Photo: The Anthropologist in the Field

Guatemala 510I recently came across this photo from my first anthropology “fieldwork” project in Quetzaltenango (“Xela”), Guatemala, in January 2006. When I was there, I passed the house/tienda (shop) of the older woman, Lidia, on my daily walks around town. Occasionally I stopped in for a Coke or to pick up some groceries for the house (I remember many loaves of white bread.) One day, Lidia invited me into her home, nestled at the back of the storefront, and asked if I would like to try on a traditional traje (dress). I accepted her invitation without hesitation.

I remember the traje being extremely tight-fitting. After all, I think it was one of her daughter’s outfits, and she was a bit smaller in stature than I was. What I also recall is that I felt that getting to try on the traje was a sign that I had achieved a key goal of my fieldwork – I built rapport with a local and was allowed into her world, even though I was only there for a total of four weeks.

Going through the photos from my trip and thinking about my time in Guatemala has provided me a yet another opportunity to reflect on how my understanding and practice of anthropology have changed throughout the 10 years I’ve been involved with the discipline. When I was an undergrad and still learning the fundamentals, my perspective was framed by the idea that anthropology meant going into an exotic, foreign culture, observing and participating with natives, collecting data, and coming up with some interesting reflections about what I learned for the sake of building knowledge. Now I see anthropology as understanding the world in order to solve problems, which in turn builds knowledge and also creates change. This can take place anywhere, from the villages of developing nations to urban neighborhoods to prisons and the hallways of corporations (all places I’ve “done anthropology.”) I probably would have spent my time in Guatemala differently if I had this perspective back then, but I suppose you have to start out somewhere.

A quick side note: when I rediscovered this photo, I was struck by the similarity between it and the one below of Margaret Mead and two girls in Samoa (Library of Congress, 1926). Of course, this is not to draw any comparisons between myself and Mead other than a visual one…

margaretmeadsamoa

 

Anthropologists in Practice: An Interview with Bruno Moynié, Ethnographic Filmmaker & Consultant

Anthropologists in Practice is an ongoing series of interviews featuring anthropologists (and professionals with anthropology training) who work outside of the academy. The goal of the series is to provide a source of information and inspiration to other practitioners and (prospective) students of anthropology, and to illustrate the wide variety of jobs, skills and competencies held by anthropologists for anyone who is curious about what anthropologists actually do. While the interviews all follow a similar framework, each one is unique in its reflections on anthropology training and education, workplace applications, and advice for current and future practitioners.

How did you get into ethnographic filmmaking?

It sounds corny, but it’s the plain truth: I wanted to do ethnographic documentaries since I was 13 years old. I stumbled upon such a film on French television, and it seemed like a cool job Screen Shot 2014-04-12 at 8.26.53 AMto do, so I researched it and aimed my studies exactly towards that goal. I ended up doing pure ethnography first (in France), then visual anthropology and film (in Canada, where I continued my studies). I returned to France to do more visual anthropology with Jean Rouch – a pioneer in this field – focusing on urban anthropology of the Senegalese community in Paris. I then worked in film as an assistant director for many years, and as a director for corporate films and various TV productions.

Talk about your company, Monde Moderne, and how it came to be.

One day, I came across a group of consultants while I was doing a corporate film on the French steel industry. I realized there was finally a need for my unique combination of anthropology and film for marketing or design research. I understood I had a niche there and created Monde Moderne. Continue reading

Business Anthropology Roundtable: New Voices, New Destinations, New Futures

amysantee:

At the Society for Applied Anthropology annual meetings in Albuquerque this past March, I participated in (and chaired) a session entitled “Business Anthropology Roundtable: New Voices, New Destinations, New Futures” with five fantastic, up-and-coming (women!) business anthropologists. Click here to visit the SfAA Podcast website, where the audio recording, introduction notes and panel bios have been posted.

Originally posted on Podcasts from the SfAA:

IMG_1840

More and more anthropologists are finding employment in the business world. But what is it actually like to work there? This session will feature an open discussion between attendees and five anthropologists who are in the early stages of their professional careers. They have worked as freelancers, researchers, consultants, and interns for Fortune 50 companies, consulting firms, design agencies, and other businesses. Audience questions are welcome, and topics may include the academy-to-business transition, practitioner issues, job roles, the anthropologist identity, and what life is like as a young professional-anthropologist in business

CHAIR: SANTEE, Amy (Empirical Rsch & Design)


ROUNDTABLE PARTICIPANTS: AIKEN, Jo (UNT), DORNADIC, Alicia (Independent), KERSEY, Jen Cardew (SapientNitro), SCHILL, Elizabeth (Partnership for Public Service), and RIOS, Danyel (UNT)
  • Presentation Slides
  • Notes

QUESTIONS & DISCUSSION


View original

New Podcast Featuring Robin Nagle

Originally posted on American Anthropological Association:

RobinNagle.com Listen to Robin Nagle speak about her work in the latest AAA podcast. Dr. Nagle is the author of Picking Up , an ethnography of New York City’s Department of Sanitation.

Dr. Nagle is a clinical associate professor of anthropology and director of the John W. Draper Interdisciplinary Master’s Program in Humanities and Social Thought at New York University. She is also an anthropologist-in-residence with the New York City Department of Sanitation.

View original

Anthropologists in Practice: An Interview with Ethnographic Consultant Pedro Oliveira

Anthropologists in Practice is an ongoing series of interviews featuring anthropologists (and professionals with anthropology training) who work outside of the academy. The goal of the series is to provide a source of information and inspiration to other practitioners and (prospective) students of anthropology, and to illustrate the wide variety of jobs, skills and competencies held by anthropologists for anyone who is curious about what anthropologists actually do. While the interviews all follow a similar framework, each one is unique in its reflections on anthropology training and education, workplace applications, and advice for current and future practitioners.

Describe your background and career path in anthropology. 

I started out as a clinical psychologist, later moving to anthropology and completing a PhD at Brunel University in 2006. In Portugal, unlike the USA or the UK, training in clinical psychology does not require a PhD and it’s possible to complete the training while still fairly Screen Shot 2014-03-11 at 9.06.41 AMyoung. I completed my clinical psychology specialization in my mid-twenties and decided that I didn’t have the maturity to practice as a shrink. Over time, I have come to realize I was never supposed to be a shrink in the first place. I’m glad I did it, though – it adds a different flavor to the way one looks at people.

I never enjoyed the statistical and quantitative methodologies that are very dear to psychologists, especially social and experimental psychologists. Realizing that anthropologists were mostly qualitative researchers, I went into it hoping to find a different way of looking into people and understanding them further. Winning a first grant to do a combined MSc in anthropology and psychology really helped. Winning a second grant to do a PhD in anthropology at Brunel University was the icing on the cake.

I became interested in corporate research after completing my PhD. In Europe, applied anthropology doesn’t have as much of a presence compared to the USA, so it took me some time to realize that I could actually make a living out of it on this side of the pond. Timothy Malefyt, another anthropologist in industry (now working in academia) and Robert Tian, a business anthropology academic located in China, helped me find my first gig here in Portugal. This was five years ago and I’ve been working steadily ever since.

Continue reading