Becoming a Person

In a previous post, I describe the notion of personhood.

I’m browsing skincare online when a chat window pops up from the bottom left corner of my screen.

>Hi! I’m Jessica. Is there anything I can help you with today?

I hesitate. The cynic in me is unsure, to begin with, whether this is one of those useless bots who will “refer” me in endless cycles to imaginary “colleagues”, none of whom can answer my query, or if there’s an actual person on the other end of the line, waiting, desperately, for someone to reply.

I decide to write back.

>Do you ship to Australia?

>Sorry, I can’t answer that. Let me refer you to one of my colleagues.

OK, “Jessica”, if that’s even your real name, refer me to one of your “colleagues”, or should I say, fellow bot

>Hi! I’m Gabby. Jessica forwarded your conversation to me. We do ship to Australia, but it’ll take a bit longer, around 2-3 weeks.

Well. She’s real. “She”? I couldn’t possibly know for sure. I was raised on the Internet playing avatar-based games, and spent the latter half of my teenhood in cyberspace communities; assuming an embodiment that doesn’t match one’s own is nothing new to me. How do I know that the skincare company isn’t just exploiting the probable femininity of their customer base? And, yeah, isn’t it weird that the majority of robot assistants – Siri, Alexa, Cortana – are “female”?

If this encounter with the unknown (and indeed, unknowable) seems familiar to you, you may also have ventured tentatively to imagine who else is “really” behind the screen. Like my mum, when she first discovered I was hanging out on the Internet: “Who are you really talking to?” It could be a bot, a human being with a real or fabricated persona, multiple people masquerading as a single user, or the reverse – a single person commanding multiple accounts.

A catfish, surprised by your sudden appearance on this blog. In the context of online dating, a “catfish” denotes a fictional persona created to lure others into a relationship.

Growing up, I spent most days at home with my sister watching VCRs, reading, and spending countless hours watching her play video games.

I was appointed the all-important role of repeatedly mashing a key to unleash a flurry of attacks on monsters who were just out of counter-attacking range in a certain side-scrolling massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG).

I remember my sister being married in-game to another user in the U.S., a guy named Nate, who would send her in-game gifts that cost real-life money. My 10-year-old brain, primed to squawk “stranger danger!” at any unfamiliar interaction, couldn’t comprehend the exchange. They had never met in real life, never even seen a photo of each other, and the extent of their marriage beyond the game consisted of MSN chats and illustrations of their avatars dating that my sister made.

Boellstorff’s (2008) exploration of intimacy, sexuality and love in the online virtual world Second Life prompted me to reflect on the virtuality-reality continuum; do virtual feelings mirror or eventuate in real feelings? What kinds of activity, both online and off, might “sustain or threaten the gap between actual and virtual?” (p. 172) For example, Turkle (1995, p. 241) observed that a person in a real-life relationship participating in an erotic online role-play who had no intention to de-virtualise (i.e. make real) the in-game romance, didn’t consider this an act of infidelity. Is this because the roles weren’t considered persons, merely characters in a fictional play?

On the other hand, Boellstorff found that a genuine emotional and romantic bond formed online would very much constitute cheating on one’s partner; in fact, some felt that it would be “worse to cheat [online] than in [real life],” because in “[real life] it’s a physical thing, but here it’s your mind.” (2008, p. 172).

Josan Gonzalez

Throughout my teens, I was a user of a microblogging platform and became friends with people from all over the world. I finally appreciated the kind of relationship you can have with only a username and text on a screen: as Tufekci calls it, “words without bodies” (2012, p. 32). I ended up meeting some of these friends in real life (thankfully no catfishes), and I’ve stayed in contact with many of them on other social media platforms.

In 2018, the exposure of Russian-sponsored propaganda campaigns that resulted in the termination of 201 accounts stunned our community. Documents had been leaked from the Internet Research Agency (IRA), a pro-Kremlin group labelled a “troll farm”. The documents revealed that Internet sockpuppets (online identities intended to deceive) were involved in a disinformation effort to sway American political discourse with propaganda geared specifically to Black American youth.

I remember in the aftermath of this event, some people expressed disbelief at having ever imagined a sense of friendship or solidarity with these accounts. They felt betrayed because they had actively endowed credibility and personhood and opened their community up to beings that were not really persons at all.

