#29: Multimodal ethnography, monolithic China, online bans & the 'anthro helmet': TFS at AAS

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We, at The Familiar Strange, would like to acknowledge and celebrate the First Australians on whose traditional lands we recorded and produced this podcast, and pay our respect to the elders of the Ngunnawal, Ngambri, Yindinji and Yirrganydji peoples past, present and emerging. This month on TFS, we bring you a special panel episode recorded at the Australian Anthropological Society's (AAS) 2018 Conference at James Cook University, Cairns, in December. In this episode, our own Simon Theobald is joined by Viktor Baskin from James Cook University, Sacha Cody from Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and Katherine Giunta from The University of Sydney. The theme of the conference was Life in the Age of Death, so our panel guests embraced this theme to share with us the things they had been thinking about during the week.(This panel was not recorded in our usual studio so you may notice a slight change in sound quality - don't worry that's just our super cool 'travel' mic!) Viktor [0:53] begins our conversation by reflecting on the enriching experience at the conference. Particularly during the presentation given by Lucas Bessire, she felt moved by the images that accompanied his talk that showed the context in which his presentation was situated - as Sacha put it, you could see the "vastness of this dead, barren land". She asks us about the limitations that text has, and how can we, as anthropologists, take the work that we do into the world and keep it ‘alive’ through a multimodal or multi-media based anthropology – something more than just words on paper. Next, Sacha [6:10], turns our attention to China. With China’s increasing assertiveness on the global scale, he wonders what that means for him as an anthropologist of China in situations where the country is framed as a threat, as “a yellow peril out there to destroy the world and eat up our resources, infiltrate our governments, steal our technology…”. He asks the panel how they navigate sensitive topics and the balance between advocation and participant observation. Katherine [13:13], brings the conversation back to the conference, during which she has been watching her social media fill up with comments regarding social media policy changes. With Tumblr’s new bans on sharing adult content and Facebook's ban of discussions about sexual preferences, Katherine is concerned about the resulting effect that this will have on self-expression in the queer community: “As we are talking about life in the age of death, I’m thinking about what is going to happen to...the queer community – when some of the key ways in which we connect with each other across physical borders is taken away from us.” Can computer algorithms appropriately filter content? Finally, Simon [15:50] wraps up this episode with a brief look at the recent and highly publicised death of John Allen Chau. The missionary had decided to make contact with the North Sentinel Island indigenous people, who had remained largely untouched by the outside world, with the intentions to bring Christianity to the island. This incident incited a range of responses from the public about John, either criticising his actions or eulogising his martyrdom, so Simon asks us to put on our 'Anthropology Hats' and consider how we would respond to this incident. LINKS AND CITATIONS - see our website for fill list https://thefamiliarstrange.com The official site for the AAS2018 Conference, including information about the speakers and information about the theme, can be found here: https://www.aasconf.org/2018/ This anthropology podcast is supported by the Australian Anthropological Society, the ANU’s College of Asia and the Pacific and College of Arts and Social Sciences, and the Australian Centre for the Public Awareness of Science, and is produced in collaboration with the American Anthropological Association. Music by Pete Dabro: dabro1.bandcamp.com Shownotes by Deanna Catto

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