Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Is this anthropology's public image?

Anthropology tends to be viewed as an exotic branch of the social sciences by the public. They tend to define us in terms of paleontology/evolutionary biology (bones) and archaeology/prehistory (stones). Yet, the core of anthropology is ethnography, a subject that is little known or understood outside of academia.

So the questions are: What does an ethnographer do? How does the public get to see what we do?

Today, YouTube contains hundreds of video clips by and about ethnographers and ethnographic topics. To answer the question about what is anthropology and what do we do, may be we need to look at ourselves and how we present our selves and are viewed by others, our subjects, our colleagues, and by the general public. These public videos on YouTube are a place to start. Here is an example of what one can find.

"Director José Padilha brilliantly employs two provocative strategies to raise unsettling questions about the boundaries of cultural encounters. He allows professors accused of heinous activities to defend themselves, and the Yanomami to represent their side of the story."

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