farewell to the anthropologyworks blog

It was sometime in the summer of 2009 when I was approached by a staffer in the Public Affairs department of the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University about launching a blog. At the time I was a professor of anthropology and international affairs, an associate dean in the Elliott School, and the head of a research and policy program called Culture in Global Affairs (CIGA) which was largely devoted to hosting several speaker events every year. 

That enterprising person was Menachem Wecker who convinced me to launch a blog about sociocultural anthropology as a CIGA project. He coached me through it. Later, he persuaded me into developing a Facebook and Twitter presence. Menachem again played a pivotal role in designing the platforms and guiding me in how to make them successful. 

We named the whole project anthropologyworks. Its driving message is that a deep understanding about people is important and relevant to human well-being and policy affecting human well-being. We felt that informing the wider public, beyond academia. about such knowledge is a good thing.

Now, in August 2018, nine years after the blog was launched, and 1,200 posts later, I have to say farewell to the blog. 

After generous support from two Elliott School Deans, Harry Harding and Mike Brown, CIGA’s budget is exhausted, and I need to devote more time to some book projects. But the blog is archived, and the legacy lives on. The entire collection of 1200 posts is archived under an unlikely link name: anthropologyworks.business.blog 

As you can imagine, the blog has nothing to do with “business” but under this new site, the entire corpus of 1,200 posts will be accessible indefinitely. I will continue posting regularly on anthropologyworks Facebook page and tweeting @anthropologyworks

The past nine years have been nothing but amazing for me in terms of what I have learned from paying close attention, on an almost daily basis, to how “anthropology works” and expanding its visibility through social media. I also thoroughly enjoyed working with the many contributors to the blog.

First, I thank the original instigator of the blog, Menachem Wecker. Without his inspiration, coaching, and care, anthropologyworks would not exist. Menachem, you are the best. I also extend deep gratitude to my student assistants who, through the years, have taken up with enthusiasm and cheer the task of posting essays as well as dealing with less interesting matters such as domain name issues including billing. My warm thanks and continuing good wishes to each of them: Graham Hough-Cornwell, Erika Buckingham, Nic Johnson, Lesli Davis, and Sara Brouda. Graham: you were there at the beginning, and you even wrote a most memorable post based on an interview with Steve Raichlen. Erica: you were the foundational builder, working with me every step of the way to increase the number of posts and the anthropologyworks’ visibility. Nic: you came in and helped redesign the overall look, despite my resistance, to make it more cellphone friendly. Lesli: you carried on with posting and other matters even when it wasn’t part of your job description. Sara: you kept it going through the end and helped immensely by creating the archive. What a wonderful team.

Next, I cannot thank enough Sean Carey, anthropologywork’s longstanding contributing writer. Sean is a sociocultural anthropologist and honorary senior research fellow in the School of Social Sciences at the University of Manchester. We first got connected through an article he published in The Statesman on Europe’s problem with the burqa. Anthropologyworks posted a link to his article, he and I got in touch, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Sean’s 60 essays cover an impressive range of topics about his experiences in London, for example, a chance encounter with a steel band performing Christmas carols on Oxford Street and the problems encountered by people wearing pajamas in public places like supermarkets. Beyond London, he wrote about the involvement of sociocultural anthropologists in tackling the chikungunya virus on Reunion Island, and several posts on the ongoing legal struggles of Chagos Islanders who wish to return to their Indian Ocean homeland after their forced removal by the U.K. government. Sean also contributed three posts based on interviews: two with Thomas Hylland Eriksen, Professor of Social Anthropology at Oslo University, and one with John Eade, Professor of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Roehampton.

To quote Sean Carey: “For the record, I enjoyed writing them all!”

Additionally, sociocultural anthropologist Peter Wogan, professor of anthropology at Willamette University contributed three guest posts, the last of which asked why people throw coins in fountains. Thank you, Peter, for being a friend of anthropologyworks.

Jason Antrosio, professor of anthropology at Hartwick College in Oneonta, New York, and active blogger, helped get the word out by regularly retweeting my weekly “anthro in the news” round-up to his many Twitter followers. Thanks, Jason.

I also remember fondly that it was Kerim Friedman, associate professor in the Department of Ethnic Relations and Cultures at the National Dong Hwa University in Taiwan, who first warmly welcomed anthropologyworks to the blogosphere. Thank you, Kerim. You have done so much to give sociocultural anthropology a strong social media presence.

Last, I am thankful to the many colleges and universities who gave anthropologyworks permission, without requiring a fee, to republish articles from their campus newsletters about the work of anthropologists on their faculty.

People around the world every day live their lives. Sociocultural anthropologists have the immense privilege of spending time living with and studying people around the world as those people go about living their lives. Sociocultural anthropologists write up and otherwise present their findings, mainly in in academic outlets that do nothing to help either the people they studied or inform the public.

Therefore, it is a very good thing that social media is helping to move sociocultural anthropology knowledge from academic channels to a wider audience using channels that are more widely available and a writing style that is more accessible and engaging.

As anthropologyworks transitions to becoming an archive, as its proud editor, I thank again all those who have supported anthropologyworks, and I wish all the longstanding and emerging anthropology bloggers well.

Keep on and stay with me on anthropologyworks Facebook and Twitter!

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