Julia (0:59), starts us off with a discussion about zombie nouns – words that are created by nominalisation – such as sociality, irrelationality, neoliberalisation, etc. Julia asks us the ultimate question: why can’t social scientists communicate with simpler words instead of jargon? Jodie argues that the jargon can be beneficial when used within a discipline, but problematic when communicating with a public audience. Ian reminds us that jargon is a part of our identity at The Familiar Strange: “We don’t want to sort of run away from ourselves because who are we – we’re a bunch of anthro geeks!”
Next Ian (5:12) brings our attention to the revelations that can arise through material objects. He reflects on one instance during his PhD fieldwork when he was shown a sarong that revealed the social history of the local people and the complex hierarchical relationships that surround it (and theft!). The other Familiar Strangers reflect on similar instances during their own research when objects have crystallised something important about their fieldwork, including blood, power point sockets, and plastic bags.
Jodie (10:24), changes our focus to the recent Kavanaugh hearings. This court case centres around the controversial nomination of Brett Kavanaugh as a Judge to the United States Supreme Court, after Professor Christine Ford released a testimony stating he had sexually assaulted her. Jodie proposes the potential of viewing the affair through the lens of biopolitics. Essentially the idea of biopolitics is that the state governs our bodies, what we can and do with our bodies, and uses certain technologies to control our bodies. Particularly in relation to the Trump Presidency, Jodie asks us to think about women’s bodies: what are women allowed to say about their own bodies, what are men allowed to say about women’s bodies, and what is and isn’t appropriate to say in public for a about women’s bodies?
Finally, Simon (16:25) steers the conversation towards ethic in anthropology: what to do when our values are challenged. “We, as anthropologists, tread this fine line between not judging our informants and yet, at the same time, wanting to adhere to a particular kind of universal set of values”. Simon asks us how we should respond when we strongly disagree with something our informants do: is it wrong or is it just their culture? Ian argues that “It is difficult to draw those lines and the more you get to know the people that you are working with, often you end up retreating from some of those values”.
CITATIONS (for a full list of citations and links please see our website)
Alex Di Giorgio’s blog post ‘Academic Jargon and Knowledge Exclusion’:
Jodie’s definition of ‘biopolitics’ available here: https://anthrobiopolitics.wordpress.com/2013/01/21/biopolitics-an-overview/
Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny, by Kate Manne, 2017, Oxford University Press.
Native American DNA: Tribal Belonging and the False Promise of Genetic Science, by Kim Tallbear, 2013, University of Minnesota Press.
Nancy Schepper-Hughes article about ethics (1995) available here:
Julia’s interview with Kim Fortun can be listened to here:
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