It’s something you’ll recognize

I was always told that an anthropologist needs to be a good listener. So we note what is said, gather it together with other bits, observe, participate and then analyze. Eventually, you write a dissertation and then go into teaching or applied anthropology.

In Appreciation

Of course, having produced so much verbiage over time, the result was an ability to blather about any topic extemporaneously

Cargo

from where I lived. I taught introductory classes in the subject, and lectures could become dry exercises in textbook repeats except for an open-ended discussion group I ran every week.

Only With Time

Working as a practicing anthropologist meant following threads in people's lives and their community. I worked for about a decade in one community that a historian friend of mine friend described as a "three-generation community." At least three generations of many of the families lived there.

The Committee

This time of year always takes me back to my first professional job after grad school. I worked in a city near Boston known for its intellectual, cultural, and ethnic diversity. The city library system was enlightened enough to have an anthropologist on staff, me.

Research

Although I was an anthropologist, few of the people I met knew what I did once I left the university. If I mentioned that I studied culture, I'd get a knowing wink and this reply, "Yes. But with a big C or a little c?"

Notes

In the field, an anthropologists notebook is a friend. Yes, you may have a recorder and a camera. But there is still something about notes written in a quiet corner that cements your observations.

Dance Lesson

One of my anthropology professors was a sociolinguist who seemed unaware that hour-long debates on terms like indegenous vs. indigenous could be boring.

Testing, Testing, one, two, three

I lost track of how many public programs I designed, developed, and implemented. Throughout it all, it wasn't the book learning or the lectures that influenced me. It was the pervasive influence of four professors.

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