Rebranding Anthropology Textbooks

Beloit College Anthropologist, Associate Professor Jennifer Esperanza was feeling frustrated. Why is there always images of "exotic" peoples on the cover of anthropology textbooks? "Why can't there be images of, for example, a group of white American women eating salads, on the cover?," she asked.

A quick Google image search of "anthropology textbooks" demonstrates her point: image 1.

Anthro_exoticism

Image 1: Screenshot of Google image search of "anthropology textbooks"

 Stephen Nugent (2007: 132) in his book, Scoping the Amazon: Image, Icon, and Ethnography, describes: 

Much of the writing on anthropological photography has sought to redress the indexical bias according to which Western image making of non-Westerners has, to put it as crudely as possible, objectified anthropological (and other) subjects.

The aim of the Rebranding Anthropology Textbooks is to offer a critique not just in words, but in counter images that make stark the construction of identities and the owner/subjects of the anthropological gaze in anthropological photography. For me, it is part of two larger projects in which I have been involved. The first is the Decolonizing Anthropology project, which was first articulated by Dr. Faye Harrison in 1991. Since becoming an anthropologist, I have accepted her challenge to work "to free the study of humankind from the prevailing forces of global inequality and dehumanization and to locate it firmly in the complex struggle for genuine transformation" (Harrison 1991: 10). The second is the Rebranding Anthropology project that I initiated in 2005 with other applied anthropologists. This project culminated in a 2006 workshop with the American Anthropological Association to reposition the field from its traditional stereotypes to its contemporary practices and competitors. It also led to the redesign of the National Association for the Practice of Anthropology branding and logo mark in 2008 by University of Illinois at Chicago graphic design students.

The design brief that I offered to my former Swinburne Design Anthropology postgraduate students was the following:

Greetings Danthro Alums. I have a quick weekend project for you to do as a favor. A friend of mine pointed out how all anthropology textbooks have these "exotic" images of others on the covers and never an image of "white women eating salad". 

Me, being Dr. Smarty Pants, said, "Wouldn't it be great to replace those exotica images with those of middle class American/Australian Caucasians doing stuff, maybe even using stock photos?"

So, I would ask you to select a cover from a cultural anthropology textbook and replace the "exotica" image with an image equivalent of "white women eating salad." I would suggest creative commons instead of stock images so that we can use them in an article about this topic.

I selected as my template the textbook, Anthropology: What Does It Mean to Be Human by Robert Lavenda and Emily Schultz, 3rd Edition: image 2.

Anthropology-what-does-it-mean-to-be-human-400x400-imaeah5hbabyfdgd

Image 2: Cover of Anthropology: What Does It Mean to Be Human textbook

Then, I recreated the textbook with a set of two new images: image 3. The first image is one of my own and has the same Western "anthropological gaze" exotic style as the original textbook image. I used one of my own to avoid any future copyright issues in the reproduction of the project's images in articles, books, and exhibitions. It was also a good reminder for me of how many of the images in my iPhoto library adhered to the National Geographic style of representing the people and places where I have traveled for research. The second image is a decolonized version that shows a similar topic but with Western cultural practices as the subject. I downloaded the image from a Flickr Creative Commons image by colorblindPICASO.

RB Anthro textbooks1_dt

Image 3: "Exotic" and decolonized images of Woman in Store. Credit: Elizabeth Tunstall and colorblindPICASO CC BY-NC 2.0

Design anthropologist, business coach, and branding specialist, Julie Hill accepted the challenge and produced nine images for the project. She describes her experience below:

I found this exercise interesting and fun to explore. Especially focusing on the shift in the lens, from traditional anthropology to contemporary ethnography, and what that means. The longer I did it, the more interesting it got - I accessed deeper cultural themes, such as beauty, festivities or core cultural values. I liked the one where the North African guy is using modern technology (ipad) and the Western woman is practicing yoga, but maybe it would have been more effective if I had put a traditional Indian woman practicing yoga and then a western woman practicing yoga, to demonstrate a difference.

Rebrand Anth Text Hill1

Image 4: "Exotic" and decolonized images of Beauty Clay. Credit: Julie Hill. All images are from Creative Commons (Wikimedia).

Rebrand Anth Text Hill2

Image 5: "Exotic" and decolonized images of Body Modification. Credit: Julie Hill. All images are from Creative Commons (Wikimedia).

