For the past several years, the graduate students of the Ohio State Department of Anthropology have produced A Story of Us, a podcast that is sponsored by the American Anthropological Association. Last semester, Emma Lagan interviewed me about my work as a cultural anthropologist and the episode is now available online. We talked about the early experiences that led me to anthropology and my research in Amazonia as well as my current work that examines how the city of Columbus converts human “waste” into an agricultural resource, known as biosolids. If you have a chance, take a listen. You can also explore earlier seasons from A Story of Us that draw on diverse perspectives and subfields in anthropology to see what they can teach such themes as childhood, migration, and mortality.
This project has taken several years to come together, but I’m happy to share that “The Social Network of US Academic Anthropology and Its Inequalities” was recently published in American Anthropologist. Of course, one major problem is that it is hiding behind a paywall so I have uploaded a pre-print version of the article here. Comments, critiques, and questions are welcome. If you are also interested in working with this network dataset, I am more than willing to share it. You can also explore the data in an accessible (albeit somewhat limited) form here in Google Fusion Tables.
Elizabeth Chin, @nidhisrathore, @allergyPhD, @dorinnekondo, Chibundo Egwuatu & others at #WakandaUniversity gave us an alternative vision of what the space of the AAA conference can be like, look like, feel like. Can’t wait to see what #AmAnth2068 holds in store. #AmAnth2018 pic.twitter.com/QVAry25TbB
— Nick Kawa (@nick_kawa) November 19, 2018
At this year’s AAA meeting, I’ll be presenting a paper on a panel titled “The Cultural Work of Aesthetics: Brazilian Notions of the Beautiful and the Crafting of Self/Other Dichotomies.” My paper will focus on the everyday aesthetics of the urban Amazon, with a series of sketches from the city of Manaus where I lived and conducted research for several years. I’ll present these sketches with accompanying photographs in a “show & tell” format to discuss how aesthetic forms in contemporary urban Amazonia challenge long-held tropes of the region in the ethnographic literature. In doing so, I also raise questions about underlying conventions and aesthetics in ethnographic representation itself. The panel will be Thursday, November 15th from 8:00-9:45 AM in the Executive Ballroom 210C in the San Jose Convention Center.
A paper I authored with several colleagues titled “The Social Network of U.S. Academic Anthropology and Its Inequalities” was recently accepted to American Anthropologist and will be published in early 2019. Here you can play with an interactive network graph (produced by Google Fusion Tables) that visualizes the data we collected for U.S. Academic anthropology’s hiring network. Go ahead and grab individual nodes to examine their ties to other programs (gold ties represent sending relationships and blue are receiving). The graph also allows you to zoom in and out, and adjust the number of nodes displayed (based on network centrality). If you have any questions about the graph, feel free to comment here or email me directly. Google also offers a short overview of the functionality and limits of their network graphs.
On Tuesday afternoon at the American Anthropological Association Meeting, I had the opportunity to participate as discussant on a panel that focused on sedimentation as a social analytic. The papers examined accretions of volatile toxic forms in human bodies, the sedimented legacies of settler colonial experience, and emergent legal and political-economic frameworks that shape the livelihoods of farmers in Mozambique, Brazil, and the Galapagos. You can find my brief essay here.
What does the Culture and Agriculture section of the American Anthropological Association have brewing up for this year’s meeting? Take a look.
Last week, we printed off the first zine produced by the Culture & Agriculture section of the American Anthropological Association (AAA). It’s a collaborative effort with essays, art, and conversations on the history, making, and sharing of mead (honey wine). A special shout-out goes to Jon Tanis who handled the orchestration and assemblage, and really made the thing come alive.
We’re eager to get the zine into your hands, and we will have print copies available at the AAA Annual Meeting in Washington D.C. this November. We’d also love for you to check out the “Cultures of Fermentation” roundtable that Jim Veteto and I organized for the AAA meeting, which will be held Saturday, Dec. 2nd at 10:15 AM. The zine will be there and you might even be able to sample some meads with us.
You can find electronic versions of the zine (in both reader and print formats) on the C&A website if you who want to take a sneak peak or even print out some copies of your own. Feel free to distribute it and let us know what you think!
This morning I presented a paper at the AAA meeting in Minneapolis as part of a panel I co-organized with Joe Feldman, titled “Challenging Anthropology in the 21st Century.” My paper focused specifically on the social network of US academic anthropology and how hiring networks can contribute to – or at the very least reflect – embedded hierarchies within the discipline. You can download a copy of the paper here. The abstract is below:
“Anthropologists often strive to point out social inequality while using their research to promote meaningful social change. However, academic anthropology can sometimes reproduce the very problems of social inequality that its scholars tend to rail against. Past research on U.S. academic hiring networks has shown evidence of systematic inequality and hierarchy, attributed at least in part to the influence of academic prestige, which is not necessarily a reflection of merit or academic productivity. Using anthropology departments’ websites, we gathered information on all tenured and tenure-track faculty in PhD-granting anthropology programs in the U.S., totaling 1,918 individuals in all. For each faculty member, we noted their current institution and PhD-granting institution, which we treated as a “tie” between those academic programs. With these data, we applied methods from social network analysis (SNA) to examine U.S. academic anthropology’s social network, and we identified multiple factors that help to explain its structure. In this paper, we report on our preliminary findings and we discuss how they can be used to help rethink social reproduction in academic anthropology.”
If you’ll be attending the American Anthropological Association meeting in Minneapolis next month, here you can find all of the sessions sponsored by the Culture and Agriculture section. This year we will host two mentoring sessions led by Dr. Karen Kelsky of The Professor Is In. The first session will be geared toward PhD students while the second is designed for those with recently-minted PhDs. If you have questions, feel free to contact me.