Around the Web Digest- July 24

Hi everyone, I apologize for the delay but here is this week’s readings for you!

With Hamilton, the musical sensation soon traveling to different cities in the U.S., Current Affairs questions its revisionist portrayal of European colonists and downplaying the history of slavery.

Pokemon Go has millions of players exploring their neighborhoods and ending up in interesting situations in the past few weeks. However, not everyone with disabilities can go out and catch them all. How does the rise of augmented reality technology ignore the needs and embodied experiences of different groups?

Have you noticed your Chinese takeout getting more expensive? Joe Pinsker examines a “global hierarchy of taste” that relates the price and prestige of cuisine to a nation’s political and economic influence.

Anti-Black racism does not only take the form of police brutality. City Lab connects the militant policing of Black neighborhoods with environmental pollution that contribute to higher rates of conditions such as asthma and cancer in Black populations.

Two-Spirit indigenous populations in North America have a complicated history with anthropologists. In recent years, more non-indigenous people have claimed two-spirit as part of their identity. Black Girl Dangerous interrogates the violence of colonialism when non-indigenous people claim to be two-spirit. 

See you next week!

Writing About Violence (Part I)

Writing is never easy. Writing ethnographically about people who perpetrate violence is exceptionally difficult. Not only does the ethnographer have to cautiously avoid slipping into what we call “pornographic’ representation, she (or he) must find a way to convey the humanity of people who do “inhuman” things, while also doing justice to the victims of their violence. Writing in the first person compounds these difficulties. How does one insert his or herself, as ethnographer, into such a narrative?

In writing up my research on prison rapes and murders, I struggle with the competing desires of wanting to present myself as a likeable protagonist and wanting to honestly relate the ways that my ethnographic practice cannot help but become entwined with the forms of violence that I study. I also worry that as I try to navigate between these two treacherous poles of representation, my writing will be either disastrously self-exculpating or unnecessarily self-flagellating.

One solution to this problem might be to consider the ethnographer in the stories I write about violence as a character, rather than a robust and authentic representation of me. But, would doing so necessitate writing the violent events of my fieldwork as fiction? And would turning into ethnographic fiction events that I experienced as being too-real (and as having too-real consequences) be just another way to avoid confronting their ethical ramifications?

A simpler solution would be to pretend that the violence I either witnessed or experienced in the field did not happen at all. I would not be the first to elide physical violence in my ethnographic writing. In fact, I’ve admittedly written much less about the violent events that were central to my fieldwork than I have about the forms of structural violence that have shaped the ethnographic contexts in which I study because I find doing so to be less fraught than writing about specific instances of physical aggression or pain. But blood, bullets, and torn flesh were so prevalent in my fieldwork, I would feel dishonest if I wrote them out of my work.

Another course I could steer in writing about my ethnographic encounters with perpetrators of violence would be to unequivocally position myself as observer rather than participant. But, to me, this would hearken back to the late nineteenth century, when ethnography was decidedly about “the other,” not about the complex relationships that entangle us with people we might—especially when acts of murder or torture are involved—prefer to refer to as “them.”

The choice I have made is to directly acknowledge both my discomfort with and my complicity in the violence that I study. The subsequent challenge I face is how to write this way without dipping into the egocentrism that, as my next post will discuss, sometimes plagues writing about ethnographic encounters with violence.


Fassin, Didier. 2014 “True Life, Real Lives: Revisiting the Boundaries Between Ethnography and Fiction.” American Ethnologist 41(1): 40-55.

Nader, Laura. 2011. “Ethnography as Theory.” HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 1(1): 211-219.

Taussig, Michael. 2010. “Viscerality, Faith, and Skepticism: Another Theory of Magic.” Walter Benjamin’s Grave. University of Chicago Press, p. 121-156.

A Question of Politics, not Agency

My as work has an anthropologist in Brazil has drawn me into an historically layered matrix of racial, class-based, and gendered violence that I did not sufficiently understand when I entered the field. I am still working to understand it now. In my previous post I described how, when an off duty police officer held a gun to my temple, he made it impossible for me to claim that I stood fully outside that matrix because I was a light-skinned foreigner. Still, I could not claim that I stood fully within the matrix because I was an anthropologist. The threat I faced was an exceptional moment in my life; such moments were likely to become quotidian to the three little boys who knelt with me in the cane.

In writing about the event, my goal was to foreground the matrix in which the violent encounter I described unfolded and to think through my liminal place within it. While I do assume responsibility for making the event I described possible, I am more interested in examining the larger structures and forces that create the conditions in which violence occurs than I am concerned with assigning individual blame for particular acts of violence.

Admittedly, it would have been expedient to cast myself as an innocent victim of an “other’s” violence. But to me, the more productive question to ask is: How have innocence and complicity become intertwined in a context where murder is too often understood to be an acceptable response to perceived disrespect?

Fractal Kinship: Europe 2016

Political conflict can create deep turmoil within families. Marina lost her only son to fighting in eastern Ukraine. He died while fighting in a Ukrainian airborne division that was attempting to regain territory lost to separatists. The magnitude of this loss becomes more palpable if we consider Marina’s family as a whole: her mother had welcomed the separatists and supported them in their fight. Her sister was politically active and took a leadership position in one of the breakaway republics. So as Marina sees it, her mother and sister helped facilitate the death of her only son.

The EU referendum results have also thrown families into upheaval. The title of a recent article sums it up well “I can barely even look at my parents.” In the aftermath of Britain’s vote to leave the EU, a generation gap between the millennials and the older generation has widened. Young people report having heated arguments with their parents, being hung up on, and even being told to leave Great Britain if it is so wonderful in the EU. A primary issue is that the younger generation has been planning for a future that as a result of the vote to exit the EU, is out of reach. One man summed up his feelings toward his parents by saying “I feel betrayed.”

Photo of maternity ward in Donbas by Olexandr Danylov

Betrayal. It is a commonly used word within families affected by the war in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine as well. I am calling this phenomenon, that seems to be a part of conflict in many places and times, fractal kinship. A fractal is a natural phenomenon or a mathematical set that exhibits a repeating pattern that displays at every scale. Fractals are useful in modeling structures like coastlines and snowflakes, in which similar structures recur at progressively smaller scales.

There are other pertinent examples of fractal kinship in more distant history. Abraham Lincoln warned in 1858 that a “house divided against itself cannot stand.” This notion became part of the American political vocabulary. The American Civil War pitted brother against brother and father against son. As Taylor (2005) points out, the division of families in the Civil War shattered expectations and beliefs about the meaning of family at the time, prompting people to step back and think. Continue reading

Teaching Decolonizing Methodologies

By Paige West

For about a decade I have been teaching a graduate seminar in anthropology at Columbia University called “Decolonizing Methodology” which takes Linda Tuhiwai Smith’s groundbreaking book Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples as its starting point and also draws on other key texts focused on research methodologies specifically (Denzin et. al. 2008; Kovach 2010). In the course we tend to start with Smith’s work and then use her careful analysis to guide us in taking apart the various traditional methodologies that anthropologists tend to rely on in their research and the various theoretical frames that are of-the-moment within the field. This means that the course moves back and forth between “decolonizing methodology” and “decolonizing theory”.

I started teaching the course after my colleague and friend Jamon Halvaksz pointed out that in my first book I failed to engage enough work by scholars from Papua New Guinea, (PNG) where I have worked since 1997, and the broader Pacific region. Halvaksz’s critique helped me to see the colonial nature of my own anthropological practice in terms of the theoretical texts I drew on to make my arguments and produce new knowledge. From that, I also began thinking about how to teach “methods” in a way that fit with Smith’s work and my own experience of doing ethnographic research with communities in PNG that forced me, from the first day of my research, to think about the politics of asking questions, white privilege, the historic role of anthropology in the mis-representation of Papua New Guineans, and what happens when a scholar learns something that she can never write about. Since my research has always focused on engagements between Papua New Guineans and others (scientists, business people, missionaries, tourists) my colleagues and friends from PNG have always pushed me to think carefully about what these outsiders (myself included) take from PNG, give back to PNG, and how they produce PNG through their rhetoric and practice.

