Anthropology has always been visual
August 23, 2008
Got this off of Design Observer, but John Curran has posted a list of the greatest hits of anthropological and social theory diagrams on Flickr.
This makes me happy for two reasons. First, I have always bristled at the notion that anthropologists are more textually-oriented than visual, that somehow there is no culture of the visual in the field. Having misspent my youth trying to figure out the subtleties of kinship diagrams, mastering the art of reading archaeological site maps, and illustrating the distinct morphology of early hominids (pre-humans), I knew that to be empirically untrue. So I am happy to have the vindication through visual documentation that Anthropology has always been visual.
Two, I am co-holding with the diagram-master himself, Hugh Dubberly, a workshop at the American Anthropological Association Meetings in San Francisco as part of the NAPA Design and Anthropology Special Interest Group. Proud (as opposed to shameless) plug (because I am really excited that this collaboration is happening, especially if I get to keep the posters):
TITLE OF EVENT: Workshop: Designing Anthropological "Boundary Objects": how-to compellingly and effectively visualize anthropological data for heterogeneous audiences
SPONSOR: National Association for the Practice of Anthropology
DATE SCHEDULED: 11/21/2008
TIME: 10:00:00AM - 12:00:00PM
ROOM: Union Square 18
So the next time a designer colleague of mine accuses me of being too textual, or more often, seems shocked that I know how to draw a diagram. I can point them to the Great Diagrams of Anthropology, Linguistics, and Social Theory with pride.