Ep #75 The Anthropologists Perspective on Nomadland & Commodified Mothers: This Month of TFS

This month familiar stranger Tim kicks us off by pondering the ethnographic and anthropological nature of the award winning film Nomadland directed by Chloé Zhao. The strangers discuss the almost anthropological origins of the film and other similar works that deal with the precariat or nomads the movie is based around. 

The strangers then dive into the origins of Mother’s Day and the subsequent commodification of the day itself. They discuss some of the positives and contrast it with a similar “Mother’s day” celebrated on the 27th of May in Bolivia.

Just a note on sound quality: We are still conducting our panels over Zoom so the internet and audio quality might not be as clear in some places. The podcast editing team is working on a solution! 

Links and Citations 

Jessica Bruder, the journalist who wrote book Nomadland: Surviving America in the 21st Century employed ethnographic methods in her investigation into the van-dwelling subculture. She spent 3 years and more than 15,000 miles on the road, documenting the project which became the and then some years later turned into the film.

Journalist Barbara Ehrenreich spent time undercover as a low wage worker investigating the difficulties of the working poor in the US in the late 1990’s resulted in the book Nickel and Dimed: On (Not Getting by in America  bringing to the page the realities of living in the precariat in the United States.

The origins of Mother’s Day in the United States as a call to peace in response to the carnage of war and the 1870 Mother’s Day Proclamation.

The article that Carolyn mentions: A Year in a School Bus: Amid COVID-19, A Family Finds Freedom Traveling the American West

“Let’s be real, people’s lives do not have story arcs” 

““I’m sorry to any listeners who feel they star in their own personal drama. Just a whole lot of random sh*t happens to you…that is life” 

“What if that’s not how the people themselves want to be portrayed?” 

“We almost need stories to understand things”

Our Facebook page and Facebook group are back up and running so don’t forget to head over to our Facebook group The Familiar Strange Chats. Let’s keep talking strange, together!

If you like what we do and are in a position to do so, you can help us to keep making content by supporting us through Patreon.

Our Patreon can be found at https://www.patreon.com/thefamiliarstrange

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 Matthew Phung
Podcast edited by Timothy Johnson and Matthew Phung

Feature Image: “Van Life – In the cold light of morning” by MIKI Yoshihito (2015) 

Leave a Reply