White Grass

FEBRUARY

2021

Welcome to our second issue of 2021!

Release Date: Feb. 19th, 2021 

ANNOUNCEMENTS

MAJOR NEWS

World Anthropology Day
February 18th, 2021
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The American Anthropological Association designates every third Thursday of February as World Anthropology Day, a day to think about and share knowledge about anthropology and all of its disciplines. It’s also a day to celebrate the work and participation of all of those involved in anthropology. 

 

It's not too late to share with others what anthropology is and learn more about the field yourself; some great ways to do this are watch an anthropological documentary or even have discussions about anthropology and its place in the world.

 

To look for more information and resources about World Anthropology Day please visit American Anthropological Association’s page at https://www.americananthro.org/anthroday.

 

Happy World Anthropology Day! 

Upcoming Virtual Events

Global Perspectives on Restorative Justice & Race: Conversation with Fania Davis
Black History Month Global Discussion 2021
February 24th, 2021
5:30-6:45pm PST
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Join the UW Office of Global Affairs in a conversation with civil-rights activist Fania Davis. In her talk she will make "the case for the importance of global engagement in the non-western world. This special discussion, moderated by Dr. Anu Taranath, will examine how restorative justice, equity and indigeneity can offer a path forward in healing and unifying our nation.”

 

To register for this virtual event and learn more about Fania Davis and Dr. Anu Taranath please visit here

To check out more virtual events and webinars visit the UW Anthropology Events page at https://anthropology.washington.edu/calendar
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Artifact from a nameless site in the Great Dismal Swamp - Photo Credit: Jason Pietra (Grant)

The Archaeology of African Diaspora:

Places of Resistance

By Alondra Rodriguez

Archaeology is more than simply studying the past from long ago, that of ancient Greece or  medieval Europe, it can be applied to a number of geographic locations, time periods, and peoples. An emerging sub discipline, rising within the past few decades, is the Archaeology of African diaspora which studies the “social and material worlds of the transatlantic slave trade, slavery, and post-emancipation societies” (Slavery and Remembrance), including black resistance against slavery. 

Archaeology of African diaspora is also closely tied to historical archaeology, which uses textual evidence in addition to archaeological work, however, historic documents can also “represent a single and often biased perspective” and thus “through the careful excavation of the material traces of past people’s activities archaeologists provide interpretations and perspectives of the past that may be absent or marginalized in historic documentation” (UC Berkeley). With this in mind, the archaeology of African diaspora is significant as it goes beyond plantation sites and traditional textual evidence, looking at “military forts, missions, and urban areas,” (Singleton) to study “enslavement as it was lived” (Grant), health, food and burial practices, and resistance, not just the institution of slavery itself within a diverse range of settings. 

Sites that are being more readily studied in the US are those of resistance, referred to as “maroons,” which are place of secluded or difficult terrain areas where runaway slaves escaped to and formed their own community, a place where they developed “their own way as living as free people” (Slavery and Remembrance). In the article “Deep in the Swamps, Archaeologists are Finding How Fugitive Slaves Kept Their Freedom: The Great Dismal Swamp was once a thriving refuge for runaways” Richard Grant interviews Daniel Sayers, professor at American University, and talks about his work in studying such places of resistance, particularly a nameless site known only by its surrounding area, the Great Dismal Swamp, at this site only few objects have been uncovered, so few that they could “fit in a shoe box” as Sayers states. However,  what did remain “speaks for themselves” (Grant) according to the curator of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Nancy Bercaw, as it illustrated an active building of a way of life, a life rejecting slavery, the “reworking pebbles,” use of ceramic fragments to “shore up cabins” and utilizing tools “left behind by indigenous'' peoples (Grant). 

The Archaeology of African diaspora is still a growing field with a great focus in providing different perspectives to “traditional” histories and documents. Additionally, many sites of resistance and “maroons” are continuously being found in the US, however, these sites are quite common in other parts of the world such as in Brazil, Jamaica, Cuba, and Suriname to name a few. Much work in this field lies ahead still and so if you are interested in learning more the types of artifacts and types of sites being studied here are some websites/articles I recommend in addition to the sources used.

Further Readings:

National Museum of African American History and Culture | https://nmaahc.si.edu/


The Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative Slavery | https://www.daacs.org/

Singleton, Theresa A. “The Archaeology of Slavery in North America.” Annual Review of Anthropology, vol. 24, 1995, pp. 119–140. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/2155932. Accessed 19 Feb. 2021.
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References


Grant, Richard. “Deep in the Swamps, Archaeologists are Finding How Fugitive Slaves Kept Their Freedom: The Great Dismal Swamp was once a thriving refuge for runaways.” Smithsonian Magazine, September 2016, https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/deep-swamps-archaeologists-fugitive-slaves-kept-freedom-180960122/.


Singleton, Theresa. “Archaeology and Slavery.” The Oxford Handbook of Slavery, Oxford University Press, 2012. Oxford Handbooks Online, https://www.oxfordhandbooks.com/view/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199227990.001.0001/oxfordhb-9780199227990-e-33.


