Faking it as an anthropologist


As a sociologist who teaches anthropology I’ve gone through quite a steep learning curve over the last 12 months. Despite what outsiders may think there is a lot of difference between the two approaches, and as I’m discovering there is a massive variety within anthropology which makes it difficult to get a grasp of (from evolutionary/biological to the social cultural).

Last week I presented my score fellowship project to a workshop at oxford which was being organized by (one of) the anthropology department(s) and the education department. It was called Learning Unlearning and one of the ideas of the event was to open a dialogue between the two departments, how might an anthropological approach inform educational research?

I rose to the challenge and submitted an idea about using the concept of bricolage to inform some of the stuff I’ve been thinking about social media. Much fun was had in the pub afterwards with my neoligism, clickolage [it *will* catch on!].

I was pretty nervous talking about anthropological concepts with a room full of serious anthropologists but they couldn’t have been friendlier (an occupational quirk, surely?).

One thing that did strike me about the day though was how low-fi these anthropogists are. There was about 10 speakers, and I was the first to have any slides and I think only 3 did, one speaker even used an OHP! The second thing to strike me was that you really don’t need to use a projector and powerpoint for an engaging talk, as many of the presenters let their ideas do the talking, and were no worse for it.

Part of the workshop was to launch the RAI sponsored new (peer reviewed and open access) journal, Teaching Anthropology to which I will be submitting something once I get a chance.

There was quite a lot of discussion in the pub afterwards about what it actually takes to be acknowledged as an anthropogist. There is a bit of a east coast/west coast hip hop thing going on between the RAI and ASA, and there is even a sense in which to be truly acknowledged as an anthro you have to have done your fieldwork somewhere remote/exotic, or as one person said you need to catch malaria to call yourself an anthropologist.

Maybe if I keep attending these events and start publishing in their journals I will be accepted into the tribe without the need to catch a tropical disease?

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About digitalscholar

I am a sociologist with an interest in new technology. Previously I’ve worked on a number of projects at Lancaster University and the Open University looking at the use of new technologies and social media by researchers. I was also a social sciences teaching fellow at the foundation centre at Durham University teaching sociology and anthropology. I am now a senior lecturer at the University of West London's Institute for Teaching, Innovation and Learning where I oversee the foundation provision and support retention. I'm sure I'll still be interested in, and occasionally blog about, tech related things. I use this blog to post thoughts about using new technologies in my professional academic life and wider thoughts and links relating to technology more generally.
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