Cool Installations #aaa2013
coolAnthropology.com‘s mission is to expand the reach of anthropological research through informed discussions and dissemination. We do this through several different means- conceptualizing and/or collaborating on projects, designing teaching tools, electronic outreach. Perhaps one of most exciting means of dissemination has been through events we hold. For these events, we work closely with community members, academics and artists, and are centered around a body of research relating to a particular topic of interest. While we take our events to a variety of locales and share them with many different audiences, we are proud to have been able to debut both last year’s and this year’s events at the American Anthropological Association’s Annual Meeting. This year, the AAA welcomed these installation events with a dedicated space on Friday, November 22nd- the beautiful Grand Ballroom at the Chicago Hilton. Debuting our “On the Road of Development” installation, we were excited to share the room with other anthropologists dedicated to utilizing many ways to disseminate research, widening anthropological circles and highlighting important ideas in innovative ways. These photos give a glimpse into what happened in the ballroom that day and, hopefully, highlight some of the options that anthropologists have when considering how their research gets “out there.”
When we were first conceived of this installation, we wanted to explore the concept of development through many different eyes, focusing on the reality of the people throughout the world whose everyday lives are touched by development processes. Our hope was that, through bringing these varied perspectives and practices together in this format, we can move past a dichotomous global conversation and focus on how people negotiate their lives through these changes.
Each station on the Road of Development featured different anthropologists speaking about their research and edited into topics, framed in repurposed canvases.
Those walking the development road considered how lives and economic systems have been shaped by various levels of participation in the cash economy.
Each of the seven stations (religion, education, healthcare, infrastructure, economics, food and environment) on our road of development included academics looping inside repurposed frames, our development “superheroes,” an artistic interpretation, and info graphic or visual representation of data and an activity for participants to do and embody the experience.
Mascha Gugganig invited participants to write postcards of their thoughts about her installation, Hawai’i Beyond the Wave, Hawai’i Beyond the Postcard, and send them to the next stop on her tour, Vienna. Her innovative dissemination was based on her research looking at the use of cardboard mulching in forest farming.
Multi-media cool research dissemination from Christine Hegel-Cantarella and colleagues, bring us a scenographic proposition for ethnographic research at the WTO in Geneva.
Merrill Singer and his colleagues celebrated the history of Anthropology’s engagement with policy in pictures and texts. Laura Nader stopped by and asked us to snap her photo next to her image!
Marcia S. Rego used a great installation format to invite participants to air their dirty laundry and consider how anthropology is often illegible to so many outside our discipline. One of the goals of Cool Anthropology and the installation format is to break through this academic language and make our research accessible. Nice way to show a way forward and not just complain!
There seemed to be some embodiment of speculation and selection happening at this installation- wish we’d learned more about these collaborators and their processes.
Kristina Baines is our resident cool anthropologist. She’s been formally trained in applied, sociocultural, ecological and medical anthropology at Florida Atlantic University (BA, MA), the University of Oxford (MSc) and the University of South Florida (PhD). She has a strong interest in corn, how what we do in our environment makes us well, and using innovative methods to make anthropology relevant and accessible to a wide audience. You can find out more about how these interests translate into projects and pursuits by perusing the rest of our site, or you can contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org