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This Anthro Life

This Anthro Life

By Adam Gamwell
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. Join Anthropologist and culture expert Dr. Adam Gamwell for curated conversations with humanity’s top makers and minds on our creative potential through design, culture, business and technology. Change your perspective.
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The surprising truths wild horses teach us about the power of ritual, social durability, and surviving the Anthropocene with John Hartigan Jr.

This Anthro Life

Don't Sell Yourself Short: How to Create a Career Plan
A job search strategy is essential, but what if you don’t even know what to look for or what you want to do? A career plan is something you can do before job searching to define the kind of work you want to do and how to engage with like minded people, so you’ve got opportunities and pathways to work you’ll find fulfilling and meaningful, regardless of industry. While some old-school academics might see creating a career plan as selling out, Career Coach and Strategist Amy Santee and Design + Business Anthropologist Adam Gamwell, say you’re selling yourself short if you don’t. In this seminar we’ll share stories from our experiences and walk you through creating your own plan across defining your values, mapping your journey, finding your people and trying your voice. Whether you’re a student and looking for your first job, a mid career professor or industry insider and curious about what else is out there, a career plan is relevant for anyone. We’ll dig into defining your values as a starting point, mapping a vision of your future by looking at your past, how to take action on your plan, and learning to trust your intuition as much as the data you gather. Today's episode is a slice from a workshop series Adam Gamwell put together with Prof Jonathan Anjaria of Brandeis University.  Amy Santee Career Coaching Amy's LinkedIn Jon Anjaria Brandeis University Anthropology Episode production and art: Adam Gamwell Music Epidemic Sounds: Sweet Talk - Tyra Chanty Zanzibar - Jones Meadow
September 17, 2021
Transforming Market Research with Qualitative Consciousness in post-liberalization India w/ Dr. Meena Kaushik and Madhuri Karak
Dr. Meena Kaushik takes us through her story from the revolutionary idea in the late 1970s of applying semiotics to brand and market research to founding Quantum, which today is a global enterprise research organization in seven countries, through how they have digitally adapted insights research in the face of COVID. Meena Kaushik started her journey as an academic studying the symbolism of death rituals in Hinduism. She conducted extensive fieldwork amongst the Doms of Varanasi, a low caste community working in the city’s cremation grounds, for her Ph.D. in Sociology at the Delhi School of Economics. She ventured into qualitative market research by accident and fell in love. Her training in ethnography deepened how consumer behaviour, consumer culture and consumer psyche were being understood in India in the mid to late 1980s. A consulting stint with the Indian Market Research Bureau soon became a full fledged position and she helped found the qualitative division at MARG as a Director of Qualitative Research. Kaushik adapted anthropological methods, semiotics, and social psychology to qualitative market research problems in India, giving qualitative approaches a credibility they’d never had in the past. In 1990 she founded Quantum Consumer Solutions with Srilekha Agarwal and Meera Vasudevan, Asia’s first purely qualitative research firm. Today Quantum has operations in seven countries with 220 employees. TAL spoke to Dr. Kaushik about the birth of this new “qualitative consciousness” in post-liberalization India, and how to create value for qualitative insights in industries that have been traditionally dominated by numbers. We dig into: How she brought anthropologist and qualitative insights to market research in India Fairness and Skin Lightening Creams: How interdisciplinary social science can get a company to reframe brands around empowerment Acknowledge privileges, like the cultural preference for lighter skin, without ignoring or pandering to it Why we should be talking about insights research rather than qualitative research, and how her company has adapted to digital ethnography and new forms of research since COVID rocked the world Digital ethnography methods to create a “semiosphere” > a holistic view of how people make meaning in their lives Advice for transitioning into market research, skills agencies look for Adapting from research as an output to design strategy, offering solutions on top of research insights Commodities and the crisis of meaning: Why it’s essential for brands to have higher meaning and purpose in the lives of consumers TAL Correspondent and this episode's host: Madhuri Karak is Community Engagement Lead at Rare’s Center for Behavior & the Environment, managing a virtual learning platform for practitioners blending behavioral insights with design thinking to solve our biggest environmental challenges. She is currently a Mellon - American Council of Learned Societies Public Fellow and has a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology. You can find more of her work here. Organization: Interview w/Kaushik: Credits Production: Madhuri Karak and Adam Gamwell Music: Zanzibar - Jones Meadow, Epidemic Sounds Art: Adam Gamwell
July 16, 2021
From Art School to Industry: Passion, Ethics, and Business Impact with Phil Surles
Phil Surles is a cultural anthropologist and consultant who focuses on branding. He works with companies to change their culture for the better and focuses on integrating anthropology into industry. From art school to anthropology to industry Phil discusses how he combined all of his passions into his consulting work. Phil, Astrid, and Adam discuss what it means to be an anthropologist working in industry and ethical issues that may arise. Phil is also working on a new platform called Mindshare where businesses can tap into the expertise of human scientists for expert interviews, consulting and more. On today’s Episode How to study anthropology with the intention of going into industry, not academia To intervene or not intervene-- the anthropologists ethical dilemma How anthropologists can bring their ethics and methodology to industry and change it for the better What is a public intellectual and how does it relate to thought leadership and activism Where to Find Phil Surles: Twitter LinkedIn Mindshare Episode Credits Music (Epidemic Sounds) Intro: Embody by Ballpoint Outro: Tried in Fire by Ballpoint Episode art- Sara Schmieder Production- Sara Schmieder, Elizabeth Smyth, and Adam Gamwell
June 16, 2021
So tell me about yourself: Storytelling and the Science of Love with Helen Fisher
If Dr. Hellen Fisher isn’t a household name in your house (yet), her work certainly is. Helen is a biological anthropologist and basically the reason you can date online. She’s an expert on romantic love, gender differences, the evolution of human emotions and attraction. She has also been the Chief Scientific Advisor for and was instrumental in their offshoot, She has explored how love patterns are actually deeply coded in our physiology and neuropsychology. We talk about how to understand sex, love, and dating across human behavior, patterns in courtship, and the evolution of bonding. But beyond this, Helen is a wildly popular author, TED speaker and public intellectual. To this end brings to the table a wealth of insight into how to translate anthropological insights in ways that feel meaningful to people today. Hellen discusses her career path, how she strayed from the field of academia, became an accredited author and eventually an advisor to We discuss how to handle media attention, the tactics of public speaking, and how to connect to your audiences. In this episode we focus on: Fisher’s formula for making anthropology matter in the mainstream The biological anthropology of how we find love and who we are attracted to The ways in which we can apply/sell anthropology in a context outside of academia Effective tactics of public speaking and audience engagement Guest Bio: Helen Fisher is a biological anthropologist who studies human behavior, love, and attraction. She has been the Chief Scientific Advisor for for ten years and was instrumental in their offshoot, Additionally Fisher is known for her TedTalks and is even a Ted All-Star but not only is she popular on the TedTalk circuit she also has appeared in several YouTube videos and has written books about love and relationships. Some of her books include Anatomy of Love (2016), Why We Love (2004), and Why Him Why Her? (2009). Where to Find Helen Fisher: Pew Research on online dating Music: Epidemic Sounds Girl Like You (Instrumental Version) - Flux Vortex Sweet Talk (Instrumental Version) - Tyra Chantey Episode Art: Sara Schmieder Episode Production: Elizabeth Smyth, Sara Schmieder, Sarah McDonough, Adam Gamwell Leave a Review for our Book Give Away! (We've got one copy of Ghost Work with your name on it! - Leave us a review at one of the sites below and email a screen shot to so we know it's you). This Anthro Life - Anthropology Podcast | Podchaser ‎This Anthro Life on Apple Podcasts
June 04, 2021
Dead People Tell Tales: Segregated Cemeteries in Richmond Virginia w Dr. Ryan Smith
TAL Correspondent Sara Schmieder brings us an all new interview about the power of cemetery restoration, race in the American South, and bringing legacy to light. Dr. Ryan Smith is a professor of religious history, material culture, and historic preservation at Virginia Commonwealth University. His latest book Death and Rebirth in a Southern City: Richmond’s Historic Cemeteries (2020) explores the history and reclamation of sacred cemeteries through the lens of race. By working with friends groups from various Richmond cemeteries he charts their evolution over time and how abandoned cemeteries have been reborn. Dr. Smith also authored Robert Morris’s Folly: The Architectural and Financial Failures of an American Founder (2014) and Gothic Arches, Latin Crosses: Anti-Catholicism and American Church Designs in the Nineteenth Century (2006). In this episode we discuss: · What it means to be a friend of a cemetery · How cemeteries are being revived and protected · Segregation and cemeteries · The importance of sacred spaces for Black, Jewish, and other marginalized communities Links: Episode Art: Sara Schmieder Producers: Sara Schmieder, Adam Gamwell Music: Epidemic Sounds Bam Bam – Yomoti Shades of Purple – Gregory David
May 14, 2021
The surprising truths wild horses teach us about the power of ritual, social durability, and surviving the Anthropocene with John Hartigan Jr.
In today’s episode Adam Gamwell and Astrid Countee are joined by multispecies anthropologist John Hartigan jr. John is an anthropology professor at the University of Texas at Austin. In his latest work, Shaving the Beasts: Wild Horses and Ritual in Spain, John studies the social lives of wild horses in Spain and Catalonia and the Spanish ritual dating back to the 1500s of “Rapa das Bestas”- in which villagers heard wild horses together into public ceremonial rings and shave their manes and tails. Why is an anthropologist studying horses you ask? John’s work dives into the complex social lives of these horses, what happens with human ritual causes violence and social breakdown - in this case amongst horses - and asks the question of how we can learn about human culture from other species? In this episode we focus on: What studying nonhuman species like plants and horses tells us about being human How to do rapid ethnographic fieldwork How the sociality of humans shapes and is shaped by other species Why ecology needs anthropology and vice versa Where to Find John Hartigan: John Hartigan Jr. is an anthropology professor at the University of Texas at Austin who focuses on multispecies ethnography, media, and race. He has done fieldwork in Spain, Mexico, Peru, Colombia, and Detroit, Michigan. Hartigan’s latest book is Shaving The Beast: Wild Horses and Ritual in Spain, in which he explores the ritual of rapa das bestas in Galicia, Spain where villagers heard wild horses together to shave their manes and tails. Through multispecies ethnography, Hartigan tells the story of this ritual through the horses’ eyes, experiencing the traumatic event as he tells the story of the horses and their society. Hartigan has also authored Care of the Species: Cultivating Biodiversity in Mexico and Spain (2017), Racial Situations: Class Predicaments of Whiteness in Detroit (1999), Odd Tribes: Toward a Cultural Analysis of White People (2005), What Can You Say? America’s National Conversation on Race (2010), and Aesop’s Anthropology: A Multispecies Approach. Twitter: Music: Epidemic Sounds Tilden Parc - The Weekend (Instrumental Version) Nebulas [ocean jams] Episode Art: Sara Schmieder Leave a Review for our Book Give Away! This Anthro Life - Anthropology Podcast | Podchaser ‎This Anthro Life on Apple Podcasts
May 05, 2021
The Ghost in the Machine is Not Who You Think: Human Labor and the Paradox of Automation with Mary L Gray
BOOK GIVEAWAY!! Leave a Review of This Anthro Life for a chance to win a copy of Ghost Work! Leave us a written review on Apple Podcasts or Podchaser by May 8, 2021, and email us a screenshot (so we know it's you) at We'll randomly pick four winners out of the group from anyone who submits a review by May 8th, 2021.  Now just a heads up: We're only counting serious reviews where you write something thoughtful. We'll take five stars of course if you want to just help out, but please no writing "I'm just doing this to get a free book." Feel free to share what you love about the podcast, why you find it valuable, How long you been listening or what keeps you listening? Remember, reviews help others discover the show and help us shape the content based on what you find valuable, so thanks for participating, we can't wait to hear from you! Podchaser: Apple Podcasts: Mary Gray is an anthropologist whose work explores how technology informs work, a sense of identity, and human rights. Gray applies these concepts as the Senior Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research and as the Faculty Associate at Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society. Additionally she remains in a faculty position at the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering. Gray has also authored books such as In Your Face: Stories from the Lives of Queer Youth and Out In the Country: Youth, Media, and Queer Visibility in Rural America but her most recent book, coauthored with Siddharth Suri Ghostwork: How to Stop Silicon Valleyfrom Building a New Global Underclass focuses on how task based work is being utilized by bigger businesses and how this represents a change in the way we conceptualize work. In this episode we focus on: What is Ghost Work? The gap between what a person can do and what a computer can do Algorithmic cruelty The future of work and what that means for contract labor Tech not as devices, but as conduits for social connection How to bring empathy into the workplace Where to Find Mary Gray: Website: Twitter: Linkedin: Music: Epidemic Sounds Dylan Sitts - Ice Cold Beverage 91 Nova - Lushwork Blue Steel - Up Here Episode Art: Adam Gamwell Photograph in Episode Art: Adrianne Mathiowetz Episode Production: Elizabeth Smyth, Sarah McDonough, Adam Gamwell
April 08, 2021
Becoming a Business Anthropologist and Mastering the Tools of the Trade w/ Oscar Barrera
Oscar Barrera is a Business Anthropologist based out of Veracruz, Mexico who brings a global mindset to helping businesses turn hurdles into opportunities for positive change. He is an expert in innovation, change management, and strategy. In this episode in partnership with Experience By Design podcast cohosts Adam Gamwell and Gary David dig into Oscar's story to learn the steps he took in moving from academia to business. We also dig into follow along case stories of how Oscar used the social sciences to help businesses see and solve organizational problems, find new marketing opportunities, and help people craft new narratives that empower them to be the heroes of their own stories why we believe it is not only ethical to bring the social sciences into business, but why it is fundamentally necessary to do so how to get started learning the world of business This episode is jam packed with great stories and advice! Connect with Oscar on LinkedIn Oscar's website (Spanish): Antropología Corporativa
March 05, 2021
They're not Binging TV, they're Feasting: Rethinking Media, Honor and American Culture with Grant McCracken
Take a walk with anthropologist and consultant Grant McCracken and host Adam Gamwell, as they discuss Grant's new book The New Honor Code: A Simple Plan for Raising Our Standards and Restoring Our Good Names and dig into Grant's uncanny ability to excavate and weave together (American) culture, media, and storytelling, and pull out provocative insights like the need to get more anthropologists and cultural experts into the C-Suite, how we might re-invent honor in the contemporary world, and how setting anthropology free from the academy can reshape it and make the field better for it. In The New Honor Code, Grant draws together ideas from Elizabethan England, insights found while hanging out in people's living rooms interviewing them about their television watching habits for Netflix, the rise of celebrity culture as the closest thing we have to honor today - and why that's a problem - and the seemingly uncrossable gap between American boomers and millennials/GenZ.  In mixing all these ideas together, he asks what is honor, why did it seem to disappear from our culture and what would it look like to create a system of honor in contemporary United States that would dissuade people from acting badly with impunity.  We dig into all these topics in this episode and Grant has some great advice for any social scientist looking to go into consulting or business or if you're in business, how we can be more savvy and practical about infusing anthropological mindsets and thinking into organizations without hitting people over the head with it, especially if they find the idea of culture confusing. 
February 04, 2021
How to Manage Social Conflict, Communicate Effectively and Find Common Ground with Jeremy Pollack
In January 2021 armed rioters stormed the US Capitol in a harrowing and politically fomented insurrection. It was an apex of years of divisive and condemnable rhetoric and fear-mongering used to stoke insecurities and desperate action. How do we ensure this never happens again? Or how do we dismantle the social structures that feed hate, fear, and contempt? What this event, and on the flip side, our celebration of Martin Luther King jr. Day (when we recorded this episode 1/18/21), reveal is that understanding what leads to social conflict and how to manage and resolve conflict is more essential than ever. Today Adam Gamwell and Astrid Countee talk with conflict management expert and author Jeremy Pollack about healing a divided nation by learning to talk with our neighbors more. We dig into: Why humans need help managing conflict Cognitive and perceptual biases that prevent us from communicating clearly with one another How to communicate clearly around fears and intentions to find common ground How to understand and disarm Worldview defense That we need to start talking to our neighbors more!  The importance of local leadership in modeling intergroup communication and shared goals Jeremy Pollack is the Founder of nationwide conflict resolution consulting firm Pollack Peacebuilding Systems and author of the new book Conflict Resolution Playbook: Practical Communication Skills for Preventing, Managing, and Resolving Conflict. Jeremy is a fellow at Stanford University’s Center for International Conflict and Negotiation, and an expert on human conflict with an academic background in social psychology, evolutionary anthropology, negotiation, conflict resolution and peacebuilding.