I am a white middle class straight cis-gendered woman from a very poor working class background who is the descendant of settlers who illegally and immorally stole land owned by people of the Coosa Chiefdom who is a full tenured professor at a university that is located on land owned by Lenape people. The students tend to be first and second year Ph.D. students (and a few MA students) who come from a range of departments, with the fields of anthropology, urban planning, history, and sociology almost always represented[i]. In the course, in terms of methods, we always focus on ‘participant observation,’ ‘interviews,’ ‘mapping’, ‘oral history’, and various visual projects like ‘filmmaking’ and ‘photography’ since these are generally the methods that the students in the course imagine that they will use during their doctorial field research. In terms of “theory” over the years we have take on “the production of space,” “ontology”, and “bare life”, among others. In the methods part of the course we tend to take a traditional text describing how to do a method and a traditional ethnographic text written from evidence gathered with that method and ‘read’ them through Smith’s arguments about the kinds of colonial artifacts (dispossession, occlusion, erasure, violence) that are smuggled into traditional social-science epistemic practices. Through this process we get to what should really be the beginning, but rarely is with students who are expected to “have a project” when they apply to Ph.D. programs, where the students start to ask themselves about, in Kim TallBear’s phrasing, “the ethics of accountability in research (whose lives, lands, and bodies are inquired into and what do they get out of it?)” (TallBear 2014:1) and how the methods that they have been imagining may not allow them to approach accountability in ways that they find ethical. The students thus begin to think about the binary that has underpinned most of their research-thinking to date. Again, following TallBear, they begin to see, “the binary between researcher and researched—between knowing inquirer and who or what are considered to be the resources or grounds for knowledge production” (TallBear 2014:1) and they begin to understand that truly decolonial work tries to do away with this binary in various ways.

In the theory part of the course we take the most canonical text for any given social-scientific body of thought, read it, and then read it through texts about the same topic written by non-Euro-American-Australian scholars. For example for “space” we might read Henri Lefebvre’s The production of Space (Lefebvre 1991) paired with work by Okusitino Mãhina, a Tongan philosopher of time-space articulations (Mãhina 1992, 1993, 2002, 2010). In the best of worlds what happens next is a similar self-awaking where the students realize that most of the conceptual frames they are using to think with about their proposed projects come not from in situ relations, conversations, ontological propositions, epistemic processes, or exchanges about what needs to be known and what can’t be known, but rather from their own intellectual genealogy and what texts, arguments, and faculty compelled them during their course work or even their undergraduate training.

We then work together, as a group, in pairs, and with multiple meeting between me and each of the students, to re-think their projects, the ethics of accountability involved in them, and how they will proceed in crafting literature reviews that expand their field of epistemic possibilities. It is a great deal of pedagogical labor on my part and a great deal of intellectual labor on their part. Perhaps more importantly however, it involves a fairly serious commitment to letting go on the part of the students and a willingness to craft a new project idea for their preliminary research (remember that most of the students are first and second year students so they have some time before they actually have to do their dissertation research), that puts the ethics of engagement front and center, and allows for a methodology to emerge in co-production with the communities with which they wish to work.

I’ve also taught a version of this course twice in Papua New Guinea. There, I taught the course on a volunteer basis through The Papua New Guinea Institute for Biological Research (PNG IBR) an NGO that I co-founded in the early 2000s with colleagues from PNG and the United States. One of our founding principals is the proposition that the conservation of biological diversity in PNG can only be achieved if Papua New Guineans have full sovereignty over that biological diversity and that that sovereignty has been slowly stripped away by outsiders conducting research and conservation in the country. In PNG the course was made up of people working as researchers for both governmental and non-governmental organizations, people working as researchers for various extractive industries, people working for national cultural institutions, and faculty from various national universities. There we took the specific methodologies that we have all seen used in an endless barrage of social research components of assessments and used Smith’s work to help us re-craft them in ways that make sense for research with communities in PNG.