The online realm illustrates the plurality of personhood, not merely because it offers another platform for performing the self, but also because these varied manifestations of personhood have always existed in other less systematic forms that couldn’t exploit personhood in the same way. In thinking as we sometimes do in binaries of selves – the “self as a body” and the “self that is built by society” (Durkheim 1914, p. 318) – virtuality provides different ways for “being a person”…for better or worse.


References:

Boellstorff, T 2015, Coming of age in Second Life: An anthropologist explores the virtually human. Princeton University Press.

Durkheim, É 1914, ‘Le Dualisme de la nature humaine et ses conditions sociales’, in Durkheim 1970, pp. 314-332; trans. 2005, Durkheimian Studies no. 11, pp. 35-45.

Tufekci, Z 2012, ‘We were always human’, in N Whitehead & M Wesch (eds.), Human No More, University Press of Colorado.

Turkle, S 2011, Life on the Screen. Simon and Schuster.

See also:

Maddie’s article, Subtle Diasporic Traits, for more insight into how the online is altering conceptions of the anthropological field.

Things We Wish We Knew in First Year: Precarity

Please appreciate this collage I made of Anna Tsing surrounded by mushrooms (not matsutake, but I’m sure they’re delicious).

The Capstone subject Theory and the Anthropological Imagination is the gatekeeper to your Anthropology major dreams. The main piece of assessment last year was a 5,000-word group project, which involved analysing an ethnography with reference to a theorist and a secondary ethnography. My group chose Anna Tsing’s The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins, with Kathleen Millar’s Reclaiming the Discarded: Life and Labor on Rio’s Garbage Dump as our comparative text. It was through these two works that I became interested in the notion of precarity: the condition of “life without the promise of stability” (Tsing 2015, p. 2).

Precarity is an important and topical concept for anyone studying anthropology as our world increasingly fixates on industrialisation and capitalist growth at the cost of the environment. How can we overcome this? How do we make a life out of these capitalist ruins, “at the end of the world”? Or, as Tsing and Millar contend, should we rethink precarity – not in terms of instability and fragility, but in terms of freedom, flexibility, placemaking; not “making do” but “making a life”?

Using the matsutake mushroom, a species that grows only in landscapes disturbed by humans, Tsing demonstrates that we must learn to live on this earth not in spite of capitalist ruination, but because of it.

The prevailing narrative is that certain circumstances, such as social or economic disenfranchisement, leave some people with little choice but to take up work situated on the fringes of capitalist economies. This work is termed “precarious labour”, and includes mushroom-picking, rubbish-sifting and subsistence-looting. Precarious labour implies job instability, financial insecurity, a lack of regulations and safety precautions, and is considered illegitimate by most.

However, I’d like to challenge you, as Tsing and Millar do, to reconsider this narrative. Precarious labour, because of its instability, enables people to accommodate the day-to-day emergencies that arise in a life of urban poverty (Millar 2018, p. 69). It offers a sense of escape from the rigid structures and demands of productivity that capitalism enforces and additionally creates a sense of communitas amongst those who work together on the peripheries of traditional capitalist economies or in the “gaps” between. As Millar observes in her ethnography of the dump in Rio de Janeiro, people who engage in precarious labour may gain formal, stable employment, but time after time will return to precarity.

But economic precarity isn’t, and shouldn’t be, as Tsing argues, the only concern for anthropologists. Tsing is a member of the Multispecies Salon, a group of anthropologists, artists and other social scientists who advocate for a multispecies approach to ethnography – a method of anthropological writing that isn’t anthropocentric. Her ethnography accounts for all the beings (“actants”) in the networks comprised of humans, animals, plants, fungi and microbes. Tsing’s argument is that “collaborative survival” – acknowledging our vulnerability and depending on other species – is key to existing in our current world.

Precarity is an increasingly common reality for humans and non-humans alike as industrialisation and environmental degradation force us into fragile circumstances. Rather than clinging onto capitalist ideals of stability and permanence espoused by an increasingly unsustainable narrative, Millar and Tsing demonstrate a constructive interpretation of precarity – how it can offer freedom and flexibility, create communities and relations, and compel us to collaborate with other species.


References:

Millar, KM 2018, Reclaiming the Discarded: Life and Labor in Rio’s Garbage Dump, Durham NC, Duke University Press.

Tsing, AL 2015, The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins, Princeton NJ, Princeton University Press.

