Living Anthropologically – Anthropology, Understanding, Possibility

Living Anthropologically is an anthropology blog and website launched in 2011, with over one million visitors. Living Anthropologically began as a supplement for anthropology courses, especially Introduction to Anthropology. Living Anthropologically explains “What is Anthropology?”

Living Anthropologically attempts to address what Thomas Hylland Eriksen expressed in Engaging Anthropology: “Anthropology should have changed the world, yet the subject is almost invisible in the public sphere outside the academy.” The Living Anthropologically project is to make anthropological findings visible in the public sphere, drawing upon undergraduate teaching to highlight the most relevant lessons of anthropology.

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Living Anthropologically is an anthropology blog to showcase our undying faith in the richness and variability of humankind during global transformation. Living Anthropologically brings anthropology to life & to public debates.Click To Tweet

Some “greatest hits” from Living Anthropologically

Anthropology: Worst Major for Corporate Tool, Best Major to Change Your Life

This post went viral as a response to all the attacks on anthropology as a valuable major, culminating with Forbes declaring anthropology to be the #1 worst major. My response: “We’re #1! From Florida Governor Scott’s we don’t need anthropologists to Frank Bruni singling out anthropology in the New York Times, I’m tired of playing defense. We’ve worked hard to get to #1.” This post landed Living Anthropologically in Science–see Great Year for Anthropology!

The world-changing anthropological message is perhaps best described at the college undergraduate level, and is also why I attempt to write succinct statements on What is Anthropology? The post draws on an economic and political analysis of education and neoliberal capitalism, inspired by works like David Graeber’s best-selling Debt: The First 5,000 Years.

Anthropology, Sex, Gender, Sexuality: Gender is a Social Construction

Living Anthropologically must include a feminist perspective. This post attempts an overview of how anthropology has investigated issues of sex, gender, and sexuality. I am still inspired by Gayle Rubin’s essay The Traffic in Women (1975), and recognizing that anthropology’s most effective popularizers have been women. Ruth Benedict’s Patterns of Culture, first published in 1934, remains a worldwide bestseller–see also Ruth Benedict, Franz Boas, and the Anthropological Concept of Culture.

Real History versus Guns Germs and Steel

Like many anthropologists (see Ryan Anderson’s 2013 investigation of Anthropology: The landmark books), Eric Wolf’s Europe and the People Without History was a revelatory account of human interconnection and retelling global history. My central claim is that the real problem with Jared Diamond is how his incorrect and imperialist-justifying Guns, Germs, and Steel replaced the much more accurate and inspiring work of Eric Wolf. For more, see Eric Wolf, Europe and the People Without History – Geography, States, Empires.

Agriculture as “Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race”?

This post launched a critique of one of Jared Diamond’s first and still most successful essays overblowing a revisionist hyperbole that agriculture was a watershed worst mistake for humanity. This critique and follow-up pieces on hunting and gathering, horticulture, and agriculture are inspired by Tim Ingold’s essays in The Perception of the Environment: Essays on Livelihood, Dwelling and Skill. Ingold’s essays ask us to re-examine some fundamental assumptions about plant and animal domestication and the place of human beings in the world.

Anthropology, Moral Optimism, and Capitalism: A Four-Field Manifesto

This post is a cornerstone statement for the blog and Living Anthropologically.

We owe it to ourselves and to our interlocutors to say loudly that we have seen alternative visions of humankind–indeed more than any academic discipline–and that we know that this one . . . that constructs economic growth as the ultimate human value . . . may not be the most respectful of the planet we share, nor indeed the most accurate nor the most practical. We also owe it to ourselves to say that it is not the most beautiful nor the most optimistic.
–Michel-Rolph Trouillot, Global Transformations, 2003:139.

We lost this brilliant anthropologist in 2012–see Trouillot In Memoriam and free PowerPoint Anthropology & Moral Optimism.

Myths of the Spanish Conquest – Indigenous Allies & Politics of Empire

Meant as an exploration of mythologies about the inevitability of one of the first colonial encounters, this post had a brief “going viral” moment when it was featured on the Marginal Revolution blog. See Black Swan Anthropology Lessons – Links to the Highly Improbable.

Yanomami Ax Fight: Jared Diamond, Science, Violence & the Facts

This post was one of the first reviews of Jared Diamond’s The World Until Yesterday to really tackle Diamond’s misuse of the ethnographic record. This eventually led in July 2014 to a post on Jared Diamond and Future Public Anthropology.

Anthropology and Human Nature – Anthropology 1.1

It is impossible to understand what anthropology is all about without understanding what anthropology was slotted to explain: Human Nature. Anthropology still needs to address these questions. I’ve been grateful for the work of Agustín Fuentes, Busting Myths about Human Nature, as he tacks between academic anthropology, interdisciplinary endeavors, and the public sphere (see also Race, Monogamy & Other Lies They Told You–Fuentes as Anthropology 101).

Race is a Social Construction – Anthropology on Race and Genetics

This post attempted to defend and re-describe some basic anthropological ideas on race which have been much misunderstood in the genomic age. Since I wrote this piece, I continue to think about how these anthropological perspectives on race have been mobilized to attack anthropology and anti-racist efforts–see Social Construction of Race = Conservative Goldmine. I continue to be inspired by Jonathan Marks and his Alternative Introduction to Biological Anthropology as he keeps working on these issues in the face of adversity.

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