Cover art for podcast This Anthro Life

This Anthro Life

136 EpisodesProduced by Adam GamwellWebsite

Life is complicated, but we love simple answers. AI and robotics are changing the nature of work. Emojis change the way we write. Fossil Fuels were once the engine of progress, now we're in a race to change how we power the planet. We're constantly trying to save ourselves...from ourselves. This Ant… read more

What is Anthropology?

What is anthropology and why does it make for a better radio show-podcast than, say, the news for informing you about the world?

Anthropology is both a practice and a way of thinking. The practice of anthropology involves collecting, translating, and sharing stories that crosscut time and space (sounds pretty cool, huh?). Our training involves years of studying the many cultures around the world, including our own, as well as traveling abroad to collect stories and to tell our own.

Host Dr. Adam Gamwell worked primarily in South America and former co-hosts Ryan Collins in Central America, Amy Hanes in West Africa and Aneil Tripathy in Europe. We each have done a little work in North America, too. Even as we are all on our own unique adventures now, the legacy of TAL lives on and is carried forth in to the next decade by Adam Gamwell and a new round of guest hosts including Matt Artz an applied anthropologist and user experience designer, Dr. Andrea Eller, a biological anthropologist at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and Leslie Walker of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Together we study the numerous facets of life on our planet including economics, religion, race, gender, archaeology, osteology, food, emotions, material culture, finance, ritual, family, wellbeing, and more. We compile data through interviews, focus groups, observation, online and book research. We capture all sorts of information – conversations, rumors, gossip, technical reports, websites, news sources. Using these various data sources we aim to triangulate social facts.

Anthropology is also a way of thinking. We ask questions to willing informants. And then more questions. Why this and not that? If not this, then what? What else is possible, probable? We get to know the lives of others by living with them directly, learning about their lives and then sharing each of our stories with more people. Anthropology draws on holistic thinking that allows for, and seeks out, the complexities of human life.Think about a picture hanging on a wall. What’s depicted within it? What’s the story behind the picture?  Anthropology doesn’t just offer you a snapshot of an event, we offer you it’s history, the frame it comes in, who bought it and for how much, why it was taken in the first place, who is in the image and why (and who isn’t for that matter), hidden power dynamics behind the framing of the image. If we have time we’ll describe the wall the picture is on and the house it’s in. Through anthropology, we also give you a bit of ourselves. We come to you in-formation. So while you’ll learn a whole lot about each week’s topics, you’ll learn a bit about each of us and how we do anthropology (and how you can too). We offer ourselves as raw anthropologists, learning to think holistically and hoping to help you to do so too.

This podcast is about raising social consciousness one topic at a time. But as you’ll see each topic, like everything in life is incredibly complex and multilayered. Anthropology is about telling a more holistic story. It isn’t searching for that sound byte, but why that particular sound byte resonates with someone’s particular tastes at a particular time and why those tastes change over time and what they change to. And sometimes even what happens to that old sound byte that nobody cares about anymore. Think of us (and anthropology in general) like story detectives. We not only investigate and research, but we pool our knowledge because together, through community and with you, we can make a difference in raising social consciousness.

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