See also:

Kirksey, E 2014, The multispecies salon. Duke University Press.

Millar, KM 2017, ‘Towards a critical politics of precarity’, Sociology Compass, vol. 11 no. 1, pp. 1-11.

The Multispecies Salon

The Anthropo Scene, a comic by Imogen & Sarah.

Things We Wish We Knew in First Year: Personhood

What is a person?

Here’s a question you’ve probably never been asked. Surely, I hear you say – as I once did – a person is just a person, a human being, someone who has consciousness and rights, cogito ergo sum, y’know. A person.

Well, you’re not wrong. Personhood, defined succinctly, accurately, yet not completely, is the status of being a person (Lyons 2012).

The slightly less succinct and, I’d argue, more complete definition by Conklin and Morgan (1996, p. 662) sees personhood as a “social status granted – in varying degrees – to those who meet (or perform) socially sanctioned criteria for membership.”

What this means is that personhood is a social construction; what counts as a person, where that threshold is located and what that criteria comprises, differs between and even within societies, as seen in divisive reproductive ethics debates. It’s an intensely contested and indefinable domain further complicated by its varied implications in legal, medical, social and political sectors (Heriot 1996, p. 176).

But what about after birth? Surely there’s no question as to whether a newborn, child, or adult constitutes a person, or even a human? It’s likely you haven’t given this a second thought – perhaps because in the predominant Western tradition, personhood is inseparable from humanhood and bestowed permanently at the time of birth, if not before. In some societies, however, humanhood isn’t guaranteed until the newborn reaches a certain age or performs certain rituals.

For example, Fortes (1987, p. 260) writes that the Tallensi people of North Ghana treat plural births, such as twins or triplets, with suspicion, because they signify the possible embodiment of malicious bush-sprites or Kolkpaarəs. If a twin dies before it reaches the age of four, it is evidence that it was never really a human child. So, humanhood can sometimes be more than a biological, intrinsic birthright, instead a condition that must be proved or earned after birth. Still, being a human may not be enough to be a person: as Fortes notes, only a Tallensi adult with a sibling, who has raised a family, gained autonomy with their father’s passing, and had a “proper” death will be buried in a manner that expresses full-fledged personhood. It must be remembered that conceptions of personhood can change over time and are not homogenous, even within cultures, and that Fortes belongs to a long imperialist tradition of white male anthropologists who tended to present prescriptive, stagnant judgements.

In other cases, greater emphasis is placed on the relation between personhood and the sociality of the body. Personhood for the Wari’, according to Conklin and Morgan (1996, p. 658), is “fluid and contingent”, and may even “be lost or attenuated…with changes in social interactions or bodily composition.” Whilst many Western societies see the body as an individual entity that belongs solely and permanently to one person from birth, others require social interaction with the community to reify an individual’s attainment of personhood. These might include commensality (eating together), being identified with one’s kin, and “sharing and pursuing collective ends” (Callegaro 2012, p. 460).

The question of what constitutes personhood is open-ended: it can be fluid, impermanent, contingent on sociality or humanhood, acquired gradually or all at once. The varied cross-cultural conceptions of personhood after birth are well-suited to a culturally relative perspective and illuminate the importance of recognising one’s own ethnocentric assumptions.


References:

Callegaro, F 2012, ‘The ideal of the person: Recovering the novelty of Durkheim’s sociology. Part 1: The idea of society and its relation to the individual’, Journal of Classical Sociology, vol. 12, no. 3-4, pp. 449-478.

Conklin, BA and Morgan LM 1996, ‘Babies, Bodies, and the Production of Personhood in North America and a Native Amazonian Society’, Ethos, vol. 24, no. 4, pp. 657-694

Fortes, M 1987, Religion, Morality and the Person: Essays on Tallensi Religion, J Goody (ed.), Cambridge University Press.

Heriot, MJ 1996, ‘Fetal rights versus the female body: contested domains’, Medical Anthropology Quarterly, vol. 10, no. 2, pp. 176-194.

Lyons, J 2012, How Do We Judge Nonhuman Beings’ Personhood?, Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, viewed 14 May 2019, < https://ieet.org/index.php/IEET2/more/lyons20121004>

Battle of the Ethics: Subsistence Looting

“Some of the 700 Iraqi antiquities…recovered from smugglers along the Syrian-Iraqi borders. Antiquities were looted from Iraq amid the chaos of the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.” AFP PHOTO/LOUAI BESHARA

In a previous post, I talk about precarity.

