Artisanal Anthropology Workshop

Savage Minds is pleased to announce our first workshop in artisanal anthropology. As we imagine a future for our discipline that is both sustainable and ethical, it is necessary that we look to the traditions established by our founding mothers and fathers. Theirs was an honest scholarship that was based on a healthy respect for the process of crafting research by hand.

While this blog  has previously rushed to embrace new technology, we are now advocating adopting a “slow” or “craft” approach to anthropological research. An artisanal anthropology means valuing the hand-crafted labor that went into scholarship before social media turned everything into a meme. Workshop participants will learn how to record interviews on acetate disc and taking down observations in handmade notebooks using antique fountain pens. And what better way to slow down your research than to write it up on a Victorian era typewriter? (Please note all paper is direct sourced and patiently cut by hand.) Copying and pasting with scissors and glue ensures that proper care is given to each edit. Once your draft is prepared, it will be lovingly wrapped in kraft paper and twine, and sent to a leading scholar who will provide feedback to you by snail mail. The published collection will be carefully hand-stitched into a folio made from wagyu leather and will be delicately etched to commemorate your participation in the workshop.

For an additional fee, Ryan Anderson will take your portrait using a tintype 8×10 camera  for inclusion with your published article. This method of photography urges the subject and the photographer to slow down, breathe, compose the shot, ruminate about life, and – most importantly – hold very still for a prolonged period of time. Your tintype will then be scanned, scaled down to 2” x 2.5”, and placed gingerly into the layout of our final workshop volume along with your master-crafted author bio. (Victorian-era clip-on beards, fine lace bonnets, and penny-farthing bicycles will be available in the photo studio.)

The workshop will be held in a cooperative living and working commune in a recently renovated building in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn. An authentic attention to detail can be seen in every facet of our living/working arrangement: from the wooden furniture cut from only organic forests, to the commitment of the live-in Mennonite family who cares for the building facilities. A nearby farmers market provides fresh groceries daily, they also make bicycle deliveries of handmade cheese, yogurt, and bread if you get the munchies late at night.

In keeping with the days of yore, participants will have at their disposal a corps of dedicated wives (ahem, “assistants”) available to type up your field notes and manuscripts while you pontificate over a well-aged port at the local pub. We can also source “local” assistants for help with translations, kinship terms, and ritual minutiae. Rest assured that all assistants are paid a fair wage.

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.

5 thoughts on “Artisanal Anthropology Workshop

  1. Chuckling because even my Peace Corps experience in the late 1970’s was so different from Peace Corps now. I wrote weekly aerogramme letters to my family and didn’t see or talk to them for two full years – I did send rolls of film to them which they would develop into slides so they could see what I was experiencing…

  2. I trust smoking will be obligatory, employing rice papers, plug tobacco that you have to cut and rub in callused mitts, and wax matches that you can light on the nearest beam when one of your ‘assistants’ bends over to pick up your mess.

    Don’t know why I’m not sending this by pony post, please explain.

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