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Archive for the ‘Public Anthropology’ Category

Accident forensicsGuest blogger Denise Hewitt wants to claim “forensics” all for psychology (we know its all applied anthropology) in the following post:

Face to face with our nation’s most reviled citizens, it’s not government officials or law enforcement diving into deep, murky, psychological waters of alleged criminals — it’s a relatively new breed of cognitive analysts. A recent slew of high-profile crimes has brought mental health to the forefront of our national conversation, and a growing number of specialized psychologists are leading the way. Dubbed “forensic psychology,” it’s likely to become a rapidly growing field. Criminal justice and psychology students alike may find themselves filling out a job application form to work in this new arena. The mental health experts in this field play key roles in the outcome of heart-wrenching trials, much to the chagrin of a vocal opposition.

What is It?

Dr. Christina Pietz, a forensic psychologist tasked with analyzing the gunman charged in killing six people and injuring U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, during a 2011 shooting rampage in Tucson, Ariz., testified that the then-23-year-old was competent to stand trial, according to Azcentral.com. Her testimony followed six months of evaluation that weaved together psychological assessment with the legal process.

According to the American Board of Forensic Psychology, these professionals apply science and psychology to issues relating to law and the legal system. This broad description leaves room for many roles, including competency evaluator, personality assessor and criminal therapist, among many others.

As evidenced by the Tucson shooter’s trial, forensic psychology plays a significant role in the legal process without a precisely defined role. That doesn’t mean the field is immature, however. The American Board of Forensic Psychology released its fifth draft of specialty guidelines in 2010, which outlines methods and procedures, conflicts in practice, privacy mandates and commenting best practices, among other things.

How Does It Work?

Unlike more conventional psychological assessment in which a professional explores the psychology of a willing subject, forensic psychologists often assess subjects that have no intention to assist the process in any way. Criminal profiler and serial crime expert Deborah Schurman-Kauflin described her basic approach to profiling violent criminals on Psychologytoday.com. Schurman-Kauflin has three questions in mind as she evaluates a suspect: What evidence is present at the scene? What is the motive? Who is the suspect?

In high-profile cases, the media relentlessly report evidence and potential motives, but forensic psychologists have intimate, exclusive access to the accused, making their testimonies all the more intriguing.

After the shooting in 2011, Dr. Pietz diagnosed Jared Loughner with schizophrenia. She stood by her diagnosis during her August 2012 testimony, revealing that medication led him to feel remorse for what he had done, according to Azcentral.com. Pietz’s conclusion that Loughner was competent to stand trial was a significant step in advancing the case.

Significant Opposition

Predictably, this new justice system resource has considerable opposition. Psychologytoday.com explored a particularly strong opinion posted on its website, which described forensic psychology as “a whore subspecialty until otherwise proven, as it is doing what is financially convenient for the M.D…”. The comment implies that forensic psychology is susceptible to corruption and experts will say what they are paid to say. With the amount of influence these professionals have in the justice system, it’s certainly a fair concern.

Most forensic psychologists are American Board of Forensic Psychology certified, and board guidelines define clear processes to promote transparency. For example, the guidelines indicate the forensic psychologists should strive to have all data they considered when forming an opinion readily available for inspection. While the potential for corruption may always loom, forensic psychologists have the ability to offer undeniable astute opinions when assessing violent criminals.

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Dear Followers of TheAnthroGeek.

Take note that I am blogging on the wildly popular blog Ethnography.com. I was recently deeply honored to have been invited to blog on Ethnography.com, considered by most to be one of the top anthropology blogs in the universe.

Here is a link to my inaugural post:

THIS WEEK IN ETHNOGRAPHY: SECOND DIGITAL ETHNOGRAPHY WEEK _ TRENTO 17-21 SEPT. 2012

My hope is to report on notable references to ethnography on a weekly basis.  This effort began with an project I attempted when I was the managing editor of the NAPA website.  I tagged that effort as “TWIAN” or  “This Week in Anthropology”. TWIAN focused on issues of anthropological practice that were of interest to the NAPA Anthro membership.  It never really took off and has been laying dorment for some time.  Anthropology may be too broad of a topic whereas Ethnography is just the right size!   So now I am starting TWIE or This Week in Ethnography.  If it generates interest (hint hint), I’ll continue doing it.

