Wednesdays: Engaging Anthropology

Save the date for Webinar Wednesdays!

In 2014, the American Anthropological Association will host a monthly webinar series on the third Wednesday of the month on a variety of topics to engage anthropologists.

Rosemary-Joyce_150On February 19, 2014 at 2pm ET, AAA will host a webinar event with Dr Rosemary Joyce on the topic of Best Practices:Recruitment and Retention of Underrepresented Minorities in Anthropology Programs. The webinar will be of particular interest to anthropology students, faculty, department chairs and administrators. The program will cover topics such as:

•Developing a pipeline—reaching out to minority students through strategic partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges and Universities, and professional organizations

•Inclusive admissions processes—moving away from GRE scores to screen out applicants and looking carefully at GPAs and other indications of academic merit

•Mentoring for retention and completion– clearly defined benchmarks of progress, and formal required consultation of students and faculty to communicate progress and benchmarks


Rosemary Joyce
, Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley, received the PhD from the University of Illinois-Urbana in 1985. Currently Associate Dean of the Graduate Division at Berkeley, she oversees graduate admissions, academic careers, and professional development that annually produce the largest number of doctorates granted to students from under-represented populations. As a member of the anthropological archaeology program at Berkeley, she was a co-recipient of the Leon Henkin Citation for Distinguished Service from the Committee on Student Diversity and Academic Development of Berkeley’s Academic Senate in recognition of the success of the program in increasing diversity. She has been a mentor of undergraduates in the McNair and Mellon-Mays programs and in the UC Presidential Postdoctoral program intended to increase diversity among faculty in academia.

This webinar is free but registration is required. You’ll need the password – anthropology.

Webinar Wednesdays: Engaging Anthropology

Save the date for Webinar Wednesdays!

In 2014, the American Anthropological Association will host a monthly webinar series on the third Wednesday of the month on a variety of topics to engage anthropologists.

Rosemary-Joyce_150On February 19, 2014 at 2pm ET, AAA will host a webinar event with Dr Rosemary Joyce on the topic of Best Practices:Recruitment and Retention of Underrepresented Minorities in Anthropology Programs. The webinar will be of particular interest to anthropology students, faculty, department chairs and administrators. The program will cover topics such as:

•Developing a pipeline—reaching out to minority students through strategic partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges and Universities, and professional organizations

•Inclusive admissions processes—moving away from GRE scores to screen out applicants and looking carefully at GPAs and other indications of academic merit

•Mentoring for retention and completion– clearly defined benchmarks of progress, and formal required consultation of students and faculty to communicate progress and benchmarks


Rosemary Joyce
, Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley, received the PhD from the University of Illinois-Urbana in 1985. Currently Associate Dean of the Graduate Division at Berkeley, she oversees graduate admissions, academic careers, and professional development that annually produce the largest number of doctorates granted to students from under-represented populations. As a member of the anthropological archaeology program at Berkeley, she was a co-recipient of the Leon Henkin Citation for Distinguished Service from the Committee on Student Diversity and Academic Development of Berkeley’s Academic Senate in recognition of the success of the program in increasing diversity. She has been a mentor of undergraduates in the McNair and Mellon-Mays programs and in the UC Presidential Postdoctoral program intended to increase diversity among faculty in academia.

This webinar is free but registration is required. You’ll need the password – anthropology.

Webinar Wednesdays: Engaging Anthropology

Save the date for Webinar Wednesdays!

In 2014, the American Anthropological Association will host a monthly webinar series on the third Wednesday of the month on a variety of topics to engage anthropologists.

Rosemary-Joyce_150On February 19, 2014 at 2pm ET, AAA will host a webinar event with Dr Rosemary Joyce on the topic of Best Practices:Recruitment and Retention of Underrepresented Minorities in Anthropology Programs. The webinar will be of particular interest to anthropology students, faculty, department chairs and administrators. The program will cover topics such as:

•Developing a pipeline—reaching out to minority students through strategic partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges and Universities, and professional organizations

•Inclusive admissions processes—moving away from GRE scores to screen out applicants and looking carefully at GPAs and other indications of academic merit

•Mentoring for retention and completion– clearly defined benchmarks of progress, and formal required consultation of students and faculty to communicate progress and benchmarks


Rosemary Joyce
, Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley, received the PhD from the University of Illinois-Urbana in 1985. Currently Associate Dean of the Graduate Division at Berkeley, she oversees graduate admissions, academic careers, and professional development that annually produce the largest number of doctorates granted to students from under-represented populations. As a member of the anthropological archaeology program at Berkeley, she was a co-recipient of the Leon Henkin Citation for Distinguished Service from the Committee on Student Diversity and Academic Development of Berkeley’s Academic Senate in recognition of the success of the program in increasing diversity. She has been a mentor of undergraduates in the McNair and Mellon-Mays programs and in the UC Presidential Postdoctoral program intended to increase diversity among faculty in academia.

This webinar is free but registration is required. You’ll need the password – anthropology.

Webinar Wednesdays: Engaging Anthropology

Save the date for Webinar Wednesdays!

In 2014, the American Anthropological Association will host a monthly webinar series on the third Wednesday of the month on a variety of topics to engage anthropologists.

Rosemary-Joyce_150On February 19, 2014 at 2pm ET, AAA will host a webinar event with Dr Rosemary Joyce on the topic of Best Practices:Recruitment and Retention of Underrepresented Minorities in Anthropology Programs. The webinar will be of particular interest to anthropology students, faculty, department chairs and administrators. The program will cover topics such as:

•Developing a pipeline—reaching out to minority students through strategic partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges and Universities, and professional organizations

•Inclusive admissions processes—moving away from GRE scores to screen out applicants and looking carefully at GPAs and other indications of academic merit

•Mentoring for retention and completion– clearly defined benchmarks of progress, and formal required consultation of students and faculty to communicate progress and benchmarks


Rosemary Joyce
, Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley, received the PhD from the University of Illinois-Urbana in 1985. Currently Associate Dean of the Graduate Division at Berkeley, she oversees graduate admissions, academic careers, and professional development that annually produce the largest number of doctorates granted to students from under-represented populations. As a member of the anthropological archaeology program at Berkeley, she was a co-recipient of the Leon Henkin Citation for Distinguished Service from the Committee on Student Diversity and Academic Development of Berkeley’s Academic Senate in recognition of the success of the program in increasing diversity. She has been a mentor of undergraduates in the McNair and Mellon-Mays programs and in the UC Presidential Postdoctoral program intended to increase diversity among faculty in academia.

This webinar is free but registration is required. You’ll need the password – anthropology.

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