One Does Not Simply…Write About Anthropology

My Time as a Graduate Student

Wordless Wednesday- What is Culture?

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It has been awhile

I know I haven’t posted in awhile. With traveling from Florida, family visiting, and wedding planning, I just haven’t had the time. Summer plans changed as well. I was planning to be home for the first half of the summer and return back to Florida for a class but, like most of the courses, one was cancelled. This leaves me with more time with family as well as more time for thesis work.

I have a directed study that I will be working on as well as my thesis work. I will be looking at Gender and Culture, a subject that I really haven’t studied before and should to be more well rounded as an anthropologist. The first two works that I will be reading are Women, Culture, and Society and Toward the Anthropology of Women. I haven’t begun reading these works yet, but my plan is to read Women, Culture, and Society this week and Toward the Anthropology of Women next week. I will also be reading Margaret Mead’s Sex and Temperament. I will be posting more often now that I have a schedule for these readings.

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Wordless Wednesday – American Culture

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Social Media Project

For Presenting Anthropology Social Media Challenge, I chose to share a personal blog title: One Does Not Simply Write…About Anthropology (name inspired by the Lord of the Rings meme of Boromir). Created on wordpress.com, I used this blog as a way to connect with family and friends to share my experiences of graduate school, research I was doing, and present various topics of interest about anthropology. This blog was also used as an education tool to reach out to a broader audience and educate on various subjects on anthropology to anyone who is interested. My goal was to not only educate about anthropology to those who did not know much about the discipline but to correct any myths about it, or just find out if the information that I had provided was either helpful or innovative.

In addition to my blog, I had it connected with Twitter, my Facebook page, Goodreads, and a page of links to other graduate students blogs and anthropology sites. When I would create and publish a post, it would automatically update on Facebook and Twitter as a link that would direct anyone who was interested to the specific post of the day. With the automatic updates through the use of these two sites I was able to reach out to a wider audience than just those who were anthropologists. A link from my blog site was also connected to Goodreads, where my goal was to share anthropological inspired books that I have read as an undergraduate or graduate student. With the books that I have posted on Goodreads, I gave each book a rating according to my personal interest and I provided a short personal review.

I have tried to make my blog as user friendly as possible by having pages, links, recent posts, tagcloud, and archives on the right side of the blog page. In the About Tina section, I have a brief summary of myself as well as links to my Twitter and Academia.edu site. Anthro Links contains various anthropology site links as well as resources that I have used for past research. Anthropology Research Blogs have links to the blogs and social media projects of the other graduate students in the class. And finally the page of Partners in Literary Crime is a summary of a longer term project that I have been working on in collaboration with two individuals I completed undergraduate studies with and our shared undergraduate mentor mentor.

Each Wednesday I dedicate the time to post a segment called Wordless Wednesday that would feature a single or multiple clips about anthropology as a whole or a topic of anthropology. Most of these videos were funny clips taken from YouTube that mentioned anthropology such as clip with Betty White in the television show Community, stand-up comedy clips, movie trailers, etc. Wordless Wednesdays averaged the most reviews of all my posts. In addition to Wordless Wednesdays, I tried to post on average about 3-4 times a week. Each post includes several tags that would best describe the post and a tagcloud is located on the sidebar of the blog page. Many of posts are about topics of research and anthropology, and a few did get reblogged. A couple of my most popular posts have been on topics about what jobs are available to anthropologists, social media and anthropology, the kids challenge project with the coloring book, history of anthropology, and my primate observation project. I have asked for requests for posting on topics of jobs, personal experiences in graduate school, anthropology books, and what to do to prepare for graduate school. Many of these requests have come from individuals who are on the fence about going to graduate school and are still an undergraduate or individuals who are just interested in the topic of anthropology.

I was really surprised with the amount of views and the amount of followers I gained throughout the semester. WordPress provides stat information of how many views I get in day and from other countries. When I first began this blog, I averaged only a few friends and family who would read. As of April 19, 2013, I have about 379 followers from Facebook, Twitter, and various blog sites from about 39 countries. The counties that visit my blog the most are: the United States (742 views), United Kingdom (34 views), Canada (19 views), Republic of Korea (11 views), New Zealand (10 views), Romania (10 views), Australia (9 views), and Mexico (8 views). Other countries averaged 1-4 views and these countries I never thought would look at my blog like Bangladesh, Ecuador, Belarus, Trinidad, and Croatia[1]. With results like these, it is interesting to think about how wide spread social media can be via the internet.

I am going to be continuing with this blog even after this semester, however I am thinking about making some changes. One update would be to add a day dedicated to anthropological texts that I have found influential in my research and I have used in past classes that could broaden the education of anthropology in addition to the Goodreads link. Posting anthropological texts allows for the public to see that anthropologists study a wide variety of subjects that is not limited to studies of primitive cultures or archaeology. In addition to the anthropological texts, I would like to broaden my topics to include all the subfields – more archaeology and more biological anthropology. At the same time, I believe the public gets lost in the definition of anthropology and leans to more of what has been seen in various forms of media and entertainment – i.e. Indiana Jones or Bones. Finding that balance may be challenging at times, but I would like to keep reminding and educating the public that anthropologists are more than just the characters that are seen on television.

The Social Media project has also made me realized how wide and numerous the social media network really is. Before this project, my exposure was Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and a couple of blogs that belonged to friends. Now I am following a number of anthropology related blogs, my Twitter followers have grown from just 10 friends to 63 individuals and organizations, and I have been networking through my blog with individuals around the world. I would have to say this blog has really made me grown as an anthropologist by not only connecting with other anthropologists, but expressing my thoughts, research, and ideas of anthropology to a wider audience and possibly educating those who do not know a lot about anthropology. I am not too sure how influential my blog and posts have been but I would like to think that it has.

