DEPT. OF ANTHROPOLOGY, UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON starts to offer an MA program in Digital Anthropology:
AT THE DEPT. OF ANTHROPOLOGY, UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON
STARTING SEPTEMBER 2009
Please inform undergraduates and other potential students about this new MA programme for which further details can be found at http://www.ucl.ac.uk/anthropology/digital-anthropology
I was impressed to notice that University College London is going to begin offering an MA in ‘Digital Anthropology’ starting in fall 2009. They are even hiring if you’d like to throw your hat in the ring. Just a quick glance at their core readings—Chris Kelty, Tom Boellstorf, Mimi Ito, The Daniel Miller Assemblage, etc—makes the course look interesting to me, and relatively low on the hand-waveyness scale. Sounds like an interesting program.
Observing people in Sydney made me quite clear that the dominant focus of cross-cultural academics and practitioners on national cultures is problematic. People from so-many cultural background study and work in closely cooperation at universities and public and private organisations. Looking at your Indian, English, Dutch, Japanese or German colleague as representatives of fixed national cultures will not help you very much in your collaboration. The so-called essentialistic perspective has become very popular in contemporary management literature and consultancy and is highlighted by European authors, such as Hofstede (1990) and Trompenaars (1993). The work of Hofstede and Trompenaars, who have developed ‘cultural maps of the world’ in which each country can be situated based on their score on different indexes, fitted perfectly in the assumption that culture is a (more or less) stable entity that can be ‘engineered’, and managed. However, recent evaluations of these essentialistic cultural programs are not positive in regard to organizational costs and sustainability. The programs use a dramatic oversimplification of the culture concept and make no difference between espoused values and actual behaviour. Consultants of large cross-cultural consultancy firms themselves don’t believe in the value of multi value models. Instead they do use their international sensitiveness and experience to train managers and employees. In our research on the number one consultancy on cross cultural business in the Netherlands showed that a larger part of the consultants were using anthropological tools and methods rather than the corporate developed multi value models. None of them however, were anthropologists.
No, this is not an (anti-imperialist) “rant” as one conservative blogger recently wrote in characterizing this blog, but rather the conclusion arrived at by a Major in the United States Marine Corps, Benn Connable, writing in the latest issue of the Military Review:
Connable, Ben. (2009). All our eggs in a broken basket: How the Human Terrain System is undermining sustainable military cultural competence. Military Review, March-April: 57–64.
There is no need for my narration here, although a selection (and thus editing) of some key points (from my perspective) is tantamount to narration. Readers should therefore consult the original source in its entirety, these notes and quotes are, as always here primarily for my future ease of reference. The headings, however, are my own, as are the emphases in bold lettering.
I am not sure how many Culture Matters readers have followed the French debate that has surrounded the government’s announcement that university funding will be reformed in accordance with the audit model that French commentators mistakenly identify as “American,” but which all of us elsewhere in Western Europe, Australia and so on have meekly accepted. (I recall how surprised I was by the atmosphere in a faculty meeting at Macquarie, in which there was no attempt to discuss whether or not we should go with the new “research assessment” system; rahter, the debate was restricted to “harm reduction.”) French university staff, by contrast, has gone on strike in protest.