PWest image

Image: Author with participants of the decolonizing methodology course in PNG (2015).

Teaching the course in the contexts of the US and PNG is always quite different. At Columbia the course is about the individual students, their projects, and the project of moving them through the graduate system so that they emerge as scholars who, for the most part, will become university professors. In PNG the course feels more like a shared project. One in which we are all committed to the same goal (decolonizing epistemic practice as it connects to PNG) and where we are able to connect with non scholars who are equally interested in epistemic practice. For example, in one version of the course the students presented their final projects to a group of elders from the communities surrounding the town where we met. These elders were indigenous, expatriate, and other and the students and I all learned from their critiques of our work.

I think of all of this teaching as a collective, on-going, project where my scholarly practice, I hope, becomes less colonial every time I teach the course. I’ve outlined the course here not because I think it is perfect or even that everyone should teach it, but rather because I think it has helped me and my students to do better, more decolonial anthropology.


Denzin, Norman K., Yvonna S. Lincoln and Linda Tuhiwai Smith 2008. Handbook of Critical and Indigenous Methodologies. Sage Books.

Kovach, Margaret. 2010. Indigenous Methodologies: Characteristics, Conversations and Contexts. University of Toronto Press.

Lefebvre, Henri 1991. The production of space. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

Mãhina, ‘Okusitino 1992. The Tongan Traditional Tala-e-fonua: A Vernacular Ecology-centered Historico-Cultural Concept. Unpublished PhD Thesis. ANU, Canberra.

Mãhina, Okusitino,  1993 The poetics of Tongan traditional history, tala–fonua: An ecology-centred concept of culture and history. Journal of Pacific History 28:109–21.

Mãhina, Okusitino, 2002 Atamai, fakakaukau and vale: Mind, thinking and mental illness in Tonga. Pac-Health-Dialog 9 (2): 303–08.

Mãhina, ‘Okusitino. 2010. Ta, Va, and Moana: Temporality, Spatiality, and Indigeneity.

Smith, Linda Tuhiwai 2012. Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples. New York, NY: Zed Books.

TallBear, Kim. 2014. “Standing With and Speaking as Faith: A Feminist-Indigenous Approach to Inquiry [Research note].” Journal of Research Practice, 10(2), 2014.


[i] For example in a recent year I had twelve students, three of whom identified as Asian-American, one as Chinese (but from Singapore), one as African-American, one as Indian, one as Native American, with the remaining five identifying as white but with one being German and one being Dutch. The previous year there were sixteen students with one identifying as African American, two as Latino, four as white, two as Asian-American, one as Palestinian, one as Native American, one as Peruvian, one as Columbian, one as Pakistani, one as Chinese, and one as Brazilian.


Paige West is Professor of Anthropology at Barnard College and Columbia University. Her broad scholarly interest is the relationship between societies and their environments.  Since the mid 1990s she has worked with indigenous people in Papua New Guinea. She is the author of three books and the editor of five more.Dr. West is the founder of the journal Environment and Society, the chair of the Ecology and Culture University Seminar at Columbia University, a fellow (and past chair) of the Association of Social Anthropology in Oceania, and is the past president of the Anthropology and Environment Society of the American Anthropological Association. In addition to her academic work, Dr. West is the co-founder, and a board member, of the PNG Institute of Biological Research, a small NGO dedicated to building academic opportunities for research in Papua New Guinea by Papua New Guineans. Dr. West is also the co-founder of the Roviana Solwara Skul, a school in Papua New Guinea dedicated to teaching at the nexus of indigenous knowledge and western scientific knowledge. Her website:, you can also follow her on Twitter: @PaigeWestNYC


Anthropologies #22: Some thoughts on food, animals, and anthropology

Here it is: the long-awaited first installment of the anthropologies issue on food. We kick off the issue with a short essay by James Babbitt, who is a graduate student in cultural anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis. Babbitt’s main research interests are animal agriculture and affect in the United States. He is currently confused by the complexities of human-livestock worldings. –R.A.

