Comments for Savage Minds http://savageminds.org Notes and Queries in Anthropology Sat, 01 Aug 2015 06:13:53 +0000 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.3 Comment on VISUAL TURN IV: People and Stuff– A Conversation with Keith M. Murphy (2/2) by johnmccreery http://savageminds.org/2015/07/29/visual-turn-iv-people-and-stuff-a-conversation-with-keith-m-murphy-22/comment-page-1/#comment-837965 Sat, 01 Aug 2015 06:13:53 +0000 http://savageminds.org/?p=17501#comment-837965 Lindsay, thank you again for introducing me to Keith’s book Swedish Design: An Ethnography. It is, indeed, a gem. I must admit that I was a bit disturbed when early on Keith introduced Deleuze and Guattari’s “Diagram”, heteroglossia, and Foucault’s “heterotopia” as key theoretical concepts. What I would like to point out here is that in Keith’s hands these become far more than examples of pomo jargon. They inspire and inform the substance of the ethnography, thickening the description and making it more compelling as well.

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Comment on Good bye (and good riddance) to Human Terrain System by Sparapet http://savageminds.org/2015/07/08/good-bye-and-good-riddance-to-human-terrain-system/comment-page-1/#comment-837962 Fri, 31 Jul 2015 20:26:21 +0000 http://savageminds.org/?p=17339#comment-837962 As a card carrying AAA member and a US Army combat officer, I had the distinct displeasure of witnessing this argument from the inside of both camps. Both sides engage in grotesque mockery of the intelligence and sincerity of the other.

The Anthro club forgets that it does not exist in this society called “humans” that is set apart from the civilization that they inhabit. Nor do they realize that their efforts in acquiring and advancing knowledge and understanding of humanity is, to borrow a business term, intellectual capital of their society and not the reserve of the supranational Anthro Guild (I hope my mocking tone is coming through!). American society, and western civilization, should no less expect to use social science knoweldge and expertise in advancing its policy aims as it expects to use engineering or chemistry. And frankly, we should want it used as it gives tools for more sophisticated and nuanced decision making.

The military has some perverse notions as well. It understood quickly that it had a deficit in its institutional knowledge it needed to fill with the social sciences. But it, uninformed by academia and under the influence of its bureaucratizing tendencies, gave birth to the curiousity that was the HTT. An aimless organization designed to be a plug-and-play tool for discreet missions. Except nothing about understanding (versus knowing) is plug-and-play. The social scientists should have been used as special staff advisors to the commanders and staffs who could be called upon to weigh in on the entire spectrum of activities to help those men and women understand their environments and reason through impacts of their policy decisions. Instead they were used on silly atmospherics expeditions, which were little more than aimless and unrefined intelligence collections.

Having worked closely with HTT members as a combat leader (in Iraq), I saw their earnest desire to be useful and their belief that they offered a unique and valuable perspective. I also saw a military organization that hadn’t a clue as to how to use them, seeing them as a tool. Alas, a tool is usually tailored to a specific use; a use they could never quite find (not to mention they designed the tool before finding that use). And so the HTTs labored on…sometimes finding a place to be useful, often not. And the Anthro community relaxed and patted itself on the back for their “ethical win”, completey forgetting that by wittholding their support they all but ensured uninformed decision making that actually impacted human beings alive on earth today. So yeah…….yay!

The whole thing is a sad spectacle of small minds, on all sides.

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Comment on Visual Turn II: Teaching to Take Stock by Krista Harper (@KristaMHarper) http://savageminds.org/2015/07/15/visual-turn-ii-teaching-to-take-stock/comment-page-1/#comment-837955 Fri, 31 Jul 2015 15:15:22 +0000 http://savageminds.org/?p=17370#comment-837955 Lindsay, thank you so much for this series–you are bringing together so many of the things I have been wondering about in the past two years as I have taught ethnographic methods. The 1990s were all about interrogating anthropologists “writing culture,” but we have moved into a new place. We are turning to design and new forms of communication to engage research participants and non-academic audiences–and most of us were trained to be text-centric social scientists, so we are learning as we go.

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Comment on Visual Turn I: Artistic and Infrastructural Frictions by VISUAL TURN IV: People and Stuff– A Conversation with Keith M. Murphy (2/2) | Savage Minds http://savageminds.org/2015/07/09/visual-turn-i-artistic-and-infrastructural-frictions/comment-page-1/#comment-837934 Wed, 29 Jul 2015 15:42:43 +0000 http://savageminds.org/?p=17343#comment-837934 […] not design or aesthetic/cultural production. For instance, we’ve talked about the debates in the infrastructure literatures that rely heavily on the issue of materiality and what is tangible and seen and what is […]

