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A portrait of some of our current and former Japan anthropology zemi students at the 2009 American Anthropological Association meeting in Philadelphia.

From left to right, back to front:

  • Karen Nakamura (2001): Disability in Japan
  • Nathaniel Smith (2010): Right Wing Groups in Japan
  • Sarah Le Baron von Bayer (2014): Brazilians in Japan
  • Allison Alexy (2008): Divorce in Japan
  • Annie Claus (2014): Okinawa in Japan

Missing from this portrait are William Kelly (1980): Baseball in Japan, Ellen Rubinstein (2012): Hikikomori in Japan, and Elizabeth Miles (2010 M.A.): Masculinity in Japan .

Just a note that the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association will be held next week in Philadelphia. I'll be in Philly starting Tuesday as part of the Society for Visual Anthropology conference which starts right before it.

Which reminds me, the SVA is cosponsoring an exhibit called Ethnographic Terminalia:

Ethnographic Terminalia

The Icebox Project Space at Crane Arts will feature an innovative group exhibition entitled Ethnographic Terminalia from December 2-20, 2009. Scheduled to coincide with the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association, this year in Philadelphia, the curators have brought together an international group of artists and ethnographers who are actively engaged in experimental and emergent cultural forms. Visitors are invited to join in a multisensorial happening that challenges the boundaries and borders that demarcate the margins of ethnographic, anthropological, and art practices. In this exhibition, a diverse group of artists and anthropologists present boundary troubling works in eleven separate installations. Each installation project in Ethnographic Terminalia offers a thought provoking and playful (or agitating) alternative to considering what lies both beyond and within imagined and constructed boundaries of the skilled practices of artists and ethnographers.

This exhibition features original works by: Trudi-Lynn Smith; Erica Lehrer and Hannah Smotrich; Kate Hennessy and Oliver Neumann; Marko and Gordana Zivkovic; Chris Fletcher; Roderick Coover; Jayasinhji Jhala; Craig Campbell; Mike Evans and Stephen Foster; Stephanie Spray; and Scott and Jen Webel. While these works are deployed within the rubric of anthropology they answer visual and aesthetic questions in unique and particular fashion, decentering the priviledged categories of both ethnography and art through various mediums.
According to the curatorial team: “This exhibit will be of great interest not only to professional anthropologists but other publics as well. By drawing the studied methodologies of ethnography into a familiar art environment this collective exhibition delivers an all too uncommon challenge to disciplinary and professional boundaries. By engaging with the politics of representation, memory, documentation, and archive Ethnographic Terminalia will impress upon all visitors their own stake in the interpretation of cultural worlds.” The works presented in Ethnographic Terminalia address the possibility of showing and interpreting cultural worlds outside of the traditional cinematic, museological, and textual frameworks of Cultural Anthroplogy while challenging the art world to consider the sensuous complexities and textures of everyday life.

Visit the website for more details about the show:

Exhibition Opening Reception & Shindig

4 December 2009 7:30-10.00pm


Location: Icebox Project Space at Crane Arts, Philadelphia (PA)

1400 N. American Street

December 2-20, 2009

Wednesday to Saturday 12pm-6pm

Entry is free


Craig Campbell, University of Texas at Austin (Austin, Texas)
Anabelle Rodriguez, Temple University (Philadelphia, PA)
Fiona McDonald, University College London (London, England)

Organizational Team:
Kate Hennessy, University of British Columbia (Vancouver, BC)
Stephanie Takaragawa, Chapman University (Orange, CA)

So maybe there are jobs in visual anthro after all?

Assistant Professor New Media Studies

Tenure-track assistant professor in New Media Studies. The Syracuse University English Department is continuing to expand its focus in Film and Visual Culture. Ph. D. must be in hand at time of appointment. Send detailed letter, CV, and names of three references to Professor Erin Mackie, Chair, English Department, 401 Hall of Languages, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY 13244-1170. Applications should be postmarked by 16 November 2009. Syracuse University is an EO/AA employer. An offer will be made contingent upon the availability of funds in the FY 2011 budget.

Hope this helps someone.

Prospective graduate students have been writing me for advice about doctoral and masters programs in visual anthropology. Since my previous entry on this topic is outdated, I've decided to update it to the best of my current knowledge.

M.A. Programs

Ph.D. Granting Institutions with Visual Anthropology Programs/Faculty

* Italics = denotes junior faculty member who may or may not be taking on graduate students.

Note that the wikipedia entry on Visual Anthropology also has a very useful list of visual anthropology programs.

I'll keep updating this list, if you have any suggestions, additions, corrections, feel free to e-mail me or drop a comment below. Last updated: 2009/10/23

A potential grad student wrote to me asking about which faculty at Yale worked on queer anthropological topics. Here are the faculty who are interested in, or supportive of, topics regarding gender and sexuality:

  • Jafari Allen (Cuba; Carribean; USA; Black consciousness)
  • Sean Brotherton (Cuba; HIV; biomedicine)
  • Kate Dudley (USA; poverty; South)
  • Karen Nakamura (Japan; disability; identity)

In addition, Prof. Marcia Inhorn does work on gender, health, and reproductive technologies.