January 19, 2021
The Hidden World of Sh*t (a farewell to 2020)
Language warning. We use the word sh*t a lot in this episode, since it is, in fact all about poop.  To wrap up this crappy, some may even say shitty year, host Adam Gamwell and intern Elizabeth Smyth discuss the origin of the word shit, how the way we defecate is culturally constructed, what our poop reveals about us, and so much more in this New Year’s Eve mini-episode of This Anthro Life. Farewell 2020, it’s been real. In this episode we dig into: What poop tells us about culture and our biology Whether to sit or squat? Poop’s superpower for healing gut microbiota and potential energy source How poop in space might tell us if we are, in fact, extraterrestrials ourselves Also check our new blog Voice and Value where we dive deeper into all things human: Voice and Value – Medium Articles referenced: The History of Poop Is Really the History of Technology Poop Worlds: Material Culture and Copropower (or, Toward a Shitty Turn) Poop (Somatosphere) How Fossilized Poop Gives Us The Scoop on Ancient Diets Watching What We Flush Could Help Keep a Pandemic Under Control Human feces from the developing world could power millions of homes Follow this Anthro Life on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram! Twitter: This Anthro Life Podcast (@thisanthrolife) / Twitter Instagram: This Anthro Life Podcast (@thisanthrolife) • Instagram photos and videos Facebook: LinkedIn: Website: This Anthro Life Music: Epidemic Sounds No Regrets - Guy Trevino Basmati - Farrell Wooten Episode Art: Liz Smyth
January 01, 2021
More than a Game: Sports, Race, and Masculinity in Diaspora w/ Vyjayanthi Vadrevu and Stanley Thangaraj
In this episode we meet Dr. Stan Thangaraj, an anthropology professor at the City College of New York whose research includes immigration in the U.S, being interviewed by Vyjayanthi Vadrevu, a business anthropologist and ethnographer. Together, the two discuss basketball, community, identity, race relations and so much more. Stay tuned with us as you learn about why race relations are so important and the answers to the following questions: What does sports and their global popularity reveal about race relations in the US? What can we learn from the merging transnational identities? How has the “Black Lives Matter” Movement impacted the nonwhite and nonblack communities? What are the politics within the diasporic communities? Why is it so important to continue research and teaching about these communities? Sponsors for this episode: Check out the world's first Neuromarketing Bootcamp and sign up today with our Affiliate link! Neuromarketing Bootcamp by Neuroscientist Matt Johnson and Marketing Director Prince Ghuman Use offer code ANTHROLIFE for $500 off: Affiliate link: And check out Matt and Prince’s episode on neuromarketing on This Anthro Life Check out our new Medium Blog "Voice and Value": collaborative provocations and stories that get us closer to human and deepen our perspective on society, culture, and our future.  Stanley Thangaraj is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the City College of New York (CUNY).  His interests are at the intersections of race, gender, sexuality, and citizenship.  He studies immigrant and refugee communities in the U.S. South to understand how they manage the black-white racial logic through gender, how the afterlife of colonialism takes shape in the diaspora, and the kinds of horizontal processes of race-making.His monograph Desi Hoop Dreams: Pickup Basketball and the Making of Asian American Masculinity (NYU Press, 2015) looks at the relationship between race and gender in co-ethnic-only South Asian American sporting cultures. Vyjayanthi Vadrevu is an ethnographer/ design researcher and strategist with a background in anthropology, business development, and nonprofit administration. She works on social impact design projects as well as corporate technology projects, delivering insights to help clients better serve their end users and beneficiaries. Vyjayanthi is also a trained bharatantyam dancer, with additional experience in Odissi, Kuchipudi, Kathak, and West African dance, and uses movement and choreography to connect to the deepest parts of the human experience. Music: Epidemic Sound Show notes: Xin Yao Lin, Elizabeth Smyth Episode art by: Sara Schmieder 
November 26, 2020
Life in the Age of Social Media and Smartphones with Daniel Miller and Georgiana Murariu
Do you have a sense of how much time you spend each day on social media and smartphone? Whether you can live with them or you can't live with them, we know for most of us, these are ingrained parts of our everyday lives. In this episode, we will uncover the life in the age of social media and smartphones, featuring Dr. Daniel Miller and Georgiana Murariu from the University College of London. Stay tuned as you learn about the ‘Why We Post’ project, ‘Anthropology of Smartphones and Smart Ageing, and the ‘AnthroCOVID’ project. We dig into: How do people use social media differently around the world? What are some strategies for making research accessible? What is the impact of smartphones on health? What are some creative ways that people have documented lives during the pandemic? How do you get so many anthropologists to work together globally? What is some advice for researchers who want to do collaborative and comparative work? Daniel Miller is a Professor of Anthropology at University College London and directed the ‘Why We Post’ project, which investigated the uses and consequences of social media in nine different countries around the world. The project resulted in twelve open access books, one about each fieldsite and two comparative ones. He is currently leading a project called ASSA (The Anthropology of Smartphones and Smart Ageing) which aims to analyze the impact of the smartphone on people’s lives based on 11 simultaneous 16-month ethnographies around the world. He is also the founder of the digital anthropology program at University College London (UCL). Follow Daniel on @DannyAnth Georgiana Murariu is a public dissemination officer at UCL, working with Daniel Miller and the team of researchers on the ‘Anthropology of Smartphones and Smart Ageing’. She is currently developing and implementing a dissemination strategy for the project which includes helping create a MOOC based on the project’s findings as well as using social media and digital tools to encourage the public to engage with the project’s findings and anthropology as a discipline. Follow Georgiana on Twitter: @georgiana_mu Twitter: @UCLWhyWePost EPISODE SPONSOR: Check out the world's first Neuromarketing Bootcamp and sign up today with our Affiliate link! | Use offer code ANTHROLIFE for $500 off: Affiliate link:
November 11, 2020
Getting Down to Business and Making a Career with Anthropology: Guest Podcast w Adam Gamwell on Anthro Perspectives
This Anthro Life is based on lifting up the voices and value of anthropologists and human scientists in all fields through sharing their stories, thought leadership, struggles, and winding paths. Today we've got something special, where we turn the mic around on our host, Adam Gamwell and hear some of his story on how he is building a career as an anthropologist. TAL's Adam Gamwell recently guested on fellow business anthropologist Keith Kellersohn's new YouTube series Anthro Perspectives, where he interviews anthropologists in industry and businesses about their work. This episode has a bit of everything: whether you're an anthropology student in school looking to get your first job,  an academic looking to move into industry,  if you're already working somewhere out there and looking to change careers,  or perhaps if you don't work anthropologists and you want to find out and understand value anthropology can bring to your business.  We cover all of this and more in our conversation.  One of the most helpful things in these scenarios I find is hearing other people's stories about how they did it or are doing it, or even how they just stumbled around in the dark and making it up as they went along and still came out with some kind of experience. I think perhaps the latter is closer to my own story.  So I invite you to join me for a chat about career paths, learning to articulate the value anthropology. Social sciences provide to businesses and a bit about why I do what I do. Thanks to Keith for sharing this episode. Check out the world's first Neuromarketing Bootcamp and sign up today with our Affiliate link! Neuromarketing Bootcamp by Neuroscientist Matt Johnson and Marketing Director Prince Ghuman  | Use offer code ANTHROLIFE for $500 off: Affiliate link: Episode Art: Sara Schmieder Music: Epidemic Sounds
October 23, 2020
Death Work: The Life and Culture of Forensics with Lilly White
When most people think of forensics or forensic anthropology the first thing that comes to mind are TV shows like CSI or Bones, or maybe in Six Feet Under. This may sound overly obvious, but people die every day. And this means that every day someone has to deliver dealth notifications to next of kin, especially when people live apart. Often times coroners are the ones who deliver these notifications. Coroners are elected or appointed public officials whose primary duty is to determine and certify cause of death. and while they have the scientific knowledge to do so, sometimes with the help of apps and digital tools, the social part of dealing with death, both for next of kin and the coroners themselves, is often ignored. We all experience death at some point but across 2020 more people have been directly impacted by death than ever before due to COVID-19. Meaning that more people than ever are receiving death notifications, which was a difficult conversation even before the pandemic. These notifications are challenging to give, Imagine knocking on a door or picking up the phone delivering the news that someone has passed away. It’s essential work. And it’s not easy. It’s also deeply social and cultural. This is why I’m talking to Lilly White a forensic anthropologist who focuses on the cultural side of forensics, especially on the lives of coroners and medical examiners and the best ways to handle death notifications. Lily got her PhD from the University of Montana in 2019 and currently owns and operates Bones and Stone Anthroscience with her husband. So today we’ll be talking about how cultural anthropology can play a role in forensic anthropology especially with death notifications. Top Takeaways We dig into the unseen/secret life of coroners (from a cultural perspective) Death notice work is essential but emotionally difficult so there’s a struggle keeping coroners in the practice The challenges of scientific training and having to deliver the worst possible news; the mix of scientific and social knowledge We’ll open the conversation like I often like to do, with Lily’s story and how she found her way into forensics and forensic anthropology, what life is like training to be a coroner, and her path to running her own forensics business today. Read about Lilly’s work in NYC with COVID-19 deaths (University of Montana) Lilly’s Instagram: Bone & Stone Anthrosciences (@deathphd) • Instagram photos and videos What is a Coroner? Episode art: Sara Schmieder
September 30, 2020
How to Study Meaning at Scale: AI and Big Data Ethnography, Microcultures and the Future of Innovation w/ Ujwal Arkalgud
Artificial Intelligence. Natural Language Processing. Machine Learning. Big Data. If you've studied Anthropology at all, you'll likely notice these terms don't often get use, unless you happen to be studying one of these areas, like doing an ethnography on artificial intelligence. Yet if these tools are used everyday across millions of applications and software lines of code to make our world run, how might they help us understand ourselves better? Big data often gets used to understand patterns people's behavior and thinking at a high level, and it is common to see people split into segments from this data. So in the world of market and consumer research you may know that people are commonly categorized into segments or generations - you've likely seen people written about as Millennial or Baby Boomers (OK, Boomer). But what limitations to understanding people are present when putting them into segments and generations and only seeing them from a high level? That's often where ethnography comes in, and where anthropologists like to live with and get to know people on their terms. But there's a huge stretch between massive Big Data sets and individual ethnography, right? What if there were a way to do ethnography with big data? That is, what if there were a way to be able to understand the nuances of cultural meaning people assign to things from big data sets? What this entails is, in essence quantifying ethnography. And turns out, the key has to do with focusing on meaning. That and some computer science wizardry. I'm excited today to have on the show one of the pioneers in this field, Ujwal Arkalgud, CEO, cultural anthropologist, and co-founder of Motivbase, a global tech research firm that has cracked the cultural code and developed software and research tools that bring together the analytical power of anthropology and the wide reach of big data. We’ll dig into the concept of micro cultures, which are are a set of meanings that make up a market space, the need to study of meaning and behavior in business, why don’t companies think about meaning as a primary mover? why traditional market research doesn’t effectively get at meaning, how the internet has changed the way we make culture and meaning and that betting on cultural homogenization is a trap Checkout Movitbase here Microcultures: Understanding the consumer forces that will shape the future of your business Ujwal's Medium page If you enjoy This Anthro Life, please consider supporting the show with $5 - $20 a month on Patreon. We're self funded so rely on you to help make the show happen!
August 18, 2020
Cyberpsychology: How Life Online Shapes our Minds and What We Can Do About It w Julie Ancis
It's no surprise that many of us find ourselves increasingly on mobile devices or the internet. We shop online with ease, connect with friends and family on social media, check the news, and play games. And especially during the era of COVID millions, more people are figuring out if they can work remotely.  In this episode, Adam sits down with Dr. Julie Ancis, one  of the world's leading cyberpsychologists to talk about how digital technology in life online is impacting the ways we think and interact with one another.  As an interdisciplinary scholar, practitioner, and pioneer in the field, Dr. Julie Ancis is starting as Director and Professor of an exciting new Cyberpsychology program at the New Jersey Institute of Technology and currently writes for the new Cyberpsychology blog for Psychology Today where she's been offering advice on how to practice mental wellbeing as so many of us move online, especially during the time of COVID. Digital technology can be a blessing and a curse, right? Connecting us in new ways to old friends, but it can also be addicting, cause people to unfairly compare themselves to one another on social media to feel more lonely even. When it comes to things like the news, it can be more difficult to discern fact from opinion. But don't worry. It's not all zoom and gloom. What we'll find is that it's up to us to become discerning critical thinkers about our own psychology and the psychology of others when it comes to life online. And understanding that we do in fact have the tools each and every one of us to become critical thinkers. And, if you feel like you want to learn and get an even better handle on it, there's a brand new cyber psychology program at NJIT launching just around the corner. Dr. Julie Ancis Ancis Consulting New Jersey Institute of Technology Cyberpsychology Program Psychology Today Cyberpsychology Blog Catch Julie on: Twitter Facebook Instagram  Checkout my This Anthro Life sister project Mindshare And our upcoming panel “Ethics are for Everyone: Four Anthropologists Talk Shop on ethics across design, business and technology” Eventbrite registration here
July 17, 2020
A Neuroscientist and Marketer walk into a bar: Neuromarketing and the hidden ways marketing reshapes our brains with Matt Johnson and Prince Ghuman
Ever wonder why certain new ideas stick while others don’t? We often hear a lot about innovation when it comes to new ideas, but really that’s only part of the equation. Psychology, marketing, neuroscience - and yes - anthropology can help us make sense of why some new ideas stick while others fall flat. On this episode Adam Gamwell talks with neuroscientist Dr. Matt Johnson and Professor of marketing Prince Ghuman about the fascinating role neuroscience plays in our evolving consumer lives. Matt and Prince have a new book out called Blindsight: the (Mostly) Hidden Ways Marketing Reshapes our Brains that explores the emerging field of neuromarketing. This is a fascinating conversation that gets into the neuroscience, marketing, and psychology of why we consume, why certain kinds of advertisements work for different groups of people, and -something long time listeners of This Anthro Life know - the need to clearly communicate our work as human, Neuro, and social scientists to other disciplines and people in general. And speaking of that, we dig into one of Adam's favorite subjects of all time - Star Wars - to figure out why nostalgia marketing can be so powerful. Book link: Blog link: Bio: Twitter: @pop_neuro Prince Ghuman’s Twitter @princeghuman248 Matt Johnson’s Twitter: @mattjohnsonisme Instagram: @pop.neuro on LinkedIn: Prince Ghuman and Matt Johnson, PhD.
June 28, 2020
The Connected Cup: Coffee, Tea, Happiness and Visual Storytelling Around the Globe with Documentarian Brooke Bierhaus
What is it about coffee and tea - two simple drinks - that both transcends culture and is intimately bound up by it? In this episode, Adam talks with Independent documentary filmmaker and coffee anthropologist Brooke Bierhaus about her film "The Connected Cup" which explores the heart of coffee and tea as global human connectors across cultures and backgrounds. For the film Brooke traveled to over 9 countries to film and capture intimate moments, stories, and portraits of human life around the connected cup.  We dig into: Brooke's process for filming across 9 countries how coffee and tea provide a window into what makes the good life and happiness cultures of coffee and tea around the globe narrative and ethnographic voice as part of filmmaking Brooke's Bio from IMDB: Brooke Bierhaus is an American award-winning documentary filmmaker and visual storyteller. Brooke is known for her feature film, "The Connected Cup", following the heart of coffee and tea around the world as a global language of connection. Brooke has worked and produced stories in 22 countries.
June 05, 2020
Beyond the Prototype: Navigating that Fuzzy Area between Ideas and Outcomes with Douglas Ferguson
Today we talk with Voltage Control president Douglas Ferguson and we're taking you beyond the prototype. If you ever run a design sprint, or even if you simply sat down at your desk to think through a really cool idea for a product or a new podcast or how do we improve something in your neighborhood. You started the design process. The question is, how do you go from a good idea to putting something out into the world? Douglas helps us find out.  "You gotta slow down to go fast" - Douglas Ferguson Voltage Control president, design thinking facilitator and innovation coach Douglas Ferguson recently published a book called Beyond the Prototype that aims to help teams and organizations (and individuals!) go from generating awesome ideas to implementing them. Over the course of our conversation we cover: the power of systems thinking seeing variables in the design ecosystem facilitation as model through systems thinking The connections between organizations and society. HR departments using design thinking to point the lens inward Caution that when we compress ideas there is opportunity to meaning to be lost Why facilitation is such a crucial role for example, realizing if you’re using one word to mean two things, or two words to mean the same thing - skilled facilitating brings these discrepancies and differences in meaning into focus for teams to help them overcome roadblocks in understanding Why so many start up founders get stuck on the idea of scale rather versus pursuing a smaller, but passion-driven idea How design facilitation sessions are about harnessing the power of the child’s mind - playful energy and debriefing as a crucial stage in any process: can you answer the question of why did we did this? Links and Resources mentioned in today's episode Beyond the Prototype book Jake Knapp - Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days Greg Satell - Cascades: How to Create a Movement that Drives Transformational Change David Epstein - Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World
May 06, 2020
How Do You Make a 2.4 Billion Dollar Observatory Disappear?
The Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) is a next-generation observatory currently under development that has created a watershed moment for the scientific community and Hawaiian society. This is because of its planned location on Mauna Kea… the most sacred mountain in the Hawaiian religion. But the case of TMT and Mauna Kea is not an outlier because mountain summits often have profound meanings to both indigenous cultural practitioners and technology developers. For example, Kanamota is another sacred mountain that is the site of technological development. It's also known as Mount Saint Helena. Ian Garrett is the co-founder and director of the Center for Sustainable Practice in the Arts (CSPA) and an Associate Professor of Ecological Design for Performance at York University. He's collaborating with indigenous communities to understand and express how contested spaces are experienced through virtual reality. In this second installment of Starstruck, we talk with him about his ongoing collaborations with indigenous communities and explore the use of diminished reality to make the observatories on Mauna Kea disappear. Starstruck Episode 001 Check out our Prelude episode on the background of the Thirty Meter Telescope, Will We Find God with this Machine? Produced by Adam Gamwell + Missing Link Studios + Mindshare
March 29, 2020
A Virus Without Borders: The Design of Public Health, Inequality, and Hope
Produced in collaboration with Experience by Design.  We are witnessing a moment in our lifetimes that we will hopefully never see again. The world is gripped in a pandemic of a scale unseen for a  century. Beyond the human toll, we are seeing how healthcare systems  people once had trust in crumble before their eyes. In this episode,  Adam and Gary talk with Shelley White and Meenakshi Verma-Agrawal of the  Simmons University Masters of Public Health program on what we learn  from this moment, and how we can design a more inclusive healthcare  system. Shelley White is an Assistant Professor of Public Health and Sociology, and Program Director of the Master of Public Health. Meenakshi Verma-Agrawal is the Assistant Program Director and Associate Professor of Practice at MPH@Simmons. What  a difference a week makes. Or does it? With the expanding pandemic of COVID-19 disrupting more lives, many here in the United States might  feel caught off guard, or that things have changed to rapidly. Now  health care is a constant concern. What Shelley White and  Meenakshi Verma-Agrawal help us put in perspective is that even though  we can all get sick, public health and care has always been political,  and who has access to care, and even what diagnoses one gets, have been  deeply tied to class, race, ethnicity and other socioeconomic  classifications. Public health, in fact, is designed. Moments of  pandemic, where a virus crosses borders and bodies with no care for the  social structures we’ve erected, brings to light the radically unequal  way our public health systems are designed. For middle class families  who find themselves for the first time concerned about the lack of  available health care or beds at a hospital, must now contend with the  fact that this is a common reality for many poorer communities and  communities of color. But moments of crisis like this are also  moments of hope. As Dr. White notes in the conversation, we have to  remember that there are more people who seek equity and change than  those who benefit from the status quo. What's radical is to acknowledge  the racial, social, and economic injustices that frame our public health  system and to then set about to change those inequities for a more just  world. covid-19 public health healthcare design experience design health inequalities
March 21, 2020
The Fourth Age: Smart Robots, Conscious Computers, and the Future of Humanity w/ Byron Reese
Gigaom CEO, publisher and author of "The Fourth Age: Smart Robots, Conscious Computers, and the Future of Humanity" stops by virtually to chat with Adam and guest host Astrid Countee to help us make sense of just what Artificial Intelligence is, what are its promises and limits, and what this means for the possibilities of conscious computing and smart robots. Byron breaks down the philosophies behind our ways of thinking about AI in way that gives us new social tools to approach the deep technological revolution we are undergoing in a more human and even optimistic manner.  Website: Twitter: @byronreese Facebook: @byronreese LinkedIn:
March 13, 2020
Will We Find God with this Machine? Introducing Starstruck
The Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) is a next-generation observatory currently under development that has created a watershed moment for the scientific community and Hawaiian society. This is because of its planned location on Mauna Kea… the most sacred mountain in the Hawaiian religion. Dr. Mindshare been studying this issue from their perspective as a cultural anthropologist for over a decade. This prelude offers a brief history of the controversy. TMT reveals the value of systems thinking — or thinking like a social scientist — for understanding the human experience more fully. Over the course of 2020 Mindshare will be collaborating with anthropologist Adam Gamwell, of This Anthro Life, alongside thought leaders from various disciplines to provide another level of insight as this story unfolds. Everything Dr. Mindshare posts can be used freely under a Creative Commons-ShareAlike license, including the audio version of this paper below. Feel free to register/log in to Mindshare if you would like to follow this project and join this conversation about TMT. Link: Original Article/Transcript: Twitter:
February 13, 2020
Brands and the Business of Relationships with Bill Fleming
Bill Fleming stops by to chat with Adam about branding, marketing and design. Bill is a Boston-based Independent Brand & Marketing Strategist, and Business Consultant for Designers. On this episode we talk about what brands are, how the cultural work of branding has changed in recent decades with the advent of new and easier to use technologies, and how we can think about brands as conversations - not just between businesses and customers but also between businesses. Transcript of this episode Bill on Twitter Ideas and Articles we reference This episode is brought to you in part by Experience By Design, a new sister podcast Adam makes with sociologist of work Dr. Gary David. ExD explores all things at the intersections of experience and work, from employee experience at Amazon to escapee experience with Escape the Room adventures to making people love Jet Blue despite hating airports. It's a fascinating world, come explore it with us. 
January 13, 2020
Happiness and the Good Life According to the Aztecs w/ Dr. Ryan Collins
A happy New Years! Enjoy this mini-episode with Adam and Dr. Ryan Collins exploring happiness and the good life according the Aztecs. New Years is a great time to reflect on where we've been, where we're going, and what's it all for. We find some answers and surprising wisdom with the Aztecs.  Purcell - The Aztecs on Happiness Carrasco - Daily Life of the Aztecs
January 01, 2020
Robots, Science Fiction, and the Anthropological Imagination: a Guest Podcast TAL's Adam Gamwell on Trending in Education
Special guest podcast! - Adam Gamwell guests on Trending in Education with Mike Palmer.   For this week’s extra, Mike is joined by Design  Anthropologist and Podcaster, Dr Adam Gamwell, to explore how robots,  science fiction, and anthropology are interrelated. In a free flowing  and imaginative conversation, we explore how the narratives and secular  myths of pop culture and our collective consciousness provide insights  into how we understand what it means to be human, how we engage with the  Other, and how we grapple to understand how new technologies are  driving profound changes to the world around us. Listen in for an illuminating conversation. We hope you enjoy! Catch more great episodes of Trending in Education over on Stitcher
December 16, 2019
Why More Security Never Feels Like Enough, by Astrid Countee: Storyslamming Anthropology Series #3
Why More Security Never Feels like Enough Storyslamming Anthropology Series, Story 3. Written and Performed by Astrid Countee In recent years, the terms Public and Anthropology have been paired with more frequency. Yet, what this seemingly suspect partnership is, how it could function, and what goals it could have are still in relative formation. Today, public anthropology might mean several different things ranging from jargony lectures that are “open to the public”, digital media (like blogs, videos, or podcasts) that are generally accessible online, or presentations given to an informant public on work produced by a researcher. Large voids remain. We ask, then, why not turn to already publicly oriented writing for inspiration? What if “Guns, Germs and Steel” (Diamond 1999), “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind”, (Harai 2015) or “Freakonomics” (Levitt and Dubner 2009) were written by anthropologists? What if we told you that once upon a time, they were? When Margaret Mead wrote “Coming of Age in Samoa” in 1928, anthropologists and non-anthropologists alike flocked to her work because of its accessibility - and felt topical relevance. Could such an achievement be attainable today? While some scholars might reject an approach based on “popular” writing, we argue that the enormous success of the above books (as well as the podcasts, YouTube videos and Netflix series based on them) demonstrates a general interest in theories of humankind, what it means to be human in the contemporary world, and throughout history. We ask why have anthropologists not followed suit? Despite the massive amount of scholarship published each year by anthropologists, none seem to crack that elusive space between rigorous research and “pop-science.” While there are trade offs between academic complexity and writing for a lay audience, the theme of the 2017 American Anthropological Association conference, "Anthropology Matters!" speaks to our need to talk across (and storytell) different worlds. Our goal with this experimental panel was to invoke the public spirit of Franz Boas, Margaret Mead, Melville Herskovits and others to speak to 21st century concerns from a comparative perspective in clear language. We picked papers that revealed juxtapositions, seemingly counter- or non- intuitive links between subjects, objects, ideas, emotions, practices, or traditions that we felt can intrigue, educate, and delight participants. The goal of this series of to expand our genres of sharing ethnographic and anthropological insight. We hope you enjoy! Story 1: #MeToo: Stories in the Age of Survivorship by Emma Backe Story 2: Fear and Loathing in Truth or Consequences by Taylor Genovese
November 18, 2019
100 Years of Beauty and the Beast of YouTube with Chris Chan
in this episode, Adam and guest host Leslie Walker talk with visual anthropologist and film producer Chris Chan, producer of the 100 Years of Beauty series on YouTube. If you haven't seen this series (or some of the spinoffs from companies like Vogue and Allure, definitely take a few minutes to enjoy). As an ethnographer, he also makes a wonderful behind-the-scenes series that documents the research he and his team does for each country called Chanthropology.  We cover  the development of the 100 YOB series,  vernacular media - the kind of content that people become inspired by, and then in turn, make their own versions of.  we dig into Chanthropology, Chris' behind the scenes ethnographic videos on why the producers and makeup artists make the aesthetic choices that they do.  how to think about beauty and aesthetics as political, not merely as passive consumerism. and yes, at some point in the episode, Chris mentions the Human Centipede. But for the reasons you'd think. It's amazing. (his comment, not the film) This Anthro Life is produced and (lightly) edited by Adam Gamwell. I'm a small team of 1, so if you get something out of this show please consider supporting TAL on Patreon and helping make it happen. Even $5 a month makes a huge difference and me and our thousands of listeners are so grateful :).  If you've read this far I'll be looking for production help soon! Transcription correction, content editing, social media and marketing - so if you've got some experience or want to learn the trade and want to help out, drop me a line at  Chris is Director of Content at 100 Years of Beauty and the Beast of YouTube with Chris Chan Episode 129
October 23, 2019
Design Research is Anthropology Applied with Amy Santee
At long last we are back! In this episode host Adam Gamwell talks with Design Researcher and Strategist Amy Santee.  This is one of these conversations that's a few years in the making. Adam has been following Amy's work for a while now both on her blog where she writes about anthropology in industry, design and business, on LinkedIn and other social media sites as well as at conferences sharing the good work of doing anthropology in industry. Adam and Amy discuss what Design Research is and how it works, how it aligns and differs from traditional anthropology and ethnography, and how tactics and methods can be applied both in industry or academia.  Amy Santee is a design research and strategy consultant who helps teams build products, services and brands through an understanding of people, context and experience. Trained as an anthropologist, Amy uses a human-centered lens to make sense of complex problem spaces and create value for others. She has worked primarily in digital product design, innovation and strategy, in areas such as ecommerce, entertainment, retail, home improvement, health care, enterprise software, and consumer tech. Amy is active in the applied anthropology community and blogs about design, business, organizational culture and careers at She also provides career advising services and presentations to groups on these topics. You can learn more about her on LinkedIn or visit her website, Transcript of the episode here As always, your reviews and support mean the world to us and help the show continue. Please help sponsor the show with a monthly or onetime donation on Anchor or Patreon. Episode 128
September 27, 2019
Backpacks and Toe tags: Life and Death on the US-Mexico Border w/ Jason de León
In this special interview, TAL's Ryan Collins talks with scholar, activist and artist Jason de Leon about the ongoing humanitarian crisis at the US-Mexico border. In addition to these roles, de Leon is a MacArthur Fellow and National Geographic Explorer. He uses his platforms to create public dialogue, exhibitions, and media about undocumented migration, the human costs of the US immigration policy known as 'deterrence through force.' This very human conversation reveals the emotional toll, and sometimes trauma, that comes with precarious work on the border with undocumented migrants, smugglers, shady legality and deadly terrain as well as deep questions and reflections about privilege, position, and power.  Full Transcript of the episode here Checkout some of Jason's projects MacArthur Fellow Video Episode 127
August 28, 2019
Where Qualitative Meets Quantitative Data w/ Delve co-founders LaiYee Ho and Alex Limpaecher
In this episode Adam Gamwell talks with Alex Limpaecher and LaiYee Ho, co-Founders of Delve. While Delve is a qualitative research suite, to help code transcripts, find insight, and pull actionable insights from data, the conversation takes focus on the subject of research. Specifically, the driving question is: how can qualitative and quantitative data work together? Here, academic and industry methodologies with anthropology are put into conversation leading to insights and actionable steps from social data.  Transcript for the episode: From the Delve Site: Delve is an online tool that helps you code and analyze transcripts from in-depth interviews or focus groups.  Make your research process structured and transparent by creating a coding structure that evolves into your final insights. Delve is more streamlined than coding with spreadsheets and documents, and more intuitive than traditional CAQDAS software. Delve tool: Episode 126
August 14, 2019
GUEST PODCAST: AnthroDish 49: Exploring Quinoa Production through Design Anthropology with Dr. Adam Gamwell
For this episode, we're doing something a little different. I'll be your guest. I got interviewed by the wonderful Sarah Dunigan on her podcast Anthro Dish, a weekly podcast about food identity and culture about design anthropology and some of the research I did on quinoa production and conservation in Peru for my PhD. I'll let Sarah intro the episode and run it unedited on my end. Just wanted to drop in and let you know we're here and in the spirit of helping our fellow anthro podcasters cross promote and get their good work out there.  Sign up for our NEW Weekly Newsletter here, Check out Sarah's podcast Anthro Dish and the episode page from our conversation on Quinoa Production and Design Anthropology
July 22, 2019
The Surprising Connections between Climate Finance, Sacrifice and the Spirit of Capitalism
In this episode, Adam and Aneil reflect on Aneil’s fieldwork in climate finance. Climate finance is an area of finance focused on mobilizing investment for climate change solutions, namely infrastructure that is sustainable. Aneil’s research is centered on the growth of the green bond market within climate finance. Green bonds are debt instruments that finance infrastructure deemed sustainable by the climate finance community, such as public transit, green building, renewable energy, and water infrastructure (Tripathy 2017). We analyze some snippets of interviews with climate finance practitioners and reflect on why notions of sacrifice appear so prominent in how they approach finance. It is unexpected, provocative, and humanizing.  Max Weber Spirit of Capitalism and the Protestant Ethic Definition of Finance from Mirriam Webster Dictionary For more on Sacrifice:  Marcel Mauss and Hubert Spencer On Sacrifice This Anthro Life: Making Sense of Finance: Boundaries, Institutions, and power and Caitlin Zaloom
July 09, 2019
Fear and Loathing in Truth or Consequences, performed by Taylor Genovese: Storyslamming Anthropology Series #2
Storyslamming Anthropology Series, Story 2. Written and Performed by Taylor Genovese In recent years, the terms Public and Anthropology have been paired with more frequency. Yet, what this seemingly suspect partnership is, how it could function, and what goals it could have are still in relative formation. Today, public anthropology might mean several different things ranging from jargony lectures that are “open to the public”, digital media (like blogs, videos, or podcasts) that are generally accessible online, or presentations given to an informant public on work produced by a researcher. Large voids remain. We ask, then, why not turn to already publicly oriented writing for inspiration? What if “Guns, Germs and Steel” (Diamond 1999), “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind”, (Harai 2015) or “Freakonomics” (Levitt and Dubner 2009) were written by anthropologists?  What if we told you that once upon a time, they were? When Margaret Mead wrote “Coming of Age in Samoa” in 1928, anthropologists and non-anthropologists alike flocked to her work because of its accessibility - and felt topical relevance. Could such an achievement be attainable today?  While some scholars might reject an approach based on “popular” writing, we argue that the enormous success of the above books (as well as the podcasts, YouTube videos and Netflix series based on them) demonstrates a general interest in theories of humankind, what it means to be human in the contemporary world, and throughout history. We ask why have anthropologists not followed suit? Despite the massive amount of scholarship published each year by anthropologists, none seem to crack that elusive space between rigorous research and “pop-science.” While there are trade offs between academic complexity and writing for a lay audience, the theme of the 2017 American Anthropological Association conference, "Anthropology Matters!" speaks to our need to talk across (and storytell) different worlds. Our goal with this experimental panel was to invoke the public spirit of Franz Boas, Margaret Mead, Melville Herskovits and others to speak to 21st century concerns from a comparative perspective in clear language. We picked papers that revealed juxtapositions, seemingly counter- or non- intuitive links between subjects, objects, ideas, emotions, practices, or traditions that we felt can intrigue, educate, and delight participants. The goal of this series of to expand our genres of sharing ethnographic and anthropological insight. We hope you enjoy!  Story 1: #MeToo: Stories in the Age of Survivorship by Emma Backe
June 24, 2019
EPIC 2019: Agency in the Digital Age with Julia Haines and Lisa diCarlo
Welcome to This Anthro Life x EPIC 2019. This is the first episode in our 2019 collaboration with the Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Community or EPIC. EPIC is a professional organization that brings together ethnographers and social science practitioners across fields like user experience research and design, marketing, computer science, academia, and more. This year’s conference theme is agency, which is fascinating given the rapid rise of artificial intelligence, voice recognition software and platforms like Alexa or Hey Google, and controversies over privacy and sale of people’s personal data.  Today host Adam Gamwell and guest host Matt Artz virtually sit down with the EPIC conference chairs Julia Haines and Lisa Di Carlo. Julia conducts research at the intersection of technology, innovation, and human practices. She is a Senior User Experience Researcher at Google where she leads UX research for a team of over 400 designers and engineers, bringing an inclusive, human-centered perspective to the project. She is a co-founder of the Responsible AI License (RAIL) initiative and an inaugural member of the ACM’s Future of Computing Academy.  Lisa is an anthropologist and lecturer in the Sociology Department at Brown University. She teaches courses on design anthropology, applied qualitative research methods and research ethics. The common threads throughout her research are migration and displacement, .from labor migration, to religious conversion as migration and displacement, to social innovation through the migration of ideas. When not preparing a massive conference, she conducts ethnographic research primarily in the Mediterranean area, most frequently in Turkey and Turkish diaspora communities.  We have a wide ranging conversation that covers questions such as  what agency looks like in industry and classrooms,  what responsibilities corporations have to the agency of users,  how we can make computing more equitable,  the pace of research in academia and industry,  how students and other professionals looking to move into industry ethnography and research can get a leg up.  As always, we want to hear from you! Drop us a voice message on Anchor or a message on Twitter @thisanthrolife or email at If you get some value out of listening to the show, please consider supporting us at or on with a dollar or a few bucks a month, whatever you can afford. Your support makes this show possible. Thank you!
