Around the Web

Welcome to the first web round up of 2011, let’s hit the links!

Working and productivity

Public or popular anthropology?

  • One thing I’ve been considering lately is how the recent calls for “public” anthropology can over lap with the “popular.” talks to Jane Goodall about what makes good, popular science writing.

“Science,” again

Urban Geography


Huckleberry Finn

  • Earlier this month there was a scuffle over the publication of a new edition of Huckleberry Finn with the word “nigger” replaced with “slave”, “Injun” replaced with “Indian”, and “half-breed” with “half-blood.” It provoked considerable debate over the value of the editor’s motives – to make Twain’s classic more accessible – as opposed to the whitewashing of history. Racialicious collects links and quotes on the controversy here.
  • Also this month the new Congress was sworn in and the 2011 legislative season begun. The new House majority marked the occasion with a ceremonial reading of the Constitution, but leaving out references to slavery and other passages superseded by amendments. A practice Slate directly related to the new edition of Huckleberry Finn.


Human Terrain System

Economics and corporate ethnography

Seen something around the web that you’d like to share with the Savage Minds community? Send an email to mdthomps AT

Matt Thompson

Matt Thompson is Project Cataloger at The Mariners' Museum in Newport News, Virginia, and currently working on a CLIR 'hidden collections' grant to describe the museum's collection of early 20th Century photography. He has a doctorate in anthropology from the University of North Carolina and a Masters in information science from the University of Tennessee.

7 thoughts on “Around the Web

  1. Thank you! Good to have these but I’ve actually declined having Google Chrome being installed on my machine. I was offered it but I’d try to limit what Google wants to know about my access to the internet.

  2. Why do some of the former public buildings in the Detroit in Ruins photos still have stuff in them? I am specifically talking about the abandoned public library and the abandoned police precinct. The public library still had books in it. Isn’t it standard procedure to sell the books if you are closing down a public library? Additionally the police precinct still seems to have files from cases lying around. I would think that those would have been either destroyed or moved to storage. Is this some sort of creative staging by the photographer?

  3. On the Zero Anth HTS article, while I’m not spending too much time reading it, it’s dubious at best, due to the fact that it’s a single, highly-biased source who went in specifically to unethically take a clients money, and act as a “double-agent.” When a lobbyist talks about their issue I tune out; when a political party spokesman talks about their party, no one should listen; but, when someone does something like this, it’s ok and it becomes credible? Serious case of Domain Dependence. It’s like there is a active movement to discredit the discipline outside of academia, to ensure that we won’t be able to work anywhere else.

  4. How does Rick know that this HTS trainee wasn’t interested in completing the training and deploying with HTS until he experienced first hand what a joke the program is? I read the supporting articles, and I can believe he would have gone if the program wasn’t run by a bunch of clowns who were more interested in getting rich while picking out which locals he thought were Taliban sympathizers. Whatever “domain dependence” he had seems far less than Rick’s given that he actually joined the program and didn’t just blog about it.

  5. Perhaps, that is the case, however the way it was packaged lead me to believe otherwise. I know for a fact that there have been quite a few folks that have joined up for the sole purpose of simply writing about the program and discrediting it, without any intention of actually deploying. I also know a few people that either work for the program now, or have worked for it, and they’ve expressed a lot of frustration about misquotes, or misunderstandings that are basically libel. As I said, I didn’t read the piece, so it might be different, but I kind of doubt it. What I want are accounts of folks that actually deployed with the program and write about that. Right now, all we have is analogous to people in boot camp writing like they know what the military is like. I served in two military services, and can state that military training is a unique beast, frustrating to all and understood by few. There’s an entire data set missing here.

  6. “I think it’s important that we rely on facts rather than assumptions. Not that I’ve actually read what I’m talking about.”

  7. “I think it’s important that we rely on facts rather than assumptions.”

    I think what you mean to say is that it is important to rely on narratives which match up with our preconceived notions and expectations, if you’re talking about that horrible, horrible article. I read through it and it was clearly written by someone that was there to do anything other than make money and write about the experience. There’s some borderline personality disorder issues in there somewhere too. I mean, the whole thing is bogus, (like a hard to follow, and badly written script) from the use of military jargon that isn’t used anywhere outside of movies (seriously Juliet Alpha?), and paranoid anthropologist minds, or the simplistic beginning state of being fired from a prior army position for making a phone call. That just doesn’t happen.
    There is far more to the story than that. If you go behind your boss in any job, you’re getting fired, if not sued, and it’s not happening the first time. The only way you’d buy that is if you’ve never been in the army, or had any kind of professional job outside the academy.

    Context is important. I don’t think that someone slated to be a team leader of a unit designed to inject cultural insight into military units, who yells “Islam is a cult,” is going to be there very long in training. There’s just way too much that doesn’t pass a face validity test.

    If you are expecting perfection from an airplane that is built in flight (3 years now), then you’re not being realistic. The army has changed massively in the last decade; more so than any organization I can think of historically. It’s the world’s largest bureaucracy.

    On a more rational note, a study just came out in the news today that stated “A study of more than 2,300 undergraduates found 45 percent of students show no significant improvement in the key measures of critical thinking, complex reasoning and writing by the end of their sophomore years.”
    Now academia’s been around for hundreds of years, so by that standard, people should not go to college, and waste their time- because if you can’t develop perfection after 3 years, then fuck 500. That’s not apples and oranges, either. There are reasons, largely economic, for that 45% figure, and we know that the answer is to improve the process, rather than end it; because believe me, we’ll get ride of universities way before we get ride of the army as a society. It’s a basic hierarchy of needs.

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