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Comment on VISUAL TURN III: Anthropology of/by Design — A Conversation with Keith M. Murphy (1/2) by VISUAL TURN IV: People and Stuff– A Conversation with Keith M Murphy (2/2) | Savage Minds http://savageminds.org/2015/07/21/visual-turn-iii-anthropology-ofby-design-an-interview-with-keith-m-murphy/comment-page-1/#comment-837933 Wed, 29 Jul 2015 15:42:00 +0000 http://savageminds.org/?p=17425#comment-837933 […] a previous post, I described the process of an ‘Ethnocharrette’ – essentially a strategy that incorporates […]

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Comment on Dying in the Age of Facebook by [BLOG] Some Monday links | A Bit More Detail http://savageminds.org/2015/07/26/dying-in-the-age-of-facebook/comment-page-1/#comment-837929 Mon, 27 Jul 2015 21:53:40 +0000 http://savageminds.org/?p=17474#comment-837929 […] Minds considers death in the era of […]

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Comment on Good bye (and good riddance) to Human Terrain System by Matt Dearing http://savageminds.org/2015/07/08/good-bye-and-good-riddance-to-human-terrain-system/comment-page-1/#comment-837928 Mon, 27 Jul 2015 15:01:10 +0000 http://savageminds.org/?p=17339#comment-837928 For a less cynical view of the program and its value, see our Foreign Policy article, “Research Returns From War” http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/07/23/research-returns-from-war/

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Comment on The new AnthroSource is fantastic! Here’s why I won’t be using it. by John McCreery http://savageminds.org/2015/07/22/the-new-anthrosource-is-fantastic-heres-why-i-wont-be-using-it/comment-page-1/#comment-837921 Sat, 25 Jul 2015 23:48:06 +0000 http://savageminds.org/?p=17439#comment-837921 Michael, I didn’t at all have in mind “large official or semi-official networks.” True to the traditions of social network analysis my focus here is on informal, personal networks. In the case I described, I find myself at the intersection of several networks, academic anthropologists I have encountered here and on Keith Hart’s Open Anthropology Cooperative, business and design anthropologists with whom I have built connections by attending an EPIC conference in Tokyo, International Conferences on Applications of Anthropology in Business in China, sociologists I have met on SocNet and Sociological Imagination, mathematicians I have gotten to know through other channels. I regularly scan sites like Arts&Letter Daily, Quanta, and Nautilus, subscribe to John Brockman’s Edge site and have my ZITE account set to point me to stories in fields like art, photography, and medieval history. None of these connections provide the deep dive that Google Scholar can help with once I know what I’m looking for. What they do for me is support what pilots call “situational awareness,” a sense of what is going on around me to which a conventional disciplinary focus would blind me. I frequently discover that all sorts of people are thinking about topics that my anthropologist friends think are specific to anthropology and have interesting things to say about them. I think about my model Victor Turner and how his search for ideas led him to sources like Norse sagas and Dante, I.W. Thomas and Florian Znaniecki, Freud and Kennth Burke as well as Malinowski, Radcliffe-Brown and other British anthropologists.

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Comment on The new AnthroSource is fantastic! Here’s why I won’t be using it. by mesmith9 http://savageminds.org/2015/07/22/the-new-anthrosource-is-fantastic-heres-why-i-wont-be-using-it/comment-page-1/#comment-837916 Sat, 25 Jul 2015 15:18:52 +0000 http://savageminds.org/?p=17439#comment-837916 @John – I agree completely that networks like this are great for new ideas, new works, and for many things! But for me, large official, or semi-official, networks have been a complete bust. I have tried setting up things like this in the past (one for Mesoamericanists in the northeast, one for archaeologists working on early urbanism), and found mostly apathy and a lack of willingness to participate or create. I joined H-Urban (from the H-Net series of networks in history), and for a couple of years it was interesting intellectually, with good discussions about many issues and lots or recommendations about publications and ideas. But it has really declined in the past couple of years. The last few queries I have posted, looking for ideas, went unanswered and most posts are notices looking for people to participate in sessions on things like masculinities in nineteen century Eastern European cities. My own informal networks are very useful and productive, but these tend to be small groups of colleagues working on a single project or closely related projects.

I wish there existed the kinds of networks you mention that relate to my interests. Here is a question for the sociology of science people: why do some disciplines or topics have productive official, or semi-official online networks, while other disciplines are barren in this area ?

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Comment on Vale Jack Goody by A. J. West (@AlWest13) http://savageminds.org/2015/07/21/vale-jack-goody/comment-page-1/#comment-837890 Thu, 23 Jul 2015 06:45:42 +0000 http://savageminds.org/?p=17420#comment-837890

Both Radcliffe-Brown and Malinowski had argued that it was a generalizing science, and comparative: Part of a larger sort of sociology but not (for some vague but extremely important reason) something to be merged into a sociology department.

I don’t think the reasoning was all that vague. The idea was that non-industrial, non-literate, and non-state societies are different to industrial/literate/state societies – different enough that conclusions that might be valid for understanding the latter might not apply to the former, and vice versa, or at the very least different enough that different methods need to be employed in making sense of them.

