How We Can All Be Better Anthropologists How We Can All Be Better Anthropologists
- Most Read
When She Hit the Finish Line, Her Coach Had to Catch Her in His Arms—Every Timeby Brandon Weber
Understand Consent With the Help of Stick Figures and a Cup of Teaby Craig Carilli
How Does the Education in Your State Compare to the Rest of the World?by Mike Albo
Student Gives Her Teacher Some Great Perspective on Racismby Tod Perry
Werner Herzog Motivational Posters are the Best Thing on the Internetby Laura Feinstein
Watch Bernie Sanders Shut Down a Homophobic House Member in This Video From 1995by Katie Felber, Gabriel Reilich
It’s an Appropriate Time to Bring This Clip Back: ‘This Is My Body’by Brandon Weber
Mother of Two Writes a Perfect Salute to Imperfect Parentsby Tod Perry
Indian Scientists Develop World’s First Zika Vaccineby Tosten Burks
The GOOD Life
How We Can All Be Better Anthropologists
We are all anthropologists. Strangers in our own increasingly strange land. We are constantly noticing things, looking for patterns, detecting changes, and playing things back.
The advantage of being a better anthropologist is that we get better at being social and cultural, and a little more human. Now we can see where other people are "coming from." Now we can see "where they are going with that."
These metaphors are locational, because being a better anthropologist is about getting up out of what we thinking and relocating ourselves in the way others think. We call this "empathy," but too often this is only feeling someone's pain. What we also want to do is to see how they see the world.
And this is the key to being a better anthropologist: always asking ourselves what would I have to think to think that, what else would I have to believe about myself and the world?
We are inclined to dismiss what other people say and do as the expression of their limitations, irrationality, or essential flaws. These feel good, but it is also a very good way of making ourselves prisoner of our own limitations. Now we can't learn anything new. Because we know it all. The key then, is always struggling to get out of what we know into other worlds.
As I say, do this often and well, and every conversation, interaction, and project gets easier. Oh, and there's that other small advantage: becoming more human.
Further reading on the noticing anthropologist: