Story Slamming Anthropology

Story Slamming Anthropology is a brand-new series based on the simple idea of “What if anthropologists wrote ‘Freakonomics’ or ‘Sapiens: A Brief History Of Humankind?’. This series features both innovative new stories drawing on the deep toolkits and methods of anthropology and audio performances of those stories. We’ve been working on this idea since early 2017, and ran a successful pilot of this at the American Anthropological Association’s annual meeting in Washington, DC. We got some amazing submissions and performances to share with you from that conference and are in the process of developing the series and opening it for ongoing submissions!

Episodes will be released weekly or biweekly.

Check out the first series abstract: In recent years, the terms Public and Anthropology have been paired with more frequency. Yet, what this seemingly suspect partnership is, how it could function, and what goals it could have are still in relative formation. Today, public anthropology might mean several different things ranging from jargony lectures that are “open to the public”, digital media (like blogs, videos, or podcasts) that are generally accessible online, or presentations given to an informant public on work produced by a researcher. Large voids remain. We ask, then, why not turn to already publicly oriented writing for inspiration? What if “Guns, Germs and Steel” (Diamond 1999), “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind”, (Harai 2015) or “Freakonomics” (Levitt and Dubner 2009) were written by anthropologists? What if we told you that once upon a time, they were? When Margaret Mead wrote “Coming of Age in Samoa” in 1928, anthropologists and non-anthropologists alike flocked to her work because of its accessibility – and felt topical relevance. Could such an achievement be attainable today? While some scholars might reject an approach based on “popular” writing, we contend that the enormous success of the above books (as well as the podcasts, YouTube videos and Netflix series based on them) demonstrates a general interest in theories of humankind, what it means to be human in the contemporary world, and throughout history. We ask why have anthropologists not followed suit?

The Ad for our AAA panel, Nov 2017

Our goal with this experimental series is to invoke the public spirit of Franz Boas, Margaret Mead, Melville Herskovits and others to speak to 21st century concerns from a comparative perspective in clear language. We’ll be sharing stories based on on juxtapositions, seemingly counter- or non- intuitive linking’s of subjects, objects, ideas, emotions, practices, or traditions that will intrigue, educate, and delight listeners. 

Check back here for the full list of This Anthro Life’s StorySlamming Anthropology series