Anthropology

Writing Social Science Fiction in the Age of the Metrix

Burned out by the hamster-wheel of academe and the regime of metrics, John Postill decided the tonic would be to write a spoof spy thriller about a Spanish nerd with a silly name who moves to London in 1994 and accidentally foils a terrorist plot by an evil anthropologist.

3 months ago
24

Why We Sometimes Hate the Good Guy

Everyone is supposed to cheer for good guys. We’re supposed to honor heroes, saints and anyone who helps others, and we should only punish the bad guys. But is the expression ‘no good deed goes unpunished’ really accurate? New research shows we often do, in fact, punish those who do good deeds.

1 year ago
8

Nick Seaver on Dissecting the Algorithmic Organism

When discussing the nexus of computer science and social science, the transaction is usually in one direction – what can computer scientists do for social scientists. But a recent paper from Tufts University anthropologist Nick Seaver reverses that flow, using the tool of ethnography to interrogate the tools of engineering.

2 years ago
16

The Anthropological Roots of Ursula Le Guin

A connection can be made in between Ursula Le Guin’s fiction and her father’s groundbreaking work in anthropology. His ideas – which had a profound influence on his daughter’s writing – stemmed from an important development in the discipline of anthropology, one that viewed human culture as something that wasn’t ingrained, and had to be taught and learned.

2 years ago
18
Scott Atran

Scott Atran on Sacred Values

In this Social Science Bites podcast, anthropologist Scott Atran describes how ‘sacred values’ prove remarkably immune to negotiation and can empower vicious terrorism or victorious revolution.

2 years ago
34

Book Review: Cold War Anthropology: The CIA, The Pentagon and the Growth of Dual Use Anthropology

“Cold War Anthropology: The CIA, The Pentagon and the Growth of Dual Use Anthropology” offers a historical account of how the US military industrial complex has had a profound influence on the development of US anthropology during the Cold War and into the present day. Reviewer Joseph Anderson sees the book as a dense but readable outline that confronts how ethnographic research in the field has been shaped by wider political-economic force.

3 years ago
18
Stereotypical anthropologist

What Does an Anthropologist Actually Do?

Anthropologists use ethnographic methods designed to facilitate their competency in another culture to understand what people do, think, feel and say that might seem strange to an outsider but are completely familiar to an insider. But what does that mean in practice?

3 years ago
8
Janet Carsten

Janet Carsten on the Kinship of Anthropology

One of the leading exponents of what might be called the second coming of kinship studies, Janet Carsten, a professor of social and cultural anthropology at the University of Edinburgh, has (literally) brought new blood into the field, exploring kinship’s nexus with politics, work and gender.

4 years ago
48

This Book About an Anthropologist Ought to Win the Man Booker

A corporate anthropologist is told to write a report that will “name what’s taking place right now” and is “the First and Last Word on our age.” And so we set the stage for what in turn David Rudrum argues is itself a zeitgeist-defining work.

4 years ago
12
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