Around the Web: Year in Review 2015

It’s been a big year for Savage Minds, so big that the annual blog review didn’t fit in 2015! (Yes, that’s why it was delayed). This year we celebrated our 10th blogiversary with a panel at the AAAs, an executive director’s award, and a rare in-person gathering, which gave us the chance to reflect on our work and how this project has evolved over time.

In this yearly post, we look back on the year in blogging, both for us at Savage Minds and in the anthroblogosphere in general. First, the Minds will share their favorite posts from the year, and then I’ll highlight a few of the posts on other blogs and news sources that struck me as the most important, memorable, or otherwise worth revisiting if you missed them.

Adam focused on themes of technology and systems of domination in his posts:
Who Benefits from the “Internet Space Race”? looks at the seeming inevitability of projects to provide Internet to the entire globe

“Anthropology” in the Snowden Surveillance Archive (Who’s observing the participant observers?)

Alex (Rex) continued to prod the anthropological establishment, as in the following top posts:

On the Importance of Liking Students is a particularly simple, memorable post (the title is self-explanatory)
Why You Shouldn’t Take Peter Wood (or Anthropology News) Seriously addresses the (inexplicably posed) question of whether structural violence exists
Hellz Yes National Anthropology Day is ON looks at the significance of the selection of February 19th as National Anthropology Day
Octopuses Can See in the Dark: Theme and Variation explores how trending news stories are taken up and re-titled by different outlets, something that’s interested me in choosing versions of news stories to include in this digest

Carole hosted and edited the Writer’s Workshop series, which is wrapping up this year.

Anthropology as Theoretical Storytelling points out that anthropologists traffic in stories that are carefully kept somewhat inelegant to give them more of a scientific feel
Gone: The Earthquake in Nepal calls for anthropology to respond in moments of crisis, such as the earthquake in Nepal, which was made worse by the fuel blockade, total lack of distribution of donated funds/goods by the government, and onset of winter in the Himalayas
Dick experimented with form in his review of Writing Culture and the Life of Anthropology, essentially tweeting his marginalia: Writing Culture and the Life of Anthropology [Book Review} 

Kerim was, as always, prolific. These are my personal favorites from his top posts:
The Limits of the Virtuoso explores how the performance of ethnic and gender identity is externally validated (and how some turn transgression into an art form)
Belief is a Practice thinks through an anthropological response to radical Islam that would recognize individual agency without dismissing cultural difference and context
Race is a Technology (and So is Gender) suggests that moralizing approaches to racism and sexism can be used to derail our attempts to understand such systems of categorization as technologies of power

Finally, Embracing Impostor Syndrome argues that academics should embrace the feeling that we weren’t born to do this as a way of reminding ourselves that other forms of knowledge and practice can be valid

Matt focused on issues of Open Access and information from an archivist’s perspective:

Homo naledi’s Other Revolution, a conversation about the decision to publish the important discovery in an Open Access publication
Dataverse: An Open Source Solution for Data Sharing discusses software for Open Data, which researchers can use to preserve and disseminate their data

Thinking About Race Like a Cataloger explores the process of specifying what an object in a database is about to make it accessible when it comes to racial classification

Anthropology’s Long Tail or AAA 2.0 imagines an anthropology that, like, caters to increasingly diverse, diffuse interests

Rebecca: I joined the team this year! I wrote exactly two topical posts and I want to boost this one, reflecting on the NGOs and Nonprofits conference we organized this November: NGO-graphies: On Knowledge Production and Contention

Ryan‘s posts looked at different aspects of how people relate to objects.

The Four Hundred Dollar Fish, which reflects on the commodification of nature as marine biologists try to emphasize the value of preserving natural environments by putting a dollar value on them

small photographs forgotten, looked at the importance of old boxes of everyday photos, drawing on James Deetz’s famous archaeological work In Small Things Forgotten

Forget the Outrage: Stop Signing Away Your Author Rights to Corporations reminded us that the copyright infringement on sites like can distract us from the fact that we’ve signed over our rights through author agreements to publishers like Elsevier

The series “What We’re Teaching” was launched this year:
What We’re Teaching This Semester: Ethnographic Theory
What We’re Teaching This Semester: Political Anthropology
The two-year Writers’ Workshop series edited by Carole produced a number of excellent posts, including the following:
Sasha Su-Ling Welland, List as Form: Literary Ethnographic, Long, Short, Heavy, Light

Bhrigupati Singh, Writing with Love and Hate

Other guest posts I’d like to highlight include:
Ben Joffe, Angry White Buddhists and the Dalai Lama: Appropriation and Politics in the Globalization of Tibetan Buddhism
Zoë Todd, Tending to Duties Across Legal Orders: Committing Anthropology While Indigenous
Lindsay Bell, Visual Turn I: Artistic and Infrastructural Frictions 
Kristen Ghodsee, Ethnographers as Writers: A Light-Hearted Introduction to Academese
Jessica Winegar, Waiting in the Neoliberal University: The Salaita Case and the Wages of an Academic Boycott
Celia Emmelhainz, Ethnographic Field Data 1: Should I Share My Fieldnotes?
Bianca Williams’ Black Lives Matter series

Some of my favorite non-Savage Minds posts included the following:
Discard Studies, An Indigenous Feminist’s Take on the Ontological Turn
Evonomics, Ayn Rand vs. Anthropology
Nautilus, How the Western Diet Has Derailed Our Evolution
The Conversation, Norwegians Using “Texas” to Mean “Crazy” Actually Isn’t So Crazy
Anthropology in Practice, Our Language of Refusal Reveals a Shifting Stance on Prejudice
Allegra, Crisis and Continuity: A Critical Look at the “European Refugee” Crisis
Somatosphere, The Financialization of Ebola
Material World, Ain’t No Jaguars in Ghana’s Urban Jungle Luxury and the Postcolonial Bizarre
The Educational Linguist, What If We Talked About Monolingual White Children the Way We Talk About Low Income Children of Color?
International Cognition and Culture, Mind-Body Dualism as Applied to Supernatural Agents: The (Dead) Emperor’s New Mind or Chicken Little?
The New York Times, A Hobby Anthropologist Dissects the Tribes of the Upper East Side
Neuroanthropology, Plastics, Tiny Penises, and Human Evolution
New Republic, “Do You Understand That Your Baby Goes Away and Never Comes Back?” 
Food Anthropology’s posts on pedagogy, such as “You Can’t Talk About Food Without Talking”: Aimee Hosemann with a Professor’s Perspective on the Course “Food and Culture” and Would You Put Oregano on Your Posole: Lois Stanford On Teaching Food and Culture Around the World and Using New Mexico’s Diversity in the Classroom 

The popular coverage of anthropology was dominated by the discovery of Homo naledi, the suggestion that Tutankhamun’s tomb probably has an as-yet-undiscovered chamber, discussion of the potential AAA boycott of Israeli academic institutions, and controversy over sociologist Alice Goffman’s book On the Run: Fugitive Life in an American City.

Finally, thanks to all of you for reading and commenting this year and we look forward to another great year in 2016!

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).