May 21, 2019
How to Think like an Ethnographer with Jay Hasbrouck
Adam sits down (in a cafe, so this is live, people) with Jay Hasbrouck, Founder and Principal of Filament Insight and Innovation and author of Ethnographic Thinking: From Method to Mindset, a how-to guide for anyone looking to better understand and apply many of the methods ethnographers learn to their own businesses and practices. We talk through some of the techniques Jay covers in his book as well as talk candidly about the world of consulting and client relationships. 
May 14, 2019
Don't Yuck My Yum w/ Julie Lesnik (Edible Insects, pt 3)
Adam and Andrea continue the conversation with Julie Lesnik, author of Edible Insects and Human Evolution, but this time they’re going prehistoric. Oh, and they’re talking about gorillas and chimpanzees too. Learn how to fish for termites, why we wish we had more baskets, and why any of those things matter to understanding human evolution. Edible Insects, part 3 Check out discussion questions here: More about Julie:
May 06, 2019
A Bugless Life w/ Julie Lesnik (Edible Insects, pt 2)
Think you could eat a cricket? What about a spider? In this episode of TAL Adam Gamwell and guest host Andrea Eller are chatting with Julie Lesnik about her new book, Edible Insects and Human Evolution. Listen in as they discuss why Americans tend to be so grossed out by bugs, and if it’s always been that way. Edible Insects, part 2 We know many of you are educators, and some are already using TAL in the classroom. Great! To help support the educational impact of TAL, we are including some discussion questions from each episode. Please feel free to use these (in whole or part) for classroom discussion prompts, essay questions, or larger research inspirations. We think we cover a lot of quality anthropological knowledge on TAL, and we hope you think so too!  TAL and their contributors are dedicated to the value of audio scholarship. Let us know how you end up using these questions in the comments below. We’d like to know how you want us to make more educational materials in the future. Check out the discussion questions here:
April 28, 2019
Why Don't You Eat Bugs?
Edible Insects part 1. Will crickets ever catch on as an alternative source of protein in the United States? How about cockroach “milk”? Why do people in so many parts of the world NOT eat insects? Where does that disgust for or against eating certain things come from? Adam is joined once again by guest host and biological anthropologist Andrea Eller to dig into edible insects, what just might be a new marketing idea for McDonald's, and how insects reveal underlying cultural trends of disgust, environmental resource use, gender and economic trends.  Episode 118
March 28, 2019
The Social Life of Robots, pt 2: Sex and Temperament in Three Cyborg Societies
Part 2 of The Social Life of Robots, with Emma Backe. In this episode hosts Adam Gamwell, Ryan Collins and Emma Backe tackle sex and gender norms underlying digital voice assistants like Siri, Cortana and Alexa, the history and gendering of science and technology studies (STS) and what this means in an era of AI and robots, and third, theories of rights such as the right to work, the right to sex and how robots clarify and confound these issues.
February 28, 2019
Heritage Survival Across Borders: Identity, Language and Migration
Welcome to CultureMade: Heritage Enterprise in a World on the Move, an audio collaboration between the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, the American Anthropological Association, and This Anthro Life Podcast.  In this fifth and final episode, Adam Gamwell, Leslie Walker, and Ryan Collins focus on cultural survival, a complex subject framed by migration, misconceptions over language and identity, as well as by resilience of the human spirit across borders. With a subject like cultural survival, the question comes to mind, what factors threaten shared heritage, tradition, and disband communities? Here we are joined by Alejandro Santiago González (Ixil), and Mercedes M. Say Chaclan (K’iche) representatives of Washington, DC-based Mayan League, an organization working to sustain Maya culture, communities, and lands. Alejandro and Mercedes share their experiences and give insight into the ongoing struggles Maya peoples face today, including issues of language, translation, and communication for indigenous immigrants who are currently in the United States. Helping to elucidate this subject, we are joined by Ph.D. Folklorist Emily Socolov, a frequent collaborator with the Smithsonian Institution’s Division of Folklife and Cultural Heritage and an Executive Director of the Non-Profit Mano a Mano: Mexican Culture Without Borders, serving the Mexican immigrant community in New York. 
February 21, 2019
The Social Life of Robots, pt 1: Spoiler Alert
In the pop culture imagination, perceptions of robots and AI occupy a space of mystery and intrigue that gravitates between harbingers of impending societal collapse and bringers of mythical salvation. However, where does contemporary science and technology stand? Moreover, how do the social experiences of the past and in the present color our understandings of emerging technological realities? On this episode, hosts Adam Gamwell and Ryan Collins are joined by Emma Backe to discuss these questions and more. In Part I of Making Robots Human our conversation embraces the humor of pop culture AI while making room to address that our fears and hopes of robotic futures are revealing of our complex social concerns today. 
February 06, 2019
The Craft of Curation
Welcome to CultureMade: Heritage Enterprise in a World on the Move, an audio collaboration from the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, the American Anthropological Association, and This Anthro Life Podcast. In this episode, Adam Gamwell, Leslie Walker, and Ryan Collins dive into the topic of curation. What does it mean to put on a festival or put on a museum exhibit? How can we understand culture on display and introduce outsiders to other social realms? Sharing their narratives and experiences with different forms of curation are Diana Baird N’Diaye, Cultural Specialist and Curator at the Smithsonian Center for Culture and Folklife, Arman Atoyan, CEO and Founder of the (AR) and virtual reality (VR) app and game development company Arloopa, and Pablo Girona, a researcher from Tucuman, Argentina who studies cultural heritage in Catalonia and Quebec. To learn more about Diana Baird N’Diaye’s work visit: And, to learn more about Arman Atoyan and Arloopa, visit:
January 09, 2019
Switched on Pop
On this episode of This Anthro Life, hosts Adam Gamwell and Matt Artz are joined by assistant professor and musicologist Nate Sloan and music journalist and songwriter Charlie Harding, the hosts of Switched on Pop, a podcast about the making and meaning of popular music. On Switched on Pop, Charlie and Nate break down pop songs to figure out what makes a hit and what is its place in culture. They also help listeners find "a-ha" moments in the music, make you laugh, dance, and dig deeper into the world of pop music. Here Nate and Charlie speak with TAL on the study of popular music, the appropriation of musical elements, what defines “pop” and how that is changing. This episode focuses on Nate and Charlie’s choice to use podcasting as the narrative venue to house their storytelling and dives into the value of deep listening. Tune in to hear more. To learn more about Switched on Pop check out: and
December 20, 2018
Weaving Social Fabric: The Craft of African Fashion
Welcome to CultureMade: Heritage Enterprise in a World on the Move , an audio collaboration from the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, the American Anthropological Association and This Anthro Life Podcast In the US, fashion has been relegated to large impersonal retail spaces and increasingly online stores. Fashion in the US, as many know all too well, is transactional. The sense of community one has through clothing is often expressed through style though it is exceedingly rare for truly deep relationships to develop between the designer and the purchaser, even if an article of clothing is commissioned. But, community and fashion can be much more integrated. With this episode, we invite you into the conversations we had with participants in the Crafts of African Fashion program at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in 2018. We speak with Soumana Saley a Nigerian leather worker and designer, Cynthia Sands and her mentee Tomara Watkins, also known as Tam, two fashion designers who work between the United States and the African continent, and the program’s curator Diana Baird N’Diaye. This episode was broken into three underlying themes of African fashion, and craft production focused on: the local marketplace, transnational and international fashion trends, and the relationships between consumers and producers within a community. The Crafts of African Fashion is an initiative promoting the continuity of heritage arts in Africa, exploring the vital role of cultural enterprises in sustaining communities and connecting generations on the continent and throughout the diaspora. The activities for this portion of the Festival took place in the Folklife Festival Marketplace. About our Speakers: Diana N’Diaye is a Cultural Specialist and Curator at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. She holds a PhD in anthropology and visual studies from The Union Institute. Soumana Saley is a leather craft artisan from the West African country of Niger. He currently lives in Millersburg, Pennsylvania running his own business. You can learn more about Soumana and see his products on his online store accessible at and you can learn more about Soumana’s school at Cynthia Sands is an African American textile artist and businesswoman in Washington, DC. Sands’ art career includes experimenting and blending contemporary and original African artistic methods, materials, and dying techniques. She also works closely with African artisans to sustain the use of indigenous art and craft making tradition for social development, income generation, skills-transfer, and art education. You can learn more about Cynthia and her work at the website: Tomara (Tam) Watkins, is a mentee of Cynthia Sands and is the founder of Loza Tam, a hair accessory line created in collaboration Ghanaian women artisans and entrepreneurs. Visit Tam’s online store at Adam Gamwell is the co-host and executive producer of the This Anthro Life (TAL). He is the founder and director of Missing Link Studios a new media collective dedicated to producing creative media for social impact. Adam holds a Ph.D. in Anthropology from Brandeis University. Ryan Collins is the co-host and editor of This Anthro Life (TAL). Ryan holds a Ph.D. in Anthropology from Brandeis University. Leslie Walker is the project manager of the Public Education Initiative at the AAA. He served as a special guest host, collecting stories during the Folklife Festival the forthcoming podcast series with This Anthro Life. Contact Us Contact Adam and Ryan at thisanthrolife -at - or individually at adam -at- or ryan -at- Find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram @thisanthrolife. All of our content can be found on Be sure to leave us a review, let us know if you like the show. We love to hear from you.
December 10, 2018
Sharing Sonic Space: Music as Home, Soul and Connector
“I hope that more people will listen to more music outside of their own little comfort zone. I think that we enrich ourselves, we are better human beings when you open up your heart to other cultures, other music, to other worlds to other points of view. Because ultimately, as I said in the very beginning, we’re all the same. We’re all humans, and we all can connect in different ways with the things that we like. But, when we see it through the eyes of a different person. Then we better ourselves. We enrich ourselves.” Welcome to CultureMade: Heritage Enterprise in a World on the Move , an audio collaboration from the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, the American Anthropological Association and This Anthro Life Podcast. The above quote comes from Betto Arcos, music journalist and host of NPR’s The Cosmic Bario. Music, whether you create it or are an avid listener, pulls you in a deep sensory allure. The connection humans make with music is so deep that it can impact us physically and serve as a key point of return for our memories. As our guests from the Smithsonian Folklife Festival can attest, as much as it conjures deep feelings and memories, we learn something through the experience of music. Joining the distinct artists together in their views on music is a central theme, that music can help us overcome social difference. For Betto, this recognition is central to his desire to create music. Betto Arcos, in his own words: “I think that’s ultimately why I do it [create music]. I feel like there is a responsibility. There is a sense of a higher reason, why I do this. But deep down it’s also because I love music. Because I’m passionate about it and I feel like we can only do better as a human race, as people, if we know about each other a little more.” About our Speakers Betto Arcos is a music journalist based in Los Angeles, host of The Cosmic Barrio, a reporter for NPR, and regular reporter for PRI. You can learn more about Betto at: Or follow him on Twitter @ArcosBetto Amy Horowitz is an activist, promoter, feminist scholar, Roadwork team putting women artists and musicians on the road, the first multiracial, multicultural coalition. You can learn more about Amy Horowitz at: And read about RoadWork Arpan Thakur Chakraborty, Rabi Das Baul, Girish Khyapa and Mamoni Chitrakar are the Baul performers, mystic minstrels from the Indian state of Bengal. The Bauls are known for devotional songs that honor the divine within. Additionally, Mamoni Chitrakar is a traditional Indian patachitra singer and painter from West Bengal. You can learn more about their causes at: The purpose of this series is to create narratives linking the diverse peoples, perspectives, and activities across the Festival from a series of micro ethnographies like those above. The open format interview style allowed participants to define in their own words the relationships between their artisanship, musical ability, or experiences and how migration and movement shape their lives. Conversations with curators and other researchers supplemented the interviews with Festival participants and helped us to identify the research involved in selecting participants and the presentation of cultural heritage for the Festival. This approach allows us to foreground a central or thematic conversation and narrate events and activities at the Festival that listeners can paint in their minds as if they had been there to experience it. About Our Hosts Adam Gamwell is the co-host and executive producer of the This Anthro Life (TAL). Adam holds a Ph.D. in Anthropology from Brandeis University. He founded and produces narrative media out of Missing Link Studios. Ryan Collins is the co-host and editor of This Anthro Life (TAL). Ryan holds a Ph.D. in Anthropology from Brandeis University. Leslie Walker is the project manager of the Public Education Initiative at the AAA
November 09, 2018
Art is a Movement
Welcome to CultureMade: Heritage Enterprise in a World on the Move, an audio collaboration series from the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, the American Anthropological Association and This Anthro Life Podcast. Join hosts Adam Gamwell, Leslie Walker and Ryan Collins as they explore what it means to craft, form, and make culture in a world defined by movement, migration, and changing borders. Step into behind the scenes conversations and candid interviews from the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Hear from artists, fashion designers, dancers, weavers, and craftsmen who give life to heritage and shape the many worlds of traditional culture in a planet on the move. "Art is a Movement" How does art help contribute to political protest? Should art never be sold for money? How can dance unify a community? How are traditions like calligraphy and traditional dances passed on between generations? In this episode, we overview the subject of art as informed by representatives from The Armenian program and the Catalonia program of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. The above ideas on art put forth by Ruben Malayan encompasses the complex feelings, ideas, and understandings that art not only evokes within society but also those of who seek to understand art from a more holistic perspective. Art is complex. Though what counts as art within a society is often recognizable to insiders, the rationale as to why is often much more difficult to discern. Anthropology, at its best, can help us explore the complexities of art. Through critical dialogue, anthropologists can ask what it means to experience art from the vantage point of different cultures and explore the messages that the artist intended to convey. The purpose of this series is to create narratives linking the diverse peoples, perspectives, and activities across the Festival from a series of micro ethnographies like those above. The open format interview style allowed participants to define in their own words the relationships between their artisanship, musical ability, or experiences and the ways in which migration and movement shape their lives. Conversations with curators and other researchers supplemented the interviews with Festival participants and helped us to identify the research involved in selecting participants and the presentation of cultural heritage for the Festival. This approach allows us to foreground a central or thematic conversation and to narrate events and activities at the Festival that listeners can paint in their minds as if they had been there to experience it. Read more and see photos here:
October 09, 2018
EPIC Evidence with Dawn Nafus and Tye Rattenbury
This Anthro Life is opening the conversation with EPIC (the Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Community) on the theme of Evidence. Taking center stage at this year's Annual EPIC Conference. “Evidence” is a subject of increasing social importance in today’s political climate. What constitutes evidence and when it is found to be credible all have far-reaching consequences. Because of this, practicing anthropologists are exploring concerns of and around evidence through experimentation, new methodologies, and research innovations that speak to contemporary ethnographic practice. Joining TAL to open the conversation on evidence is Dawn Nafus and Tye Rattenbury, two of the EPIC 2018 Conference organizers. Our discussion with Dawn and Tye focused on the relationship of evidence in their work as ethnographic and data research scientists. Dawn and Tye work at the intersection of computational and ethnographic approaches. Dig in Deeper Here:
September 19, 2018
The Awe is Shared: Evolution and Public Science with Andrea Eller - This Anthro Life
Andrea Eller is a biological anthropologist driven by a question of how do our bodies continue to react to things today? In other words, how does evolution continue to impact us and why is this important? To address this, Andrea Eller looks at how bodies respond and adapt to circumstances of chronic stresses. The stresses that Eller looks at, however, are both physiological and social. Not only does Andrea postulate explanations to account for change over time in relation to more visible circumstances like ecology, tool use, and disease. But, Andrea also considers less visible issues like, class, race, and gender as critical factors that also impact our physiology over time. Evolution Responds, it does not React One of the compelling predicaments that Eller discusses with Adam has  to do with current data on primates. For example, data from captive  primates are excluded from wider studies. In part, the problem is that  there is a growing population of captive primates. With more an more  primates being born into captivity, there is a concern that adaptation  is occurring in many primates. As Eller notes, the pressures to adapt in  one environmental setting or another (called selective pressures) will  be different. That means looking at the same species of primates  requires context. Whether coming from different settings, the wild,  scientific laboratories, or zoos, data on primate adaptations will  differ. Similarly, humans use clothing as a tool for adapting to different  environments. Down or wool coats would seem out of place at Miami beach  just as scuba gear would not be an appropriate choice for reaching base  camp at Mount Everest even though each of these clothing options  reflects different human adaptations. Mindfulness Training – Outreach and Engagement One of the most captivating aspects of Eller’s conversation was her  genuine passion for public outreach. For Eller, it is an ongoing  struggle to help get the public to see evolution in a different light.  Too often she sees a perspective of humans being the masters of the  planet, rather than one group of participants within it. However,  combating this perspective (among others) requires outreach and  engagement. For Eller, this begins with engaging kids. “Kids haven’t had  all of the primate educated out of them,” she says. They are more open  to experience awe and be captivated out of curiosity when seeing  examples not only of our evolutionary past but the present as well. Read more:
August 17, 2018
Its Only an Evil Cactus if Donkeys Chase You: Ethics and Psychedelics with Hamilton Morris - This Anthro Life
When TAL first interviewed Hamilton Morris, it was shortly after he and his production team had finished season 1 of Hamilton’s Pharmacopoeia. Now, Morris has completed two seasons of his critically acclaimed show on VICE. This time on TAL, Morris has a more reflective tone. With Adam Gamwell and Ryan Collins, Morris shares his experiences as a filmmaker in traditional and counter-culture environments. These experiences have given Morris a unique window into psychedelics, underground pharmaceutical research, and the ethics of sharing information. The last point hits home for many anthropologists and social researchers, who also must be wary of the unintended consequences of sharing information. Depending on what is at stake, information can endanger informants and friends. Similarly, journalists and ethnographers are confronted
July 23, 2018
Tech Ethnography, Data and Social Justice w/ Dr. Tricia Wang
Dr. Tricia Wang sees her work consulting as sitting at the crossroads of data and social justice. As a global tech ethnographer, Dr. Wang is obsessed with how technology and humans shape each other. In her own words, she wants to know, “How do the tools we use enable us to do more of what humans do, like socializing, emoting, and collaborating? And how do human perspectives shape the technology we build and how we use it?”  Said differently, Dr. Tricia Wang’s expertise inhabits a gray space between industry and the academy. A space where many social scientists do not find easy comfort. Yet, Dr. Wang’s very candid enthusiasm is enough to draw in even the most ardent skeptics. In her own words, Dr. Wang has “always been between worlds” seeing the best in both. Though academics tend to value known discovery methods, and excel, they are less likely to engineer new prototypes. 