Rebrand Anth Text Hill3

Image 6: "Exotic" and decolonized images of The Interpretation of Culture. Credit: Julie Hill. All images are from Creative Commons (Wikimedia).

Rebrand Anth Text Hill4

Image 7: "Exotic" and decolonized images of Dancing. Credit: Julie Hill. All images are from Creative Commons (Wikimedia).

Rebrand Anth Text Hill5

Image 8: "Exotic" and decolonized images of Introducing Anthropology. Credit: Julie Hill. All images are from Creative Commons (Wikimedia).

Rebrand Anth Text Hill6

Image 9: "Exotic" and decolonized images of Market. Credit: Julie Hill. All images are from Creative Commons (Wikimedia).

Rebrand Anth Text Hill7

Image 10: "Exotic" and decolonized images of Cultural Anthropology textbook. Credit: Julie Hill. All images are from Creative Commons (Wikimedia).

Rebrand Anth Text Hill8

Image 11: "Exotic" and decolonized images of Nubile Women. Credit: Julie Hill. All images are from Creative Commons (Wikimedia).

Rebrand Anth Text Hill9

Image 12: "Exotic" and decolonized images of Eating. Credit: Julie Hill. All images are from Creative Commons (Wikimedia).

 APA Citation: Tunstall, E. (2016, April 7). Rebranding Anthropology Textbooks [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://dori3.typepad.com/my_weblog/2016/04/rebranding-anthropology-textbooks.html.

 

 


Injustice Served

Up until the age of twelve, I wanted to be a lawyer. My quick memory and logical argumentation skills made it a good choice for me people said. The summer when I was twelve, I took a summer enrichment program on law and Greek mythology. In the law program, I got to read old law cases, observe court, and discuss how I would trial and judge law cases. After taking to lawyers and judges, I came to the realisation that the law was about the law and not about justice. I was only interested in justice.

Because I have been overseas, I have not been able to follow too closely the Zimmerman trial. I was shocked to see how much it dominated the news when I arrived in NYC two weeks ago.

The verdict released last night in the Zimmerman trial reminds me of that hard lesson I learned at 12 years-that the law is about law and not about justice. A juror of six non-peers made the choice to protect the Stand Your Ground law in Florida over the life if Trayvon Martin. How do we explain to our young nephews that this verdict puts them in danger because the law has said it is okay for a man to stalk, fight, and then shoot you without consequences? How do we channel the well deserved collective rage that should not just be in the black community but in every persons heart for the injustice carried out last night?

Yesterday, one of my young nieces asked why is it that a white girl can where skimpy clothes and no one day anything, but is she wears short shorts she is called a slut. I explained to her that as a young black woman people will pre-judge her before they know her as a representative of the race. The racism that exists means that she has to decide whether she will feed into or contradict those prejudices. She balked at the unfairness of having to tone down who she is just to appease white people and resents the idea of having to live that way all of her life. She was 100% correct, but the reality is that racism exists in the US, and we have to respond to that reality.

It makes me angry to listen to the struggles of my Aunts and Uncles against racism and yet still have to have these conversations with my young relatives.

It makes me angry that fear of an unarmed black boy by a white man with gun led to the young man's death.

It makes me angry that our law system is not about justice for all because the people in the system (and the system itself) is racist.

This anger fuels the struggle for justice that has been the goal and the burden of the Black US communities.

My heart goes out to Trayvon's family with a promise to continue the struggle until our laws are about justice.


Washington DC

Today we visited the National Geographics office and saw an amazing exhibition on pirates. Did you know that in most cases 50% to 100% of pirate crews were Africans or of Africana heritage? Me neither. Thus Captain Jack Sparrow should have been played by Djimon Hounsou. Oprah needs to make a movie about the black pirates.

We then went to Georgetown for lunch at a cool restaurant. Excellent food. Then we went home and I took a nap.

Then we went to a friend's place to watch fireworks.

Washington DC

Washington DC

Washington DC

Washington DC

Washington DC


Washington DC

Today we visited the National Geographics office and saw an amazing exhibition on pirates. Did you know that in most cases 50% to 100% of pirate crews were Africans or of Africana heritage? Me neither. Thus Captain Jack Sparrow should have been played by Djimon Hounsou. Oprah needs to make a movie about the black pirates.

We then went to Georgetown for lunch at a cool restaurant. Excellent food. Then we went home and I took a nap.

Then we went to a friend's place to watch fireworks.

Washington DC

Washington DC

Washington DC

Washington DC

Washington DC


In NYC

Arrived in NYC. Had friendly service everywhere this morning. US Post Office where I shipped a box of books given to me in China. T-mobile store to get my miniSIM card. Now heading to meet Saki for lunch in the Village.

In NYC


Leaving Beijing

I have had the most amazing time in Beijing. I have learned so much and am so grateful to Dean Wang Min, Prof Xu Ping, Prof. Hang Hai, Zhou Bo, Zhang Rui, Hu Xiaomei, Wu Xioaxi, Liu Dian, Lin Fan, and Wang Han of CAFA for making me feel welcomed, well taken care of, and exchanging so much knowledge about Chinese cultures. I will see you all in September.


Pottery of the Beijing National Museum

Thanks to Zhang Rui, I know the difference between Song, Ming, Yuan, and Qing Dynasty pottery. Song pottery is probably more of my taste with its subtle blue porcelain. The Ming pottery is very refined. It is this pottery which the Dutch sought to emulate. The Yuan pottery is more broad with bold rather than refined flower motifs. The Qing Dynasty pottery is either poorer copies of Song and Ming pottery or brightly blinged out pottery with many colors and gold overlays. Qing Dynasty is not my taste at all.

Pottery of the Beijing National Museum

Pottery of the Beijing National Museum

Pottery of the Beijing National Museum

Pottery of the Beijing National Museum

Pottery of the Beijing National Museum


Beijing National Museum

Today I went with Zhang Rui to the Beijing National Museum. We only got through the Ancient China Gallery, the Revolution Gallery, and the Chinese Pottery Gallery in the seven hours we were there. China's history is amazing in terms how far back certain motifs like the dragon and the Phoenix go back.

I am fascinated by the female historical figure Fu Huo, who was a queen and military general during the Shang Dynasty. Her tomb dates to 1200 BCE. Most of the most famous bronze artifacts of that period come from her tomb.


Beijing National Museum

Beijing National Museum

Beijing National Museum

Beijing National Museum

Beijing National Museum


CAFA graduation 2013

Sunday was graduation at CAFA. I went to the photo session and then the reception in the main hall. It was cool to see people's happiness in terms of completing their degree but sadness in terms of leaving their friends.

The pretty girl in the photo is XiaoXi, who finished her Masters this year. She has been working as the translator for my class. She took me to an amazing vegetarian buffet across from Confucius's Temple for dinner.

CAFA graduation 2013

CAFA graduation 2013

CAFA graduation 2013

CAFA graduation 2013

CAFA graduation 2013


Fish soup

Mr. Chin told me a urban legend of being served fish with the head and tail still moving. The last day in IM we went to a restaurant known for its fish. They have a special table which had a huge wok pot built into it. They said that in the countryside, the stove would be connected to the bed to keep it warm.

They picked out five live fish who were cut up and thrown into the pot with water and spices. The wood fire was lit with a pink bar of solid alcohol.

We selected a variety of vegetables and some thick noodles. The fishes tail was still moving when it was in the pot. It only stopped moving when the heat was too hot. So not an urban legend at all.

The fish soup was the best that I ever tasted. They baked bread on the sides of the wok pot which was delicious as well.

We had gone early but around noon groups of women in their 40s and 50s arrived and chatted loudly. Later families of parents, toddlers, and grandchildren arrived. It seemed a nice place for lunch.

Fish soup

Fish soup

Fish soup


The museum dioramas

The museum in Holhot had the most amazing dioramas. From natural history ones of animals (the wolf is the totem here), mining operations, traditional family life on the steppe, life in the mountains, to the court of Genghis Khan, you felt like you were in the middle of these vast scenes. And because they were not behind glass, they felt more tangible and real. Eventually these will be done with holograms, but it was cool to experience first hand.

One thing I observed was how very few people were at the museum.

The museum dioramas

The museum dioramas

The museum dioramas

The museum dioramas

The museum dioramas


Holhot: both ancient and new city

Continuing my description of my two days in Holhot, Inner Mongolia, they drove me to my swank Westin Hotel where we had lunch of a Chinese banquet worth of food.

Holhot is a growing city so there are entirely new urban developments of mid-rise shopping plazas and high-rise tower condos and apartment complexes. In the new developments, the buildings are so new that many of them are not occupied by tenants. The shop keepers, of mostly young men, sit in the doorway smoking cigarettes or playing games.