Slavery and Remembrance. “The Archaeology of African Diaspora.” Slavery and Remembrance: A Guide to Sites, Museums, and Memory, http://slaveryandremembrance.org/articles/article/?id=A0143#:~:text=The%20archaeology%20of%20the%20African%20diaspora%2C%20or%20African%20diaspora%20archaeology,%2C%20and%20post%2Demancipation%20societies.


Slavery and Remembrance. “Maroon Communities in the Americas.” Slavery and Remembrance: A Guide to Sites, Museums, and Memory, http://slaveryandremembrance.org/articles/article/index.cfm?id=A0060.


UC Berkeley, Fort Davis Archaeological Project. “What is Historical Archaeology.” UC Berkeley, Fort Davis Archaeological Project: Archaeological Research of 19th and 20th Century Fort Davis, TX, https://ucbfodaap.wordpress.com/what-is-historical-archaeology/.
 

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Why Anthropology?

Guest Piece By Asta Wylie

Image Credit: Sailthru.com

"Anthropologists do not tell stories rarely; they tell them all the time” (Maggio: 2014, 90).

 

In the fall of 2019 I signed up for anthropology 101 with Professor Danny Hoffman because I thought that understanding a little something about people and how they interact would help me become a successful business woman. Little did I know I would fall slowly but completely in love with the study of human history, people, and their cultures. But let me backup a little… 

Before college, I was a musician—or at least, I was trying to be. When I graduated high school, I packed everything I owned into my Honda HRV, deferred admission to NYU, and moved to Nashville to “try my luck” at a career in music. I spent a year and a half between Nashville, LA, and Seattle, writing music, playing shows, recording multiple projects, and learning anything and everything I could about the music industry. 

Not surprisingly, my primary focus during this time was to learn the craft of songwriting. My approach to such a goal involved attending workshops and training camps and mostly trying to track down every songwriter I’d ever idolized and get them to have coffee with me. One of my lucky targets was a man named Tom Douglas (“The House that Built Me”). Tom taught me a lot, but one of the most important things he said to me was that songwriters are storytellers. The job of a songwriter is to give people a song they can see themselves in and be moved by. Songwriters take personal experiences and make them universally relatable by appealing to the common thread within us all.

I fell in love with songwriting because it allowed me to get to know people (and myself) and tell their stories. I’d spend hours in co-writes talking to friends or strangers about their lives and then crafting a song out of what I learned. A year or so later, when I stumbled into Danny’s class in college I immediately recognized anthropology as a (perhaps distant) cousin of songwriting. A songwriter’s job is to tell a story. If the songwriter isn’t the artist, they have to learn how to tell the artist’s story, while still maintaining a bit of their own voice and perspective. Anthropologists do the same when they write ethnographies; the job at hand is to tell someone else’s story using your voice. When I think of the great songwriters I know, they’re all ethnographers, but, ethnographers of matters of the heart rather than entire cultures. Regardless, the goal is the same: to learn a person or culture and to tell their story in a way that reaches the audience. 

So fast forward to college… plans changed, as they do, and I ended up giving up my admission to NYU and applying to UW. My intention was to take a few classes here while recording an album, and then move to California to complete a degree in music business. *Cue Professor Danny Hoffman.* As I was saying, anthropology seemed like a good thing to have some basic knowledge of heading into the world of business—what I didn’t expect was to love it so darn much. After taking Danny’s class, I made the decision to forgo my music business plans and stay at UW and complete a degree in anthropology.

 

When I stepped away from music and chose to jump fully into school, the most natural place to land was anthropology. And while the stories I’m telling now are different—I can’t say I’ve written an ethnography on heartbreak—and the reasons I love anthropology have evolved as I’ve taken more classes, at the heart of it all is the excitement found in the freedom to take what I’ve learned and turn it into a story. 

 

References

Maggio, R. (2014). The anthropology of storytelling and the storytelling of anthropology. Journal of 

Comparative Research in Anthropology and Sociology, 5 (2). 89-106.

Potential Careers with an Anthropology Degree

By Francisco Carter

Books on the Desk

I know that many of us in the anthropology department have concerns about life after college. Today, I want to spend some time discussing the job market and where anthropologists might fit in in the future.

 

Based on my discussions with anthropology alumni, if you want a career in anthropology, you will probably need a Master’s or PhD. For the physical, biological, and forensic side of anthropology, a Master’s or PhD is usually required for anything more than a brief contract job. The cultural job front is a bit more lenient, with recent graduates finding work in social and humanitarian agencies.

 

The pursuit of a career in academia has many challenges as well. “Saying you want to be a tenured professor of anthropology is a bit like saying you want to become a famous movie star,” says a PhD candidate. “A lot of people want the job and few of the people that try will ever succeed in it”. The job market is already saturated with PhDs, and the number of doctorates awarded continues to grow each year.

 

With anthropologists growing frustrated of limited opportunities in the academic world, many have been entering the private sector to put their knowledge to use. “Business anthropology is booming right now in the applied field. Applied medical anthropology can also land you a really nice job in a hospital or other medical organization,” says an anthropology alumni.

 

Despite all of the uncertainty regarding life after COVID-19, I think anthropologists have a lot to offer the world. I sincerely hope that the job market will eventually grow to reflect that.

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