My affair with Anthropology post-dates my commitment to Ancient World Studies – the one subject in high school that really interested me. Yet, for me, the most compelling part of the textbook wasn’t actually about the ancient past itself, but the politics of its afterlife: archaeological ethics, repatriation, conservation, 3D-printing and other technologies used in reproduction. The events of 2015 in Palmyra, Syria, including the grievous iconoclasm – that is, the destruction of monuments for religious or political purposes – and Khaled al-Asaad’s refusal to give up the location of ancient artefacts at the cost of his life, cemented my aspirations in becoming an archaeologist and helping safeguard the relics of the past from similar atrocities.

So, when I was speaking to an Ancient World Studies PhD student earlier this year about my interest in anthropology and archaeological ethics, she suggested taking a free online course called Antiquities Trafficking and Art Crime, developed by Dr. Donna Yates at the University of Glasgow. It’s four weeks long, requires no existing knowledge on the topic, and is truly fascinating. I don’t think it’s entirely without fault, but it has some great (mysterious! unresolved!) case studies and encourages active engagement with your instructors and fellow learners, just like an actual class. Overall, I would highly recommend it as an entry point to learning about the theft, trafficking and forgery of art and antiquities.

What I found really interesting about the course was that it offered a distinctly anthropological perspective on looting that I’d previously never considered. When archaeology students learn about the practice of looting, we’re told one thing: the context of the artefact is lost forever, which means we’ll never know how the artefact relates to the site, period, or assemblage, and, consequently, the complete reconstruction of the archaeological record becomes impossible. As Cannon-Brookes (1994, p. 350) argues, artefacts without context are “cultural orphans…virtually useless for scholarly purposes”. With such unequivocally negative representations of looting, it’s difficult to re-imagine how else this narrative can be told.

But if there’s anything anthropology has taught me, it’s that there’s always another side to the story, a side that’s underrepresented or silenced by a more dominant voice. As Dr. Yates (2019) contends, the idea of looters as grave robbers and tomb raiders is far too simplistic. Many of the countries which harbour prolific black markets “have rich archaeological pasts but are economically poor” (Yates 2019) – an effect largely borne by colonialism and conflict, the historic and current imbalances of which continue to perpetuate chronic poverty, health insecurity, and political corruption and instability. These all contribute to an environment characterised by precarity, which forces those living in poverty to turn to “last resorts” like the illicit antiquities trade. A perspective that can provide more emic insights is evidently required by this multifaceted phenomena, and it’s a conversation that anthropology is positioned to initiate.

The pockmarks of looted sites are often compared to the craters of the moon. Source.

People who engage in illicit excavation for “saleable cultural objects due to extreme poverty” are known as “subsistence looters” (Yates 2012, emphasis added; Hollowell 2006). “Subsistence” here implies that the individual is economically disenfranchised: “they are looting for survival, not profit” (Yates 2012). Indeed, profit is almost inconceivable, as Borodkin reports, with looters receiving less than 1% of the final selling price (1995, p. 378). That’s not the only loss looters face: a destroyed site loses its potential for archaeological tourism. The antiquities black market therefore exploits the looters’ precarity, cyclically robbing them of the possibility to invest in a longer-term economically stable future.

Now, I’m not condoning the looting and trafficking of antiquities, but it no longer seems so straightforward to blame looters for putting their basic needs before the preservation of the archaeological record, nor does it seem fair to view looters as the sole perpetrators of the practice. If anything, as Renfrew and Elia (1993) argue, antiquities collectors are accountable for the demand that looters respond to – a demand that originates in the imperialist practices of 17th- and 18th-century Europe.

The sentiments of the academic, authoritative archaeologist have been the most vocal in the vilification of looting. Whilst this has taught student archaeologists that looting is bad and that we shouldn’t do it, this representation hasn’t helped the humanisation of looters nor the prevention of looting. This issue invites a dialogue on ethics between anthropologists and archaeologists to devise a collaborative solution.

