We’re stoked to bring you TAL’s first ever three-city episode! Join Adam (in Peru!) and Ryan (in Boston!) and special guest Vyjayanthi Vadrevu (somewhere between NYC and Austin!) for an in-depth look into the world of Anthropological Consulting and Strategy.
What is anthropology like in the business world? Vyjayanthi runs an anthropological consulting company (Rasa.nyc) that draws on social science and design to help companies better communicate and connect with their customers.
We dive into questions such as who can call themselves an anthropologist (academic, corporate, podcasters?!), what does a consulting anthropological project look like, what makes up anthropological research, and is client-based ethnography anthropology selling out?
Here’s an excerpt from the blog, check out the rest in the link above!
This Anthropological Life (TAL) is a professional experiment. Our aim is to promote anthropological thinking to the public through enjoyable and entertaining conversations. We’ve been making podcast episodes at TAL for over two and a half years, and have produced over 60 episodes, each around 45 minutes. The format is an unscripted, roundtable conversation supported by weekly research.
One main goal of TAL is to demonstrate and practice anthropological thinking in a publicly accessible way (with no homework, no jargon, no extra reading). Podcasting provides a natural medium through which to do this because open conversations don’t easily allow for footnotes, extensive quoting, or even hard-to-say sentences. It sounds simple, but as any academic anthropologist knows, trying to explain Bourdieu’s habitus or Marx’s labor theory of value in conversation without confusing your students is a learned skill. However, TAL isn’t intended to explain anthropological theory, nor is it to highlight anthropologists and their work. Rather, we use podcasting to break down anthropological research into an easily digestible format promoting holistic thinking.
We see TAL as somewhere between academia, design anthropology, public anthropology, and entertainment. Since podcasting is not (yet) an accepted academic format like a thesis or peer-reviewed journal it hovers on the fringes of academia. Its roots as a form of alternative, democratic radio production put it for many in the entertainment/news/informally-learn-something-new camp. Couched between these two forms we saw an opportunity to raise public consciousness about anthropology. In 2013 podcasts were a relatively new medium and applied anthropological communities like the National Association of Practicing Anthropology (NAPA) and Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference (EPIC) hadn’t gained huge traction in anthropological worlds (I’m glad to see this changing). Podcasting is a great medium for sharing knowledge that follows on the heels of classic radio, the move towards more audiobook consumption by the general public, and the need to stop privileging the visual for information consumption. As someone who struggles with reading, this last point is particularly important to me.
Join TaL’s Aneil Tripathy and Caitlin Zaloom, NYU Associate Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis, as they discuss Zaloom’s research on futures markets and most recently student debt. Hear about what initially drew Zaloom to study financial markets in Chicago and London.
Professor Zaloom and Aneil end the conversation with a discussion on how anthropologists should speak to our moment in history and the importance of studying powerful institutions. Anthropology’s job is to denaturalize social systems, and it is especially important to do so in elite settings with powerful institutions such as those active in finance.
Special guest podcast from our friends at the Food Futures Podcast on Beaconreader.com:
Corinna Howland interviews Adam Gamwell about experimental games, or field experiments, which NGOs and economists use to measure when, why, and how people make different kinds of choices. This data, in turn, is used to inform public policy and generate development projects. As part of Adam’s work in Peru, he ran a series of experimental games with Andean farmers for the NGO Bioversity International, to understand what kinds of incentives farmers would need to conserve threatened varieties of quinoa.
Join TAL’s Ryan Collins and Aneil Tripathy as they interview Emily Jane Murry about her work as a publicly engaged archaeologist in Northern Florida with the Florida Public Archaeology Network. Most of us don’t even consider that the world around us is an archaeological treasure trove, with worlds of diverse cultural experiences overlapping in the layers right beneath our feet. As a champion of this cause, bringing archaeology to the public’s attention, Emily works to foster a sense of stewardship to the past precisely because it is so very connected to the social present. Tune in to hear more!
How does a camera and a deep sense of curiosity lead to a lifetime of archaeological research on ancient peoples, their symbols, art, and writing? Ryan and Aneil are joined by Brandeis University Professor Javier Urcid who shares stories on the serendipity that characterized the beginning of his lifelong passion in anthropology. From Zapotec script to funerary practices, Javier’s interests are focused on the stories that influenced the daily lives of ancient people and reconstructing the few images that remain today. Javier’s story is one of reflection, but on the mysteries that compel so many to dig ever deeper into. Who were past peoples? What were they like? What stories inspired them and can we find traces of them today? Tune in for a very special episode that connects the past to the present on several levels, one of personal growth and discovery.
We’re back in Peru! Join Adam and special guest Alexander Wankel of Pachakuti Foods for a conversation about the future of food production, agrobiodiversity, sustainability, and keeping traditional culture alive. All from the view point of quinoa.
Pachakuti Foods is a brand-new startup focusing on creating a market for sustainable, pro-farmer and agrobiodiverse quinoa. It’s better for small-scale farmers, the environment, and for fighting climate change. Check out the project, and if you like it, support them on Kickstarter here!
When designing a research project, a researcher’s initial plans are often interrupted by what data we actually can access. Whether negotiating political structures, cultural taboos, necessary permissions, or the logistics of moving massive amounts of earth, borders certainly influence the research anthropologists conduct. Yet, those same borders are often at the heart of creative projects that grant an otherwise hidden perspective into the subaltern realities many diverse peoples face. Join Aneil and Ryan as they discuss these questions of research with Asli Zengin, whose studies on sex workers and trans people in Turkey was fraught with uncrossable borders. Yet, in negotiating them, deeper questions on the social realties, contested identities, and experiences that shape the lives of those who live between borders were appeared. Tune in and join us as we cross cultural boundaries.
Coca and Mate by Guilherme Heiden and Adam Gamwell
Mate (pronounced mah-tay), or more commonly known as yerba mate for English speakers, is an herbal tea drink native to parts of South America – Southern Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay – where local people drank it for thousands of years. The incredible history of mate follows Guarani indigenous legend, the rise of Jesuit colonialism, Gaucho (cowboy) culture in Southern Brazil, and continues its rise in global popularity.
Many see this drink as beyond a drink – aside from its colorful and unique drinking apparatus made from a dried-out gourd and metal straw. Mate is known to break down barriers between people of different groups, classes, ethnicity, even religions (trust us, you’ll learn about this one).
Join Adam and special guest Guilherme Heiden, a Southern Brazilian mate enthusiast and expert, coming to you live from fieldwork in Peru, as they explore the fascinating, and thirst-quenching world of mate.
To celebrate #WorldAnthropologyDay we here at TaL have curated some of our favorite past episodes covering how we approach anthropology and where we see the discipline going in the future! Check out the episodes and as always, let us know what you think.
What are anthropology’s strengths, weaknesses, and where are we going next?? Each episode linked below.