anthropology

Melissa Cefkin / A Profile

EPIC Profiles Series by MOLLY SHADE, Hach Many of us have a kind of conversion story—that enlightening moment when we discovered anthropology at university or even later in our careers. But Melissa Cefkin knew she wanted to be an anthropologist by the age of fifteen. The daughter of a professor and raised in a college town, she was introduced to the discipline by a coworker studying to be a survey archaeologist. Recounting the experience, she remarked, “My first thought was, oh my God, if I study anthropology then I don’t actually have to choose between different disciplines! It’s a little bit of everything!” She was hooked. She obtained her B.A. in anthropology from the University of California Santa Cruz and went on to earn her Ph.D. at Rice University. Since 2006, she has played a major role in the development of EPIC, serving in multiple positions including President, Secretary, and Co-organizer. Melissa is currently Principal Scientist for Nissan Research Center – Silicon Valley (NRC-SV). Anthropology complemented...

What Anthropology Brings to Innovation: John Sherry / A Profile

John Sherry
EPIC Profiles Series by HEATHER S. ROTH-LOBO, University of North Texas John W. Sherry, Director the Experience Innovation Lab at Intel Corporation, is a Keynote Speaker at EPIC2016—join us! “Anthropology is really undersold.” Dr. John Sherry’s words carry weight—he is Director of the Experience Innovation Lab at Intel Corporation. In addition to discovering ways to power innovation in this major multinational technology company, he works in Portland leading Oregon Smart Labs, an external business accelerator. I recently talked with John about innovation, big data, and lean startup. He has made it part of his life´s work to interpret the way markets move and ideas shift around, and his intimate understanding of these dynamics has been driven by his passion for solving social problems with a creative imagination. The mixture of these elements paved John’s successful career as an established anthropologist in a company known for and reinventing computing around the world. Anthropology is not only undersold,...

Sales-Driven Soothsayers: Corporate Anthropologists as Trending Trope in Today’s Public Imagination

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...

The Future of Anthropology: EPIC/AAA Partnership

ed liebow
by ED LIEBOW, Executive Director, American Anthropological Association “I have just seen the future of anthropology,” I said to anyone and everyone who asked me about the first EPIC (Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference), held in 2005 at Microsoft’s Seattle area campus. I had had a privileged vantage point, having offered to coordinate the production of the conference proceedings on behalf of AAA/NAPA (American Anthropological Association/National Association for the Praxis of Anthropology). The setting, the format, the participants all looked fresh through the EPIC lens. Even the proceedings – at least their timing – were a novelty. They appeared online the day before the conference started that first year, and every year since. Freely accessible to the whole world. This practice has created an archive and promoted an idea exchange, of course, but it has also served an important quality-assurance function: No last-minute presentations scribbled on airline cocktail napkins for EPIC. The conference pulls a community together...

What Things to Teach Designers in Post-Industrial Times?

by CAMERON TONKINWISE, Director of Design Studies & Doctoral Studies, CMU School of Design Academics frequently argue for things that people do not yet acknowledge as existing. Compared to most other professions, where arguments are often between two or more things ‘on the table,’ academics profess things that they believe need to be ‘brought to the table.’ We say to students, ‘this thing you know nothing about yet, it is going to be really important for you to know (how to do) when you have a job, trust me.’ Or we say to industry, ‘believe this research, it demonstrates that you are missing a much better way to do things.’ So it can be very exciting when people in academia and industry are saying the same sorts of things. My colleagues and I at the Carnegie Mellon University School of Design shared Megan Neese’s article ‘What is a Product?’ with a sense of validation about our recent curriculum restructure toward interactions, systems of service and social innovation, and transitions to more sustainable...

Donna Flynn / A Profile

EPIC Profiles Series by LUIS MACHADO, University of North Texas Walking a Different Path The path of American anthropology is becoming ever more diverse. Under the academic umbrella of Anthropology the world has been explored, analyzed, reflected on, and then determined to be wanting of more exploration. The Indiana Jones stereotype of the archaeologist or anthropologist is still a familiar reference in popular culture, perhaps surpassed for recent generations by Dr. “Bones” and her TV show bearing the same name. Anthropology in common parlance brings to mind the bold researcher off in the exotic far away, taking and studying the strange, bringing it back to the university and, after knocking dust off the hiking boots, demystifying it for the social science community and curious students. Yet, explorers of new kinds of anthropology are changing the conversation about who an anthropologist is and what they can do. Donna Flynn is one such anthropologist, creating and expanding these new frontiers. Donna Flynn is Vice President...

Evolving Conversations on Open Access: Oysters and Adventures at AAA

by DONNA LANCLOS The 2014 American Anthropological Association meetings for me consisted of a long and occasionally ranty (on my part) conversation about Open Access publishing. My conversations at the 2013 meetings in Chicago around OA hinted at high levels of anxiety and also misinformation among academics in anthropology about what OA is, what is at stake, what it might look like, and the impact it might have on their professional success. I had hoped that in the course of a year those negative feelings would shift a bit, especially with the relatively high-visibility experiments in OA at Cultural Anthropology, and HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory (the latter is both a journal and entering into an experiment in monograph publishing with University of Chicago Press). The conversations I witnessed in DC this year did little to assure me that anxiety levels have lowered. From the lament of faculty who do not see how OA publishing can be peer-reviewed or prestigious, to publishers who wish that academics would stop pretending...