Happy 2014 everyone! We have a number of improvements and expansions planned for Savage Minds that we’ll roll out as the year goes forward. Today I’m announcing the first one: we will be revamping the comments policy on our site.
For years we’ve felt that the comments section of the blog were, well, toxic is pretty much the word that comes to mind. We never really had a solution to this problem because different Minds had different senses of how severe the problem was, and because solutions took cycles that most of us didn’t have. This semester, however, I am finally taking the plunge and am dedicating myself full-time to moderating all comments.
My goal is to create a vibrant, civil, inclusive space where genuine discussion about anthropology can occur, and where anyone — professor, grad student, or random passer-by — can participate. Creating this community has always been central to our vision of the blog, but had fallen by the wayside. We’re bringing it back.
In the next week I’ll be announcing a new comment policy. We’re still working out the kinks, but essentially, I will personally be moderating all SM posts. Every commentor will have to register with our site, and all comments will be moderated by me before they are posted. I am also planning to ask for a volunteer/intern to work with me on comment moderation, as well as other aspects of the site. There’ll be endless thanks (and a letter of recommendation) for the person who comes on board to help.
I’ll be posting more of this soon. If you want to provide comments about the new comment policy before it comes into effect, now’s your chance.
As many of you know, our blog title comes from Lévi-Strauss’s book Pensée Sauvage, translated in English as The Savage Mind, but which is a pun on the French word for “wild pansies” (viola tricolor). We are now working on a redesign of our website and I’ve been spending a lot of my time searching Google for good images of wild pansies that we could use for our banner.
The image on the blog sidebar right now is the one that was on the cover of Lévi-Strauss’s book. It is by Pierre-Joseph Redouté. Unfortunately, it seems impossible to find high-resolution scans of this image in the public-domain. I have found some other botanical illustrations that I like, but was still looking when I discovered the work of Count Franz Pocci, who painted this delightful painting, which I just had to share with everyone:
Anthropologists like to say that we cover the whole world, the entirety of human experience in all places and times. But that doesn’t always translate into global conversations about anthropology and its findings. Questions of access to published research often get in the way, as do language barriers. As we close 2013, we take an inside look at who is reading Savage Minds—this U.S.-based, English-language group anthropology blog.
Our #1 audience is in the U.S.A. While this is no surprise, the global list of readers does include some surprises, and offers a particularly situated view into who is reading anthropology around the world—from Argentina (#35 on our list) to Zambia (#113). Continue reading →
Since restoring the old site was taking so long, we took the plunge and paid WordPress.com the $100 to be able to use our old domain here, it also gets rid of the ads which were bothering us. (We’ve always been ad-free.) We still haven’t been able to restore our old posts, and we are still working on moving the site to our own self-hosted account, but all that will take much longer than we thought. Till then, we didn’t feel it was necessary to constantly advertise that this was a temporary site. If you have any problems using the site as a result of the changes, please let us know.
Way back in 2001, when blogging was a new thing, and I was crawling around the web to figure out if there were any other anthropologists using this new medium, one man stood out. Oneman actually, or as he is known around here: Dustin. Dustin hasn’t been blogging much lately, but I wanted to take this opportunity to congratulate him on his latest career move. When people ask about graduate school in anthropology I usually tell them that while you might not get an academic job, anthropologists usually find interesting work outside of academia.
Dustin has written some of our most popular posts on issues of gender and body image. Since he still seems to pop up for about one post a year here on Savage Minds, maybe one day he’ll find the time to write about the anthropology of the burlesque…
Savage Minds is happy to announce that guest blogger Carole McGranahan (Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Colorado) will be joining us as a full time blogger. Please join us in giving her a warm welcome.
It’s been a great, tumultuous seven years. Although regular readers may not know it, behind the scenes we at Savage Minds have contemplated closing down the blog numerous times, mostly because it is so much trouble to keep posting things to it. But blogging is a habit that’s hard to quit, and so we stumble on.
In this past year the blog has become weirdly hegemonic in anthropology, despite the large number of better things out there being written by other authors. I was talking to someone recently who was afraid they detected a lack of quality in ‘SM’s usual high standards’ and were worried the blog was going down hill. This, to me, indicated that they has not read anything from our first three years! While we soldier on the anthropological noosphere keeps getting bigger and better, filled with more journals, blogs, occasional papers, and social networks. Its gratifying.
Most gratifying for me, however, has been working with the other Minds on this site. I probably lay eyes on Kerim or Celty once every two years, and so I’m always amazed that when we do sit down together we find that we really have become close friends. Even if SM can’t take credit for the development of anthropology’s online community, it definitely has created — no kidding — friendships that are set to last a lifetime. I’m quite happy in our little silo, and I hope regular readers have enjoyed the past year as much as I have.
Just writing to send two quick thanks out to the anthropological blogosphere. First, on behalf of myself and all the other Minds here at SM I wanted to say thanks to all our readers for voting us their favorite anthropology blog for 2011. I understand that 75 votes may not be a totally representative sample of Teh Internetz, but it’s nice to receive the honor. We hope in future years we are totally blown out of the water by some of the other great anthropology blogs that have sprung up on line — it’s great to see the anthropological community grow.
Second, I wanted to thank Jason over at Anthropology Report for running the survey and for the bang-up job he’s been doing keeping us up to date with the goings-on of the blogosphere. No matter how many aggregators and algorithms you have, there is no substitute for a human filter, and anthropology has long needed a blogger who has made our online community his ‘beat’. Various people — us, Neuroanthropology, antropologi.info and so forth — have done this to some extent or another, but it’s never gotten the attention its deserved, so I’m very excited to see someone take this on. What I take to be Jason’s two beats — covering the blogosphere and connecting popular audiences to academic anthropology — are really valuable. He’s on my short list of feeds to read, so maybe he belongs on yours as well?
