Around the Web Digest: Week of April 12

Greetings to everyone at the SAA meetings this week. Also, I defend my dissertation on Thursday so wish me luck! As always, if you write or read anything interesting in the anthroblogosphere, let me know at and I will include it here.

This is an article published last year by Business Insider Australia, recently republished by the New Zealand mag Stuff. I include it because I’m currently facing the job market and I have questions. First, where are these companies and why are they not stalking my LinkedIn profile? Second, why are these kinds of stories of anthropologists in the private sector getting passed around? Do we cling to them as signs of the commercial value of our field? Why Companies are Desperate to Hire Anthropologists

In its breaking news section, NPR discusses the discovery of tools with signs of knapping that are 3.3 million years old, unveiled at this week’s Paleoanthropology Society meetings in San Francisco: New Discovery of World’s Oldest Stone Tools

Given that I have little context for interpreting it, I found this post on stone grave markers beguiling and full of the kind of strange passion we feel towards our research subjects. Here’s a sample: “their bestial qualities are endearing. The Govan stones illustrate my point; they are like large, ugly, chunky huggable pets. Ok, perhaps they are cold, monotone, unaffectionate and sullen pets.” Hogbacks are for Life, Not Just for Christmas! 

Powered by Osteons features a poster session from the 2015 American Association of Physical Anthropologists Conference focused on teaching strategies, given that teaching positions are becoming more common: Triumphs and Tribulations in Teaching 

In a pretty cool use of technology, this project at the University of West Florida has been digitizing and 3D printing its zooarchaeological collection: Giving 3D Scanning a Porpoise features a rundown of recent stories, including this one with an interview with Theodoros Rakopoulos on bartering and volunteering alternatives to the austerity economy in Greece: From Economic Crisis to Solidarity Economy

The Geek Anthropologist continues its series on anthroblogging with an interview with The Rockstar Anthropologist, who recommends working with the public in museums and reading one of her favorite blogs: Savage Minds!

Anthropoliteia features this review of Peaceland: Conflict Resolution and the Everyday Politics of International Intervention by Séverine Auteserre: Tales from Peaceland: The Nuts and Bolts of International Intervention

The University of Capetown website featured this article by anthropologist Francis B Nyamnjoh on the resurging hostility towards foreigners in South Africa: Xenophobia at Odds with SA ‘Rhetoric of Inclusivity and Human Rights’ 

This older article on the satire site The Onion popped up again on my feed. Check it out if you missed it the first time: Archaeologist Tired Of Unearthing Unspeakable Ancient Evils

I’ll see you this time next week!

Rebecca Nelson

Rebecca Nelson is the executive director of América Solidaria U.S. She recently graduated with a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from the University of Connecticut. Her research focuses on volunteer tourism in Guatemala and how it is opening up new avenues for tourists and hosts to develop more cosmopolitan understandings of the world (as well as opening up new forms of friction over the circulation of knowledge).

6 thoughts on “Around the Web Digest: Week of April 12

  1. Rebecca, re your question “Where are these companies and why aren’t they stalking my LinkedIn profile?” Broadly speaking the companies in question are involved in consumer research, product design, or management consulting. Some anthropologists, I met a few in Korea this year, also work for heavy construction and resource extraction companies associated with their nation’s overseas development aid (ODA) projects. None are looking for anthropologists per se. They are looking for individuals with the talent, know-how and skills to address specific kinds of problems. The last time I was job hunting was more than two decades ago; but for what it is worth, here is my advice. Instead of trying to sell yourself as an anthropologist, use your anthropological skills to study potential employers and identify problems where you have something specific to contribute. Read their industry trade press, become familiar with the current buzz. You will sound much smarter and much more professional than most of your competitors for the same job.

  2. John, thanks for what sounds like excellent advice… I was only half joking in asking about the private sector and I suspect that private interviewers would be more (or at least differently) results-oriented than academic interviewers. Have any readers found work in one of these “desperate” companies? And thanks for reading, Margaret!

  3. Rebecca, to reinforce what I was saying, here is what Tom Kelley, one of the founders of IDEO, perhaps the hottest design firm in the universe today, has to say in his Ten Faces of Innovation. Note that he says nothing about academic qualifications.

    The Anthropologist is rarely stationary. Rather, this is the person who ventures into the field to observe how people interact with products, services, and experiences in order to come up with new innovations. The Anthropologist is extremely good at reframing a problem in a new way, humanizing the scientific method to apply it to daily life. Anthropologists share such distinguishing characteristics as the wisdom to observe with a truly open mind; empathy; intuition; the ability to “see” things that have gone unnoticed; a tendency to keep running lists of innovative concepts worth emulating and problems that need solving; and a way of seeking inspiration in unusual places.

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