Elia (Renfrew and Elia 1993, p. 17) asserts that “the only way to make a dent in the looting problem is to reduce the demand for antiquities by bringing about a change in social attitude whereby collecting is no longer considered socially acceptable.” I think this is true, but it’s still an archaeologist-centric view. Hardy (2012), on the other hand, has found that community-based practices such as education on the value of heritage and the founding of local museums for cultural tourism have been effective in reducing illicit antiquities trafficking in Mali. I would also imagine long-term solutions to economically support subsistence looters and the concurrent prohibition of museums from acquiring artefacts without context would deter the practice as well (a policy that some, but not all, museums have adopted): an artefact with zero value provides no incentive for looting, but it’s imperative that alternative economic opportunities are made available.

Ultimately, there needs to be a reconsideration of looting as a one-dimensional practice, with anthropology playing an important role in diverting focus toward what causes people to resort to subsistence looting in the first place, rather than fixating on its effects on the archaeological record.


References:

Borodkin, LJ 1995, ‘The Economics of Antiquities Looting and a Proposed Legal Alternative’, Columbia Law Review, vol. 95, no. 2, pp. 377-417.

Cannon-Brookes, P 1994, ‘Antiquities in the market-place: Placing a price on documentation’, Antiquity, vol. 68, no. 295, pp. 349–50.

Hardy, SA 2012, ‘looting, the subsistence digging economy in Mali; and stemming the flow of looted antiquities from Mali to the USA’, weblog post 3 April, WordPress, viewed 14 May 2019, < https://conflictantiquities.wordpress.com/2012/04/03/mali-looting-export-usa-import/>

Hollowell, J 2006, ‘Moral arguments on subsistence digging’, in C Scarre & G Scarre (eds), The Ethics of Archaeology: Philosophical Perspectives on Archaeological Practice, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press., pp. 69-94.

Renfrew, C & Elia, R 1993, ‘Collectors are the Real Looters’, Archaeology, vol. 46, no. 3, pp. 16-17.

Yates, D 2012, Subsistence Digging, viewed 14 May 2019, <https://traffickingculture.org/encyclopedia/terminology/subsistence-digging/>.

Is Posthumanism The End of Anthropology?

Giovanni Maisto

The prefix “post” denotes after-ness: posthumous, postgraduate, postmodernism.

So what business does anthropology have in investigating the posthuman?

First, a clarification: there are two distinct definitions of posthumanism currently in use, both of which I find intensely interesting.

Cannon, an informant in the linked article, on biohacking.

Nick Bostrom in Why I Want to Be a Posthuman When I Grow Up (2008) defines a posthuman as someone who has transcended the mental and physical limits of the human form, through genetic enhancements and technologies presently available to us, also known as “biohacking” (“DIY biology”). By limiting methods of bio-modification to those in current use, Bostrom distinguishes posthumanism from the abstract and distant imaginings of a sci-fi universe. This notion of posthumanism is related to transhumanism, which can be seen as a movement “in transit” toward the ultimate goal of reaching a posthuman future by attempting to supersede the human condition as we know it (Birnbacher 2008, p. 95).

On the other hand, N. Katherine Hayles’ (1999) definition of posthumanism is situated in critical social theory and is in reaction to liberal humanism, a philosophical movement introduced by Enlightenment thinkers in the late 17th-century that conceived the human subject as a rational, unitary, autonomous, and stable being. These might sound like good characteristics, but the Enlightenment’s conception of liberal humanism was based on a racist and colonialist exclusionary project that precluded “the savage, the animal, the inferior, and the superstitious from the fully human” (Whitehead 2012, p. 225). It’s clear, then, why anthropologists seek a more pluralistic conception of the human subject.

Firstly, Hayles’ posthumanism privileges information over corporeality; it views having a body “as an accident of history, rather than an inevitability of life” (1999, p. 2). Second, contrary to the rational human model purported by Enlightenment thinkers, consciousness isn’t the most important part of being human. Third, all bodies are an original prosthesis, and technology is just a prosthetic extension of ourselves. Fourth, the human body is able to be merged seamlessly with intelligent machines, and “there is no essential difference between bodily existence and computer simulation, cybernetic mechanism and biological organism” (1999, p. 3).

So, you’re thinking: is there really no difference between humans and robots? Is this the end of us?

Not quite. As Hayles asserts, “the posthuman does not really mean the end of humanity. It signals instead the end of a certain conception of the human, a conception that may have applied, at best, to that fraction of humanity who had the wealth, power, and leisure to conceptualize themselves as autonomous beings exercising their will through individual agency and choice.” (1999, p. 286, emphasis added)

The post in posthuman therefore refers to the pluralistic conceptions of the human subject that critical social theorists seek to replace the singular, stable humanist model presented by the Enlightenment. Such alternatives include the cyborg, proposed by Donna Haraway (1991), which breaks down the boundaries between animal and human, organism and machine, and physical and non-physical.