Once again, thanks everyone and here’s looking forward to a richly anthropological 2012.
It just occurred to me that two amazing things happened in Ryan’s post about Wasting Away In Grantlandia. First, I find it sort of amazing that someone could write a post asking for advice how to apply for grants and then have the readership, which includes people who have actually doled grants out, offer advice. Maybe this happens regularly on other blogs in other fields, but I don’t remember seeing it before — especially in anthropology. Grantsmanship is usually the sort of thing discussed at secretive graduate seminars and even then grad students are given advice about how to apply, rather than being told what it is like to actually judge the damn things. I don’t know — it just struck me that this sort of instant, true feedback on the topic of grants is pretty unusual.
The second amazing thing is the same as the first: a grad student wrote a blog post and then tenured professors left comments in the margins. Usually this goes in reverse order: professors write books, articles, lectures, and so forth, and then the graduate students get to leave some feedback, if they are lucky. On SM, the grad students have a chance to be front and center
There are lots of websites on the Internet that do a better job of building community than Savage Minds, I’m sure, and we still have a long way to go to really do what we want the site to do. I just mention these two things to point out something that suddenly struck me as unusual and valuable about the site.
I write a lot about graduate school and graduate student life — mostly because I’m responsible for training graduate students myself, which has forced me to figure out… well… what to tell graduate students to do. As a result, my thinking out loud on the blog has mostly been for my own sake, as I try to present my best approximation of the advice that I’d like to give people and the state of my thoughts at the present moment. I was really, psyched, therefore, to get an email from an SM reader who I’d corresponded with briefly who had actually followed some of that advice and successfully gotten into a graduate school they really wanted to go to. Lordy — it works! It’s always nice to know that your online ruminations actually amount to a hill of beans, or at least take the form of a metaphorical bean which, along with others, presents a hill on which future anthropologists can climb climb climb until they reach that Ph.D. program in the sky. Of course it’s also nice to know when you’ve done something to totally screw people up as well. So just a reminder — if you find SM useful, feel free to let us know either via email or in comments.
Just a quick note to announce that Ryan Anderson, who recently guest blogged on Savage Minds, will be joining us full-time.
We will also be making some other changes here with regard to how we handle guest bloggers, hopefully making it easier to have more guest bloggers. Ryan will be the last one who gets a special introduction. Instead, you will see short bios at the bottom of all posts on the blog. (If you are looking at an individual post rather than the front page of the site you should see this below.) We also hope to have more former guest bloggers stick around like Zoë, popping in to do an occasional post now and then when the mood strikes them. Expect to see these changes rolled out over the summer. Of course, even as we open up to new voices, we intend to keep the same high standards. Know someone you’d like to see blogging on Savage Minds? Feel free to contact us, or leave a suggestion in the comments.
Eventually we might get around to adding “like” box to the website, but for now you can just go here. Liking us will allow you to keep up with both new posts and twitter posts via your Facebook account.
Ryan Anderson is currently a third year cultural anthropology graduate student at the University of Kentucky. His dissertation research focuses on the politics and conflicts that pervade tourism development in Baja California Sur. Before anthropology, Ryan spent several years studying and practicing photography and working toward a career in the fine art world. Then he came to his senses and took up anthropology. After his initial training in archaeology (which is still ingrained in his thinking to this day), Ryan eventually found his way to cultural anthropology.
For his guest posts on Savage Minds Ryan will focus on some of the relationships between anthropology and photography–methodological, political, theoretical, and otherwise. He writes:
I started off studying photography before I eventually gravitated to anthropology, and I am constantly looking for ways to bring the two together. In fact, that’s the long term plan. For my posts I would like to explore some of the issues with using photography in anthropological contexts.
Thanks to Julian, our recent guest-bloggger for a lovely series of thought-provoking posts!
We have two kinds of guest bloggers at Savage Minds, regular guest bloggers who are given their own accounts to do a series of posts on a “theme” over a two week period. Julian’s posts can be all be found here. A full list of all past and future Savage Minds authors can be found in the footer.
We also have “occasional contributors” who write single posts now and then, but who don’t have their own accounts. These posts are posted under the accounts of whomever on Savage Minds invited that person to post. (Like this recent entry by Jenny Cool, posted under Adam’s account.) These posts are all in the “occasional contributions” category. Sometimes we forget to add the category, so don’t hesitate to remind us!
Finally, the list of “full-time” Savage Minds authors is on our “authors” page, including links to their home pages. Many of us are also on Twitter, and you can see the full list by looking at who is being “followed” by the official Savage Minds Twitter feed.
Have a suggestion for a guest blogger? Let us know in the comments!
I’d like to extend a warm welcome to our new guest blogger, Julian Brash. Julian’s research and teaching interests lie at the intersection of anthropology, geography, and urban studies. His recent book, “Bloomberg’s New York: Class and Governance in the Luxury City,” focuses on how Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s corporate and technocratic approach to urban governance fared in the contentious arena of New York City development politics. Julian is an assistant professor of Anthropology at Montclair State University.
While guest blogging at Savage Minds, Julian will discuss some or all of the following topics: his book, urban governance in the United States, urban imaginaries, the cultural politics of class, New York City, “studying up,” what the super-rich are up to when they become involved in politics and government, professionals and politics, interdisciplinarity, and what it means for a project to be “anthropological” (or not).