FreeThink 3: PRX Podcast Garage Meetups, Building Bridges, and Expanding the Podcast

FreeThink LogoDo you need Podcast advice? How is social media transforming the nature of protesting? Can we hatch a good episode out of chickens? Join us in our latest Free Think where we talk upcoming episodes, public anthropology, podcasting, and the future of This Anthropological Life.

Links to Check Out
Anthro Story
The Podcast Garage
Stride and Saunter
Standing Rock Syllabus
TAL Episode: Ebola and Virology
Arab Spring and Social Media
Policing Protests Through Social Media
Franz Boas
Margaret Mead


Of Quinoa, Agricultural Science, and Social Change – New Essay from Adam Gamwell on the Savage Minds Anthropologies Projects

Photo: Colin Stone Peacock

Photo: Colin Stone Peacock

TAL’s Adam Gamwell has a new essay about his research on quinoa biodiversity in Peru out on Savage Minds blog!

Excerpt:

Specters of the Dead

Aymara legend has it that some 5000 years ago there was a massive drought across the land, across what would become known as the Andean Altiplano spanning southern Peru and Bolivia. During this years-long drought harvests were lost, there was hunger, and many people and their animals died. Farmers, llamas and alpacas, travelers subsisting on the hospitality of locals all ran out of stores and eventually starved. There was virtually no food to be found, save for two plants that grew wild: quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa), and its cousin cañihua (Chenopodium pallidicaule). These two species grow primarily in the Lake Titicaca basin and are remarkably resilient in the face of drought and frost, and can grow in salty, sandy, and acidic soils that kill most other plants. People quickly realized the nutritional qualities of these plants, and quinoa became famous for sustaining those who ate its seeds. The plant was named jiwra in Aymara which translates in Spanish to “levanta moribundos” or that which raises the dying (Canahua y Mujica, 2013).

This legend was recounted to me in perhaps an unusual place by an unexpected storyteller: a plant geneticist told the tale in-between explaining the orthomolecular and nutraceutical qualities of quinoa.

Agricultural scientists play a key role in the production of quinoa in Puno, Peru. That may seem overly obvious from a scientific point of view, but this fact easily gets overshadowed in contemporary marketing images of happy indigenous farmers in traditional clothing, alpacas grazing open fields, and organic quinoa blowing in the wind. Moving beyond these representations to where quinoa is produced in primarily in the Titicaca – Poopo basin between Peru and Bolivia, it becomes clear just how much some agronomists shift back-and-forth between so-called ‘forward-looking’ agricultural science and ‘traditional’ quinoa agricultures, which they view not as opposed but as complementary and mutually reinforcing. The examples explored below take inspiration from Gabriela Soto-Laveaga’s Jungle Laboratories (2009). Yet, rather than seeking to recuperate the hidden histories and lives of indigenous producers behind the ‘scientific’ creation of the Pill, I draw here on ethnographic research in southern Peru to analyze the work of several Puneño agronomists who actively use their scientific capital to keep indigenous knowledge, agriculture and history a part of quinoa’s story.

Read the rest here: Of Quinoa, Agricultural Science, and Social Change

Adam Gamwell rounds out the anthropologies #22 issue on food. Gamwell is a public anthropologist and PhD Candidate at Brandeis University working across food, design, science, and markets. His research is based in southern Peru on quinoa. He is also Creative Director and host for This Anthropological Life Podcast. Connect with Adam on academia.edu or linkedin.com

Part of the Anthropologies #22 – Food Issue


Don’t Panic! The Neuroscience behind falling into Balance w/ Vivek Pandey Vimal

Signature:78379061d4d0474729cc9f2f2dbbf228ce23aaef9e376555fe5b76861c65ff0aAre balance and movement something that can be culturally shaped? Why aren’t female rats being used in drug studies? In this episode of This Anthropological Life we team up with Vivekanand Pandey Vimal to talk about his research that explores how people learn to balance when their sensory systems are taken away. We then relate studies on balance and movement to anthropology and discuss the importance of multidisciplinary collaboration. Show notes by Nina Oria-Loureiro.

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On Kindness and What the World Needs Now w/ Hannah Brencher

Adam, Hannah and ryanHave you ever felt disconnected from your relationships and your life because of your reliance on your phone and social media? Do you ever feel nostalgia for the art of handwriting letters? Hannah Brencher understands what you are feeling. In this episode of This Anthropological Life, we discuss the difficulties of being present, the importance of time in maintaining relationships, the pitfalls of random acts of kindness, and the joys of writing a love letter. Copy Prepared by Nina Oria-Loureiro
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Multi-species and non-Human Centered Anthropology: Conversations Revisited

tal-conversarions-waterJoin us for another listen of TAL Conversations favorites on Multi-species and Non-Human Centered Anthropology. Originally aired December 2013, with a follow-up conversation coming soon!

Do you have a pet? Do you talk to your pet? How about your house plants? Ever thought about where those vegetables you use as food and bought at the grocery store came from? Like, really came from? “Human Nature”, Anna Tsing writes, “is an interspecies relationship”. It’s never been just about humans; life on this planet (and possibly beyond) is an entanglement of many different kinds of living selves, inert objects, and assemblages of ideas. This week, Adam and Ryan will try to figure out just what the heck this idea might mean and what implications it has for rethinking our connections with and construction of the material and social world.

Tune in a very special episode of This Anthropological Life where we take on the very idea of “Human Nature” from the lens of the emerging field of Multi-species and Non-human centered Anthropology! This will definitely be one of our more philosophical episodes, but will be grounded in the world of pets, monumental architecture, the archaeological record, bones, electric vehicles, mushrooms, and more!