Right now, I am on a farm in rural New England where hundreds of meat chickens and turkeys are being raised. About a mile down the road is a dairy where a couple dozen cows are milked twice daily. I study animal agriculture in the United States. This summer I am conducting preliminary fieldwork. Animal agriculture is not new to Anthropology. Steven Striffler’s Chicken, Timothy Patchirat’s Every Twelve Seconds, and Alex Blanchette’s article, “Herding Species”, in a recent issue of Cultural Anthropology, are all worth checking out if one is interested in how the majority of meat in America is industrially produced. However, these studies do not look at small-scale production. It is the smaller scale operations that I am most familiar with, having worked as a killer on a small organic chicken farm. But before I discuss, that I will provide a bit of background to flesh out where I am coming from. A good place to begin is vegetarianism.

As a teenager, I was introduced to vegetarianism through punk bands like Propagandi, and was an on and off again vegetarian throughout my twenties. Without punk I probably would have never seriously thought about what I put on my plate and in my mouth. In this I am not alone, for punk seems at least partially responsible for the diets, politics and worldviews of many of my peers. At DIY punk shows there would occasionally be food and it was always vegetarian. To do otherwise would be taboo or heretical. There are a number of great songs about animal rights, animal liberation and vegetarianism/veganism by punk and hardcore bands. My personal favorites are Mob 47’s “Animal Liberation” and “Stop the Slaughter”. Continue reading

Situational Awareness

This morning I was taking notes on my laptop as an officer from the NYPD counter terrorism department’s SHIELD unit gave a room full of academic staff ‘active shooter’ training. As the first video was rolling, he walked over and stood behind me to see what I was typing and almost inaudibly asked the young man from IT who was sitting behind me what I was up to. “She’s taking notes,” he whispered back, loud enough for me to hear. My first instinct was to think that maybe buying a bright red laptop was a bad idea, followed quickly by a wish that I had had enough time before the session to run to my office to drop off my stuff and pick up a notebook. My heart was pounding loudly; this person had taken over my safe space rendering it anxious and forced my body to feel defensive when all I had been doing was taking notes. I did not flinch or acknowledge his existence as he paced around me. Even though I like to pretend it does not matter, I know that it was not the red laptop that was the trigger for his suspicion, but rather my hijab. I watched the screen as Derrick O’Dell told us what he did in 2007 during the Virginia Tech mass shooting. I thought of the many students I taught. I thought of the kids in the neighborhood schools. I thought of my young daughter. I thought about what I could do to make it past an ‘active shooter’, and I realized I would have to have a second plan in place as well: how to make it past law enforcement without them thinking it was me.

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Participant Outsider?

During my first research trip to northeastern Brazil, an off-duty police officer took me and three local homeless boys to the middle of a sugar cane field and held a loaded gun to each of our heads. He thought we had stolen his wallet, which contained three credit cards, a few bills, and his badge. The boys and I insisted upon our innocence and begged for mercy. In the end, we survived because I was eventually able to help the officer recover his belongings.

Until now, I’ve only shared this story with a few of the anthropologists and writers I consider to be trusted friends. So far, people have responded to the tale in one of two ways: Some believe that story affirms the power of white skin and an American (or European) passport to cast a protective shield over researchers who study violence in contexts where the primary victims are poor and black. Others understand the event to have been my Balinese cockfight: a shared moment of danger that not only positioned me as in league with my interlocutors, but also illuminated for me many of the subtle and shifting local relationships between violence and order.
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The Museum of Corruption

During the Revolution of Dignity in Ukraine, protestors streamed into the residence of former President Yanukovich at Mezhyhirya reclaimed it. The hat thief who became Head of State is charged with squandering billions of dollars during his years as President. Ukrainians are still asking how to repair the political culture that made it possible to elect this man.

The Yanukovich estate has been turned into a “Museum of Corruption.” Vans with the “Museum of Corruption” placards fill with passengers on the outskirts of Kyiv about every twenty minutes and careen to the estate where visitors can gawk and repent. Like the Museum of Terror in Budapest that explores fascist and communist terror in Hungary, Yanukovich’s estate exposes the idiocies of modern leadership through bizarre inversions. This is a place where animals lived better than many Ukrainians. Museums of corruption may become a thing of the future: one opened in Thailand in June 2015.

