When it comes to application and publicity, anthropologists are in a bit of a bind. On the one hand they want to be ‘applied’ (typically: implement their left-populist agenda) and ‘public’ (be found fascinating by a wide readership). At the same time, they fear collaboration with sources of power (curtailing implementation options) and don’t want their work to be considered exotic, titillating, or otherwise interesting to the public. Walking the line between accessibility and exoticism, engagement and cooptation, can be tricky.
And then there is “Bella Ellwood-Clayton, sexual anthropologist”:http://www.drbella.com.au/. Ellwood-Clayton got written up “some time ago at Antropologi.info”:http://www.antropologi.info/blog/anthropology/anthropology.php?p=2836&more=1&c=1&tb=1&pb=1 because her work is open access. But I think the site, and her career, might take the prize as the most public, applied anthropologist that I’ve seen in quite some time.
She “treks through mud and sleeps with pigs to discover traditional tattooing practices in the jungle”:http://www.drbella.com.au/film.html. She “writes poetry”:http://www.drbella.com.au/poems.html. She is “multiply-orgasmic”:http://www.drbella.com.au/Articles/25AUG06ThebigO.pdf (link to PDF of a relationship column — sfw). And of course she also “publishes about cell phones”:http://www.drbella.com.au/anthro.html.
I am not quite sure what I think of Ellwood-Clayton’s website, or the way that she is spinning her career. But I have to admit that in an era when anthropologists spend more time arguing about what they can do to become relevant than becoming relevant, it is sort of refreshing to see someone hanging out their shingle in a highly… shall we say… unambivalent way. Carrie Bradshaw, move over.