Category Archives: Site News

Information about updates, outages, design changes, and so forth.

A Note about Changing the Name of the Blog and the Podcast Series

Earlier this week, in collaboration with the podcast This Anthro Life, we debuted our new five-part series called “These Anthro Minds” – except that wasn’t the first choice for the title. A rather unfortunate choice that incorporated words from our own blog title made it through unvetted, a choice that had the unwanted consequence of retraumatizing those who take issue with the name of our blog in the first place.

Since announcing that we would like to change the name, I have heard from a number of Colleagues of Color in anthropology who support our decision. Most frequent among the responses were “It’s about time,” and “You know there’s a reason I never felt comfortable guest blogging for you.” Some of us knew that the name was problematic, and and some of us knew that it held the potential to marginalize these colleagues, but I don’t think we ever knew if it actually did. All the more reason to change it.

I fear that the favor we have won with the gesture of initiating this change has evaporated in the extended length of time that it has taken to deliberate on a new name. (We hope to announce by #AAA2017 in Washington DC.) All I can say is that we have not prioritized what needs to be prioritized in order to arrest the ongoing damage. For that, I am sorry.

Now, with this incident involving TAL, I also fear that it might appear to our Colleagues of Color that someone here at this blog has doubled-down on their belief that the blog title is not problematic. I can assure you that we all recognize the problem with the name. The producers of TAL moved forward with the name unaware that we would like to distance ourselves from it. That we ever thought it would be an appropriate title for our blog speaks to the dehistoricized and institutionalized characteristics of méconnu words that are tangled in a web of esoteric social theory, French-English translational puns, and “post-racial” anthropology, while casually traumatizing and marginalizing those that we (white Euro-American anthropologists) have historically traumatized and marginalized.

For what it’s worth, when we brought this issue to their attention, the producers of TAL changed the series name with lightning speed.

The new name for the podcast series, “These Anthro Minds,” was suggested by Indigenous Scholar and Biological Anthropology PhD Candidate Savannah Martin from Washington University in St. Louis.

In short: We can do better. You deserve better.

Welcome new blogger Uzma Rizvi!

Savage Minds has long been looking for an archaeologist whose writing would mesh well with our own (predominantly cultural anthropological) sensibility, and so when Uzma Rizvi guest blogged for us last August we knew we had found exactly what we had been looking for. We quickly asked her to consider joining the blog as a full time member. While interested, Uzma didn’t want to start until after the end of the school year. . . which has finally come around. So now it is with great pleasure that we welcome Uzma Rizvi, the newest addition to our team! We also would like to extend a hearty congratulations to Uzma on her recent promotion to Associate Professor! Below is a short bio from her academic homepage at the Pratt Institute of Art and Design in Brooklyn, NY.

I am an anthropological archaeologist specializing in the archaeology of the first cities. I teach anthropology, ancient urbanism, issues in new materialisms, critical heritage studies, memory and war/trauma studies, decolonization/the postcolonial critique, and social practice. My current research work is largely focused on Ancient India and Ancient UAE, both during the 3rd millennium BCE. Beyond these vast umbrellas of interest, I have a few distinct projects that have been occupying my research world of late. These include, but are not limited to, understanding ancient subjectivity and related to that, the idea of an intimate architecture; war and trauma in relationship to the urban fabric; and finally, epistemological critiques of archaeology that have emerged from my earlier work in postcolonial theory.

Welcome Uzma!

Savage Minds Welcomes Rebecca Nelson

Savage Minds is happy to announce the selection of our new “around the web” intern, Rebecca Nelson!

Rebecca Nelson is a Ph.D. candidate in cultural anthropology at 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). One of her claims to fame is that her image appeared in the Quetzaltenango paper El Diario, to her surprise, with the caption “Tourists Disappointed By Lack of WiFi in Parque Central.”

She’s about to submit the first draft of her Ph.D. thesis this week, so she won’t start posting weekly roundups till the 8th, but if you come across anything you’d like to bring to her attention you can email her at Rebecca.nelson.jacobs@gmail.com

Seeking New Around the Web Intern for 2015

[UPDATED: Added a FAQ at the bottom of the post.]

With Dick Powis now a full time contributor, Savage Minds is looking for someone to fill his shoes as our Around the Web editor. This position is called an “internship” because we see it as a way to cultivate new talent. (Also because it isn’t paid, but then nobody here is paid.) Doing the weekly roundups is not only a great way to force yourself to pay closer attention to the anthro blogosphere, but it also gives you a seat at the table behind-the-scenes at Savage Minds, helping select guest bloggers and discussing the future of the blog. Interns are encouraged to blog as well – but it isn’t required. Full time contributors like Dick Powis and Matt Thompson started out as Around the Web interns, but there is no requirement to stick around more than a year if you don’t want to. (We hope you do…) Continue reading

Old Friend, New Contributor

Savage Minds is very happy to welcome long-time “intern” Dick Powis to the ranks of Savage Minds “contributor” (we also call them “Minds”). Dick has been doing a great job all year with the weekly roundups, and he’ll keep doing them until graduate school grinds him down, or we officially launch a search for a new intern. Most people become full-time members of Savage Minds by grabbing our attention with their blogging or guest blogging on the site, but the intern program is a second route, good for people just starting out. (Dick was still in college when he started, although he already had a great anthropology blog.) To be honest, there isn’t really that much difference between being an intern and a full-time member of the blog, except that contributors can take a little more initiative posting “invited posts,” launching special series, and otherwise leveraging the blog into more of a publishing platform than just a place for their personal blog posts. (Interns also have the added responsibility of the weekly and yearly roundups.) Now that he is a contributor, we look forward to seeing Dick taking more of a leadership role here at Savage Minds. Welcome aboard!

