In July 2017, I visited Manaus to work on a new collaboration with researchers in the Sociology Department at the Federal University of Amazonas State (UFAM) and I also had the opportunity to give a talk based on my book Amazonia and the Anthropocene. Following that visit, I developed a lengthy email exchange over the better part of a year with Bruno Caporrino (a PhD student in the Dept. of Anthropology at UFAM) and Túlio Zille (a PhD student in Political Science at Johns Hopkins). Now, we are happy to share our dialogue (in Portuguese) in the new online magazine, Amazônia Latitude. The essay, titled “A virada ontológica e a Amazônia: um dialógo”, offers a summary of some of the key points of debate that have attracted our attention in the ontological turn in anthropology, particularly in relation to the ethnographic study of the Amazon region. A slightly edited version of our original email exchange (also in Portuguese) can be found here.
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.
Rather than do terms papers or group presentations for my History of Anthropological Theory class this semester, I had students work in groups to develop zines based on different schools of thought. The results were better than I hoped. I saw everything from “The Communist Memefesto” to a Postcolonial “Dear Abby” Column to even a Twitter battle fought between Tylor and Boas. I’ve attached the scaffolded assignments from the project here (#1, #2, and #3) for those who might be curious in tinkering with the model for other classes. The best part is that they are actually fun to grade.
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.
If you want to learn about all the fascinating things central Ohio does with its so-called “human waste,” come to this public talk I’ll be giving at Whetstone Library in Columbus on October 27th at 1pm. I’ll discuss how the city is transforming waste into an agricultural resource used to sustain poplar farms on abandoned strip mines, fertilize commodity crops, and produce garden compost, among other things. To conclude, I’ll discuss some of the ongoing obstacles and concerns about expansion of its use in the region. See you there!
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.
Last Friday and Saturday, we hosted a workshop that invited students, faculty, and staff from Ohio State (as well as new friends from Kenyon College) to learn about Mayan milpa agriculture (maize farming) and reflect on how it may serve as a model for rethinking farming here in Ohio. We were very fortunate to have Abraham Kan, a guest from Aguacate village in the Toledo District of Belize, to lead us in planting a milpa at the OSU Student Farm with an array of different landraces of corn, from Oaxacan Green Dent Corn and Blue Jade Sweet Corn to Tom Thumb popcorn. From the beginning, we wanted the workshop to help encourage conversations and experiments in different types of agriculture in the OSU community. We hope the milpa is a step in that direction.
Gordon Ulmer, Sydney Silverstein, and I just published a short article (with lots of photos!) in the latest edition of Anthropology Today. It examines how projected environmental changes in the Amazonian city of Iquitos have been used by the Peruvian government to propose the resettlement of a low-income community and promote state-led redevelopment plans. The article is available free of charge over the next month. You can download it here.