Anthropology roundup: “Affect, Attention, and Ethnographic Research

Affect, Attention, and Ethnographic Research: Thoughts on Mental Health in the Field

This year has seen some encouraging openings in a much-needed conversation on academia and mental health (for example: The Guardian, Chronicle Vitae, The Professor is In). Many of these interventions critically tie their findings to the costs of operating in the academy today. While these conditions increasingly impact all of us, here I’d like to try and tie this talk to anthropology – and specifically, ethnographic research.

Beyond the Vaccination Rift

“Man is by nature a social animal … for [whom] the whole must necessarily come before the part.”


Parents who do not vaccinate their children have faced a firestorm of vitriol in recent years. Media coverage of outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles and whooping cough has too often ended in a blame game, deepening divides between communities of parents who vaccinate routinely and those who do not.

Manpreet K. Janeja. Transactions in Taste: The Collaborative lives of Everyday Bengali Foods. London: Routledge, 2010. 185 pages, ISBN 978-415553742.

Reviewed by Meraz Rahman
New Mexico State University 

Bernard Bates, a Yale-NUS professor and former professor in theAnthropology Department, passed away in his sleep earlier this month. He was 55 years old. Anthropology Department Chair Anne Underhill told members of the department that Bates had .

Exploring Wine Value

Ellen Messer
Tufts University

Experienced wine political-economist Mike Veseth asserts there is no sure relationship between price and quality.  This is because wines in recent decades have been blended so that even cheap wines are palatable instead of “plonk,” and individual tastes for wine also vary with personal genetics and experience.  A third factor is wine-producer and -marketer pricing and distribution strategies for global markets, which are stratified.  This means that some very good wine (“seconds”) reach buyers at a relatively low prices.  At the other end of the price scale, some distributors set values according to what they think the market will bear.  Buyers are hoodwinked into paying higher prices for lower quality wines because they don’t have reliable guidance telling them what each wine is worth, and also, they don’t want to appear stingy when bringing a guest bottle that others may comparatively price at local wine shops.  Snob appeal has its price but not always substance.

Teh new ethnographeez

I’m in a reading group with sociologists — no, really, it’s been a good experience — and they said to me “it’s been a while since we read any ethnography, why don’t you chose the next book.” Choosing a book for a reading group is difficult : You sort of want to pick something you don’t really want to read, since the reading group will make you read it. But then after all you want to pick something you really want to read, right? Something of general interest that you need to keep up with the field, or maybe a specialist work that you absolutely need to read and haven’t yet. You know what your friends and colleagues are publishing, but then you want to chose a book that stretches your horizons and moves you out of your usual networks.

To my mind, a well-made Acheulean hand ax is one of the most beautiful and remarkable archaeological objects ever found, anywhere on the planet. I love its clean, symmetrical lines. Its strength and heft impress me, and so does its persistence.

Acheulean hand ax is the term archaeologists now use to describe the distinctive stone-tool type first discovered by John Frere at Hoxne, in Suffolk, Great Britain, in the late 1700s. Jacques Boucher de Perthes, a celebrated archaeologist, found similar objects in France during excavations conducted in the 1830s and 1840s. The name Acheulean comes from the site of Saint-Acheul, near the town of Amiens in northern France, which de Perthes excavated in 1859.

On July 28, 1889, a couple drove a carriage down a remote road about a dozen miles south of Lyon, France. Michel Eyraud, a middle-aged conman, and his mistress Gabrielle Bompard, who was half his age, were looking for an out-of-the-way place to dump their decaying cargo. Eyraud found the perfect spot in the woods near the village of Millery. He opened a large trunk and hoisted a heavy burlap sack into the bushes. A few miles down the road he smashed the wooden chest and threw away the pieces.


New Fossils of Australopithecus afarensis Found in Kenya
Fieldwork at the Pliocene site of Kantis, Kenya, has yielded fossilized teeth and forearm bone attributable to Australopithecus afarensis, a hominid species that lived from 3.85 to 2.95 million years ago. Forensic facial reconstruction of

Associate Media Editor, Sociology & Anthropology
Publishers Lunch Deluxe (subscription)
W. W. Norton & Company is seeking an Associate Editor for its college Sociology, Cultural Anthropology, Physical Anthropologydigital media team(s). Working closely with these highly collaborative groups, the Associate Media Editor will be responsible

Trolling @AmericanAnthro; PLUS: Savage Minds is Seeking Social Media Manager!

Saturday morning, the American Anthropological Association celebrated its 114th birthday. Sort of. That morning, @AmericanAnthro tweeted something along the lines of:

“Today is AAA’s 114th birthday! Tell us why you love AAA with the hashtag #AAABDay.”

Not much later, two people responded:

The most astounding thing about the rise of Donald Trump is not his willingness to use racist hatred as a central theme in his presidential campaign—it’s theunwillingness of the Republican Party to denounce him for it.

Trump’s rivals and sundry party notables proclaim that Trump must be stopped, yet in the debates those same opponents ultimately pledge to support the party’s nominee, whoever it may be.

This is the thirty-second post in the freedom technologists series

Postill, J. in press 2016. Review of Karatzogianni, A. (2015) Firebrand Waves of Digital Activism 1994–2014. Palgrave Macmillan UK. To appear in the journalInformation, Communication and Society

John Postill
RMIT University
11 March 2016

Seeing Revolutionary Info-structure

[extract from keynote at the Mobile Life Centre, University of Stockholm, March 17, 2016]

Its the summer of 2015 and I am on a former Naval Air Force base in Keflavik, Iceland. The wind is 20 miles per hour and still won’t keep the midge flies from darting into my eyes. A massive once-white satellite disc hovers above collecting signal intelligence. I am hunched over my black boxy backpack unpacking an unmanned aerial vehicle, spinning its four propellers on, checking its battery, bluetooth tethering its on-board camera to my iPhone so that I might see as it sees, behind me another video camera on a tripod films the scene as I use my thumbs to thrust the drone off the abandoned and weedy tarmac and into the sky, just eye-level and arms length from myself. Seagulls swoop in to see what is suddenly threatening their airspace. Gusts of 40 miles per hour shove the drone to the west, but it automatically recorrects to my eyeline level–my daughter has come to call this thing the “dragonfly” for these very stunts. I embark on a few exploratory examinations of the satellite disc, practicing circumnavigating this space eye with my airborne digital eye, gusts funnel off the curves of the disc, shoving the drone back and forth. I’ve already crashed this 1000 pound plastic remote controlled devices twice, thankfully some engineers were able to straighten outs its wickedly bend arm.

Paranoid Reading, Writing, and Research: Secrecy in the Field

In my first Savage Minds guest post, I wanted to write about the encounter that most deeply influenced my time in the field.  In the remainder of my time here, I want to write in the same vein about research dynamics I sense to be widespread (and widely impactful), but that we have few opportunities to discuss.  I want to think together about some of the sticky issues – some of the nagging and not-well-articulated frictions that might be worthwhile to work through.  In this post I’d like to raise some questions about secrecy, and our ethnographic orientation toward the unknown.

WMU anthropology students concerned about future of department
KALAMAZOO, MI — Anthropology students at Western Michigan University are concerned about the future of their department. Several students addressed the Western Michigan University Board of Trustees at a meeting Friday, saying the department is at risk …
Worried Anthropology Students Bring Concerns to TrusteesWMUK

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