Presenting Anthropology - Weeks 9&10 (Readings)

Video Challenge

We anthropologists are, quite honestly, not the most fashion-forward academics, tending to prefer jeans or flowy, tribal-print dresses to other disciplines' sharp professionalism. And we don't tend to seek out opportunities to be on camera, to perform for an audience, preferring to sit back and take an etic approach to watching other humans enact culture. There has always been interest in anthropology from the mainstream television media, though, in the form of documentaries (and "documentaries") about past and present societies. It is therefore a good idea to feel comfortable both talking to a television camera and creating videos about your research and interlocutors. In these two weeks, we will take a look at (mostly short) anthropological videos and discuss how those videos differ depending on the audience and the video-creator's goals. We will also discuss the role of video in reporting anthropological finds and research - the phenomena of "research by documentary" and "publication by journalism" - which can be problematic for the academic anthropologist.
Anthro Major Fox on PBS' Idea Channel
  • Assignment 1: Find a good/bad example of video covering an anthropological topic. Searching YouTube is a great place to start.
  • Assignment 2: Alone or in a group, create something based wholly or in large part on video - ideas include a live-action video, a TED-style talk, a video compilation or clips or slides, an interactive game, or an iPad/Android app. Be prepared to present it, justify your design decisions and audience, and take criticisms and critiques.
  • Anderson, R., ed. 2012. Anthropologies Issue 10 - Beyond Words (the Visual Issue). Read entire issue.
  • Armelagos, G.J., M.K. Zuckerman, K.N. Harper. 2012. The science behind pre-Columbian evidence of syphilis in Europe: research by documentary. Evolutionary Anthropology 21:50-57.
  • Dornfeld, B. 2002. Putting American public television documentary in its place. In: Media Worlds: Anthropology on New Terrain, F. Ginsburg et al. eds., Ch. 12, pp. 247-263.
  • Finn, C. 2001. Mixed messages: archaeology and the media. Public Archaeology 4:261-268. 
  • Kulik, K. 2006. Archaeology and British television. Public Archaeology 2:75-90.
  • Piccini, A. 2007. Faking it: why the truth is so important for TV archaeology. In: Archaeology and the Media, T. Clack and M. Brittain, eds., Ch. 11, pp. 221-236. Left Coast Press.
  • Pitts, M. & D. Klat. 2012. American Digger and archaeology. Anthropology Today 28(3):1-2.
  • Taylor, T. 2007. Screening biases: Archaeology, television, and the banal. In: Archaeology and the Media, T. Clack and M. Brittain, eds., Ch. 9, pp. 187-200. Left Coast Press.
  • VanDyke, R. 2006. Seeing the past: visual media in archaeology. American Anthropologist 108(2):370-375.
(As always, follow our livetweets using #shareanthro on Mondays from 1-4pm central time.)


Megan said…
I don't know if anyone has seen "The Brain Scoop" on YouTube, but I have thought ever since it came out that something like that for anthropology would be really interesting, and get more people (especially younger people) into anthro.

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