Archive for Cultural Anthropology – Page 2

Episode 12 Friendship Beyond Dementia – the Anthropology of Aging with Dr. Janelle Taylor

Anthropologist on the Street
Episode 12 Friendship Beyond Dementia - the Anthropology of Aging with Dr. Janelle Taylor
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Dr. Janelle Taylor (Photo courtesy of Dr. Taylor)

Dementia changes not only memory but identity and social roles, as well. As the fabric of who we are changes shape, our culturally-inscribed ideas about aging, personhood, and health can influence whether we experience aging as crisis or whether we develop new aspects of ourselves.

Medical Anthropologist Dr. Janelle Taylor, a professor of anthropology at University of Washington, explores aging as a cultural phenomenon, made easier or harder depending on our expectations of friends and families and our beliefs about what makes us a person. In particular, Dr. Taylor researches how successful friendships adapt in the face of dementia and why those relationships are crucial to patients and their family caregivers.
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Episode 11 Prison Labor, Fighting Wildfires, & Crafting New Identities with Lindsey Raisa Feldman

Anthropologist on the Street
Episode 11 Prison Labor, Fighting Wildfires, & Crafting New Identities with Lindsey Raisa Feldman
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Anthropology Doctoral Candidate Lindsey Raisa Feldman (Photo courtesy of Ms. Feldman)

The United States has faced an astonishing number of wildfires in the fall of 2017, but who is on the front line combating them? It turns out there are a number of state, community, and federal agencies battling the flames, but one group we don’t often hear about is men and women serving time in prison, released temporarily to fight fires on the frontlines.

Lindsey Feldman is a doctoral candidate in Anthropology at the University of Arizona, and she has spent the last few years photographing, interviewing, and fighting fires alongside members of the prison wildland firefighters in Arizona. While Feldman, and many others, maintain that the use of prisoners for underpaid and dangerous labor presents deep ethical problems, Feldman’s on-the-ground ethnographic research provides a different, coexisting perspective. For prisoners able to join the firefighting teams, the experience can be extremely meaningful, allowing them to forge new relationships, new identities, and new promises for life after prison.
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Episode 10 Racism, Educational Anthropology, & Everyday Terror with Dr. Jeanine Staples

Anthropologist on the Street
Episode 10 Racism, Educational Anthropology, & Everyday Terror with Dr. Jeanine Staples
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Dr. Jeanine Staples (photo courtesy of Dr. Staples)

The effects of racism are tangible and physical. They are carried in the bodies of their victims. But how does racism work? Why can it be hard to see? How do we combat racist messages that are woven into the very fabric of our social institutions?

Dr. Jeanine Staples works at the intersection of race, gender, identity, and education. By examining the subtle messages that devalue blackness, Afrocentric styles and fashions, Ebonics, and other cultural elements associated with African Americans, as well as the complex messages all girls receive about their sexuality and social worth, Dr. Staples reveals how African American girls internalize the simple message that they are not, and never will be, good enough.

Equally disconcerting is the way social institutions like schools, often thought of as neutral, act as places where cultural messages of value (and devaluation) are loudest. Far beyond teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic, schools are a primary site where cultural values like competition, gender biases, and individualism are taught to the next generation. When those values include subconscious race discrimination, where black folks are coded as lazy or criminal or where black hairstyles are viewed as socially problematic, the broader messages about race affect everyone in society.

Dr. Staples discusses how we can make these messages more visible, why we need to take them seriously, and what we can do about them.
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Episode 9 The River is a Goddess: Environmental Anthropology with Dr. Georgina Drew

Anthropologist on the Street
Episode 9 The River is a Goddess: Environmental Anthropology with Dr. Georgina Drew
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Dr. Georgina Drew (Photo courtesy of Dr. Drew)

The Ganga River in India is a goddess, who has a long history of protecting and caring for her followers. But as a source of water, how do followers balance their respect for the goddess amid the various ways they are supported by her? The practical needs of the surrounding population, like fresh water, electricity, and industrial development, meet the spiritual needs of absolution through water burial, redemption through bathing in her free flowing waters, and the broader desire to protect the goddess who provides for so many.

Hydroelectric dam redirects flow out of the riverbed in the Garhwal Mountains (Photo courtesy of Dr. Drew)

Environmental Anthropologist Dr. Georgina Drew explains how a river is many things to its surrounding inhabitants—they have religious concerns, economic concerns, and ecological concerns—but different people prioritize them differently. There’s no one perspective on how to use the river. Dr. Drew discusses how our cultural ideas, practices, and beliefs about the earth are central to how we impact it. Taking a humanistic, anthropological approach means viewing the partnership between the environment and ourselves, and how each impacts the other.
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Episode 8 Understanding Transgender Health & Identity with Brett Nava-Coulter

Anthropologist on the Street
Episode 8 Understanding Transgender Health & Identity with Brett Nava-Coulter
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Brett Nava-Coulter (photo courtesy of Mr. Nava-Coulter)

Transgender politics have been everywhere lately, from North Carolina bathrooms to Presidential tweets, yet many are still confused about what exactly it means to be transgender. It’s not surprising there is confusion, as the category of transgender is both diverse and complicated. To help unpack these issues and politics, Brett Nava-Coulter joins the podcast to discuss his research with transgender youth. Mr. Nava-Coulter is a doctoral candidate at Northeastern University in sociology, researching LGBTQ community centers as well as hospitals that reach out to transgender youth and adults. In addition, he is an active member of the Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ Youth, where he helps identify issues and needs specific to the transgender community. Read More →

Episode 6 “Bharat Babies” Books & Business Anthropology with Sailaja Joshi

Anthropologist on the Street
Episode 6 "Bharat Babies" Books & Business Anthropology with Sailaja Joshi
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Bharat Babies C.E.O. Sailaja Ganti Joshi (photo courtesy of Sailaja Joshi)

Sailaja Joshi is the CEO and founder of Bharat Babies, an independent publishing house that “designs and produces developmentally appropriate books for young children that tell stories about India’s Heritage.” She was inspired to launch her business when she struggled to find books for her young daughter that would represent the unique hybrid nature of growing up American with Indian or Pakistani heritage.

Bharat Babies’ books cover Hinduism, Islam, and a myriad of South Asian subcultural identities, and readers have responded with gratitude. For CEO Sailaja Joshi, it has been affirming, not only of the need for multiple voices in literature, but of the need for more anthropology in the business world
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Episode 5 God, Politics, and Anthropology – with Rev. Dr. Miranda Hassett

Anthropologist on the Street
Episode 5 God, Politics, and Anthropology - with Rev. Dr. Miranda Hassett
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Rev. Dr. Miranda Hassett (photo courtesy of Rev. Hassett)

Rev. Dr. Miranda Hassett received her Ph.D. in anthropology before becoming an ordained priest in the Episcopal Church. In her book, Anglican Communion in Crisis: How Episcopal Dissidents and Their African Allies are Reshaping Anglicanism, she explores how political polarization drove a global wedge in the Anglican church, driving some conservative white American Episcopalians to break from the broader American church, instead allying with conservative African congregations. Rev. Hassett continues using anthropological methods today to better understand her congregants at St. Dunstan’s Episcopal Church in Madison, Wisconsin, and discusses how anthropology can help people foster more meaning in their lives.
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Episode 1 Anthropology Beyond Indiana Jones with Dr. Angela Jenks

Anthropologist on the Street
Episode 1 Anthropology Beyond Indiana Jones with Dr. Angela Jenks
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Dr. Angela Jenks, Asst. Teaching Professor at UC Irvine (photo courtesy of Angela Jenks)

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.
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