What is a true bit of kismet and a prescient confirmation of my decision to start focusing my efforts on Ethnography.com is that one of my final TWIAN posts was sourcing Ethnography.com as you can see at the following link.

TWAIN: Learning Foreign Languages (Ethnography.com)

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IMG_0286Tomorrow TheAnthroGuys are giving a presentation about our core competency: Analytic Induction that gets practiced in search of opportunities to “add value“.

This is a rather clunky way to express what we do but we are still sharpening our ‘laser focus’ so bear with us.  Once we reach Gladwell’s 10,000 hours, I’m sure it will sound better.   We will be in a lecture hall of entrepreneurship students at Fresno State.  Incidentally, the name of the lecture hall is, “Pete P Peters”.  As I often tell students of ethnography, reality is more interesting than fiction once you start actually noticing it.

Ethnographers and entrepreneurs share a relience on inductive skills to accomplish their goals.  Once this is understood, we can learn a great deal from each other.

Tomorrow our presentation about all of this that can be found here: Ethnographic (Inductive) Opportunity Analysis Presentation.

In a few weeks, we will return to their class to continue this discussion.  Our hope is that some – if not all – of these students will see the value of this skill set.

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Practicing Anthropology in the Shelves: Designing Academic Libraries via Ethnography

Presentation at the 108th Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association, Philadelphia PA

Organizer: James Mullooly (CSU-Fresno)
Chair : Henry Delcore (CSU-Fresno)

Session Date & Time:  12/04/2009, 04:00:00PM – 05:45:00PM Room: Room 408, Session ID #:  5311
Session Title: Practicing Anthropology in the Shelves: Designing Academic Libraries via Ethnography

Session Abstract: Anthropology is most relevant to the public, when it improves the lives of non-anthropologists. Practicing anthropology, as a type of research done to solve practical problems with relevant stakeholders who stand to gain or lose from a project, has a long tradition outside academia. Conversely, practicing anthropology on a college campus, across disciplines is a relatively recent phenomenon. Responding to this year’s theme, the papers on this panel speak to an “academic public” comprised of non-anthropologists across college campuses. Acknowledging one potential “end” of anthropology as an independent university discipline, panelists illustrate a bright future for practicing anthropology amongst this “academic public”.

Using ethnography to empirically investigate the factors that influence human relations between each other and their environment, practicing anthropology helps provide stakeholders invested and interested in this research to adopt effective and efficient responses to the problems relevant to them. California State University Fresno’s Institute of Public Anthropology (IPA) is an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life in California’s Central Valley through practicing and design anthropology. By utilizing a mix of traditional and innovative methodologies, members of the IPA are able to make ethnographic approaches relevant to areas normally ignored by academic anthropology programs. The papers on this panel represent some of the latest research on usability based upon a 15 month ethnographic investigation of CSU-Fresno’s Henry Madden Library.

In the first paper, Visser presents the context of the study, illuminating the relevance and use of traditional university libraries to “21st century students”. The following two papers by Barela, Arnold and Dotson provide a detailed explication of the background and methods of this study while emphasizing the strategies involved in ascertaining emic conceptualizations of “scholarship” (Barela) and “library resources” (Arnold and Dotson) by predominantly “first generation” college students. The next pair of papers by Mullooly, Ruwe and Scroggins explore some of the initial findings and that have evolved from the Library Study in terms of student/librarian disjunctures: disjunctures of the meaning of “reference” (Mullooly and Ruwe) “and of perception of time (Scroggins). The final paper by Delcore concludes the presentations with a discussion of the relevance of this sort of investigation to the evolution of design anthropology in relation to a variety of publics. Nancy Fried Foster, a leading voice in anthropological investigations of libraries, will discuss the papers at the close of the session.

