Outside the academy, I’m sure the perception remains that academics sit in leather armchairs, gazing out the gilded windows of our ivory towers, thinking all day. That has not been my experience, nor that of anyone I know. My colleagues and peers have, however, experienced levels of anxiety and depression that are six times higher than experienced in the general population. They report higher levels of workaholism, the kind that has a negative and unwanted effect on relationships with loved ones. The picture is often even bleaker for women, people of colour, and other non-White, non-middle-class, non-males. So whether you think academics are ‘delicate woeful souls’ or not, it’s difficult to deny that there is a real problem to be tackled here.
As Helene Mialet’s ethnography examines the role of his assistants, his students, and the media in the social construction of ‘Stephen Hawking: the great genius’, she also shows the subtle ways that some part of Hawking the man remains present, imposes himself on each interaction within his extended network.
“Any concept -- capitalism, neoliberalism, etc. -- leaves an excess that it is the aim of anthropology to unearth. These are spaces that are not dominated by whatever’s dominating at a specific time. So there are existing alternatives, there are not just imaginary alternatives.... Anthropology in this sense does provide the possibility of thinking of … Continue reading Ep. #11 Alternative worlds: Ghassan Hage talks multiculturalism, teaching the enemy, & thinking in public
This month, Ian (1:25) digs into Bitcoin, arguing that the cryptocurrency is no different than regular currencies, and can be analyzed along all the same lines: symbolically, materially, institutionally, relationally. “The same material problems of decay that would affect some other kind of material currency like a coin or a bill still applies to Bitcoin.” … Continue reading Ep. #8 Savage Bitcoin, hamster flushing, scholars at work, and New Mandala: this month on TFS
“Doing history ideally is like doing anthropology of people who are gone, except that you don’t have native informants, you only have these written fragmentary sources. But the same hermeneutic struggle goes on: you’re trying to understand somebody from their point of view.” Dipesh Chakrabarty, the Lawrence A. Kimpton Distinguished Service Professor of history and … Continue reading Ep. #7 The knowledge we value: Dipesh Chakrabarty talks the contentious politics of knowledge production
I was listening to a ‘Waking Up with Sam Harris’ episode a few weeks ago, called Facing the Crowd. It has since been playing on my mind. Harris talks with Yale Professor Nicholas Christakis, who, for a few short months in 2015/16, was also a Yale ‘Master’ - a title for academic caretakers of particular … Continue reading Unpacking the Yale Halloween Scandal