You feel like you are in a modern old West film with a Chinese set of actors. I guess the Mongolians would be the Indians as they are directly related to our North American Indians.

We went to the new campus of Inner Mongolia Normal University. The "normal" means that they focus on teaching teachers and that they do not have the full range of program's as a university. The new campus was built in 2006, but some of the buildings were just finished last year.

I met with Dean Wu Li Ji, who is the expert on Mongolian art. I also meet with the Vice Dean who is a noted traditional Chinese painter. We went to visit the Mongolian cultural museum.

The museum is underground and designed like the tombs found in the area. It shows the history and culture of the Mongolian peoples from prehistoric times until the end of the Qing Dynasty.

The early Mongolians were nomadic. They always had chiefs as there were raids and conflicts over grazing lands, so strong men led those raids. As they assimilated Han culture, they became more settled and had kings, queens, and tombs and bling which is the main displays in the museum. What it boasts is a 1.5 scale replica of a Mongolian tomb found not too far from the city. Inside the tomb are murals of daily life and sacred life.

Photos were prohibited in the museum but I will see if I can find it on the web.

Through the loveliest young translator, Joan, Dean Wu asked many questions about Aboriginal Australian culture. How they live? How they buried their dead? The use of body art. The reply was that it was very similar to how the Mongolians were before they became Han-ised. This would make a great comparative research project.

After the museum, we went for dinner at a restaurant across from the largest dairy factory in mainland China, Esse. The diary factory and mining are the main employers in the town. The dairy company owns most of the land around the new campus. The restaurant is shaped like the traditional Mongolian yurt (tent). Normally, they would order lots of beef and lamb, but with me being vegetarian they settled for vegetables, eggs, and fish. I got to try the Mongolian milk tea which was tasty. We discussed our colleges and futures exchanges after more higher level talks.

After dinner, we went back to campus where I gave my lecture. The Q&A was amazing. My trick of offering gifts to those who ask questions got the ball rolling. I think we went on for over one hour. My talk was about Cultures-based innovation. They expressed their happiness to hear my message about developing and maintaining their cultural values through the creation of resonate forms for today and the future. One student said how an artist the week before said to not focus on old culture to just be modern, but he disagreed and was happy to have his feelings validated by my talk. It is especially important because Mongolian culture is a minority culture.

After the lecture, Dean Wi showed me around the art studios where they imitate both modern and traditional painting styles. We then went to his office where we exchanged gifts. He gave me his book on Mongolian art history. I have him and Aboriginal painting and kangaroo meat. I gave the Vice Dean and my translator Joan a small Aboriginal drawing and Mr. Chin who showed me around a CD.

I then returned to the hotel where I stayed up to 1:30am watching movies on HBO just because they were in English.

Holhot: both ancient and new city

Holhot: both ancient and new city

Holhot: both ancient and new city

Holhot: both ancient and new city

Holhot: both ancient and new city


Affinity diagram for CAFA analysis lesson tomorrow

So in preparation for tomorrow's exercise on affinity diagramming, I completed one today based on the "data" I have collected for my research question: What are the conditions for Cultures-based innovation in China?

I completed the analysis in three hours based on informal interviews, observations, and the literature over the last few weeks. It is not an official research project yet but may serve as a basis for one between CAFA, Swin, Inner Mongolia University Normal, and maybe Hong Kong Polytechnic.

Final interpretations? You will have to find out tomorrow.

Affinity diagram for CAFA analysis lesson tomorrow

Affinity diagram for CAFA analysis lesson tomorrow

Affinity diagram for CAFA analysis lesson tomorrow

Affinity diagram for CAFA analysis lesson tomorrow

Affinity diagram for CAFA analysis lesson tomorrow


Holhot Inner Mongolia

Yesterday, I arrived in Holhot, Inner Mongolia. It is a town of about 2 million in the city and 5 million with the surrounding areas. The place is very ancient, but the city itself feels very new. There are no old trees. The buildings on the road are so newly constructed that most are not occupied yet.

It is an minority region of the Mongolians who have an ancient culture that I will explore more of today.


Holhot Inner Mongolia

Holhot Inner Mongolia

Holhot Inner Mongolia

Holhot Inner Mongolia

Holhot Inner Mongolia