So how can posthumanism, in both senses of the word, be studied anthropologically? Can anthropologists employ fieldwork methods like ethnography and participant observation on cyborgs? Where is “the field“, what is “the culture”, and is there a protocol for ethics?

For both Bostrom and Hayles, the subject respectively becomes the no-longer-human and the no-longer-humanist. Posthumanism has not merely expanded the scope of what constitutes humanhood, it has questioned the entire notion of humanhood as a bounded concept, and following this, anthropology should accommodate new notions of “the field”, culture, and ethics.


References:

Birnbacher, D 2008, ‘Posthumanity, Transhumanism and Human Nature’, in B Gordijn & R Chadwick (eds.), Medical Enhancement and Posthumanity, Springer, pp. 95-106.

Bostrom, N 2008, ‘Why I Want to be a Posthuman when I Grow Up’, in B Gordijn & R Chadwick (eds.), Medical Enhancement and Posthumanity, Springer, pp. 107-136.

Haraway, D 1991, ‘A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late 20th Century’, in Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature, Routledge, pp. 149-182.

Hayles, NK 2008, How we became posthuman: Virtual bodies in cybernetics, literature, and informatics. University of Chicago Press.

Whitehead, NL and Wesch, M (eds.) 2012, Human No More: digital subjectivities, unhuman subjects, and the end of anthropology. University Press of Colorado.

Welcome to Anthrozine

We would like to acknowledge that we illegitimately live and work on lands and waters stolen from the peoples of the Kulin nation, particularly the Woiwurrung (Wurundjeri Willam) and Boonwurrung (Yalukit Willam) people from here in Narrm (Port Phillip Bay/Melbourne), for which sovereignty was never ceded and for which no treaty has ever been made. We duly pay respect to all those who live here and in the lands beyond, and to their families and elders; those in the past, those in our present time, and those emerging now, onwards to the future.

We would also like to acknowledge the problematic role that our discipline of anthropology has played in relation to First Nations people in this country and beyond in the past, and state our ongoing commitment to correcting this relationship, towards its continual reform as a field of research, study and practice exceptionally based upon justice, emancipation and respect. Decolonize now.

M.C. Escher’s Plane Filling II. An assemblage of creatures.

Hello and welcome to Anthrozine, a blog created by Anthropology Honours students at the University of Melbourne to give you the (abridged) A to Z on anthropology, and a smattering of other digressions that illustrate the expansive philosophies and scopes of anthropology.

This blog forms part of our assessment for the Honours subject Philosophy & Scope of Anthropology, taught by Tammy Kohn, whom you might be lucky enough to meet in your first year subject(s) (we would highly recommend attending lectures for a glimpse of Louie, Tammy’s very sweet dog).

We created this blog with the memory of our undergraduate years in mind: the fresh curiosity and intrigue, the concomitant confusion and disorientation, the persistent tendency to justify human behaviour or cultural habits with anthropological theory…And although we’re still learning, we thought we might be able to demystify some of the pre-eminent ideas and debates taking place in anthropology – from the past, the present, and the future.

Our hope is that after browsing through this blog, you’ll see the mundane and familiar in a new light: birthday celebrations will become sites of liminality, going to the footy will become an instance of collective effervescence, and you’ll start interrogating the ethnocentrism of established assumptions and norms, and consider culturally relative perspectives in encounters with the unfamiliar.

Here you’ll find a collection of definitions and clarifications that we wish we knew in first year (which are by no means expert or absolute), and articles which have been situated in relation to the past, present and future. Rather than strict categories, these links are only one way to guide your perusal of the blog. For example, posts about past debates in anthropology will be found in the “past” link, whilst posts about the directions in which anthropology is heading will be in the “future” link. Some posts will be in more than one, or even all three, and they don’t have to be read in a linear fashion. Some posts also utilise tags, which can be clicked to bring up all other posts on that topic. At the bottom of the blog, you’ll find our author biographies on the left and a search bar on the right.

Please also feel free to comment or ask questions, we hope you enjoy reading this blog as much as we enjoyed writing it!

— Anthropology Honours Class of 2019.