July 10, 2018
EPIC Innovation w/ Dr. Alexandra Mack - This Anthro Life
Welcome back listeners! Adam and Ryan have taken some time away as of late to finish and defend their dissertations. Now that Ryan is done, and Adam defends in just one week (so close!), TAL is getting back into gear with new content in the development and production stages. Now, another key detail, several episodes recorded earlier this spring are also on their way. Some of these are guest interviews (including a second interview with Hamilton Morris of HBO’s VICE and Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia) as well as the remainder of our Story Slamming Ethnography episodes (we haven’t forgotten about those). All that is to say, there is an extensive repertoire of content coming your way, including an upcoming collaboration with EPIC. Speaking of… With this episode of This Anthro Life, we are joined by Dr. Alexandra Mack and collaborative guest host Matt Artz. Together we interview Alex and explore her story. What makes our discussion with Alex so distinct is her breadth of research and applic
June 01, 2018
Consulting Podcasters: Prototyping a Democratic Tool for Multiple Voices, Storytelling and Solution Finding
Thanks to the Society for Applied Anthropology (SfAA) for having Adam Gamwell and Matt Artz of This Anthro Life present at the annual meeting in Philadelphia. We presented as part of the New Methods, Interventions And Approaches session. Our paper title was Consulting Podcasters: Prototyping a Democratic Tool for Multiple Voices, Storytelling and Solution Finding. You can read it here.  The session was recorded for the SfAA Podcasting project. The simple idea behind the notion of consulting podcasting is that we  are using the podcast format to intentionally bring together  professionals to co-create meaningful conversations that provides expert  advice through the anthropological paradigm of the emic and etic.  Consulting podcasting applies the flexible, digital recording techniques  of podcasting with a process of in-the-moment of real-time discovery.  To that end we askew rigid preconfigured narratives or storyboards in  favor of an open-format conversation that mimic the methods of  semi-structured interviews. We allow room for the conversation to  breathe. With openness we let guest stories speak and allow them to unfold  along their own path, on their own terms, without imposing our own  worldviews or narratives. In the process, we learn of a speaker’s  insider perspective, their motivations, and methods. We then compliment  the insider perspective with our outsider perspectives – as voices that  encourage deeper reflection and context building around issues of key  importance to the guest, to co-create a larger meta-narrative that makes  up the consultative engagement. Check out Adam's and Matt's Creative Consulting and Production work at Missing Link Studios
April 30, 2018
Marching for Science w/Valorie Aquino
On this episode of This Anthro Life, hosts Ryan Collins and Adam Gamwell are joined by TAL correspondent and guest host Astrid Countee and by a very special guest, Valorie Aquino. They joined us to talk about the 2017 March for Science. Valorie is one of the key organizing 30’s something scientists who helped make the 2017 march a reality. As she conveys in this episode, doing so was no easy task. This required countless late nights, missed social occasions, hours of frustration, and unfortunately, the all to occasional naysayers. Yet, Valorie’s story is one complete perseverance, rooted in a deep passion for science that began at an early age
April 11, 2018
Brave Community: Teaching Race in the American Classroom w/ Janine de Novais
Welcome listeners to the second installment of our Diversity and Inclusion crossover series, bringing together This Anthro Life with Brandeis University. For those of you who are new to the show, This Anthro Life (TAL) was launched as a scholar-practitioner program designed to bring anthropological and social science research and thinking to interdisciplinary and public audiences. The original idea behind the podcast is to use our skill sets and toolkits  as anthropologists to translate and socialize data, cultural patterns, and research into accessible open format dialogues and conversations that provided solutions for social impact and actionable insight. On this episode, TAL hosts Adam Gamwell and Ryan Collins are joined by Dr. Janine de Novais  of the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) to expand on the  ideas behind “Brave Community” (discussed in episode 1 of the Diversity +  Inclusion in Higher Ed series) and to understand the major hurdles she  finds with diversity and inclusion in higher education today. With her  dissertation Dr. de Novais explored the ways in which classroom  experiences in higher education do and do not contribute to deep  learning that influences students understandings of race. Dr. de Novais’  scholarship also focuses on a practice-based question: what kind of  learning about race do college students need given our racially diverse  and deeply unequal society? Her answer: Brave Community–a  pedagogy that relies on academic grounding, the distinctive culture of a  classroom, to support students. As we learned in our interview, much of  Dr. de Novais’ interests today are influenced from life experiences.  Read more here on
February 14, 2018
#MeToo: Stories in the Age of Survivorship by Emma Backe: Story Slamming Anthropology #1
Welcome to Story Slamming Anthropology. This series features both innovative narrative and audio performance drawing on the deep toolkit and methods of anthropology.  The goal with Story Slamming Anthropology is to invoke the public  facing spirit of Franz Boas, Margaret Mead, Melville Herskovits and many  others to speak to 21st century concerns from a comparative perspective  in clear language. The narratives here are based on juxtapositions,  seemingly counter- or non- intuitive linking’s of subjects, objects,  ideas, emotions, practices, or traditions that will intrigue, educate,  and delight. In doing so, the goal of these stories is to bring  anthropological storytelling to wider audiences and to demonstrate that  anthropology matters today more than ever. This narrative, #MeToo: Stories in the Age of Survivorship, is written and performed by Emma Louise Backe.  The reckoning of #MeToo has  ushered in a renewed politics of storytelling, one whose capillary reach  and discursive power requires critical analysis and reflexive  consideration of how we listen to and seek out stories. As an  ethnographer of sexual violence, who conducted fieldwork on a rape  crisis hotline during the Pussygate controversy and has served as a Peer  Advocate in George Washington University’s Anthropology Department to  respond to incidents of sexual misconduct, I wanted to situate and  historicize the #MeToo movement, with the recognition that the academy  must similarly grapple with the perils of harassment and assault. This  recognition of violence, particularly in light of the suffering slot,  must be accompanied by the acknowledgement that the anthropological  community contains survivors as well as perpetrators, experiences of  trauma as well as complicity and predation. By offering an ethnopoetic  approach to #MeToo, I propose opportunities to explore the gaps between  lived experience and knowledge production, one whose theoretical  intercession recognizes that a disposition towards care must also leave  room for hesitation and creative reconfigurations of listening. Emma Louise Backe is a social justice  sailor scout working in international development and global health on  issues related to gender-based violence and women’s health. She has a  Master’s in Medical Anthropology and Certificate in Global Gender Policy  from George Washington University. When she’s not advocating on behalf  of reproductive justice and consent, she manages The Geek Anthropologist, writes for publications like Lady Science, and tweets from @EmmaLouiseBacke. If you enjoy Story Slamming Anthropology, or are would like to share a narrative of your own, let us know!  You  can contact Adam and Ryan at thisanthrolife -at – or  individually at adam -at- or ryan -at-
February 09, 2018
Carving a Niche between Software and Social Science: Anthropology in Industry w/ Natalie Hanson
Design and anthropology have been  seen together with increasing frequency over the last few years, but how  do design and anthropology fit together in relation to industry? And,  how does this pairing create insight? Adam and Matt (a guest host at  This Anthro Life) are joined by Dr. Natalie Hanson to explore these questions and more. Dr. Hanson has been working at the  intersection of business strategy, technology, social sciences, and  design for nearly 20 years. This gives her a relatively unique  perspective on the worlds of anthropology and design. Hanson is also the  founder of Anthrodesign, which started as a list serve and now has its own Slack channel (you could join too by following the instructions here). Read more on
January 31, 2018
Diversity + Inclusion in Higher Education, part 1
Welcome listeners to the first installment of our Diversity and Inclusion crossover series, bringing together This Anthro Life with Brandeis University. For those of you who are new to the show, This Anthro Life (TAL) was launched as a scholar-practitioner program designed to bring anthropological and social science research and thinking to interdisciplinary and public audiences. The original idea behind the podcast was to use our skill sets and toolkits  as anthropologists to translate and socialize data, cultural patterns, and research into accessible open format dialogues and conversations that provided solutions for social impact and actionable insight. With the Diversity and Inclusion  Series, we are opening a semester long podcast series about diversity  and inclusion in higher education and beyond. Here, our inspiration  comes from anthropologist Ruth Benedict’s  claim that anthropology’s job is to make the world a safe place for  human differences. One small step in doing so is to have conversations  on tough topics, and that is precisely what we aim to start with this  series. Conversations matter. This  conversation is about opening questions on, what does it mean to engage  diversity in an academically grounded way, in the context of critique?  What do students need in order to do this well? For Dr. Janine de Novais, of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, some answers come from her dissertation research which demonstrates the power of conversations in classroom settings. She focused broadly on the dynamics and possibilities of learning about race in the classroom by comparing two different courses on the subjects of slavery and black political thought. What she concluded was that students “became more intellectually brave, and displayed greater interpersonal empathy” when classrooms settings were safe to express intellectual issues even on difficult and emotional subjects. Read more of the story here
January 15, 2018
Encounters Unforeseen: A Bicultural Retelling of 1492 with Andrew Rowen
In this Conversations episode, This  Anthro Life hosts Adam Gamwell and Ryan Collins are joined by author  Andrew Rowen to discuss his new novel, Encounters Unforeseen: 1492 Retold. Coming in the months trailing the 525th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s  (or Cristobal Colon’s) voyage to the America’s, Rowen’s novel seeks to  add some much needed depth to the modern myths on the subject.  Encounters Unforeseen doesn’t start at the (in)famous voyage, or even in  Europe. Instead, The drama alternates among three Taíno  chieftains—Caonabó, Guacanagarí, and Guarionex—and Bakoko, a Taíno youth  seized by Columbus, Spain’s Queen Isabella I of Castile, King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Columbus.  Some text from the Press Release:  After 525 years, the traditional literature recounting the history of  Columbus’s epic voyage and first encounters with Native Americans  remains Eurocentric, focused principally—whether pro- or  anti-Columbus—on Columbus and the European perspective. A historical  novel, Encounters Unforeseen: 1492 Retold now dramatizes these  events from a bicultural perspective, fictionalizing the beliefs,  thoughts, and actions of the Native Americans who met Columbus side by  side with those of Columbus and other Europeans, all based on a close  reading of Columbus’s Journal, other primary sources, and anthropological studies. Read more on
December 13, 2017
Coming to Our Senses
In this Conversations episode of This  Anthro Life, Adam Gamwell and Ryan Collins explore the subject of  sensory ethnography –  a focus in anthropology that tends to deemphasize  the written word to explore visual, acoustic, and other sensory  perceptions. Today, researchers explore senses increasing in the media  through virtual simulations, visual and auditory stimuli that cause  different reactions (fostering disorientation or meditative states), and  of course art. But, how we perceive the world around us can also be  influenced by culture and our surroundings, from music, to dance, to  collective effervescence. After all, viral examples in recent years  (like the infamous dress),  demonstrate that human perception varies visually from person to person  (often in the recognition of more or less recognized colors in the  light spectrum). Individual distinctions aside, as humans we’re limited  in our generally ability to sense and see the world around (infrared and  ultraviolet light are imperceptible to us, for example). Yet, tactile  sense is intrinsic to our relatively unique to our ability to produce  and use tools. Though it tends to overlooked and under recognized in  most anthropological settings, sense is critical to the human  experience. This episode explores just a few examples of projects  related to sensory ethnography and how they take us beyond our everyday  experience of the perceived world around us.  What is Sensory Ethnography Sense and perception has always been part of ethnographic work, but it hasn’t always been emphasized. According to David Howes,  studies focused on sense perception have been documented as early as  the 16th century, when smell, auditory, and visual perceptions were  emphasized. In 20th Century ethnography, however, the senses took a  backseat. Switching again in recent years, with broadly accessible  digital video and auditory technologies, the senses have once again come  back into focus. Read more about sensory ethnography here
November 27, 2017
Are Emojis and Hieroglyphs Universal Language?
