Applied Anthropology and the Digital Humanities

DANG members and collaborators have been sharing with me their Calls for Papers for some really exciting conferences where digital anthropology can take a leadership role in our discipline. In fact our organization was born from the desire to reimagine a professional anthropology that exceeded the capacity to be contained by the American Anthropological Association and, indeed, any traditional disciplinary boundaries.

Jeremy Trombley writes of his plans to organize a panel on “Online Anthropology” for the annual meeting of the Society for Applied Anthropology, in Denver, March 2013.

Over the last year, there has been a lot of attention paid to the work that anthropologists do to promote the discipline, collaborate, and share information online (e.g. blogging, social media, open access journals, etc.). Unfortunately, much of this work goes unrecognized and unrewarded by traditional institutional structures, both academic and applied. The papers on this panel will explore the roles of anthropologists in online communities, the ways that anthropologists have used online media to further their own interests, and the different mechanisms for calling attention to online work within our institutions.

It’s time we built bridges with the applied anthropologists to learn from them and share with them the many ways in which Internet platforms are transforming anthropology. Organizing a DANG panel at the SfAA would be a good way to initiate dialogue with the applied folks over Open Access policy. And drawing upon their expertise in practicing anthropology within and without academia could have a positive long-term benefits for our group.

I attended the SfAA in 2005, in Santa Fe, and found it to be a very different program than the AAA, in a good way. If you haven’t been before join Jeremy in representing DANG. The SfAA does offer funding for grad students awarded on a competitive basis.


Ethan Wattral, associate director of Michigan State’s MATRIX center for the application of new technologies in teaching, research, and outreach is looking for colleagues to join him at the Digital Humanities Conference at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, July 2013. This could be a fantastic opportunity to network among digital humanities scholars both to develop professionally and to benefit our organization.

As many of you no doubt recall “interdisciplinary” was the buzzword of the early 2000’s and it was bandied about proudly by anthropology, self described as the most interdisciplinary of the social sciences. If this is to amount to something more than lip service than anthropologist must step up to the plate and engage scholars outside our field. Digital anthropology stands to gain a lot by nurturing ties to the digital humanities. If this sounds up your alley please join Ethan in making a DANG panel happen in Lincoln.

It’s my understanding that Ethan does not have an abstract pre-drafted, but rather is looking for someone to collaborate with in making something happen. He writes, the proposed panel “could be an ‘in practice’ kind of thing with case studies or a discussion of the current state of digital anthropology… or even a more focused look at how digital anthropology fits into Digital Humanities.”

According to CFP linked to above some funding is available for “early-career scholars” so that might be interpreted as inclusive of adjuncts and newly minted PhD’s.


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