Originally Aired: December 2013


Myths of American Democracy: Contradictions, Troubling Numbers, and Searching for Sense in the System

statue-of-libertyDo you find yourself increasingly frustrated at the lack of real conversations between candidates and politicians? Are you confused about why someone who doesn’t walk to the beat of your life claims to represent the whole of your interests and everyone you know? This episode is not about the candidates, we’ll leave the bashing to them and other pundits. Rather, with this episode we aim to expose some of the mechanisms driving American politics and show different social truths about political systems in general. Join Adam, Aneil, and Ryan as they discuss the debate and informed positions on big questions like “Does my vote, a single vote, matter?”, “What is the role of government?”, and “Have we outgrown our current political system?”

tal-conversarions-water


FreeThink #2 – Moving Beyond the Mic: On Collaborations and Working Across Disciplines

FreeThink LogoJoin Aneil, Adam and Ryan for the second FreeThink episode, where they talk unscripted about upcoming projects and potential interdisciplinary collaborations beyond the mic.

FreeThink is a new series of episodes that works like a backstage pass, where we talk unscripted about what’s on our minds and hearts, the nuts and bolts of making a podcast today, and the larger projects we are working on surrounding the show. If you’ve never heard This Anthropological Life, we don’t recommend starting with these episodes. check out our more in-depth Conversations series with some of our favorite episodes curated just for you. TaL Best Of (so far…).

When you’re ready, we’d love to have you join us here for a deeper dialogue.


New to TAL? Check out some of our favorite episodes!

Glad you’re here! Check out some of our favorite episodes in any order and get to know the anthropological life. And, if you’re long-time listeners we hope you’ll enjoy revisiting these gems with us. If you like us, be sure to subscribe and visit our previous episodes on the downloads page.

I, Luca Galuzzi [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

Episode: 10 Beer Though we made this episode two years ago and the quality is not what we do now but in terms of content its one of our all time favorites. We cover some of the historical uses of beer, its changing meaning over time, the development of taste, and perhaps even share a few ancient recipes! From contemporary hipster cans to drinks of ancient Egyptian Pharaohs you don’t want to miss this episode! Cheers, Prost, Salud, Allinta Qali!

45 The Happiness Fetish What kinds of things make us happy? How does happiness inhere in objects or how to we use objects to display our happiness?

39 The Politics of Difference Ryan, Aneil, and Adam cover the politics of difference through an unlikely lens and cutting edge research. Were Neanderthals good parents? What does new archaeological and biological research tell us about European’s genetic relatedness to Neanderthals? Putting these questions together, we turn our anthropological lens to hidden assumptions about parenting styles, ancestry, subsistence, and lifestyles, and help draw out how notions of difference are constructed.

37 Long Haul Trucking Through China Trucking is one of the most important, but under studied, forms of transit and economy in contemporary China. Guest Rachel Katz climbed aboard for six months, traveled with truckers, got to know their routes, their families, hardships and opportunities.


FreeThink #1: TaL Back in the Studio! What’s Next??

IMG_8528Adam, Aneil, and Ryan are all back in the TaL studio for the first time in 18 months! And it feels good. Today we talk shop about where we’ve been and where we’re going with TaL. Check out the conversation on evolving the show content with new episode lengths and direction (same great content, shorter, more-digestible bites) and new minisodes based on Adam’s growing obsession with design and applied anthropology offering you practical ways to apply anthropological thinking and action to your daily life, and professionalizing our craft with new partnerships with the American Anthropological Association among others!

We’re super excited to be back for you and can’t wait to build this new season along with you!


Talking Anthropology: Podcasting and Its Potential for the Discipline (Part Two)

IMG_0369We’re back with another post from our friends at Teaching Culture blog! This time we explore podcasting and its potential for Anthropology. Here’s an excerpt, and be sure to head over to Teaching Culture blog for the full post!

“This second entry has been much more difficult for us to write than the first. We came in with an idea that this would give us an opportunity to concisely tell a story about the promises podcasting brings anthropology. Too soon we came to realize our narrative was as broad as it was vague. Rather than working entirely from an unpolished framework (this was only somewhat true, really), we came to realize that anthropology is difficult to define because it doesn’t have clear boundaries. By definition, anthropology is the study of all things, people, and social relations everywhere and everywhen. On the one hand, anthropology is the field that begins and ends with people at its very core. Yet, on the other hand, the boundaries between anthropology and, for example, astrophysics become blurred because it’s nothing more than one version of our own cosmology. As much as it is challenging, this openness is useful for anthropologists and the stories they can tell through podcasting.

IMG_0368For its part, podcasting is a flexible medium encompassing audio and video recording, and production can range from barely edited open-format conversations to fully produced episodes with edited interviews, sound effects, and sponsors. What links the diverse formats of this medium are the characteristics of a serial format, subscription-based service, and democratized production.

Employing audio recording in anthropology isn’t new. Many anthropologists use audio and video to record interviews with informants, their own thoughts or reflections, and occasionally the soundscapes of field sites. On many occasions audio and video are used in formalized settings to record lectures and talks. However, podcasting takes this one step further, moving into relatively uncharted territory to not only collect data, but deliver that data in a flexible narrative format to a discipline uncomfortable with fixed, rigid structures.

Drawing from these broad strokes we’ve found it most fruitful to put podcasting in conversation with anthropology and fieldwork to tease out how they might work together….”

Check out the full post here

Thanks again to Teaching Culture blog for hosting us! They are a great resource for educators interested in the social sciences, and especially anthropology.