I don’t think this is such a bad idea. It actually seems pretty sensible, in terms of the division of labour. The trouble with it is more the terminology earlier anthropologists used to describe it: ‘savage’ vs ‘modern’, etc.

This was really good stuff, Rex. And I really liked your review of Eriksen’s book on Barth.

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Comment on The new AnthroSource is fantastic! Here’s why I won’t be using it. by mesmith9 http://savageminds.org/2015/07/22/the-new-anthrosource-is-fantastic-heres-why-i-wont-be-using-it/comment-page-1/#comment-837889 Thu, 23 Jul 2015 05:35:00 +0000 http://savageminds.org/?p=17439#comment-837889 I consider it a fun challenge to get the results I need out of Google-Scholar. In fact, it is my favorite displacement activity. I don’t find much of interest in the anthropological literature on the topics I work on these days. I do occasionally wonder “what are anthropologists saying about topic X?”, but it is more about satisfying my curiosity than about finding useful papers. In the process of doing wider searches on G-Scholar, relevant work by anthropologists does turn up (e.g., that’s how I found David Mosse’s papers on collective action and inequality), so I don’t feel I am avoiding or being shut out of the anthropological literature. I guess if one has a strong disciplinary orientation then it makes a difference about the usefulness or biases of AnthroSource. By my reaction is, “Who cares?” I am addicted to Google-Scholar.

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Comment on The new AnthroSource is fantastic! Here’s why I won’t be using it. by John McCreery http://savageminds.org/2015/07/22/the-new-anthrosource-is-fantastic-heres-why-i-wont-be-using-it/comment-page-1/#comment-837888 Thu, 23 Jul 2015 05:28:36 +0000 http://savageminds.org/?p=17439#comment-837888 Good comments all. I do, however, note one missing possibility, the use of human networks extended by the Internet. Personally, I am enjoying a very good day because searching for interesting material for a piece I am working on for the Journal of Business anthropology, I turned to the AnthroDesign list, described the project, and asked what my colleagues there would recommend. The results include two important and stimulating articles that I would never have discovered with an automated search for “x y z anthropology.” I have had similar experiences with queries posted on SocNet, where social network analysts hang out. Why be confined by a model that assumes a lone scholar searching the stacks of an infinitely extended by digital technology library? Why not begin by identifying interesting people working on similar topics and start by asking them what they would recommend.

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Comment on The new AnthroSource is fantastic! Here’s why I won’t be using it. by Kerim http://savageminds.org/2015/07/22/the-new-anthrosource-is-fantastic-heres-why-i-wont-be-using-it/comment-page-1/#comment-837887 Thu, 23 Jul 2015 04:41:41 +0000 http://savageminds.org/?p=17439#comment-837887 Surely knowing something about what one’s own colleagues are saying on a subject is a good starting point for research and doesn’t preclude looking elsewhere as well? The problem is that AnthroSource as it now exists doesn’t really provide that information, unless you only care about work done in the US, which seems to be a strange way to define the discipline. But Google Scholar is not a perfect solution either. I find that Google Scholar search results have a very strange notion of “relevance” with regard to the research I conduct. Not only does it exclude a lot of relevant search results I find using more specialized search engines like Wiley and JSTOR, but it is also much more “noisy.” For instance, when searching for research on indigenous Taiwanese one gets a lot of hits for medical research, but a recent anthropological paper on the subject might not show up. I’ve found ways of creating filters to force Google Scholar to be more relevant (e.g. excluding a lot of medical terms from my search), but it isn’t perfect. One needs to conduct multiple searches on multiple search engines, and specialized search engines have an important place in such a multi-pronged strategy.

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Comment on The new AnthroSource is fantastic! Here’s why I won’t be using it. by mesmith9 http://savageminds.org/2015/07/22/the-new-anthrosource-is-fantastic-heres-why-i-wont-be-using-it/comment-page-1/#comment-837886 Thu, 23 Jul 2015 03:43:09 +0000 http://savageminds.org/?p=17439#comment-837886 I have always been puzzled about why someone would use AnthroSource instead of Google-Scholar. I guess if you want only anthropology (and an odd subset of anthropology, as Kerim notes), and don’t care about other disciplines, AnthroSource might be useful. But why would one want to ignore other disciplines?

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Comment on The new AnthroSource is fantastic! Here’s why I won’t be using it. by Lindsay Bell http://savageminds.org/2015/07/22/the-new-anthrosource-is-fantastic-heres-why-i-wont-be-using-it/comment-page-1/#comment-837885 Wed, 22 Jul 2015 18:27:51 +0000 http://savageminds.org/?p=17439#comment-837885 As editors, we got word today that the launch email is en route. This update is much needed. I think it will hopefully bring traffic to smaller journals like North American Dialogue.

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