Will Emojis be the death of writing? Are emojis modern day hieroglyphs? Is the increased use of emojis in textual conversations a sign of the end of language as we know it? Join us for one of our most popular conversations revisited! Your trusty hosts Ryan and Adam discuss the origin of emojis as well as the importance of actively seeking to understand the hidden biases of language. What is an Emoji? The term emoji originates from the japanese kanjis of “picture word”. Shigetaka Kurita  created the emoji in order to develop a way to send pictorial texts  using less data. Japanese phone users were sending pictures to convey  messages, but their phones were unable to handle the large amounts of  data involved in sending pictures, so Kurita created the emoji keyboard  that allowed for standard pictorial characters to be sent for the same  amount of data as a letter. Read more on
October 26, 2017
The Yin and Yang of Design Anthropology with Dr. Elizabeth Dori Tunstall
In this Conversations episode of This Anthro Life, Adam Gamwell and guest host/TAL correspondent Matt Artz  explore the world of Design Anthropology with the help of Dr. Elizabeth  “Dori” Tunstall. Design Anthropology is a subject near and dear to our  hosts, who have been excited to devote an entire episode to the subject.  But, what is Design Anthropology? If you’re scratching your head, no  worries. Adam, Matt, and Dr. Tunstall have it covered and describe the  five iterations of design anthropology using examples of their use in  the field. Over the course of the episode Adam, Matt, and Dr. Tunstall  briefly cover issues of ethics within design anthropology as well as a  touching upon how to find jobs in design.    Adam, Matt, and Dr. Tunstall also make time to get into the topics of whether: the IRS is really as bad as popular culture makes them out to be. How can we avoid cultural misappropriation? And finally, how do value systems get expressed in design?  “The goal of design anthropology is to create conditions of  compassion among human beings and conditions of harmony as it relates to  the natural world and all of the things that are within it” – Dr. Tunstall Read more on
October 11, 2017
Fall for This Anthro Life: Back in Action, New Content, and our Patreon Campaign
Hey Listeners! Adam and Ryan are back from their brief summer hiatus (a time filled with fieldwork, dissertation writing, and travels abound) with new content, a fresh Patreon campaign, lined up interviews, an upcoming limited series on diversity in the university setting and much more! Support our new campaign on Patreon! Go ahead a click that nice image to visit our new page, to read about what we want to do, and how you can give securely. Just a dollar a month makes a huge difference for us!    Kicking off the new season, Adam and Ryan dive into a new FreeThink  episode, in the style and length of our Conversations. In this episode,  they continue to make the case for why the world needs anthropology and  social science thinking more than ever. They also speak in favor of  interventionist anthropology in recognition of the plethora of social  issues, subaltern experiences, cultural miscommunications, and civil  tensions which are in the media’s focus more than ever. With This Anthro Life’s new season we really want to emphasize the importance of our Patreon campaign.  Through Patreon, Adam and Ryan will engage listeners more directly  through new content, special episodes, video, and more. For the last 5  years, TAL has been almost entirely self-funded (though a huge thanks to  the few folks who have so generously contributed to the cause) and this  reality makes it difficult to produce the quality content you, our  listeners, have come to expect. But, we’re dedicated to persevering and  continuing because we believe in the anthropological focuses we discuss,  the content we produce, and in you, our listeners. We’re incredibly  humbled by the fact that we are soon to celebrate our 30,000th  subscriber and that our community continues to grow. We want to  celebrate this with you. Please take a moment to view our Patreon  page and choose which bracket is best suited for you. With any donation  you make, know that you are directly contributing to TAL and your  support means the world to us. TAL could not be produced without you and  it will continue to grow because of you.
September 27, 2017
The Happiness Fetish Revisited
In response to several surveys that attempt to quantify happiness, Ryan, Adam, and Aneil spend this episode of This Anthro Life exploring happiness through the lens of fetishism. They discuss Daniel Gilbert’s Stumbling on Happiness, the film Happy, and more! They seek to answer the following questions: What kinds of things make us happy? How does happiness inhere in objects and how do we use objects to display our happiness? They end on a positive note by concluding that we have control over our happiness and suggesting a happy community may be a key part of being happy.   In the episode we use the term fetish, made famous by Sigmund Freud, to mean something that points to something else.  It masks what is there (I.e. a statue of a deity that seems to be what  people are worshipping, but it is just a material thing that is pointing  to the deity). It can be any material type of the thing that points towards an abstract idea. 3 Ways Our Imagination Fails to Guide Us to Happiness Our  imagination tends to add and remove details people might not recognize  that key details are fabricated or missing from their imagined  scenarios. Imagined  futures and pasts are more like the present than they actually will be.  The future is not some far off thing. You are living the future. Imagination fails to realize that things will feel different once they actually happen. We adjust to things.  Read more on
July 24, 2017
Conversations and Podcasting as Social Technology
This episode is a little different from our normal content. In it we feature a presentation Adam gave for Pivotal Labs in which he explores This Anthro Life’s (and his own) developing philosophy about conversations and podcasting as social technologies and what the worlds of anthropology and podcasting can do. Some topics Adam touches on include: what anthropology does in the world, conversation as “little social laboratories”, mapping the contemporary podcast ‘cosmos’, podcasters as cultural brokers, and the kinds of stories we well as Charismatic Data.  During this pseudo-episode (think of it like a Conversation meets a FreeThink) Adam asks the questions: What makes conversation a social technology? And how can data be charismatic? During this pseudo-episode (think of  it like a Conversation meets a FreeThink) Adam asks the questions: What  makes conversation a social technology? And how can data be charismatic? As Adam mentions, the audio recording during the talk got messed up,  so today we’re presenting you a ‘podcasted’ version of the talk edited  for length. You can check out the original talk on YouTube here, courtesy of Pivotal Labs. The original talk also includes much more about Adam’s research and TAL. As always, remember TAL is an entirely self-funded labor of love, so  any help is always appreciated. We’ll be launching a Patreon campaign  soon for ongoing support. For now, please give securely at PayPal, every  bit makes a difference to us.  Read the full story here
July 14, 2017
The Stories Bones Tell w/ Kristina Killgrove
This Anthro Life has teamed up with Savage Minds to bring you a special 5-part podcast and blog crossover series. While thinking together as two anthropological productions that exist for multiple kinds of audiences and publics, we became inspired to have a series of conversations about why anthropology matters today. In this series we’re sitting down with some of the folks behind Savage Minds, SAPIENS, the American Anthropological Association and the Society for American Archaeology to bring you conversations on anthropological thinking and its relevance through an innovative blend of audio and text. In our fourth episode of the TAL + SM  collaboration Ryan and Adam chat with Dr. Kristina Killgrove about her  strategies for engaging popular audiences through writing. We start  by discussing interdisciplinary collaboration and its role in improving  writing. Then we explore Kristina’s strategies for choosing content to  cover in her blog, Powered by Osteons. We end by considering some ways anthropology has changed in terms of crowdfunding and the possibilities of open data. Read the full story here
June 28, 2017
Anthropology + Science Journalism = A New Genre? w/ Daniel Salas of SAPIENS
This Anthro Life has teamed up with Savage Minds to bring you a special 5-part podcast and blog crossover series. While thinking together as two anthropological productions that exist for multiple kinds of audiences and publics, we became inspired to have a series of conversations about why anthropology matters today. We’re sitting down with some of the folks behind Savage Minds, SAPIENS, the American Anthropological Association and the Society for American Archaeology to bring you conversations on anthropological thinking and its relevance through an innovative blend of audio and text. In our third episode of the TAL + SM crossover series (blog post here),  we explored SAPIENS’ approach to producing anthropological content for  popular audiences. Ryan and Adam were joined by the digital editor of  SAPIENS, Daniel Salas, to discuss the implications of using anthropology  to engage the public through journalism. The episode focused on the  questions How do you reconcile scientific and anthropological writing,  and is this mixture a new genre? Is there a balance to be found between  producing timeless “evergreen” stories versus current events focused  content for audience engagement?  Read the rest here
June 21, 2017
Anthropology has Always been Out There w/ Ed Liebow and Leslie Walker of the AAA
In the second conversation of the TAL + SM crossover series, Ryan and Adam were joined by AAA Executive Director Ed Liebow and Program Manager for Educational Outreach Leslie Walker. They explored the work of the AAA, the changing natures of work and research today, and critically assessed anthropology in terms of scope and impact. Read the article here
June 14, 2017
Writing “in my Culture” w/ Zoe Wool and Alex Golub of Savage Minds
This Anthro Life has teamed up with Savage Minds to bring you a special 5-part podcast and blog crossover series. While thinking together as two anthropological productions that exist for multiple kinds of audiences and publics, we became inspired to have a series of conversations about why anthropology matters today. For this series we’re sitting down with some of the folks behind Savage Minds, SAPIENS, the American Anthropological Association and the Society for American Archaeology to bring you conversations on anthropological thinking and its relevance through an innovative blend of audio and text. Read the article here
June 07, 2017
Visual Anthropology Revisited, pt 2
We like to bring you some of our favorite conversations from our catalogue as we think about new ways to explore the topic. This week we’re bringing you our Visual Anthropology conversation split into two, digestible parts, so here’s part 2. Plus we (still) miss Aneil and wanted to hear his voice again. We hope you enjoy the conversation revisited with us! Join us for an ‘enlightening’ trip as we ‘shed some light’ on the world of sight, seeing, and visual anthropology. In this episode we explore the deep impact of visual culture across the globe and time from ancient Greece to the invention of photography to metaphors of knowledge, to genotypes and phenotypes, arrangement of food, and more! If you like TAL, please drop us a 5-star review on iTunes or Stitcher or however you enjoy the podcast. If you are able, dropping us a couple of bucks makes a huge difference in making the show sustainable!
June 02, 2017
Visual Anthropology Revisited, pt 1
We like to bring you some of our favorite conversations from our catalogue as we think about new ways to explore the topic. This week we’re bringing you our Visual Anthropology conversation split into two, digestible parts. Plus we miss Aneil and wanted to hear his voice again. We hope you enjoy the conversation revisited with us! Join us for an ‘enlightening’ trip as we ‘shed some light’ on the world of sight, seeing, and visual anthropology. In this episode we explore the deep impact of visual culture across the globe and time from ancient Greece to the invention of photography to metaphors of knowledge, to genotypes and phenotypes, arrangement of food, and more!   Read More
May 31, 2017
On the Craft of Writing w/ Dr. Anita Hannig
How do academics write for a variety of audiences? Is routine a necessary part of creating? How many times will Ryan mention Stephen King? In this episode of This Anthro Life, Adam and Ryan talk with Anita Hannig of Brandeis University about the writing process behind her new book, Beyond Surgery: Injury, Healing, and Religion at an Ethiopian Hospital.  While they are looking at writing as a craft from the perspective of anthropologists, Ryan, Adam, and Anita draw on a variety of perspectives outside of the discipline to suggest some tips for writing routine, reaching a broad audience, and writing ethnography. About Anita Hannig Anita Hannig is an assistant professor at Brandeis University. Read more at
May 17, 2017
Free Think 6 – Who Are the 13,000?
FreeThink 6 – Who Are the 13,000? In this week’s Free Think, Adam and Ryan introduce a new member of our team, Matt Artz, who will be leading a new project to study and research you! We hit 13,000 subscribers in the past week which is a huge milestone for us. In order to keep This Anthro Life growing we would like to better integrate the desires of our listeners with how we market, produce, and choose our content. We want to get to know you! To do this we will be updating the What’s Your Story page with a space to submit your emails if you would like to be interviewed by one of the team. We will post more information in the coming weeks. We cannot wait to hear your thoughts on the podcast and ways we can make it better! NOTE: Since recording this episode less than a week ago, we are now over 14,100 subscri
May 12, 2017
Dating your Ancestors is Complicated: The Strange Case of Homo Naledi
On this episode, Adam and Ryan dive into the complexities of our ever  evolving human family. How we understand our ancient ancestors,  cousins, and ape family has the potential to impact our understanding of  what it means to be human and how we are still changing. The new and  exciting data we dive into this episode is all about Homo Naledi,  perhaps the most recent addition to our family. As of the day we  recorded this episode, April 25th, the first concrete date range for the  species was publicized (but stay tuned for further developments).  Rather than being very early (that is more ancient) and dating to the  time of the earliest Homo Erectus specimens as originally hypothesized  (some 2 million years ago), it now appears that Naledi was potentially a  contemporary of the earliest Homo Sapiens (that’s us) ranging from 200  to 300 thousand years ago. This means we need to re-evaluate our genus  once again and think about the complexities of dating our ancestors. Quick definitions: Species – a group of living organisms consisting of similar  individuals capable of exchanging genes or interbreeding; Homo,  Australopicus Genus – one step below species on the taxonomic system: A. afarensis (Lucy), H. sapiens (us), H. neandertal, H. naledi Read more on
April 26, 2017
Culinary Catalysts and Scientific Shifts: Peruvian Quinoa in the Age of Genetics and Gastronomy
This episode of This Anthropological Life presents a little differently from our normal episodes. The Society for Applied Anthropology generously allowed us to release the audio from Adam’s presentation at the SFAA 2017 Annual Meeting in Santa Fe, New Mexico, so this episode is based entirely on this presentation. Adam discusses a quinoa gastronomy project he is working on in conjunction with Dr. Alipio Canahua Murillo and Chef José Maguiña. They are designing an agricultural-gastronomy project in the region of Puno, Peru in order to create new dishes based on endangered varieties of quinoa. 
April 19, 2017
FreeThink 5: Finding Balance in the Midst of Burnout
Freethink #5: Finding Balance in the midst of Burnout In this week’s free think Ryan and Adam talk burning out and finding balance. They reflect on their travels to conferences for the Society for Applied Anthropology and the Society for American Archaeology and why conferences are inspirational and invigorating. Also the AMAZING fact that TAL now has over 11,000 subscribers!! Thank you so much to everyone for helping us build the tribe, let’s keep taking this to the top! Social Consciousness FTW. Links to Learn More: Sapiens and Fuente’s essay on Nature’s Most Creative Copulators
April 12, 2017
The Power of Vulnerability Revisited
This episode focuses on a conversation between Adam and Amy about a TEDtalk titled The Power of Vulnerability presented by Brené Brown. In this video, Brown breaks down the “wholehearted individual” one who has courage, social connection, compassion, and an appreciation for his/her vulnerabilities. They were unashamed to be vulnerable. They are comfortable with saying I love you first, putting an opinion piece out regardless of potential backlash, being authentic without fear. As Brown stresses, the wholehearted have ”the willingness to do something with no guarantees”.  It’s allowing for things to fall outside of your control. To accept the controllable and the chaotic aspects of lif
March 22, 2017
FreeThink #4: On Art, Creativity, and Bringing Awe back to Anthropology
As you may have noticed, TAL has been on a bit of a break from releasing new episodes. But, the good news is that we have not been idle. The other night when Ryan and Adam were out and about they got to talking about TAL and their perspectives on public anthropology. What does the future hold? What inspires change? Realizing they were on to something good, they pulled out a phone and hit record. This episode is what came out. We hope you’ll enjoy! This episode was recorded live and near a kitchen so please forgive the extra noise :). In this FreeThink Ryan and Adam get a little personal, shedding light on their own stories, views on art, religion, creative writing, literature, and what it is that drives the team to do anthropology. “Human Being is an art, and we gotta dig into that” – Adam
March 15, 2017
Investigating the Untethered Journey between Psychedelic Science, Medicine, and Drug Scheduling with Hamilton Morris
Psychedelia is the culture and experiences of psychedelic substances. Where did all the research on psychedelic drugs go? Could psychedelics be used in psychotherapy? How are hallucinogenic drugs used cross-culturally? In this episode of This Anthro Life Adam and Ryan explore the world of psychedelic drugs with Hamilton Morris of Vice’s Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia. We discuss his fieldwork in the Amazon where he hunted for a locally important frog, the potential diagnostic, medicinal, and therapeutic uses of psychedelics, as well as the obstacles in the way of studying human consciousness. Special thanks to Alice Kelikian.
February 15, 2017
Waiting w/ Serra Hakyemez
with Aneil and Ryan  Special Guest: Serra Hakyemez Is waiting political? Can you cut in line at Starbucks during your hectic morning commute?  In this episode of TAL we team up with Serra Hakyemez, a Junior Research Fellow from the Crown Center for Middle East Studies at Brandeis University to discuss her paper entitled, “Waiting, Acting Political, Hope, Doubt, and Endurance in the Anti-Terrorism Courts of Northern Kurdistan”, which focuses on the ways political detainees’ families are actively shaping and constructing community identities while waiting in the courthouse (Brandeis Anthropology Research Seminar). 
February 08, 2017
D+A #2: What Makes a Protest Successful and How do I get involved?
Today’s D+A minisode follows last week’s powerful conversation with Jara Connell on protests and people-powered forms of resistance. In this minisode Jara offers us a nugget of wisdom to be cautious about thinking all protests are the same or that we can even evaluate them with the same criteria. TAL D+A Minisodes are short, actionable steps you can take in your everyday life to become more socially savvy, culturally competent and holistic in your actions. If you have any suggestions for D+A minisodes or longer Conversations, drop us a line! We’re always looking for new ideas.