Tourists can leave Ukraine’s Museum of Corruption with souvenirs like refrigerator magnets in the shape of a golden toilet (Yankovich reportedly had golden toilet fixtures) or toilet paper printed with the face of the latest political bad boy.

IMG_1158 IMG_1153

A paradoxical layer here is the humanitarian purpose his estate now serves. People who have been displaced by the war in eastern Ukraine and the occupation of Crimea were granted permission to live here. Yes. This is a good thing, sort of. Continue reading

Danger and the Rio Olympics

[Savage Minds welcomes guest blogger Kristen Drybread.]

The 2016 Olympics in Rio are fast approaching. For the past two months, people I haven’t seen in years—and people I have never even met—have been emailing to ask if I can help them find an affordable and, above all, safe place to stay during the Games. Never mind that I haven’t been to Rio for four years. Never mind that “affordable” and “safe” are relative terms. The assumption is that, having spent several years conducting fieldwork in northeastern Brazilian prisons (most recently in 2014-2015), I’m a better guide to Rio than the Lonely Planet. Continue reading

Around the Web Digest- Black Lives Matter

Hello everyone.

I woke up this morning feeling heavy with sadness. Alton Sterling was killed by police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. A day after Philando Castile was murdered in Falcon Heights, Minnesota by the police. Social media has become a never ending stream of images and text that position black bodies as a moral panic, an echo chamber of violence. The debates over the structures of racism and the police have reached a national arena; we as anthropologists can no longer stand silent.

Instead of a normal Around the Web Digest, I offer readings by anthropologists and critics about the role of the field in dismantling structures of oppression.

Cultural Anthropology offers many readings from a variety of scholars on the intersectionality of Black life in America. Pieces on the experiences of living in constant violence from the state, survival strategies, gendered aspects of policing, international perspectives, and the role of systemic economic disenfranchisement.

Anthropod interviews Yarimar Bonilla, Laurence Ralph, and Mark Auslander on their views of recent #Blacklivesmatter protests.

Shay Akil on Decolonize All The Things criticizes anthropology on it complacency on anti-blackness in academia. Our research and theory will do nothing if it is not translated into practice.

In 2014, we witnessed anthropology face new crossroads in how we contribute to everyday life with coalitions being built across Gaza and Ferguson. I wonder where our discipline stands today with state violence still encroaching in marginalized communities and counter-movements against Black Lives Matter movements.

Here are some earlier resources for teaching from American Ethnologist  about Black Lives Matter protests. (Here) (Here)

Savage Minds has written extensively on the role of racism and anthropology. I compile a list here to better read through.

Not only do anthropologists research these communities, I believe we have the moral responsibility to practice informed activism for these communities in order to heal.

I will return next week with a regularly scheduled digest.

Peace and Love,


Reclaiming Detroit: Decolonizing Archaeology in the Postindustrial City

By Krysta Ryzewski

Detroit moves quickly; issues of scale and pace in a city of this size pose major challenge to contemporary archaeological practice. I’m not sure what a decolonizing archaeology should look like here, but it’s happening nonetheless. It is grassroots. It connects with communities. It shares the skills we have as social scientists with people, places, and collections. The goals are simple – to tell stories that matter, to empower memory, to increase participation, and, hopefully, to spur action against destructive forces of erasure and exclusion. We don’t have the luxury of time and protracted theoretical deliberation on our side; this work is done in a climate of rapid late capitalist development and privatization, where most of places we encounter are at the mercy of irreversible decay from ruination or demolition by developers.
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Around the Web Digest- June 19

Hi everyone! I hope you are enjoying your Tuesday, maybe still recovering from Pride weekend? I have some light readings for the week to aid in your recovery.

The need for queer anthropology only grows in the shadow of Orlando and growing political discourses on queer people around the world. Tamar Shirinian illustrates the intimate relationship between the nation-state and the lives of queer people.