Academic life is a trapeze, and librarians are the safety net: SM is now archived

This open access day I wanted to officially announce some good news — Savage Minds is now being archived at the University of Texas at Austin. Thanks to the initiative of Pat Galloway and her students Brian Douglass, Kathleen O’Connell, Josephine Ragolia, and Rachel Winston, an archive of our blog now lives on UT Austin’s Dspace install(Update: I TOTALLY forgot to give Kerim credit for the incredible amount of work he did communicating with the UT Austin crowd to get the archive set up. In fact, he does ridiculous amounts of work on the back end of the blog all the time which few people (me included, apparently) understand, but that everyone benefits form. So thumbs up to Kerim as well.)

It’s a real mark of accomplishment that someone has taken the time to preserve the blog in a format that ensures that future generations will be able to read our poorly-spelled, hastily written blog entries. In some small sense — and I mean ‘small’, I’m not getting a swelled head here — SM really has become the blog of record for the sociocultural anthropological internetosphere.

The archive itself is just one part of a process to get SM more fully archived both now and in the future… but I’ll leave out details of our future plans since, frankly, they may never materialize.

SM started with no long-range plan for archiving, or indeed for pretty much anything, and over the years we’ve suffered a variety of data loses, ranging from minor to catastrophic. The lesson for open access week is this: back up your data. But at the same time, if you feel the urge to write, write. Start new projects when you feel you have the energy and opportunity to start them, even if all the pieces aren’t in place yet. Archiving is important, but don’t let scholarly apparatus have a chilling effect on your innovation. If academic life is a trapeze, librarians are the safety net. Thanks to UT Austin, Pat, and the whole crew for doing their job so that we can do ours.

Comments Now Working! (We hope…)

For some reason, since we launched the new site, our security software was preventing people from leaving comments. That should be fixed now. Sorry about that!

Also, we previously posted that people would have to register to leave comments. That is not the case. In fact, we’ve turned off the feature that let people register and deleted most of the new registrations from this week because we were getting hundreds of SPAM users registering for the site. You can use your WordPress.com, Facebook, or Twitter account to leave comments, or simply enter any valid email address. (We will monitor this policy and change it if needed.)

Please let us know if you are having any problems that are making it difficult for you to use the site. Right now we are focused on squashing critical bugs. If you have more general feedback (good or bad) about the design, feel free to leave that as well, but please note that we won’t be making any major revisions to the new design till this summer.

A Personal Request

Since we launched Savage Minds in 2005 the only time there were ads on this site was the short time last year between when we moved to WordPress.com for hosting and when we paid to turn them off. We apologize for that. The fact is that most of us use ad-blocking software so we didn’t notice the ads until they were pointed out to us and then we promptly got rid of them. We don’t intend to put ads here, and — even though we all put in a lot of work (and money) behind the scenes to keep the site going — we aren’t asking for your support…

OK, enough with the “we.” Although this is a group site and we make all major decisions (including posting this request) together, this is very personal for me. For the past three months I’ve been working non-stop behind the scenes to move to a new server, restore the archives, and redesign the site. If you paid a professional to do this kind of work it would cost at least $2,000, and maybe as much as four times that. I did it because I care about this site. If you also value this site and the work that goes into it, I’d like to ask you to support an organization that is very important to me: Budhan Theatre.

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Best of Savage Minds

Because our archives were lost to the internet for the past year a lot of great content has been offline. (Google is now slowly re-indexing all of it.) If you just started following Savage Minds recently and would like a quick overview of our best posts for the past seven years, please take a quick look at our annual highlights. These are our yearly end-of-the-year round-ups which highlight our best content from each year. We started doing these in 2006, so we don’t have one for our first year, 2005, but it’s otherwise pretty comprehensive. Enjoy!

Assume the Crash Position

As I mentioned at the beginning of the month, we are getting ready for some big changes around here. To ensure that everything goes smoothly, we will be taking the site offline sometime on Friday evening (Eastern Standard Time). If all goes well, the site should be back up early Saturday morning with the new layout and the restored archives in place. I’ll keep this post active as a place for you to post your reactions (good or bad) to the new site, as well as for catching any bugs in the code.

UPDATE: Welcome to the new/old site! It is new because we have a fresh new look, and it is old because all our archives going back to 2005 have been restored. We are still working on ironing out a few things here and there, so please let us know if anything is broken, not working, or not to your liking. And if you like the new site, please don’t hold back from sharing your praise!

Welcome Dick and Angela!

Dick’s beat me to the punch — please join me in welcoming Dick Powis and Angela Chen as our new interns! Dick will be writing up our weekly roundups and Angela will be helping me with comments moderation.

When we put out a call for comment moderators, we expected a half-dozen entries. Instead we got two dozen — all great applicants, from many walks of life. In the end, reading all the apps and doing video interviews with the shortlist ate up so much of our (my) time that we ended up giving the top two people positions in the blog, rather than run a separate and equally time-consuming search for a second position. Apologies to people who were waiting for that second position to be advertised — we just had a choice of either writing for the blog or reading resumes, and decided on the former.

Please welcome our newcomers on board — I hope you will see them around more and more on the site as we continue to grow and expand in 2014.

Big News!

Three big announcements…

Founded in 2005, Savage Minds is now nine years old. Our current design is a default WordPress template I used when our original (more colorful) theme somehow got corrupted, preventing Google from indexing our site. Then our site went down again about a year ago when our hosting company decided it didn’t want to honor a promise made by a smaller company it had bought-out. This was a terrible crisis for us as we somehow hadn’t backed up the site in years, falsely believing that our host was keeping adequate backups on our behalf. Unsure of what to do next, we threw this temporary site up on WordPress.com, using the same generic template we’d been using before. Now all that is about to change, and a number of other things as well.

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