All posts by rachelita2

Fiction and Anthropology

As a graduate student during the time that the “Writing Culture” movement was in its heyday, I was drawn to ethnographies such as Lila Abu-Lughod’s Veiled Sentiments: Honor and Poetry in a Bedouin Society. I loved it not only for its poignant analysis of the cultural contexts of Bedouin poetry but also for Abu-Lughod’s fine writing.  Before becoming an anthropologist, I had received a master’s degree in creative writing, and I have always been interested in the ways that anthropology and literature inform one another. In particular, what can anthropologists learn from fiction? Continue reading

Op-Eds: What Anthropologists Can Add to the Debate

Anthropologists have much to contribute to civic discourse, but all too often we are bypassed in favor of experts in other fields, such as psychology or political science. Although many of us try to publicize what anthropologists really do, the general public still frequently confuses anthropology with Indiana Jones. Writing an op-ed is a good way to draw attention to anthropology, either by 1) commenting on a topic related to your own fieldwork or expertise, or 2) applying anthropological insights to current events. There are always news events that could benefit from an anthropologist’s analysis. The goal of an op-ed is to take a stance and make a point about those events, presenting facts along the way to support your argument.
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Anthropologists Engaging with Media

“Anthropology,” James Peacock said in a 1995 address at the annual meetings of the American Anthropological Association, “boasts brilliant observers, cultural critics, writers, and creators, yet few if any of us have produced books that we (not to mention others) crave to read, films that we crave to see, or music that we crave to hear.” Eighteen years have passed since Peacock spoke these words. So, have anthropologists today heeded his call?  Are the crucial issues of our time receiving public reflection from anthropologists, if not in books, then in popular media? What are some of the obstacles that prevent us from doing so more often?

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Professionalization in Anthropology Graduate Programs

Savage Minds welcomes guest blogger Rachel Newcomb. 

Many of us find the transition from graduate school to the world of the gainfully employed to be a challenging one. One moment, you’re happily ensconced in a library carrel, surrounded by your beloved field notes and cranking away at your dissertation. The next moment, you’re lecturing to two hundred first year university students who may be in the room solely for a general education credit, and who could care less about your deep and abiding affection for kinship theory. Or maybe you’re sitting across the table from a nonprofit interviewer who wants to know whether your experience studying the effects of globalization on Ilongot gender roles will make you a good candidate to work with a team of social entrepreneurs promoting fair trade coffee in Indonesia.

How are graduate students trained to make the transition from the apprenticeship model of academia to settings that may be very different from our expectations?  Since receiving my PhD in 2004 from a research university, I have wondered how other graduate schools prepared students for Life After PhD. During my graduate school years, my professors were always generous with their knowledge whenever I approached them with questions about academia. Yet at that time, there was no formal instruction on what happened once the dissertation was defended, bound, and stored away on acid free paper in the university library.
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