Hello world! Challenges for blogging as anthropological outreach

Together with my colleague Henk Driessen I organized the Anthropology and/in Publicity conference in 2010. Several anthropology bloggers had very interesting contributions to the theme of public anthropology which are still available at our conference blog. Together with the lectures of Thomas Hylland Eriksen, Ulf Hannerz, Mathijs Pelkmans and Annelies Moors the blogposts made great workshop.

In the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (JRAI) Henk Driessen, Mathijs Pelkmans and yours truly have published our reflections on the theme of public anthropology as a commentary in the issue of June 2013 (Volume 19, Issue 2).

Going public: some thoughts on anthropology in and of the world (pages 390-393) by Henk Driessen

Unfortunately, too much anthropology is boring, unattractive, and unapproachable for wider audiences.4 My personal position is that as public servants we have a political and moral duty to communicate what we know in an accessible manner to wider audiences, at least now and again, depending on the nature of the requests and the quality of the media that seek our co-operation. I am convinced that in the long run we need to do so also for the benefit of the survival of anthropology.

Hello world! Challenges for blogging as anthropological outreach (pages 394–397) by Martijn de Koning

[I]s blogging really a solution for the lack of influence of anthropological knowledge? I will explore this issue by focusing on two questions: why do people blog and who is the audience of anthropology blogs? Based on the contributions of several blogs, including my own, I’ve come to the conclusion that our reach is limited to the extent that we appear mostly to attract fellow anthropologists in the West and that our blogs are Western-orientated.

A wider audience for anthropology? Political dimensions of an important debate (pages 398-404) by Mathijs Pelkmans

Why do we agree that anthropology has unused potential, and why would it be good for anthropology to be more widely heard (apart from this potentially attracting more students and generating more funding)? Answers can be found by looking at how we conceive of anthropology, what kind of public anthropologists we have in mind, but also what kind of audiences we are implicitly thinking of. Such a discussion, I argue, reveals that the desire for a public presence is politically and normatively informed.

Many thanks to Henk Driessen, Mathijs Pelkmans and Matthew Engelke for their valuable comments on earlier versions of my comment.


Kristina Killgrove (whose blog is mentioned and cited in my comment) has published a response on her blog. I hope my comment and her blog will contribute to a debate on the avenues for public anthropology. Read her critical response: Is Blogging Really the Future of Public Anthropology?

2 thoughts on “Hello world! Challenges for blogging as anthropological outreach

  1. Fijne bijdragen, Martijn. Met veel interesse gelezen. Afgaand op de analyse van je reacties hier dacht ik je langs deze weg te verblijden met een niet-racistische reactie van een halve antropoloog.

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