SARAH LEBARON VON BAEYER
Case Study—This paper presents a case study of a project on education solutions for Syrian refugees in Jordan conducted between 2015-2017. First, it describes how ReD's methodological approach provided a unique perspective to studies on refugees. By immersing a team in the day-to-day lives and settings that most Syrian refugees experience in Jordan—i.e., outside of camps and in people's actual homes—ReD led its client to “think outside the camp,” something that relief agencies and companies often fail to do due to the refugee camp model of humanitarian assistance that, ever since WWII, has dominated the approach to refugees. Second, as a result of its unique methodological approach, ReD uncovered important findings about social networks and technology use and access in Syrian refugees’ homes and communities that ultimately shaped the client's perspective on solution development. For example, ReD's team of ethnographers found that nearly all out-of-camp Syrian households had...
by SARAH LEBARON VON BAEYER, ReD Associates
My colleagues and I at ReD Associates, New York, nearly elbowed each other out of the way trying to snag our office’s copy of Tom McCarthy’s sleek new novel, Satin Island. Beyond making sense of the colorful oil or island-like blobs on the cover, we wanted to know: Is U., a “corporate anthropologist” tasked with writing an ethnographic report on our current era, anything like us?
Most people take at least a passing interest in how others perceive them, and corporate anthropologists are no exception. While forensic and medical anthropologists are arguably the most conspicuous kind of anthropologist in America’s public imagination today, corporate anthropologists are increasingly visible in everything from fiction—à la Satin Island—to popular media outlets, such as The New York Times’ recent coverage of Genevieve Bell or Danah Boyd.
Does it matter how corporate anthropologists or, for that matter, any other kind of anthropologist, are popularly perceived? In a recent issue...