Stem cells still fascinate biologists for their vast potential in medicine and learning about human development. However, stem cell tourism that promises miracle cures across the world is emerging. An emerging issue among medical anthropologists who study medical tourism.

The EU is in peril as the Brexit situation looks more and more uncertain. Simon Roberts reflects on the importance of anthropology in perilous times and the value of ethnography in public policy.

Surfing as metaphor for ethnographic practice. David Whyte offers parallels between the embodied knowledge of surfing in constantly changing environments to the shifting cultural landscapes within ethnographic field work.

Do you want to mix it up a little bit in the fall when teaching classes? Food Anthropology suggests cooking a meal in the tradition of experiential learning?

Sleep vs. Nap vs. Inemuri. When regular sleep patterns are a virtue; why is sleeping in public so prevalent in Japan?

If you are not familiar with the work of Paul Stoller (earlier announced as an inaugural member of the Public Anthropology Institute), here is a video that illustrates the foundational work of Dr. Stoller.

If you have any article that you recommend, please share them with me at

See you next Week!

Introducing the Public Anthropology Institute

By: Faye V. Harrison, Carole McGranahan, Matilda Ostow, Melissa Rosario, Paul Stoller, Gina Athena Ulysse and Maria Vesperi

The massacre in Orlando was just two days before we sat together around a seminar table in an idyllic New England college town. A massacre of forty-nine people out dancing, celebrating life in a gay nightclub called Pulse. They were mostly young, queer, and Latinx. Gone. Already stories had turned to focus on the killer’s motivations. Was this primarily homophobic homegrown terrorism or the machinations of the Islamic State? We were meeting at Wesleyan University in Connecticut to discuss the creation of the Public Anthropology Institute (PAI) and contemplate ways to use our scholarly knowledge of cultural difference for greater service globally. Given the disheartening public debate in this moment reminiscent of Dickens’ best and worst of times, we were convinced that this work is necessary in the face of such violence and hate.

Creating PAI at Wesleyan University, June 2016
Creating PAI at Wesleyan University, June 2016

For too long anthropologists have retreated into the minutia of arcane disciplinary debate even when our knowledge can make a difference. It can be intellectually stimulating and important to turn inward, but conversations among ourselves cannot be the only ones we have. We also need to create work with a larger impact and a longer reach. As scholars who have studied across the global south and thought deeply about geopolitics, poverty, social and economic inequality, racism, homophobia, sexism and climate change, we believe it is time to reconnect with the obligation to produce knowledge that makes the world a better place. As the stakes get higher, anthropological perspectives can make critical, unexpected connections and offer direction beyond the logic of dominant assumptions. Continue reading

The Anthro/Zine strikes back!

Anthro/Zine, a venue for undergraduate publication from the team behind Anthropology Now, has entered its second year of publication. The premise behind the project is to provide a space for college students to reflect on how anthropology, in all its myriad forms, has touched their lives. As editor I have been completely blown away by the quality and creativity of our submissions which have included not only essay, but also art, poetry, photography, fiction, and what I call “briefs” — very short pieces. There are now four issues, open access and CC-BY, available at the link above. Check out our latest issue below!

Anthro/Zine publishes April, September, and December coinciding with each new issue of Anthropology Now. If you are a student or recent college graduate and would like to make a submission of some sort that is relevant to anthropology then we would like very much to see what you have to offer. We are most interested in seeing work that is creative, personal, and short. Original research is welcome but we do not publish term papers. Do not submit to us what you have given your professor, your peers are your audience here. Reflect on what you have already accomplished and tell us about your experience of encountering anthropology.

A/Z is not a venue for graduate students, however it is appropriate for grads to submit their work directly to Anthropology Now, please see their guidelines here.

Students or faculty with questions can reach me at, if you would like your work considered for the September issue than make your submission by August 1.

Click on the cover or the hyperlink below to download a pdf of our latest issue:


Anthro/Zine | April 2016Anthro/Zine | April 2016

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