February 06, 2017
Protesting the Powers that Be and Being the Power that Protests w/ Jara Connell
  What does mass-protesting accomplish? Does no arrests equate success? Why is protesting disruptive? And more! In this action packed episode of This Anthropological Life, Aneil, Adam, and Ryan talk to Jara Connell about mass protesting and the strategies behind social movements. Who is Jara Connell? Jara is a PhD candidate at Brandeis University. She focuses on race, space, and policing in Saint Louis. Jara’s Master’s thesis dealt with sex and gender politics in Ferguson. When Jara is not advocating for social change and challenging dominant political agendas she takes her cat, Booger, on walks. Twitter Linkedin
February 01, 2017
D+A Minisode 1: How to Deal with Change w/ Dr. Andi Simon
Minisodes are finally here! If this is your first TAL Podcast experience, welcome! We recommend you start off with our regular Conversation series – 25ish minute dialogues about everything and anything human – one topic at a time. Design + Application (DnA, get it??) Minisodes are bite-sized actionable insights and social building blocks to help you become more socially savvy, culturally competent, and holistic in thinking and action. With D+A we move from anthropological thinking to anthropological doing. These are 5-10 minute nuggets from our guests on Conversations or inspiring tidbits we come across that you can use in your daily lives. We release these weekly on Monday mornings to give you a boost for the week. To kick things off, Dr. Andi Simon discusses with the TAL team how to deal with change. 
January 30, 2017
When your Business Stalls, it’s time to Evolve: Unpacking Corporate Anthropology with Dr. Andi Simon
How can we make change easier? Do women lead differently from men? What is corporate anthropology? Ryan, Adam, and Aneil are back to answer these questions and more with Dr. Andi Simon. Change is hard, but with Dr. Simon’s toolkit of anthropological knowledge, games, and theater she is able to help businesses change a little easier. We have a copy of Dr. Simon’s great book On the Brink: A Fresh Lens to Take Your Business to New Heights to give away to one lucky listener. How do you do that? Drop us a review on iTunes within a week of this episode release (Released January 25th), and email us with what review you wrote. We’ll pick a lucky winner from the reviewers and send you the book!
January 25, 2017
FreeThink 3: PRX Podcast Garage Meetups, Building Bridges, and Expanding the Podcast
Do you need Podcast advice? How is social media transforming the nature of protesting? Can we hatch a good episode out of chickens? Join us in our latest Free Think where we talk upcoming episodes, public anthropology, podcasting, and the future of This Anthropological Life. Links to Check Out Anthro Story The Podcast Garage Stride and Saunter Standing R
December 05, 2016
Don’t Panic! The Neuroscience behind falling into Balance w/ Vivek Pandey Vimal
Are balance and movement something that can be culturally shaped? Why aren’t female rats being used in drug studies? In this episode of This Anthropological Life we team up with Vivekanand Pandey Vimal to talk about his research that explores how people learn to balance when their sensory systems are taken away. We then relate studies on balance and movement to anthropology and discuss the importance of multidisciplinary collaboration. Show notes by Nina Oria-Loureiro. Listen to this week’s podcast to learn more about Vivek’s experiments Rats Collaboration Balancing on skyscrapers Who is Vivek? Vivekanand Pandey Vimal is a Neuroscience PhD candidate at Brandeis University.
November 23, 2016
On Kindness and What the World Needs Now w/ Hannah Brencher
Have you ever felt disconnected from your relationships and your life because of your reliance on your phone and social media? Do you ever feel nostalgia for the art of handwriting letters? Hannah Brencher understands what you are feeling. In this episode of This Anthropological Life, we discuss the difficulties of being present, the importance of time in maintaining relationships, the pitfalls of random acts of kindness, and the joys of writing a love letter. Copy Prepared by Nina Oria-Loureiro Take Aways * “The only thing that can beat out fear is love. It can’t be just a statement. It has to be something we live, throug
November 17, 2016
Multi-species and non-Human Centered Anthropology: Conversations Revisited
Join us for another listen of TAL Conversations favorites on Multi-species and Non-Human Centered Anthropology. Originally aired December 2013, with a follow-up conversation coming soon! Do you have a pet? Do you talk to your pet? How about your house plants? Ever thought about where those vegetables you use as food and bought at the grocery store came from? Like, really came from? “Human Nature”, Anna Tsing writes, “is an interspecies relationship”. It’s never been just about humans; life on this planet (and possibly beyond) is an entanglement of many different kinds of living selves, inert objects, and assemblages of ideas. This week, Adam and Ryan will try to figure out just what the heck this idea might mean and what implications it has for rethinking our connections with and construction of the material and social world. Tune in a very special episode of This Anthropological Life where we take on the very idea of “Human Nature”
November 02, 2016
Myths of American Democracy: Contradictions, Troubling Numbers, and Searching for Sense in the System
Do you find yourself increasingly frustrated at the lack of real conversations between candidates and politicians? Are you confused about why someone who doesn’t walk to the beat of your life claims to represent the whole of your interests and everyone you know? This episode is not about the candidates, we’ll leave the bashing to them and other pundits. Rather, with this episode we aim to expose some of the mechanisms driving American politics and show different social truths about political systems in general. Join Adam, Aneil, and Ryan as they discuss the debate and informed positions on big questions like “Does my vote, a single vote, matter?”, “What is the role of government?”, and “Have we outgrown our current political system?”
October 20, 2016
FreeThink #2 – Moving Beyond the Mic: On Collaborations and Working Across Disciplines
Join Aneil, Adam and Ryan for the second FreeThink episode, where they talk unscripted about upcoming projects and potential interdisciplinary collaborations beyond the mic. FreeThink is a new series of episodes that works like a backstage pass, where we talk unscripted about what’s on our minds and hearts, the nuts and bolts of making a podcast today, and the larger projects we are working on surrounding the show. If you’ve never heard This Anthropological Life, we don’t recommend starting with these episodes. check out our more in-depth Conversations series with some of our favorite episodes curated just for you. TaL Best Of (so far…). When you’re ready, we’d love to have you join us here for a deeper dialogue.
October 19, 2016
Beer Revisited
Glad you’re here! Check out some of our favorite episodes in any order and get to know the anthropological life. And, if you’re long-time listeners we hope you’ll enjoy revisiting these gems with us. If you like us, be sure to subscribe and visit our previous episodes on the downloads page. Episode: 10 Beer Though we made this episode two years ago and the quality is not what we do now but in terms of content its one of our all time favorites. We cover some of the historical uses of beer, its changing meaning over time, the development of taste, and perhaps even share a few ancient recipes! From contemporary hipster cans to drinks of ancient Egyptian Pharaohs you don’t want to miss this episode! Cheers, Prost, Salud, Allinta Qali! 45 
October 13, 2016
FreeThink #1: TaL Back in the Studio! What’s Next??
Adam, Aneil, and Ryan are all back in the TaL studio for the first time in 18 months! And it feels good. Today we talk shop about where we’ve been and where we’re going with TaL. Check out the conversation on evolving the show content with new episode lengths and direction (same great content, shorter, more-digestible bites) and new minisodes based on Adam’s growing obsession with design and applied anthropology offering you practical ways to apply anthropological thinking and action to your daily life, and professionalizing our craft with new partnerships with the American Anthropological Association among others! We’re super excited to be back for you and can’t wait to build this new season along with you!
October 10, 2016
Is Corporate Anthropology Selling Out? A Conversation on Consulting with Vyjayanthi Vadrevu
We’re stoked to bring you TAL’s first ever three-city episode! Join Adam (in Peru!) and Ryan (in Boston!) and special guest Vyjayanthi Vadrevu (somewhere between NYC and Austin!) for an in-depth look into the world of Anthropological Consulting and Strategy. What is anthropology like in the business world? Vyjayanthi runs an anthropological consulting company ( that draws on social science and design to help companies better communicate and connect with their customers. We dive into questions such as who can call themselves an anthropologist (academic, corporate, podcasters?!), what does a consulting anthropological project look like, what makes up anthropological research, and is client-based ethnography anthropology selling out?
July 19, 2016
Making Sense of Finance: Boundaries, Institutions, and Power with Caitlin Zaloom
Join TaL’s Aneil Tripathy and Caitlin Zaloom, NYU Associate Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis, as they discuss Zaloom’s research on futures markets and most recently student debt. Hear about what initially drew Zaloom to study financial markets in Chicago and London. Professor Zaloom and Aneil end the conversation with a discussion on how anthropologists should speak to our moment in history and the importance of studying powerful institutions. Anthropology’s job is to denaturalize social systems, and it is especially important to do so in elite settings with powerful institutions such as those active in finance.
June 12, 2016
Guest Podcast: Food Futures: Playing our Way to Conservation? Experimental Economics in the Andean Countryside
Special guest podcast from our friends at the Food Futures Podcast Corinna Howland interviews Adam Gamwell about experimental games, or field experiments, which NGOs and economists use to measure when, why, and how people make different kinds of choices. This data, in turn, is used to inform public policy and generate development projects. As part of Adam’s work in Peru, he ran a series of experimental games with Andean farmers for the NGO Bioversity International, to understand what kinds of incentives farmers would need to conserve threatened varieties of quinoa.
May 25, 2016
Stewardship and Heritage: Bringing Archaeology to the Public with Emily Jane Murry
Join TAL’s Ryan Collins and Aneil Tripathy as they interview Emily Jane Murry about her work as a publicly engaged archaeologist in Northern Florida with the Florida Public Archaeology Network. Most of us don’t even consider that the world around us is an archaeological treasure trove, with worlds of diverse cultural experiences overlapping in the layers right beneath our feet. As a champion of this cause, bringing archaeology to the public’s attention, Emily works to foster a sense of stewardship to the past precisely because it is so very connected to the social present. Tune in to hear more!
May 24, 2016
Faded Paint and Yellowed Photos: On, Image, Inspiration, and Memory with Javier Urcid
How does a camera and a deep sense of curiosity lead to a lifetime of archaeological research on ancient peoples, their symbols, art, and writing? Ryan and Aneil are joined by Brandeis University Professor Javier Urcid who shares stories on the serendipity that characterized the beginning of his lifelong passion in anthropology. From Zapotec script to funerary practices, Javier’s interests are focused on the stories that influenced the daily lives of ancient people and reconstructing the few images that remain today. Javier’s story is one of reflection, but on the mysteries that compel so many to dig ever deeper into. Who were past peoples? What were they like? What stories inspired them and can we find traces of them today? Tune in for a very special episode that connects the past to the present on several levels, one of personal growth and discovery.
March 28, 2016
A Business for the Future? Redefining Value, Quinoa and the Quest of Pachakuti Foods w/ Alexander Wankel
We’re back in Peru! Join Adam and special guest Alexander Wankel of Pachakuti Foods for a conversation about the future of food production, agrobiodiversity, sustainability, and keeping traditional culture alive. All from the view point of quinoa. Pachakuti Foods is a brand-new startup focusing on creating a market for sustainable, pro-farmer and agrobiodiverse quinoa. It’s better for small-scale farmers, the environment, and for fighting climate change. Check out the project, and if you like it, support them on Kickstarter here! Pachakuti Foods Website  
March 23, 2016
Exploring Boundaries: From Access to Female Sexworkers to the Question of Research
When designing a research project, a researcher’s initial plans are often interrupted by what data we actually can access. Whether negotiating political structures, cultural taboos, necessary permissions, or the logistics of moving massive amounts of earth, borders certainly influence the research anthropologists conduct. Yet, those same borders are often at the heart of creative projects that grant an otherwise hidden perspective into the subaltern realities many diverse peoples face. Join Aneil and Ryan as they discuss these questions of research with Asli Zengin, whose studies on sex workers and trans people in Turkey was fraught with uncrossable borders. Yet, in negotiating them, deeper questions on the social realties, contested identities, and experiences that shape the lives of those who live between borders were appeared. Tune in and join us as we cross cultural boundaries.
March 18, 2016
Mate: The Drink Beyond a Drink w/ Guilherme Heiden
Mate (pronounced mah-tay), or more commonly known as yerba mate for English speakers, is an herbal tea drink native to parts of South America – Southern Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay – where local people drank it for thousands of years. The incredible history of mate follows Guarani indigenous legend, the rise of Jesuit colonialism, Gaucho (cowboy) culture in Southern Brazil, and continues its rise in global popularity. Many see this drink as beyond a drink – aside from its colorful and unique drinking apparatus made from a dried-out gourd and metal straw. Mate is known to break down barriers between people of different groups, classes, ethnicity, even religions (trust us, you’ll learn about this one). Join Adam and special guest Guilherme Heiden, a Southern Brazilian mate enthusiast and expert, coming to you live from fieldwork in Peru, as they explore the fascinating, and thirst-quenching world of mate. Guil and I put together a de
March 07, 2016
Anthropology without Borders? Bringing the Study of People to the People 5
Join TAL as they explore the meaning and movements behind the buzz words that shape anthropology when it reaches beyond the classroom. Applied, Public, Design, and Open Anthropology. What are they, how do they work, and what for? Can anthropology intervene and create change in the contemporary world? On this episode Ryan, Aneil, and Adam explore ways to make anthropological thinking more public, accessible, and connected to the everyday lives and experiences that make the discipline so important. More than just a way to describe the world, we ask what it means for anthropology, in the words of Margaret Mead, to make the world safe for difference.
February 08, 2016
History, Power, and a Mapuche Bible: A Shaman’s Story with Ana Mariella Bacigalupo
Join TAL’s Aneil Tripathy and Ryan Collins as they interview Ana Mariella Bacigalupo of SUNY Buffalo. Ana’s discussion of her research on Mapuche shamans takes us on an exciting journey, full of emotion, struggle, hope, and passion that keeps you wanting more. For the Mapuche, shamanism is as much a part of daily life as farming and state politics in Chile. Like cultures the world over, the Mapuche understand that there is power in words, in history, in how the past is given life. Yet, Mapuche understandings of history and literacy are unique and Ana shares with us why this detail is so important.  
January 11, 2016
The Thrill of Discovery
Whether exploring a ruined tomb by torchlight, submerging to great depths in search of lost ships, or sending lone robot emissaries to search the stars, human experience is shaped by discovery. More than being a thrill, discoveries challenge our outstanding paradigms and force us to reexamine our understandings of the world. Join in as your TAL hosts Adam Gamwell, Ryan Collins, and Aneil Tripathy bring recent discoveries to the forefront and examine why the unknown is so evocative.  
November 12, 2015
Return of the Ethnographers: Life After Fieldwork
Start your week off by tuning in to the TAL crew, the entire TAL crew, back from fieldwork (albeit briefly) as we talk about our experiences in ethnography, archaeology, and excessive note taking! In this exciting episode Amy, Adam, Aneil, and Ryan all share what fieldwork is for them, fun experiences, and the challenges of traveling to new social worlds. This is anthropology in action.  
October 06, 2015
Back from the Field: Syncing into Holly Walter’s Research Part 2
Holly Walter’s joins TAL in the studio to share her experiences and insights into Shaligram  stones! Her fieldwork took her from Kathmandu to Mustang on a pilgrimage, following in the footsteps of trekkers, tourists, and pilgrims. Braving rivers and traveling treacherous mountains all with limited wifi, Holly recounts her experiences and plans to return. Tune in to find out more!  
September 29, 2015
Applying, Designing, and Bringing Anthropology to the Public
Welcome back listeners new and old to the new and exciting season of This Anthropological Life! This season we at TAL have a lot of new content and exciting interviews ahead. To bring everyone up to speed, tune in to our first episode of the new season focused on applied anthropology. What is ‘applied’ anthropology? How can anthropology be ‘designed’ and what role does the public play? Join Aneil Tripathy, Ryan Collins, and guest host Ilana Cohen as they discuss these questions and what makes them relevant to everyday life. Check it out!  
September 18, 2015
Syncretism in the Land of Sacred Stones w/ Holly Walters
Sometimes ethnographic investigations are pretty straight forward. Sometimes, its like getting submerged in a ball pit with the task of sorting all of the colors, figuring out which ones are older than the others, and grappling with any surprises (and there will be surprises) that come your way. Join us as we talk with Anthropologist Holly Walters on her dissertation work at Muktinath, Nepal and learn about the sacred stones that draw people in as well as spreading out across the globe.   
April 25, 2015
Unearthing the Past: Interview w/ Ryan Collins
Ever wanted to know what its like to be an archaeologist? Can you really dig a whole and interpret the past with the materials you find? Is anything about Indiana Jones accurate? Tune and listen to host Ryan Collins talk about his experiences with Archaeology and research in Ancient Mesoamerica as part of our TAL Fieldwork series!  
April 09, 2015
Human Endurance w/ Ben Gebo
Join us for our 50th episode! Return guest host Ben Gebo joins Adam, Aneil, and Ryan as we uncover the human quest to endure, and to push ourselves to the limit. From marathons to surviving evolution, we tackle time and space to bring you an incredible story of the human will to find, and surpass, our own limits. Episode 50
March 27, 2015
Buried in Snow! Thinking about landscapes as they change
It’s winter time here in the northern hemisphere, and in New England that means snow… a lot it. What can we learn from it? Join Aneil and Ryan as they dive (or attempt to unbury) the human connections between snow, weather, and humanity during the days of frost. Episosde 51.
