Life is complicated, but we love simple answers. AI and robotics are changing the nature of work. Emojis change the way we write. Fossil Fuels were once the engine of progress, now we're in a race to change how we power the planet. We're constantly trying to save ourselves...from ourselves. Join Anthropologist and culture expert Dr. Adam Gamwell for curated conversations with humanity’s top makers and minds on our creative potential through design, culture, business and technology. Change your perspective.
The Fight to Save Cultural Memory with Charles Henry
Interdependence is the idea that the wellbeing of our world and for our physical and emotional selves depends on those around us, yet when we find ourselves up against a challenge bigger than ourselves, our sense of interdependence becomes stronger.
When we move that scale even larger (i.e. a global climate crisis), interdependence becomes paramount. Climate change not only affects our everyday lives, but affects cultural history and cultural artifacts such as books and architectural styles, as well as more ephemeral practices like theater, song and language.
How well we are able to face these challenges has to do with how we tell stories. How well we tell stories depends on what we choose to protect, preserve, and make prosper in our cultures. If you’ve used the Internet in the last 20 years, or 20 minutes, you know that there isn’t a lack of information or stories online, but how much of our and others’ cultural heritage exists digitally, how accessible is it, and who is able to contribute?
These are questions that Charles Henry engages with in this episode. Charles is the president of the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR), a nonprofit that works with libraries, cultural institutions, and higher learning communities to improve research, teaching, and learning environments.
Check out the Council on Library and Information Resources: https://www.clir.org/about-us/history/
Digital Library of the Middle East, one of the world’s largest online archives of Middle Eastern and North African artifacts. https://www.clir.org/2020/07/clir-and-stanford-libraries-announce-digital-library-of-the-middle-east-platform/
The HBCU Library Alliance Partnership, which is a long-term partnership to foster awareness of and access to collections held by Historically Black Colleges and Universities. https://www.clir.org/initiatives-partnerships/hbcu-library-alliance/
On Being Heard and Learning to Listen with Nethra Samarawickrema
When we think about social science and social scientists working out in the world, we tend to jump to the science part, you know jobs that focus on research - consumer research, user experience research, or qualitative studies for non-profits. But if you have any experience with therapy, whether as a patient or therapist, worked with a career or life coach, or anything to do with conflict mediation, you might have noticed there’s more than a little overlap in skill sets with anthropology.
I have been really fortunate to get to know Nethra Samarawickrema, co-founder of the Listen Up Lab, an anthropologist and coach and all around calming presence - something we need more of today.
What’s her secret? Well a lot of things, but one I want to pull out here is her application of a mode of listening called Nonviolent Communication. Nethra reveals the common connection between anthropology and nonviolent communication that drew her to both and shows how they complement one another. Think about things like withholding judgment, active listening, situated perceptiveness.
If this episode sounds good to you, I highly recommend you check out our conversation with Jeremy Pollack on how to manage social conflict, communicate effectively and finding common ground. These episodes complement one another really well.
Listenup Lab: https://www.listenuplab.com/
Listen Up Lab is running a 2-day online workshop called FLOW to support writers and artists with unblocking themselves on April 23 and 24th, 2022. The details and sign up information can be found here: https://www.listenuplab.com/course-content-flow
Nethra would love to connect with people who might be interested in coaching related to work, creativity, or getting in touch with their needs in their relationships. She offers free introductory hour-long coaching sessions that folks can sign up for on my website here: https://www.workwithnethra.com/
Bitcoin and the Cryptocurrency Revolution with Mick Morucci
If you’re alive in 2022 you’ve probably heard of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency. Whether you’re an active trader, just dabble, or think you’d never touch the stuff, cryptocurrency raises a fascinating challenge to the question of what is money? And how can technology fundamentally reshape how we engage in finance and social life? Is crypto a revolution?
If you're listening to this episode in early 2022, then you're probably well aware of the ongoing inflation and commodity price increases both in the United States and globally. You know, money and finance are often the table stakes of how we think about navigating life today. That can both be part of the background or very much in the foreground of our minds, depending on how things are going. And as we wrestle with economic uncertainty in the wake of war, a changing climate and geopolitical shifts things can feel bleak. But at these moments, it's important to stay curious and ask where and how are we trying to make things better? And this is a bit about where that revolutionary technology part just might come in.
Mick Morucci is a crypto-anthropologist, Bitcoin expert and the co-founder of geyser.fund, and NFT social discovery platform. He’s also a prolific writer and publishes regularly on Bitcoin, block chain technologies and NFTs.