 


[1] All the countries: United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Romania, Australia, Mexico, Czech Republic, Germany, Argentina, India, Netherlands, Columbia, Brazil, Greece, Turkey, Ecuador, Thailand, Philippines, France, Denmark, Singapore, Pakistan, Finland, Haiti, South Africa, Seen, Ukraine, Belarus, Croatia, Liberia, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Trinidad and Tobago, Chile, Kenya, Bangladesh, and Portugal.

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End of the Semester

This is the end of my first year of grad school. The last of the semester has been crazy with paper writing, exams, and preparing for thesis work for the summer. In Presenting Anthropology, our final project was to put a final portfolio together of three of our best challenges. I decided to use the audio challenge, kids challenge, and the avant-garde challenge.

Audio Challenge

Two other graduates and myself wrote and recorded Anthropology Did You Know? These were six recorded audio clips that portrayed some of the major theorists in the discipline such as: Margaret Mead, Claude Levi-Strauss, Clyde Snow, Lewis Binford, Franz Boas, and Jane Goodall. These audio clips were about two minutes each and included interesting facts about each of the above named theorists. The introduction within each audio clip is fifteen seconds with about seventy seconds of scripting and fifteen seconds of concluding music. Each audio clip varies between one minute and forty seconds to two minutes in total duration.

We attempted to represent each of the subfields of anthropology as best as possible. For example, the clip of Claude Levi-Strauss that I wrote and narrated helps to identify his structuralist views. In addition to the audio clips, we typed out and made available the transcripts of each clip for those who may be hearing impaired or may just want to know what we said.

The inspiration behind the use and creation of audio clips was the desire to present interesting facts about anthropologists who we regarded as important figures to the discipline, based on previous research and study. We found that these personalities would be the best for the public to learn. These short clips have enough information for a quick glimpse into the discipline that may gain the interested of anyone who may ultimately be interested in the field of anthropology. As Linda Catlin states in her article, Anthropology Radio, we tried to make sure to keep the clips to about two minutes because it is the “maximum length of the listener’s attention span” (Catlin 1999). Keeping within two minutes was a challenge to try to convey all the information we wanted and retain a tone and pace that were reasonable, but I believe that we were able to accomplish this successfully.

Audio Transcripts

Kids Challenge

For the kids challenge, I illustrated and designed an activity book and coloring book that included all four subfields of anthropology with four pages dedicated to each subfield.  I decided to do a coloring book because I thought it was the perfect venue to expose children to new concepts. The use of workbooks to teach children is not a new concept. Coloring books alone help to develop and hone fine motor skills, so why not use a workbook to explain other concepts such as culture, evolution, cultural material, and language. While I do not expect that children will fully understand all of the ideas presented in the workbook, they will certainly learn something and have fun doing so.

The inspiration for this challenge project came from various activity and coloring books that I would work on with my nieces and nephew. These workbooks also covered difficult subjects ranging from counting to animal identification but presented the topics in a workable and fun way. I knew the same concept could be applied to anthropology given the appropriate artwork and games/activities. I figured this would be an interactive way for kids to learn about the subfields, what anthropologists do, and think about their culture and cultures around the world. It is usually difficult to try to explain anthropology to adults so trying to word this activity book for children to understand was challenging. I honestly never thought about how to explain and present anthropology to children, so this challenge was both fun and interesting in trying to come up with ways to explain anthropology. Additionally, I think that in focusing on how to present the idea as simply as possible, for small minds to understand, it helped me to develop a better posture for explaining anthropology to adults.

Anthropology coloring and activity book

Avant-Garde

In anthropology, we talk about so much the “gods of anthropology” that it seems so far off in the past when we read about them. But in reality, we are not that far away if we map it.  For the Avant-Garde Challenge, Amanda Lawson-Cullen and I collaborated on the construction of the University of West Florida Anthropology Department staff academic genealogies.UWF staff-anthropology 2-logo This project went from just focusing on the cultural professors to the majority of the anthropology department (minus Maritime archaeology). The idea for the project originated from t-shirts that my undergraduate anthropology class created with the genealogy of the Anthropology Department of the University of Mary Washington.

One of our professors from University of West Florida had been thinking about putting a department genealogy together as well. In addition, Amanda and I were getting sick of just talking about archaeology during the course of this class, so we wanted to come up with something that would present cultural anthropology. Although it pertains mostly to the students at UWF, you can realize how closely academically related you are to Franz Boas or some of the other big names in anthropology by creating an anthropology genealogy. As anthropologists, we do pride ourselves on our academic lineages and it’s cool to know that you may be just a generation or so away from some of the renowned names in the discipline. It was also an important exercise in learning about theorists within anthropology and identifying where individual ideas originated from and deciding which viewpoints held the most sway to individuals.

It is important to know where you came from personally and academically. This heritage that we have in anthropology allows us to calm an identity within the discipline that many other disciplines do not have the pleasure of. Genealogies also allows us to remember those who have pasted and have made an ever lasting impression upon us. Although many of us have similar lineages, but it is the experiences and influences from our academic elders that defines who we are.

Resources:

Catlin, L.

1999. Anthropology radio. Anthropology News 40(6).          http://www.uwf.edu/kkillgrove/Catlin-1999-AnthropologyRadio.pdf (accessed April 30, 2013).

Falk, Dean.

2000. “Gorillas: The Largest Primates of All.” Chap. 12 in Primate Diversity, by Dean Falk, 298-317. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.

Larsen, Clark Spenser.

2008.  Our Origins: Discovering Physical Anthropology. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

A to Z Teacher Stuff.

2012. Word Search Maker. http://tools.atozteacherstuff.com/word-search-maker/ (accessed April 2, 2013).

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