One of the more interesting panels at the Association for Asian Studies meeting Chicago was the Japan Image Use Protocol Guide workshop. This was organized by the North American Coordinating Council on Japanese Library Resources.

Basically, the Image Use Protocol Guide is designed to help academic authors and publishers navigate the somewhat circuitous path to getting image use rights from Japanese copyright holders. The most useful portion for me is the Permission Request Templates that you can use to send to image rights holders (museums, publishers, etc.) asking for permission to reprint photographs in your papers and monographs.

The protocol guide is still in the beta stage and they are asking for comments:

I was reading the latest Anthropology News when I came across a reference to the National Doctoral Program Survey from Arizona State University. I wasn't aware of this. I wanted to put in a link on my blog for people who might be interested in it:

Anthropology programs ranked by best practices:

The NDPS ranks all doctoral programs across all divisions (social sciences, humanities, arts, etc.) and a variety of schools. It's hardly scientific as the sample size of respondents per school is small and self-selected; but it does give a little bit of insight into various programs for people thinking about graduate school -- and an area of possible conversation when chatting with grad schools peers.

Be sure to wander around, you can rank programs on more than just best practices, including areas such as climate and professional development.

Here are two comic-blogs (¿clogs?) that grad students and junior faculty should subscribe to. First, xkcd:

and guest blogger JR also recommends Indexed:

An undergraduate student noted that there weren't many doctoral or masters programs in visual anthropology. The Society for Visual Anthropology has a list that is relatively kept up to date:

  • (link broken)

Update 2009.10: It looks like the SVA didn't archive this page before moving their website to a new system. I used the Wayback Machine to grab the 2008 version of the page and include here (after the jump) as a reference. I'll remove it if the SVA wants me to:

MIT has released a new streaming series on Doing Anthropology at:

My pal CS sent me a link to PhD Comics - a definite must-read for us in the academe.

This cartoon reminds me of my colleague BB:


I'm very pleased to be able to announce that my book Deaf in Japan (Cornell University Press) was awarded the 2008 John Whitney Hall Prize at the Association for Asian Studies 2008 Annual Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia.

Below is a photo of me with my wonderful editor, Roger Haydon, of Cornell University Press at the conference.


I recently wrote a short article for the Anthropology News titled: A Case against Giving Informants Cameras and Coming Back Weeks Later (. Vol. 49, No. 2: 20). Here is a snippet to whet your appetite:

A Case Against Giving Informants Cameras and Coming Back Weeks Later
By Karen Nakamura (Yale U)

Giving informants cameras and asking them to take photographs of their environment is a growing trend in anthropology. The resulting photos are later displayed, analyzed or exhibited as examples of a particularly internal, private or emic view of the world. Students love this technique, which is inexpensive and initially appears to be risk-free, with all of the hallmarks of reflexive anthropology. If not done carefully, however, it can be problematic both ethically and methodologically.


For those who choose to do photoethnographic work that involves providing informants with cameras or video equipment, it is essential to first critically examine the ethical and methodological implications of a project. The anthropologist must consider both the potential harms and benefits that a project might pose for an informant. Possible ways to address these concerns include giving informants high quality photographic equipment (to keep) as well as technical training, so that in the future they can use their new tools and skills for their own purposes, to address their own needs. Informants working for an anthropologists (i.e. completing assigned tasks) should be paid as field assistants. Prior to using an image an anthropologist should receive permission to do so from both the photographer and any people that appear in the photograph. Finally, photography should supplement, not replace, long-term fieldwork–it is time and labor intensive, but ultimately necessary for interpreting and contextualizing visual images from the field.

You can read the rest at the full text PDF.

Comments, criticism, and feedback on this article are more than welcome -- either here or by e-mail.

Hot off the press, Apple just released Mac OS X 10.4.11, otherwise a minor update to the last OS release. I haven't upgraded to PantherCheetahLionLeopard yet (since Yale has a site license and I have to wait until I'm back in the USA) -- but the big thing about 10.4.11 is that it supports the Microsoft Presenter Mouse 8000 -- which I've blogged about before.

Yippee! Keynote here I come!

For more:

Careers: Giving talks

| | Comments (3)

I gave a lot of talks last year.... at Harvard, Columbia, UBC, NYU and Purdue. I think it's mostly due to my book coming out last year.

I usually talk using Apple Keynote. I rarely read my talks from a written paper and speak semi-extemporaneously. I use the Keynote "presenter display" which gives me my speaker's notes for each slide, a preview of the next slide, and a timer. I think Microsoft PowerPoint has a similar feature. You need a PowerBook or Mac Book Pro to make the "presenter display" function because the lower models can only mirror what's on the data projector and can't give you a separate screen.


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