The papers represent practicing efforts that analyze pressing issues in the contexts of scholarship, design, integration and innovation. Each presentation will be a rapid, data rich presentation (following the Pecha Kucha format) which will allow for an open discussion to follow including a critical analysis of the benefits of such approaches as well as the potential problems inherent in facing an “academic public”.

Key words: design anthropology, usability, practicing anthropology

Papers:

Understanding “the Public”: The 21st Century University Student and the University Library – Marjorie Visser (New School for Social Research)  University institutions must make themselves relevant in the educational experience of the students who utilize them. In the 21st century, an era marked by globalization and rapid technological advancement, perhaps no university institution struggles more to make their services and space relevant than the academic library. This paper seeks to explore the “21st century university student” and the relevance of the academic library in their lives. Through an analysis of the established literature of multiple disciplines and survey data, this paper highlights the dominant theoretical and practical paradigms surrounding this population, from which policies and programs in universities throughout the nation have been adopted to better serve this “new public”. We argue that such research, found in the sociology, psychology, public policy, and educational administration literatures, has helped to provide a broad macro level understanding of how to better serve this population. Yet, little is known about the effectiveness and utilization of these resources or how students perceive the relevance of traditional university institutions to their academic experience, presenting a unique gap in the research at the micro-level.This study elucidates an understanding of the relevance of the academic library vis-à-vis the 21st century student and highlights the implications to education policy, program design, and implementation which they present. Moreover, in the critical intersections of applied anthropology, organizational studies, and education policy this paper highlights the critical value of ethnography to other disciplines outside of anthropology.

Inspiration over Confirmation: Redefining Academic Libraries in Relation to Redefined Student – Alecia Barela (Institute of Public Anthropology)
The Institute of Public Anthropology (IPA) began investigating student scholarship at CSU Fresno in order to develop strategies for the Henry Madden Library to better incorporate itself into student life. One of the primary challenges confronting the project was that the Library Study did not involve a new public, but a rather, a changed one. The “typical student” in American colleges has changed drastically over the decades and has in turn transformed notions of scholarship. This change was accelerated by changes in mass media and the Internet. Consequently, members of the IPA attempted a variety of novel methodological approaches in an effort to generate inspirations that could better inform the design of library services rather than confirmations of previously defined assumptions of how best to serve “today’s student”. Both traditional and innovative methods were incorporated in the investigation. To discern student interaction with the newly constructed library, ethnographic observations, informal interviews, auto-ethnography, guerrilla ethnography and visual anthropology were applied in addition to methods stemming from design anthropology. The study’s findings allowed (discussed in detailed in other papers) for the production of new ideas for improving library services and assimilating them into student life. In conclusion, the Library Study had demonstrated the need for formulating and utilizing anthropological alternatives to deductive methods as a means to overcoming institutional bias.

Snapshots of Student Life: Adopting the Diary-Interview Method – Kim Arnold and Ashlee Dotson (California State University, Fresno)
In conjunction with the 105 million dollar renovation of the Henry Madden Library, the Institute of Public Anthropology (IPA) has engaged in a year long study of student scholarship on the CSU Fresno campus. Through the Library Study, the IPA has adopted methods from Ethnomethodology to the emerging field of Design Anthropology. In particular, an adaptation of Zimmerman and Wieder’s Diary-Interview Method (1977), has been employed to provide a better depiction of the experience of CSU-Fresno students. Students were recruited from general education undergraduate classes and asked to participate in a study in which each individual was given a disposable camera, a jottings book, a map of campus, and a list of twenty things to photograph. The participants were then interviewed. These interviews were held in the participants’ homes which allowed for a more intimate, natural dialogue. Information taken from the interviews were analyzed with Atlasti. This paper explores our adaptation of Zimmerman and Weider’s Diary-Interview Method and discusses how this method has contributed to furthering understanding of student life at CSU Fresno as it pertains to the haecceity of student scholarship both on and off campus.

