The Politics of Language in Ocupa Rio

December 3rd 2011

David Thompson has been travelling around South America since he completed his Honours thesis on cosmpolitanism and urban poverty in Latin America at The Univeristy of Sydney, Australia, in late 2010. He is currently in Rio de Janeiro, where he is flash-researching the Ocupa Rio protests.

Ocupa Rio has witnessed many transformations in the composition of protestors, the political organisation of the camp and its material culture. Accompanying all of these changes has also been the development of a discourse of protest which significantly influences how activists relate to each other and the movement itself. Protestors are self-conscious about the impact of certain forms of language, and attempt to institutionalise and take advantage of certain words, discourses and ideas while expelling others.

As a result, language plays a central role in the development of Ocupa Rio as it questions and manipulates dominant political discourses while simultaneously struggling to accommodate alternative modes of expression within the plaza.

AAA 2011: Insights into cultural change from long-term fieldwork

November 21st 2011

Producing ethnographic accounts depends upon spending significant periods of time in the field, not only to build up a 'thick description' of a place and a people, but also to get a sense of the time cycles that people use to organise their lives and their social relations.

Traditionally, a year has been considered the minimum period that a researcher should spend in the field, to witness a full cycle of the seasons and harvests. Anthropologists return to the same places over the years to witness the development of life cycles as their research participants grow up, have children of their own, and become elders.

AAA 2011: Coming of Age in the Digital Age: Youth Media Practices and Gendered Identities

November 20th 2011

This intriguing session of the AAA 2011 focused on the roles that new media and digital technologies play in the construction of gendered identities.

While anthropologists and the public alike tend to think of cellphones as occupying an indispensable (and positive) role in the lives of youth, this collection of papers demonstrates that their actual effects are more complicated than we may think.

Covering four kinds of media and three continents, the authors tell stories about technology adoption and the often painful problems that youth face as they deal with its social consequences.

AAA 2011: Gillian Tett: How anthropologists can contribute to economic policy debates

November 19th 2011

This lecture entitled "Anthropology, Policy, and the Global Financial Crisis" was delivered by Gillian Tett, author of the best-selling Fool's Gold, U.S. managing editor of the Financial Times, and social anthropologist. Read about Gillian Tett's book, Fool's Gold, in the Guardian or the Economist. She also spoke at the AAA last year. Here's the video of her AAA 2010 talk, 'Silence and Silos: The Problem of Fractured Thought in Finance'.

How did a person with a PhD in social anthropology manage to become the managing editor of the Financial Times, and what room is there for other anthropologists in current economic debates and policy development? This was the main focus of Gillian Tett's Distinguished Lecture at the American Anthropological Association on a chilly Friday night in Montréal.