A couple weeks ago, when I took helm of the HMS Around the Web Digest (yeah, it’s British – it’s my ship and I do what I want), I was naïve enough to think that I would curate collections of themed articles. Alas, there is just so much good stuff that it’s really difficult at the end of the week to select the things that I don’t want to share. I do my best to cut the chaff (yeah, I just went from running a ship to processing wheat), so I apologize if it’s overwhelming. I am open to feedback! Anyway, if you have a blog article that you would like to be shared in the Around the Web Digest, just hit me at email@example.com or on Twitter @dtpowis. So here we go. Continue reading
Greg Grandin’s new book The Empire of Necessity: Slavery, Freedom, and Deception in the New World has garnered a lot of attention, with reviews in almost every major American news outlet. It is truly a remarkable tour de force, doing something much modern anthropology seeks to do but rarely does satisfactorily: it portrays the complex interconnectedness of things with elegance and grace. Continue reading
It is Week 7, or, the Week I Forgot To Put Up the Check-in Post. Its been that sort of week. Here at Savage Minds, we migrated to our brand new site and in the process our comments feature got all buggy. So if you tried to comment in Week 6 and couldn’t, we’ll just start fresh today. How has your week been? Where are you in the writing? Continue reading
As some of you may know, in my free time I’ve created a timeline of anthropology using the program Aeon Timeline (I’d highly recommend it). As I’ve plugged more and more dates into it I’ve become increasingly convinced that 1974 is the year that anthropology took on the form that it currently exists in today.
For some reason, since we launched the new site, our security software was preventing people from leaving comments. That should be fixed now. Sorry about that!
Also, we previously posted that people would have to register to leave comments. That is not the case. In fact, we’ve turned off the feature that let people register and deleted most of the new registrations from this week because we were getting hundreds of SPAM users registering for the site. You can use your WordPress.com, Facebook, or Twitter account to leave comments, or simply enter any valid email address. (We will monitor this policy and change it if needed.)
Please let us know if you are having any problems that are making it difficult for you to use the site. Right now we are focused on squashing critical bugs. If you have more general feedback (good or bad) about the design, feel free to leave that as well, but please note that we won’t be making any major revisions to the new design till this summer.
Since we launched Savage Minds in 2005 the only time there were ads on this site was the short time last year between when we moved to WordPress.com for hosting and when we paid to turn them off. We apologize for that. The fact is that most of us use ad-blocking software so we didn’t notice the ads until they were pointed out to us and then we promptly got rid of them. We don’t intend to put ads here, and — even though we all put in a lot of work (and money) behind the scenes to keep the site going — we aren’t asking for your support…
OK, enough with the “we.” Although this is a group site and we make all major decisions (including posting this request) together, this is very personal for me. For the past three months I’ve been working non-stop behind the scenes to move to a new server, restore the archives, and redesign the site. If you paid a professional to do this kind of work it would cost at least $2,000, and maybe as much as four times that. I did it because I care about this site. If you also value this site and the work that goes into it, I’d like to ask you to support an organization that is very important to me: Budhan Theatre.
(Savage Minds is pleased to run this essay by guest blogger Zoë Crossland as part of our Writers’ Workshop series. Zoë is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Columbia University. She works in highland Madagascar and writes on semiotics, and archaeologies of death and the body. Her most recent publication is Ancestral Encounters in Highland Madagascar: Material Signs and Traces of the Dead ( Cambridge University Press, 2014).)
Like fiction, archaeology allows us to visit other worlds and to come back home again. So, it can be a useful exercise to juxtapose archaeological texts with historical novels, poems and other forms of writing. Just as a novelist does, a writer of archaeology has to attend carefully to the conventions that shape the stories we tell. The written past demands some kind of narrative coherence, a consistency in our compositional form, and in the internal logic of the world we bring into being. Like poets, we have to choose our words carefully. In this comparison we can identify the shared techniques used to evoke other worlds and to draw in the reader. We can also consider the narrative possibilities that are excluded from our archaeological writing, and ask what opportunities might be opened up by allowing different forms of voice and language. Continue reading
Because our archives were lost to the internet for the past year a lot of great content has been offline. (Google is now slowly re-indexing all of it.) If you just started following Savage Minds recently and would like a quick overview of our best posts for the past seven years, please take a quick look at our annual highlights. These are our yearly end-of-the-year round-ups which highlight our best content from each year. We started doing these in 2006, so we don’t have one for our first year, 2005, but it’s otherwise pretty comprehensive. Enjoy!
In the face of highly productive biological anthropologists, as well as the blog Somatosphere, I think I managed to curate a pretty well-rounded Around the Web Digest for this week. If you have a blog post or article that you would like mentioned next week, shoot it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter. Of course, if this were any other blog, my first link would say, “Hey, go check out Savage Minds’ new design!” but alas, you’re already here. What I bet you didn’t know is: The whole site is back up, archives and all. I mean, look at this gem that I found from 2005! (Gawd, I wasn’t even a twinkle in my advisor’s eye.) Continue reading
Since 2005 over a
hundred and thirty sixty people have blogged on Savage Minds. (And another 44 have written “invited posts.”) We have email addresses for most of them, but not all, and some people may have changed their email address, so the easiest way I know to reach everyone is by posting this here. Hopefully they still read the site! (Everyone else feel free to ignore this post.)
