From Indiana Jones to Bones to that graduate student kidnapped by pirates on Archer, there are many different representations of anthropology in pop culture, but what do real anthropologists do?
Anthropology is the study of what it means to be human. Which means that anthropologists study pretty much everything, including politics, art, medicine, religion, and our relationship with the environment. Some anthropologists take us into communities that are intensely different—ones we may not even know exist—and help us understand them from the inside. Other anthropologists use those same methods to get us to question the familiar—what feels normal to us, and why doesn’t it feel the same way to others?
In this first episode of The Anthropologist on the Street podcast, I have invited Dr. Angela Jenks to explain what anthropology is and why it is important. Dr. Jenks is an anthropologist at the University of California, Irvine, a recipient of an award for excellence in teaching, and the first Teaching “Scholar-in-Residence” for the prestigious journal Cultural Anthropology. She talks to us about humanity, culture, and the paradox of being an American and an anthropologist, where we collectively share a culture of individuality.
To download or stream the episode, use the audio player above, or find AOTS through the following sites:
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For more information on Dr. Angela Jenks:
Dr. Jenks’ faculty page: http://faculty.sites.uci.edu/ajenks/
Dr. Jenks’ publications: http://faculty.sites.uci.edu/ajenks/publications-2/
Follow Dr. Jenks on Twitter: https://twitter.com/angelacjenks?lang=en
Links to Dr. Jenks’ Teaching Scholar-in-Residence posts: https://culanth.org/fieldsights/968-reflecting-on-the-scholar-in-residence-program-an-interview-with-angela-jenks
Dr. Jenks’ (and others’) Cultural Anthropology articles on teaching: https://culanth.org/conversations/16-teaching-tools
For more information on anthropology:
American Anthropological Association: www.AmericanAnthro.org
relevANTH blog (by Dr. Carie Little Hersh): www.relevANTH.com
Savage Minds blog: www.savageminds.org
Powered by Osteons blog “Why is Anthropology Needed?”: http://www.poweredbyosteons.org/2011/10/why-is-anthropology-needed.html
Living Anthropologically blog: http://www.livinganthropologically.com/blog/
Links to articles, people, and videos referenced in the episode:
Marcel Mauss’s “Techniques of the Body”: https://monoskop.org/
Margaret Mead: http://thephilosophersmail.com/perspective/the-great-anthropologists-margaret-mead/
A perspective on Margaret Mead and her relationship with Dr. Benjamin Spock: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/the-ultimate-study-margaret-mead-as-a-mother.premium-1.479880
Anthropologist Bambi Chapin talking about motherhood and strategies for feeding vegetables to children: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=77G5QPXzWsw
Emily Martin’s famous article “The Egg and the Sperm”: http://anthropology.msu.edu/anp201/files/2011/06/201-3-The-Egg-and-the-Sperm-by-Emily-Martin-1991.pdf
Medical anthropologist Paul Farmer’s organization Partners in Health: http://www.pih.org/
“Why Archaeologists Hate Indiana Jones”: http://io9.gizmodo.com/why-archeologists-hate-indiana-jones-1636800753
“How Creating Your Own Ritual Can Bring Surprisingly Deep Meaning: http://www.relevanth.com/how-creating-your-own-ritual-can-bring-surprisingly-deep-meaning/
This was great! So informative and revealing. Since I teach in a nursing program and we always ask our students to make comments on how a patient’s culture may have affected their care, this podcast provide me with more information on ways I might have them think about that. I am continually frustrated with comments like, “There was nothing in their culture that would have affected my care.” I try to leave my comments back to them along the line of: “Well did you ask them anything about their approach to coming to the hospital or having a baby?” You provided me with another way to approach this by mentioning rituals. So maybe I might ask them if the family has any rituals involved with bringing a new baby home? This is so difficult to get around! They need to look at more than race or religion! Thanks and this is just what we need!!
Thank you for your thoughtful comment! It can be really difficult to pick out what is cultural unless it stands out as obviously different. Medicine and nursing complicate the issue even more because we tend to think of them as objective and scientific, rather than as cultural institutions of their own. You may be interested in a few upcoming episodes featuring medical anthropologists, including next week’s episode on breast milk sharing among women.