Reference or Reverence?: Semiotic Reflections on Library Perceptions – James Mullooly and Dalitso Ruwe (California State University, Fresno)  Are academic libraries revered temples of sacred knowledge, where gatekeepers uphold tradition or are they (similar to failing bookstores) impediments to students’ workflow due to poor management or an absence of basic customer service skills?  Provocative questions like this have inspired our investigation of the assumption that CSU-Fresno students and library faculty and staff share similar perceptions of their academic library.  Triangulated findings based on interviews, observations and workshops reveal a shared misunderstanding that often reveals itself as frustration on the part of librarians and reduced productivity on the part of students.  Working from a theoretical framing exercise we developed – where a continuum of symbolic values was built between the poles of high (reverence) and low (reference) value – members of our research team were able to investigate possible generational, ethnic and socioeconomic gaps between academic librarians and their public.  The idea of depicting academic libraries as sacred temples of truth is not difficult in light of their history.  For example, the Annuals of the Bodelian Library at Oxford report that the chief librarian was required to be unmarried when accepting his role up until the statute was altered in 1856 (Macray 1868).  On the other extreme, the idea of judging an academic library based on service economy standards is plausible, particularly for a student body whose majority includes first generation college attending students.  This paper concludes with our suggestions at ameliorating this dilemma via the introduction of “student advocates”.

Hot and Cold Chronologies: Accommodating Student Taskscapes in Library 2.0 – Michael Scroggins (Teachers College, Columbia U) This paper offers an oblique look into the issues surrounding academic libraries and the Library 2.0 initiative by using data gathered during an exploratory workshop to shed light on the contested terrain of value and service. The workshop took place during a two year span when the campus library was closed for (re)construction. Several of the participants had never physically experienced an academic library, thus the workshop focused on the library as past, future and imagined space. The workshop was ostensibly held to discover potential new library services, but analysis revealed more than economic calculations over value and service are at stake within an academic library. Findings indicate that library use over the course of an academic term follows closely the logic of what Ingold terms taskscape (1993). Students organize their time and energies in relation to situated tasks, events, and locations accountable to both physical and social boundaries. Other findings indicate students recognize and value their place in the academic hierarchy when related to the production of scholarship, viewing themselves and their peers not as passive consumers but rather as emerging scholars within an academic polity. The organization of academic work into periods of intense activity and relative lulls problematizes the delivery of services along a corporate model and the contention that users/patrons/customers are the proper unit of measurement in an academic library.

Design Anthropology as User-Centered Advocacy on Campus – Henry Delcore (California State University, Fresno) Design anthropology has emerged as a major mode of public anthropology. The ambitions of design anthropologists range from specific project-driven insights for the design of products and services, to seeking “to understand the role of design artifacts and processes in defining what it means to be human (e.g., human nature)” (Tunstall). These ambitions have taken anthropologists into the public through work for and with the non-profit, for-profit and public sector actors. But perhaps the greatest public ambition of design anthropology is to aid in the design of products and services that better meet the needs and desires of users. Indeed, many design anthropologists see themselves as advocates for users. In this paper, I put our study of Fresno State’s Henry Madden Library into the context of design anthropology as public anthropology practice. I detail our project-specific ambitions, and review some of the design insights we delivered and their expression in re-designed library services and spaces. I also detail how a group of professors, librarians, and student researchers worked together to better understand student life and to advocate for design solutions that better serve student users. I conclude by exploring the potential for campus-based anthropologists to understand various campus user groups, inform the design of campus services, and advocate for users who may otherwise lack a voice in campus life.

Nancy Fried Foster (University of Rochester) (Discussant)

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If you want to know what successfully achieved the goal of “Public Anthropology” last year (and a good indicator of the best this year), read the following and feed off their feeds (i.e., subscribe  to their feeds):

The best Anthropology Media of 2008 (judged by Neuroanthropology & Savage Minds respectively):

The “Best of Anthro 2008″ Prizes
http://neuroanthropology.net/2009/01/01/the-best-of-anthro-2008-prizes

The Relevance of Anthropology – Part 1 on the Best of Anthro Blogging 2008
http://neuroanthropology.net/2009/01/06/the-relevance-of-anthropology-%e2%80%93-part-1-on-the-best-of-anthro-blogging-2008

Savage Minds Rewinds…The Best of 2008
http://savageminds.org/2009/01/01/savage-minds-rewindsthe-best-of-2008

Thanks to the great  Jen Cardew for sharing this with me.

