One of the most popular jokes among anthropologists is how often our work is mistaken for palaeontology. Almost every one of my colleagues and even a few of my students can relate an anecdote involving a situation where they were asked if they “dug up dinosaurs.” Imagine the difficulty I now face in my own work where the answer is effectively, “Yes, but not for the reasons you’re thinking.”
Vijayendra Rao, the lead economist at the World Bank in the research department, talks to our own Ian Pollock about the role that anthropology and ethnography could play in helping poor or disempowered people engage with powerful institutions.
Ian (1:25) starts us off by asking, just how well-written does a thesis need to be? "As anthropologists, basically what we do is write... whether it's writing your field notes, or whether it's writing up your articles or your dissertation... and most of us have never actually been trained in how to write." As Julia says, "there … Continue reading Ep. #14 Thesis writing, picturing cults, Muslims with caste, & fieldwork boredom: this month on TFS
Online ethnography, where researchers may never share a physical space with the participants in their research, is finding its methodological feet. Combine that with an analysis of these sorts of online media, combining intimacy, community, public speaking, and private listening, and you’ll see what makes podcasts so fascinating and potentially fruitful for anthropologists.
“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
Last week Australian academic Dennis Altman published a provocative piece in The Conversation, suggesting that it was time to re think the label LGBTI. In the place of the acronym LGBTI, which he describes as ‘a direct product of American identity politics’, he proposes the acronym SOGI (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity) a term that originates in human rights discourses. Now it is here, as a white, queer anthropologist who studies what development means to slum children in India, that the celebration and adoption of a term produced by a global body like the UN baffles me a little.
“...the child operates as a powerful figure in our society, where children can mobilize anything, from anxieties about same sex marriage to fears about children in detention, and all these things that we see in our own society today.”
In this wide-ranging conversation, Dr. Assa Doron talks about India’s waste, both liquid and solid, and the physical and institutional infrastructures that handle it--or fail to, plus the transformative effects of cheap mobile phones on India’s poor, how trash turns back into treasure, how to write anthropology that’s both “appealing and authoritative,” and where to find schnitzel on the Subcontinent.
Author: Nonie Tuxen, PhD candidate in the Sociology of Education at the ANU. Nonie’s research explores youth engagement with international education and how class status is correspondingly (re)produced in Mumbai, India. Nonie is also a keen photographer - you can follow her @bombayliving on instagram. One of the unintended consequences of my fieldwork in Mumbai … Continue reading When ‘White Privilege’ Becomes Uncomfortably Familiar