Archive for America

Episode 22 Converting Belief at a Creationist Theme Park with Dr. James Bielo

Dr. James Bielo (Photo courtesy of Dr. Bielo)

The Ark Encounter creationist theme park in Kentucky was developed with one purpose in mind, to convince visitors of the truth of Creationism, the evangelical Christian history of the origins of life on earth. To do that, anthropologist Dr. James Bielo explains, Ark Encounter deploys strategies to entertain and evoke emotional reactions in order to legitimate and give authority to its message. Dr. Bielo researched the backstage creative labor of the design team who led the conceptualization and choreographing of the theme park, which is designed not simply to entertain but to transform the minds of attendees.

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Episode 20 American Mosques with Dr. Jacqueline Fewkes

Dr. Jacqueline Fewkes (photo courtesy of Dr. Fewkes)

As an anthropologist of religion, it’s hard for Dr. Jacqueline Fewkes to pin down her research focus to just one element of life. Rather, her expertise in anthropology allows her to see how religion is lived and practiced, how material goods transform us as much as we transform them, and how spaces reflect our lives while helping to craft them.

Tying these elements together, Dr. Fewkes latest project is a focus on the sometimes surprising, always interesting history and architecture of mosques in America.

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Episode 16 Free Food in the Corporate World with Jesse Dart

Anthropology Candidate Jesse Dart (Photo Courtesy of Mr. Dart)

Anthropology Candidate Jesse Dart works at the intersection of business anthropology and the anthropology of food. Mr. Dart researches how and why tech companies offer their employees free food. Looking at the same company’s practices in several different countries, he draws out how patterns of eating reflect regional cultural beliefs about labor, land, and tradition, and how corporate practices both reflect and reinscribe these ideas as well.

Just in time for American Thanksgiving, we discuss how food is tied to ritual, emotion, identity, and history. From local wisdom about specific foods like truffles to the deeply embedded symbols and practices of national holidays like American Thanksgiving dinner, food plays a unique role in our lives that extends well beyond simple nutrition. And just like the Thanksgiving parade and Black Friday shopping reinforce the central role business and capitalism have on our lives, so too do our workplaces shift our practices and views.

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Episode 5 God, Politics, and Anthropology – with Rev. Dr. Miranda Hassett

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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