This is an invited post by Douglas La Rose for the Anthropologies Student Debt Issue (#20). Douglas is a graduate of San Diego State University’s Applied Anthropology M.A program. He is an applied environmental anthropologist who has been living and working in rural Africa since 2005. He worked as a consultant for both the United Nations Development Program and the African Adaptation Program, and also established his own agroforestry project in Ghana in 2011. Currently, he works for Nuru International Ethiopia as an agriculture program specialist in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region of Ethiopia. His writing on Nuru Ethiopia’s agriculture program can be found here.
In order to make a real difference, you have to go deeply into “debt.” You have to take out a massive personal capacity-building loan to prepare yourself for the rugged terrain that is the world of international “development.” If you carry the heavier cross of wanting to entertain post-development notions – of deconstructing the way the North interacts with, represents, and perceives the South while “practicing” development – you must also drag along its corollary baggage: being a naysayer in an industry of entrenched professionals and experts. If you have had the misfortune of being trained beyond the capacity that is desired of a development professional – a reflexive applied anthropologist always willing to intervene with a “now, wait a second” – then you suddenly become less an asset than a perceived enemy or an implant.
In this academy-abandoned landscape of moving forward with a kind of loosely defined and intensively critical development philosophy, the very contours and nature of debt become something like a ghost. Debt becomes something that is difficult to believe in as a real entity. It is negative capital that must be plodded through to realize a sense of personal freedom. But at the same time it exists in a realm of voices, letters, phone calls, and news articles. One is constantly reminded of it – even distracted by it – but as it howls it is difficult to feel the substance of its howl. The wolves at the door appear to be more holograms than threats. Why throw your livelihood to these beasts when you have a child to feed? Why acknowledge their scratchings when your real task at hand is to co-create an agriculture program in Ethiopia or bring attention to indigenous adaptations to climate change in marginalized areas of Ghana? The ghost of debt becomes something like a joke. The voices, the letters, the phone calls, the news stories, the “bubble” – all of it collapses under the immensity of its absurdity. Of course, this is all wrong and unpatriotic. Right? Continue reading
What is your process? How to get your creative juices flowing…and keep them flowing? This week’s Writers’ Workshop guest author Kristen Ghodsee gave us a sneak peek into her writing process in My Ten Steps for Writing a Book, confiding that she had not even been fully aware of it until she sat down to consciously think it out. After six weeks of purposeful writing as part of this writing group, what new practices have you added to your process? What is helping you get where you want to be in the writing?
Four more weeks to go, so this might also be a good time to not only check-in on last week, but also assess your goals for the remainder of the writing group, and also tune in on Monday for our next Writers’ Workshop post, this time from Zoe Crossland, professor of archaeology at Columbia University.
Finally, if you missed it, there is still time to add strength to your writing support network—create an Anthropology Zombie Apocalypse Team! I made mine yesterday and got Sam Beckett, Kurt Vonnegut, and Franz Boas. This week I’m going to see if I can’t channel some Kurt Vonnegut in my writing. This could be interesting….
Everybody knows you can defeat real zombies with salt, but which anthropologists would you want by your side in mankind’s final stand against the Evil Dead?
Did you survive?
[This post is part of a two-week series featuring interviews with designers reflecting on anthropology and design.]
ANNE GALLOWAY. designer. ethnographer. archaeologist.
ANTHROPOLOGY + DESIGN.
My sense of anthropology is very materialist so I think it made a lot of sense for me to gravitate towards design. I originally trained as an archaeologist and did ethnographic fieldwork on Andean textile production, so I’ve always been interested in the things that people make. Of course, as anthropologists we’re taught the importance of context and I think that bringing anthropology and design together really stresses contextual meanings. For me, the most interesting connection between anthropology and design can be found in how each practice enhances the other. Anthropology provides a kind of thick description that contextualises design processes and products, and design offers anthropology creative means of exploring and representing what it means to be human. I also enjoy the explicit combination of thinking, doing, and making—of blurring boundaries between analytical and creative practice, between rational and emotional experience.
Sometimes, in design, we talk about research about, for, and through design—and I think that anthropology is well suited to contribute to each endeavour. As we know, ethnography (including material, visual, and discursive culture) can tell us a lot about the roles of design in everyday life. Ethnography also provides us with valuable information that can be used to design “better” things—or to design nothing at all. And although research through design is perhaps less obviously related to anthropology, I think that every kind of anthropological research could create and employ objects and images with as much nuance as we’ve come to use words.
As I mentioned at the beginning of the month, we are getting ready for some big changes around here. To ensure that everything goes smoothly, we will be taking the site offline sometime on Friday evening (Eastern Standard Time). If all goes well, the site should be back up early Saturday morning with the new layout and the restored archives in place. I’ll keep this post active as a place for you to post your reactions (good or bad) to the new site, as well as for catching any bugs in the code.
UPDATE: Welcome to the new/old site! It is new because we have a fresh new look, and it is old because all our archives going back to 2005 have been restored. We are still working on ironing out a few things here and there, so please let us know if anything is broken, not working, or not to your liking. And if you like the new site, please don’t hold back from sharing your praise!