March 03, 2015
The World According to Quinoa w/ Adam Gamwell
Today we dive into the world of food! Come hungry as we introduce the world of food studies and explore the changing roles and meaning food has had over the millennia, and how we can explore ways to fight local hunger and global food insecurity, all through the research lens of TaL co-host and creator Adam Gamwell. We will look at domestication, evolution, nutrition, food and memory, food science, gender, the rise of super foods (one of Adam’s favorite research topics), and more!
January 24, 2015
How Humans Cope
How do humans cope in the face of uncertainty, challenges, and trauma. Join your friendly neighborhood co-hosts Adam and Ryan as we explore coping across time, scales and space! From the individual to the cosmos, we find connections and gaps in how we as humans find ways to cope with the unknown, the troubling, and the traumatic – from food to storytelling to anger to climate change – this is a globe (and time!) spanning episode you don’t want to miss! Episode 46
January 24, 2015
Genderless Gingerbread Figures and the Custom of Costumes
Ryan and Adam explore genderless gingerbread cookies in Australia – do these cookies reveal something about shifting gender paradigms? Also, we explore a bit about how and why we wear costumes. It may not be Halloween here in the United States, but this doesn’t mean we only wear costumes once a year! Episode 47 Part of our new series Alt_Anthro
January 24, 2015
Ebola: The Passion and the Politics (Virology pt 2)
Join us for part two in our series on Ebola. This episode we discuss recent moves and displays by journalists and media outlets to cover various parts of the Ebola epidemic, the use of Ebola as a trope in political culture, and fear and hope in the face of a global virus. Ebola and Virology, part 2, Episode 47  
December 01, 2014
Ecologies of Happiness
Smile! What is the relationship of happiness to place? What is the where of happiness? In part one of our series on happiness, we explore happiness as a place-based phenomenon.   Episode 44
November 18, 2014
iPhone, Therefore I am.
With the yearly release of new mobile phones, companies like Apple and Samsung have to sell the idea that we need a new device. With the release of wearable peripherals like Google Glass and Apple Watch, information communication technologies (ICTs) are becoming seemingly more personal. But are they? Will Near Field Communication (NFC) tech change how we exchange information, pay for food, or play games? How are different ICTs adopted, contested, altered and adapted across the world? How does technology help us be more human? Are we really just cyborgs – part human, part machine? What implications does this have for the future of human interaction? From sign language to smoke signals to the latest iPhone join us for a ‘technically’ exciting episode as we dive into the many worlds of ICT and their implementation round the world! Part 3 in our Engaging Technology series Season 4, Episode 43, Aired 10/6/2014
October 06, 2014
Police Militarization, Race, Trust, Violence and Ferguson, MO
Join Amy, Ryan, Aneil and Adam and special guest Delande Justinvil for an important episode of This Anthropological Life as we take head-on the complex issues of race in the United States, security, law enforcement and police brutality. Episode 40 Police Militarization, Violence, Race, Trust and Ferguson, MO w/ Delande Justinvil. Recorded 9/3/14
September 29, 2014
Humans as a Playful Species w/ Michael D’Angelo, Host of Old School Game Show
Join us for our funnest episode yet! Amy, Aneil, Ryan and Adam Exploring humans as a playful species through the world of gameshows, trivia, and popular culture – from TV to Movies and Music. Michael D’Angelo is the writer, producer, host, and star of the hilarious Old School Game Show which is a mixture of gameshow, alt trivia, pop culture reference show, dance routines, comedy and music! oldschoolgameshow on Facebook Episode 42, Season 4 Recorded 9/17/14
September 24, 2014
The Burning Man Experience w/ Ben Gebo Part 2!
Join us for our first ever extended conversation, part of our new “This Anthropological Life After Hours” extended episode series. On occasion we will keep the conversation going well after our regular show time to bring you even more in depth content, conversation, and context. Ben was kind enough to be our first guinea pig, and we had a great conversation going deeper into the world of Burning Man, architecture, preparation for the experience, sensory deprivation, and more! You don’t want to miss this! Episode 41.2, Season 3, Recorded 9/8/14 Check out Part 1 of the Burning Man Experience Here
September 18, 2014
The Burning Man Experience w/ Ben Gebo
Episode 41, Season 4 Join Adam, Aneil, and Ryan with returning guest expert and commentator Ben Gebo as we dive into the rabbit hole of Burning Man. Ben recently returned from the Burn, and we recount his experiences with you and explore notions of how we as humans make culture, counter-cultures, alternative socialites, and more! Aired 9/8/14         Check out some of Ben’s photos from Burning Man Below!
September 07, 2014
Ebola and Virology
Episode 38, Season 3 Amy and Adam are joined in studio again by season 1-2 host Ryan Collins, recently returned from fieldwork in Mexico. We turn our anthropological eye to the world of viruses and the recent outbreak of Ebola in three African countries. This microscopic world has potentially pandemic impacts as Ebola alters lives, communities, policies, and medicine. We untangle issues of mistrust, community build up and breakdown, international aid, infection, media coverage, and more! Aired 8/19/14
August 18, 2014
Long Haul: The Lives of China’s Truckers w/ Rachel Katz
Episode 37, Season 3 Join us for a special episode with guest researcher, consultant, and author Rachel Katz for an intimate look at the lives of Chinese truckers. Rachel’s work explores and brings together an exploration of how people live and work in contemporary China. Trucking is one of the most important, but understudied, forms of transit and economy in contemporary China. Rachel climbed aboard for six months, traveled with truckers, got to know their routes, their families, hardships and opportunities. We converse with Rachel about her experience doing ethnographic fieldwork as well as about larger issues of economics, transportation, family, gender, and more!  Aired 8/5/14  
August 05, 2014
Urban Cycling
Episode 36, Season 3, Aired 7/29/14 Urban cycling is both a global and local phenomenon. From Boston to Bombay to Beijing, bike cultures differ across the globe but bring many people together for commuting, recreation, exercise, work, activism, and pleasure. Join Adam and Aneil with returning guest Ben Gebo, an avid urban cyclist for a fascinating conversation exploring the world of urban cycling. We travel to Amsterdam, Mumbai, Boston, Beijing, Los Angeles, Bombay and more to ask questions about prestige, class, access, sustainability, transportation, urban infrastructure and development and more!  Get it on iTunes here  
July 30, 2014
Access Denied: Protests, Urban Green Spaces, and Changing Transportation
Episode 35, Season 3. Aired 7/22/14 From Access Denied to Transforming Access, numerous cases of the re-appropriation of space from occupy protesters to Shock Top beer fests, cars to bikes, city spaces and pavement to guerrilla gardens, join us as we delve further into the world of space and ask tough questions about who has the right and power to claim and change space, and who does this exclude?
July 23, 2014
Lost in Space: From the Universe to the Space Between Atoms
Episode 34, Season 3 This week Aneil and Adam tackle Space in all of its complexity and multi forms, from the universe to the space between atoms we will dive into the numerous connotations of space. We explore outer space, inner space, city space, atomic space, and even cyberspace. How is it that the idea of space can be so flexible yet still retain the power to define and shape our thinking?
July 18, 2014
Stress Test w/ Luke Hanlin
Episode 33, Season 3 Feeling Stressed? Join Aneil and special Guest Luke Hanlin, Psychology PhD student, as they discuss the psychology of stress and the human capacity to deal with stress in a variety of ways. Aired  7/8/14
July 10, 2014
Reproducing Rights and Wrongs: Personhood, Religious and Reproductive Freedoms, Gender, and SCOTUS
Episode 32, Season 3 Special Episode on the Supreme Court’s rulings over religious freedom and freedom of speech. On this week’s episode we take on 5 recent and ongoing court cases that deal with first amendment rights of freedom of speech, reproductive rights, gender and bodies including the Supreme Court rulings that close corporations that label themselves for-profit may deny contraceptive health care that they deem a burden to their religious beliefs, the ban on the 35-foot buffer zone outside Massachusetts Planned Parenthood buildings, gun laws and more! We dive into corporate personhood, freedom of speech and religion, gender, bodies, emotions, individuality versus collectivity and more! Keeping pace with last week, this episode is one of our most jam packed yet! You don’t want to miss this!
July 02, 2014
The Beautiful Game: World Cup 2014
Episode 31, Season 3, Aired 6/24/14   Gooooooooooolllllll!!!!! Today we turn our anthropological lens towards the most popular sport in the world and perhaps the most global sporting competition in human history, the World Cup, this year in Brazil. We travel from a favela decorated bar in Milwaukee to actual favelas in Brazil to tackle the commodification of culture and the divorce of culture from economic inequality based around world attention on Brazil.  We discuss the local impact of regional and global policies including squatter’s rights and police action against protesters. We cover street protests and graffiti as radical forms of public inclusion to raise questions about who and what does (and doesn’t) get represented when the world’s eyes are turned towards Brazil. From questions of sustainability to the role sports play in the human psyche, this is one of our most jam packed episodes yet! You don’t want to miss it!
June 24, 2014
The Power of Vulnerability
Episode 29, Season 3 Vulnerability evokes multiple feelings simultaneously-intense discomfort, respect and awe, intimacy, and fear. Why does it resonate so broadly and deeply across contexts? What should we make of it when, in one place, it’s a virtue to strive for and in another its a danger to be avoided?  Join Adam and Amy as these questions as they intersect with gender and robotics, questions of universality, and the differences between feeling and practice. Aired 6/11/14
June 11, 2014
Up in the Cloud: Computing in the 21st Century (so far)
Episode 28 Season 3 “Up in the Cloud: Computing in the 21st Century (so far)” online now! The idea of a cloud evokes an immaterial floating world of information. Adam and Aneil turn the anthropological lens towards this idea to deconstruct the hidden material world required to support the immaterial network of cloud computing. We explore the changing relationships and meanings of ownership, exchange, and materiality through the rise of cloud computing. We further delve into different uses of computing and mobile phone usage across the world, how social and economic inequality effects how and whether computers and cloud services are built, used, and accessed.   Aired 6/3/14
June 04, 2014
A House to Make a Home? w/ Mengqi Wang
“A House to Make a Home?” Season 3, Episode 27 Aired 5/27/14 We are joined by guest expert Mengqi Wang to delve into the fascinating world of housing, property, ownership, and exchange! Mengqi’s work revolves around the commodification and changing gender and exchange relations of private housing in contemporary China. We explore changing meanings of homes and housing in the wake of the housing crisis in the United States, China and India. You don’t want to miss this conversation!  
May 29, 2014
Let There Be Light!
Season 3, Episode 26 – Aired 5/20/14 Light is all around us, but we don’t often think about it. Light comes to us as energy, as necessary for vision, as a metaphor for good and seen as counter to darkness. The sun was worshiped in many ancient societies as a deity. Prometheus’ fire stolen from the gods brought humanity fire and light. Even the name of the Enlightenment is steeped in luminosity. Light is even appropriated as a form technology and energy production. Through prisms and telescopes humanity was able to learn spectroscopy and understand the chemical compositions of elements in distant galaxies. In this episode Aneil and Adam go on an ‘enlightening’ journey through the many manifestations of light in practice and metaphor, its politics, promises, and challenges.  
May 21, 2014
Special Conversation: Reflections on Anthropology: Why do we do what we do?
For our 25th episode we bring you a special, raw moment in the show in which we turn the conversation more directly to ourselves as anthropologists. The show began as a second part to our Anthropology and Environment series, but as the conversation evolved, Amy helped steer us in a more personal direction away from the abstract challenges of climate change or radiation poisoning to how we ourselves deal with these massive issues that are too big for anyone person to approach. What many people feel in the face of such challenges is often a mixture of apathy and paralysis. What can I do? Some people, as Amy points out, cannot even afford to be thinking about things like the environment as something to save, particularly if you are just trying to feed yourself and your family. From this perspective we took some time to think about why we do what we do as anthropologists on This Anthropological Life, and as part of the human community. It was a special, raw moment in the show that means a
May 20, 2014
Environmental Anthropology, pt 1. Nature, Culture, Power
Are nature and culture separate things? How do our definitions of land, space, and place affect how we view the environment? Trees, bees, garbage, college, and power! Join host Aneil Tripathy for a special episode with guest Alina Pokhrel. Nature, Culture, Power, pt 1.  
May 08, 2014
The Politics of Difference and Relatedness
Episode 39, Season 3 Join us this week for a trip to the ancient…present? This week Ryan, Aneil, and Adam cover the politics of difference through an unlikely lens and cutting edge research. Were Neanderthals good parents? What does new archaeological and biological research tell us about European’s genetic relatedness to Neanderthals? Putting these questions together, we turn our anthropological lens to hidden assumptions about parenting styles, ancestry, subsistence, and lifestyles, and help draw out how notions of difference are constructed. Season 3 Finale, recorded in studio 9/1/14
April 28, 2014
Non-Human Rights
Episode 23 Non-Human Rights Available now! Join us as we  dive into the world of non-human rights centered around recent court cases dealing with the rights of chimpanzees, our closest non-human cousins (though some might say they are, in fact, human). What are rights, exactly, and who gets to choose who (or what) does and doesn’t have rights? Turning our anthropological eye to the world or rights tells us a lot about how we define others and ourselves. Tune in for an awesome season finale and help us celebrate moving into season 3 of This Anthropological Life!       With endings come new beginnings too. As our co-host Ryan heads to Mexico this summer for archaeological fieldwork, Aneil and Adam will be joined in studio by a fresh new voice, Amy Hanes. Amy brings a wealth of knowledge and anthropological know-how to the table centering on non-human anthropology, emotion and affect, space and place, among a whole host of others. W
April 28, 2014
Visual Anthropology Revisited
Join us for an ‘enlightening’ trip as we ‘shed some light’ on the world of sight, seeing, and visual anthropology. In this episode we explore the deep impact of visual culture across the globe and time from ancient Greece to the invention of photography to metaphors of knowledge, to genotypes and phenotypes, arrangement of food, and more! Aired 4/15/14 Download the podcast here
April 16, 2014
Coffee Cultures
From the farms of Central and South America and Africa to your favorite neighborhood coffee house, join us as we turn our anthropological eye towards the world of coffee! Connecting the ‘dark beverage’ from across the ancient Americas, to the change in coffee culture in the United States from the 1970s to today, plus Fair Trade, identity, and class coffee cross cuts an immense realm of human social and material life! So grab a cup of joe and join us for a ‘stimulating’ foray into the world of coffee! Season 2, Episode 21. Get the podcast on iTunes here  
April 09, 2014
Comic Books, Graphic Novels, and Visual Storytelling
Turning 75 isn’t only a big deal for Batman, it also marks a generational tradition of using graphic media to illustrate, comment on, and showcase different aspects of our own society. Even so, comic books have their roots in ancient media from sculpture, paintings, and hieroglyphic writing. What is it about the image and text, which draw us in, get us talking, and thinking of alternative stories. Tune in to This Anthropological Life as we talk about superheroes, supergods, and spandex! #comics #thisanthrolife #batman Check out the podcast streaming online or
April 01, 2014
The Crisis in Crimea with guest Dr. Emily Canning
Join us today for a very special episode with Central Asian expert Emily Canning. Today we turn our anthropological lens to the ongoing international conflict over Crimea: international relations and reactions, nationalism, language and media portrayal, sanctions, the mysteries of geography and more! Email questions or comments to, tweet us @thisanthrolife Find us on Facebook
March 25, 2014
Garbology, Space Junk and Digital Dumping
3/18/14 We will be discussing the world of disposable objects and material culture: garbage culture and digital dumping, polluting the (final) frontier – yes, garbage in space, and more! Podcast Available here Material Culture part 1 here Explore more with #ThisAnthropologicalLife  
March 18, 2014
Altered States, part 2 with Ben Gebo
Head on over to our Podcasts page and stream the episode or download it for a mind bending journey through the worlds of psychedelics and hallucinogenics, the effects of music on the brain, the human drive for engaging in altered states of consciousness and more with our special guest Ben Gebo!     Follow This Anthropological Life on Facebook! Check out Ben’s awesome photography at
March 07, 2014
Altered States of Consciousness
Hey y’all – we had a great show today and would love for you to check it out and hear what you think! Continuing some of the themes we’ve been building over the course of season two, we’ve traveled from beer, to locomotion, then to sleep, dreams, and now our first part on altered states. Join us as we explore the human propensity to alter our consciousness, belong to something larger than ourselves, feel creative, moral and ethical taboos, and more! We’ll be back next week with a returning guest Ben Gebo to round out part 2 of our conversation on altered states including Terrence McKenna’s ‘Stoned Ape Theory’, psychotropic use in humans and animals, and much more! Show stream here
February 25, 2014