A very exciting blog started recently called Ethnography Matters. Contributors include applied anthropologists and experienced practitioners, graduate students and professors, design and technology consultants. It’s a very intelligent and public discussion.
My Guest Post is called “Outside In: Breaking Some Anthropology Rules for Design.” Design and industry are becoming more aware of the value of ethnography. I wanted to raise the question of how to make visible the full range of theories and perspectives from our academic training as cultural anthropologists. And when to break the rules.
Although it’s tempting to put a happy gloss on past endeavors, I also think there’s been a lack of public discussion about the employment realities in anthropology over the past decades and how they have led to an inward focus. This silence serves very few people.
My essay is about reclaiming the productive parts of academic training, while also gleefully breaking old academic rules. I am curious whether the younger readers, particularly graduate students, will have a different perspective. Do academic rules still limit creativity and innovation?
What do you think? Have you broken professional rules to be a better designer? Can we be simultaneously thinkers and practitioners?
In the American Anthropologist, the one hundred plus year journal of academic anthropology, Professor Robert Rotenberg reviewed Tokyo Green Space as an example of public anthropology. The article came out last fall, but I only recently learned about it. I am very honored to be recognized, and hope that it leads to more discussion about the value of anthropology for public policy and new urbanism.
David Vine, Alaka Wali, and Melissa Checker, the Public Anthropology Review editors, introduce Professor Rotenberg’s review in their introduction:
Next, Robert Rotenberg discusses Jared Braiterman’s Tokyo Green Space blog on “microgardening.” The blog is documenting efforts to use gardening in the smallest and most unusual urban spaces—rooftops, walls, schools—“to support biodiversity in the world’s largest city” (this issue). Of particular interest to environmental and urban anthropologists, not to mention gardeners, Rotenberg’s review describes a blog that combines design anthropology, lush color photography, and the eye and imagination of the flaneur to explore a transforming Tokyo.
The citation is Rotenberg, Robert, Tokyo Green Space, American Anthropologist, volume 112, number 3, pp 463-464, September 2010. You can download a copy here.