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Anthropology supports the value of the Rubenesque form. So much for New Year’s Resolutions!

(Ivanhoe Newswire) — Although most women would choose a slender shape over an hourglass figure and believe men would do the same, new research suggests larger waists come with hidden health benefits. SOURCE: Current Anthropology, 2008;49:6  read on at: Ivanhoe’s Medical Breakthroughs – Shapely Bodies Handle Stress Better.

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I’m happy to be living in Fresno, CA, USA, one of the major bread baskets of the US and a place that is much warmer than the last few places I’ve lived.  But the challenges faced in terms of educating members of this community are high.  I have been working to educate my students as to the value of inductive approaches to solving problems and to the usefullness of Design Anthropology and other types of participatory design that are highly regarded in industry.  But I was surprised to find that members of Fresno’s leadership is also missing the point regarding the value of these methods.

Note the following exchange from a local listserve:

Date: Mon, 10 Nov 2008 08:30:50 -0800
From: “Henry D. Delcore” <hdelcore@csufresno.edu>
Subject: Re: [MindHub] Your tax dollars at work?
To: Mindhub <mindhub-list@list.mindhub.org>
Message-ID: <003e01c94351$b1f1b6f0$15d524d0$@edu>

I don’t know enough to vouch for the value of the specific exercise that the
city’s managers went through, the quality of its delivery, or whether it’s
costs were reasonable.  But, there is nothing outrageous about using toys
for this kind of activity.  Let me explain.

What Councilman Duncan described sounds a lot like the participatory design
activities that my colleagues and I at the Institute for Public Anthropology
at Fresno State use to probe market opportunities for clients.  The basic
idea behind participatory design is that we are all designers, and that
engaging users in the design process results in better products and
services, and hence profitability.

Why use toys and other playful methods to try to get at what people want or
think about topic?  The idea, well founded in social and cognitive sciences,
is that people can’t readily talk explicitly about many aspects of their
needs, desires and experiences.  The talk they do produce tends to be not so
creative.  The more creative, yet submerged aspects of their beliefs and
ideas can be drawn out with the right methods, especially methods that get
away from merely writing or speaking about some topic.  Therefore, design
firms and in-house product design departments are using Legos and other
tools to get to the creative stuff that we all have inside of us, draw it
out, and incorporate the insights into innovative products and services.

You may have seen the Fresno Scrapers announcements I sent out to this list.
This is the kind of method we use at Scrapers meetings, and for non- and
for-profit clients here in the Valley.  These are the same methods used in
the most innovative sectors of the economy, like the technology industry.

Again, I don’t know enough about the specific activity the city’s people
went through, but using a toy like Legos is well-founded.

Finally, Lego itself has changed much, no longer “just” a toy, but a serious
educational tool and aid for innovation:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lego_Mindstorms
http://mindstorms.lego.com/eng/Ontario_dest/Default.aspx

Sincerely,
Hank Delcore

**********************************
Henry D. Delcore, Ph.D.
Department of Anthropology
California State University, Fresno
5245 N. Backer Ave.
Fresno, CA? 93740
dept office:? (559) 278-3002
direct line:? (559) 278-2784
fax:? (559) 278-7234
hdelcore@csufresno.edu

—–Original Message—–
From: mindhub-list-bounces@list.mindhub.org
[mailto:mindhub-list-bounces@list.mindhub.org] On Behalf Of Jerry Duncan
Sent: Sunday, November 09, 2008 10:26 AM
To: mindhub-list@list.mindhub.org
Subject: [MindHub] Your tax dollars at work?

Apparently on Friday, November 7th, all members of the City’s upper
management were taken off-site to go through a day long exercise of building
a united vision of the future of Fresno using Legos. Yes, the popular toy.

My understanding is THOUSANDS of dollars of Legos were purchased from
locations all over the valley and the intent was to build a Lego version of
Fresno that will actually be displayed in City Hall.

Jerry

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