Ep. #35: Loneliness, Positionality, Personhood & Violence: This Month on TFS

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This month Julia (0:59) starts us off with the relationship between loneliness and health after listening to an episode of ‘All in the Mind’, a podcast that explores the connections between the brain and behaviour. She stresses that loneliness is something that everyone is vulnerable to and is becoming more of a problem in our modern world. In the podcast episode, it was suggested that simple acts of kindness and exchange could help overcome this isolating feeling. Jodie questions whether ‘fictive kinship’ might be more successful and Simon gives us a comparison between Australia and Iran between the ways people go about their daily activities: is it less about what we do and more about who we do it with?

Next Matt (5:55) has his podcast debut with positionality. This is something he has been looking at in his science communication Masters recently. He asks us what our own positions were during our fieldwork and what these positions mean for anthropologists during their research. Julia adds that “it’s about the power that you bring to the space … [it] could colour the interactions that you’re having with people, and whether or not people can be as natural with you as they might be in everyday life.” Simon says that he was simultaneously different things to different people and even was questioned about being a spy. Jodie tells us that her physical appearance impacted on how her fieldwork played out and how this may or may not foster trust.

Jodie (11:05) then reflects the recent media incident where Trump was portrayed as saying that asylum seekers aren’t people but instead animals. Although the Tweets have since been exposed as being misleading, it led Jodie to wonder what a ‘person’ is: is Superman a ‘person’? What about our pets – is the phrase “pets are people too” really accurate? What are the boundaries around ‘people’ and ‘personhood’? Is this a matter of perspective?

Finally, Simon (15:42) wraps up our can-of-worms podcast by asking: what is violence? Given the vague and imprecise concept of violence, he asks us how do we broaden our conceptualisation of violence? Julia offers: “I think that when it comes to violence… it’s about how the person afflicted experiences it.” Jodie asks whether we can define Government restrictions that have a negative effect on those experiencing it as ‘violence’? Simon and Matt consider whether fighting and BDSM is ‘violence’ and Jodie finishes by suggesting that maybe ‘violence’ exists where consensual boundaries are crossed.


The ‘All in the Mind’ podcast episode that Julia mentioned can be found here:

If you’d like to know more about the Twitter incident and the de-bunk, give this a read:

This anthropology podcast is supported by the Australian Anthropological Society, the ANU’s College of Asia and the Pacific and College of Arts and Social Sciences, and the Australian Centre for the Public Awareness of Science, and is produced in collaboration with the American Anthropological Association.

Music by Pete Dabro: dabro1.bandcamp.com

Shownotes by Deanna Catto

[Image: ‘Loneliness’ by Hernán Piñera, available at:

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