Making public anthropology: putting it all together
Erin Taylor recently posted this thread over at the Open Anthropology Cooperative:
It’s long been my belief that anthropologists can increase their public visibility and engagement by working together, especially cross-promoting each other’s work. The PopAnth website has been using social media (Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, LinkedIn) to bring attention to articles written by anthropologists in newspapers, on blogs, in books, and so on.
Recently, I’ve had conversations with Tricia Wang (Ethnography Matters), Matt Thompson (Savage Minds / DANG) and Ryan Anderson (Anthropologies Project / DANG) about furthering collaboration. We agreed that it would be a great idea!
DANG are already bringing together all kinds of people who are interested in open access, digital anthropology, blogging, and so on. For this reason, I suggested that the DANG website might be a good place to put information that can help anthropologists in their public engagement: stuff on open access, guides to writing for the public, ideas on how to get published in newspapers, and so on.
But that’s just one idea. My question is: how do we best coordinate?
There are indeed a lot of us out there who are thinking along similar lines, and we’re often off on our own doing our own things. This is good, on many levels. But I also think we could use a bit of collaboration, working together, and finding ways to move the idea of a more public anthropology toward a reality.
My initial response is this: I think there are at least three primary concerns here. First, we need to find a way to coordinate across our various projects and bring all of our conversations together into one place. Second, there’s a need to create some sort of central, organized resource where anthropologists can find resources about open access, writing for the general public, publishing, etc. Finally, I really think there’s a need to finally create a venue that specifically targets non-academic anthropologists. This last point is key, I think. A lot of the sites and projects that are pushing for a more publicly engaged anthropology are actually only going to appeal to anthropologists (and maybe some outside the field). In short, we’re still promoting a lot of our ideas to ourselves for the most part (this is definitely the case with the anthropologies project, despite the original goal of bringing anthropology to wider audiences).
So what about solutions?
1) Coordination. Maybe we need a site that is easily accessible, where anyone can comment easily so that the conversations flow with few barriers. Daniel Lende suggested using Tumblr here. That could work. Or maybe a dedicated Facebook page? Maybe a series of open threads on the DANG site? Other ideas? Basically, it would be nice to have a central place where we can all keep the fire burning.
2) The central resource for anthropologists. Well, to me it makes sense to finally create this central place either on the DANG site, or on the Open Access Anthropology site. This idea has been floating around for a while, so maybe now is the time to make it happen. This is doable.
3) The public venue for anthropology. I think it’s about time that we all put our heads together and create something that is meant to move our ideas and conversations outside of our inner circle. I am talking about either a publication or online magazine/project that will have a wide readership and appeal. Something that’s not made just for anthropologists. Personally, I have always wanted to see an anthropologically-informed publication that gets inspiration from a combination of publications like Nature, Adbusters, the amazing magazine Colors, Science, what ASA has done with Contexts, and so on. There are plenty of publications that we can look to for inspiration. I think we need something that can rival (and challenge) dominant media venues and publications. To really bring contemporary anthropology out into the open. Content + solid, interesting, compelling design. Hmmm? We have the ideas, we have the fascinating research. Why not?
Ok, ideas? Thoughts? Comments?