In this episode we explore:
- the cultural and financial origins of Bitcoin
- what is a blockchain
- money as information and story
- open source technologies
- why decentralization matters
- privacy and surveillance
Check out some of Mick's writing:
Bitcoin as a Divine Idea - https://bitcoinmagazine.com/culture/bitcoin-as-a-divine-idea
Why Anthropologists are More Interested in Bitcoin than Economists - https://bitcoinmagazine.com/culture/anthropologists-are-interested-in-bitcoin
The Social Experience of NFT Art - https://forefront.news/blog/feat-mick-social-experience-of-nft
Episode produced by Adam Gamwell
Deep Storytelling: Bicultural History and Fiction with Andrew Rowen
It's a common truism that history is often written by the victors, but it is equally true that the actual story is more complicated. One of the most poignant examples of this is the "discovery" of the new world by Christopher Columbus.
So today I am super excited to have author Andrew Rowen back on the podcast. Andrew caught our attention back in 2017 for his book encounters, "Unforeseen 1492 Retold", which rather than another single sided story is a bicultural retelling that portrays the life stories of both Columbus and the Taíno chieftains from their youth to their encounters during the invasions of 1492.
Andrew is back to talk about the sequel "Columbus and Caonabó 1493 to 1498 Retold". In this episode, we explore Andrew's rationale for producing a bicultural series of novels and choosing historical fiction over historical nonfiction in order to bring to life the context thought processes and perspectives of people present at the time in the 15th century.
This also meant writing in a way that doesn't prescribe how events would turn out because of course, folks in the 15th century had no idea what was going to happen. The 1493 to 1498 epoch also entailed some of the most challenging aspects to explore such as the growing discontent between Taíno chieftans and Spaniards, Columbus' continual insistence on enslavement, the role of disease and sickness in cross-cultural encounters and the political machinations of queen Isabella and king Ferdinand. This episode has a bit of everything, you know, whether you're interested in the world of the 15th century and, or you're curious about the process of writing historical fiction, including how to do archival and on-site research and do character development in ways that make sense with the research that you're finding and the challenges of telling bicultural histories in respectful and honest ways.
Production: Adam Gamwell
Editing: Craig Stanton
Music: Crackle and Chop, Epidemic Sounds
Build Better Worlds: Anthropology for Game Design, Film and Writing
Have you wondered why fantasy stories mostly are just copies of Medieval Europe? Why pop culture has been so obsessed with zombies? Or why Black Panther and the Falcon and the Winter Soldier seemed to hit the right chord at the right time for American conversations on race? To answer these questions, we're diving into world building, the process of creating realized worlds for (mostly) fictional stories and how anthropology could literally change the game.
On this episode Astrid Countee joins Adam Gamwell to co-host a conversation with the very dynamic duo of biological anthropologist/archaeologist Kyra Wellstrom and cultural anthropologist Michael Kilman. Kyra and Michael are educators and authors, and their latest book caught our attention because it does two things at once. First, it serves as an introductory textbook for anthropology students, digging into key ideas like culture, ritual, food, power and death. But second, it’s premised around how to use anthropology for building better world for game design, fiction writing, and filmmaking.
Building a better worlds is about creating more authentic characters based on actual science and data on culture. Thus the book is both an introductory text for anthropology students and creators.
Production: Adam Gamwell
Take 2 - Pro Rees
A Nifty Piece of Work - New Fools
Ragtime - peerless
Being a Human: Adventures in 40,000 Years of Consciousness with Charles Foster
Charles Foster set out to answer one of the most perplexing questions of all - what sort of creatures are we humans? - in one of the most unique ways possible: immersing himself in experiences that evoke three central epochs in the development of consciousness - the upper Paleolithic, around 40k years ago, the neolithic, around 10k years ago when humans invented/stumbled upon and couldn’t get out of agriculture, and the Enlightenment, which ushered in the scientific revolution in Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Interested in checking out Charles' new book Being a Human: Adventures in 40,000 years of Consciousness? We've got copies to give away!
Music: Epidemic Sounds
Intro - Jazz Bars - Dusty Decks
Outro - Up & Down - Toby Tranter
Editing: Craig Stanton
Research: Kiera Myles
Production: Adam Gamwell
I get excited every time I see there’s a new episode. Interviews are engaging and conversational in ways that no other anthro podcast is. As an anthro undergrad who is trying to figure out my future, this podcast has helped give me a language for talking about my interests. I got my current internship at a major tech company because I learned how to talk about my anthro major (in part through listening this podcast) in applied contexts. I’m really fascinated by issues around the future and meaning of work—which is why I loved the recent ‘The Ghost in the Machine’ in episode. Also definitely recommend this podcast for anyone with a curious mind!
Engaging and insightful
I love this podcast. It helps keep me engaged with Anthropology in a way that is consumable, insightful, and illuminating. I love starting my day listening in as I learn more about the world around me through an anthropological lens.
My favorite part is the high level overviews of books and research that helps me feel that I am still engaged with anthropology. I can’t recommend this podcast enough!
I’ve listened to every episode. Very interesting.