Category Archives: Open thread

Anthropological New Year's Resolutions

All day today has felt like Sunday, but really its Wednesday. I can’t say that New Year’s Day or making resolutions is a big thing for me. I think the last resolution I made was a few years ago. I said I would go to a play at the community theater that is one block away from my house and I never went. Still haven’t been!

Why write a blog post about making resolutions in anthropology? My kids are playing with their Kindles they got for Christmas so I have a moment alone. So why not?!

  1. Finish what you started. Last summer I was going to read Frazer’s Golden Bough and didn’t even make it half-way. I’m gonna finish that! And I’m going to stop picking up projects and not see them through to the end.

  2. I’m going to begin designing a website for my Master’s thesis in Information Science at UTenn. If I work on it a little bit every day its going to look awesome by the start of the fall semester. By this time next year I want to be ready to write up the thesis.

  3. The AAA’s are in DC and I’m going to go! I can’t really afford to go to conferences anymore, but DC is as close as they come. Maybe I’ll do a paper on my MA thesis project and maybe I’ll host some DANG event.

Okay, kids are all up in my face now. It’s the last vacation day before they’re back to school so I’m going to go play with them.

What are you going go to do with your year?

Anthropology: The landmark books

Last year I posted an open thread called “Anthropology: Five Books,” in which I asked readers to list the five books they feel best represent the discipline.  The responses were great.  I think it’s time to try another open thread along similar lines, but let’s take a bit of a different route.  During that last thread, I asked about books that both represent anthropology and appeal to general readers.  This time, let’s talk about the books that form your own personal anthropological canon.

Where did this idea come from?  I was just reading Eric Wolf’s “Pathways of Power,” which has a really fascinating intellectual autobiography (the introduction of the book).  Wolf lists three “landmark books” that he read early in his career that had tremendous impact upon his thinking:

The first was Karl Wittfogel’s Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft Chinas (1931), an extraordinary, ecologically oriented study of the Chinese economy, which dissented from the view that China was merely feudal and saw it instead as an instance of the Asiatic-bureaucracy mode of production.  The second was Paul Sweezy’s The Theory of Capitalist Development (1942), which helped me systematize my understandings of Marxian political economy.  The third was C.L.R. James’s The Black Jacobins (1938), on the slave rebellions of Haiti in the wake of the French Revolution, one of the first attempts to write a history of a people supposedly “without history.”

So, following Wolf’s example, what are YOUR three landmark books?  What are the three books that most influenced how you think about, and practice, anthropology?  It might also be interesting to talk about the differences between books that have wide appeal, and those that have tremendous, long-lasting influence within the field.

Sunday Open Thread: Not enough anthropology?

I tried an open thread here on SM a while back, and it worked out pretty well.  Time for another one?   Let’s give it a go.

So…a couple of readers have posted new comments (here and here) about the content here on SM.  They argue that there has been a bit too much coverage of issues relating to academia, and not enough anthropology.  One reader asked us: “Where’s the beef?”

What say you readers?  Too much about academia and not enough anthropology?

Feel free to share your thoughts, and also post comments and links about all things anthropology on your mind.

Sunday Open Thread

A few of us here at Savage Minds have rolled around the idea of doing more Open Threads every now and again.  So I figured we’d try one out today and see what happens.  So here goes: This is a place to post your anthropologically-related links, comments, questions, and so on.  If there’s an issue that you think we Savage Minds need to know about, post it.  If you have heard of some new fascinating research, post it.  If there are some world events that you think speak to anthropology, post away.  If you went to a garage sale and found a vintage book by Franz Boas, I want to hear about this.  Also, if you have been a long time SM reader, but have never dared post a comment, this is a good place to get your digital feet wet.  Try it out.  It’s fun.

Ok, let’s see what happens.  Post away!  In the mean time, I’ll leave you with a few odds and ends from the “news and other stuff at least tangentially-related to anthropology” file just to break the ice here a bit. Continue reading

Name and Mission Statement – Open Thread

In this post I’d like to invite readers to contribute to a statement of purpose for our proposed “Digital Anthropology” group. The statement should be simple and concise, broad enough to allow some wiggle room but sufficiently narrow that it is clear how we are different.

Currently we are envisioning a group that, like a human brain, is divided into two hemispheres — one inside the AAA and one on the outside. The group will be dues free and without a budget or elected officers. This organizational structure is not set in stone and may change in the near or distant future as the needs of the group dictate.

We are also looking for a name that is authentic and catchy, but not ephemeral. It should convey to other anthropologists in an instant who we are and what we do without being confusing or overwhelming.

Input on a mission statement will be of great benefit to our working group as we collaborate this month to draw up something formal to share with you here and on Neuroanthropology. After we get enough nominations for the name, maybe we could put it up for a vote somehow.

With gratitude,
//Matt

Open thread on the AAA conference program

Saturday morning, coffee on the couch. Children contentedly playing elsewhere. I browse the AAA conference program and day dream about knockin’ em dead. My paper (not yet written) amazes the discussant and he insists on including it in his upcoming edited volume. Employers come out of the audience wanting to shake my hand.

Then I recall the three children I’m supposed to be watching. The house I’m supposed to be cleaning before company comes. I remember all the papers I need to grade. And the AN column submission I need to return with edits. And the Around the Web entry I need to write. And the guests we’re having over tomorrow. Oh “race” and American Indians paper, I will not forget you!

Back to the program. I see that everything is as it should be with the event scheduling. All the important things I really HAVE TO DO are all scheduled at the same time. Check! At the conference itself we will no doubt find that the best panels are in the smallest rooms and the ballroom panels are sparsely attended. This is a law of nature. We do not challenge it.

Today I look forward to the conference with great anticipation! There is so much potential, the day is there just waiting to be seized! At the actual conference I will probably drink way too much caffeine and alcohol, get lonely and frustrated, and impatiently run out the clock until its time to get back on the plane and come home. I’ll probably get sick shortly thereafter.

But today is today and I’m going back to the AAA’s for the first time since (checks CV)… 2007. Yeah, I haven’t been to the “big one” since DC. So it’s not my favorite conference to be honest, but my friends will be there and SANA will be there and its in New Orleans so that’s a big plus. A major plus actually.

S.M. readers: Here’s an open thread about the AAA’s. Use the comments section too…
-plug your panel
-discuss another panel
-plug a party, event, or other gathering
-discuss the attractions of New Orleans
-network ahead of the conference

What are you look forward to/ dreading about the 2010 AAA’s in New Orleans?

AAA Open Thread

Attending this year’s AAA conference in Philadelphia? Use this thread to tell us about any papers you are giving, special events you are organizing, or to find a place to stay.