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Anthropologist On The Street

How many ways are there to be human? Each week Anthropologist on the Street Dr. Carie Little Hersh invites different cultural experts to illuminate the hidden ideas, practices, and power dynamics that make our lives both familiar and strange.

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E18 Language, Time, and the Anthropology of Arrival with Dr. David Sutton

Cultural anthropologist Dr. David Sutton explains why fictional films and television sitcoms can be important in revealing hidden cultural rules, and discusses what the movie Arrival gets right, and wrong, about language, time, and anthropology.

1hr 20mins

31 May 2018

Rank #1

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E16 Free Food in the Corporate World with Jesse Dart

At the intersection of business anthropology and the anthropology of food, Jesse Dart researches how and why tech companies offer their employees free food. Looking at the same company’s practices in several different countries, he draws out how patterns of eating reflect regional cultural beliefs about labor, land, and tradition, and how corporate practices both reflect and transform these ideas as well.

1hr 8mins

23 Nov 2017

Rank #2

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E4 A New Kind of Family with “The Guys Next Door” with Amy Geller and Allie Humenuk

Filmmakers Amy Geller and Allie Humenuk talk about kinship, gender roles, and parenting in their award-winning documentary. “The Guys Next Door” features Erik and Sandro, whose friend Rachel offers to be a surrogate for their two children. I sit down in a coffee shop with Amy and Allie to discuss how their film both represents and impacts nontraditional families, and how family structures may change, but family life is often surprisingly unsurprising.


26 Jul 2017

Rank #3

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E5 God, Politics, & Anthropology with Miranda Hassett

Rev. Dr. Miranda Hassett is an Episcopal priest and anthropologist who explores how political polarization drove a global wedge in the Anglican church, driving some conservative white American Episcopalians to break from the broader American church and to instead look overseas, making alliances with conservative African congregations. Rev. Dr. Hassett talks culture, politics, religion, and how she uses anthropology to help her congregants find more meaning in their lives.


2 Aug 2017

Rank #4

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E3 Digging for Truth on a Cherokee Plantation with Dr. Lance Greene

Archaeologist Dr. Lance Greene digs up life on a nineteenth century plantation in North Carolina, where Cherokees, European-Americans, and enslaved Africans lived and worked together. Dr. Greene pieces together archaeological data, historical documents, and fictional writings to provide insight into both how Cherokee were changing to attempt to fit in to European-American culture and the ways they were resisting it. Along the way we talk about indigeneity, culture, DNA, and why race is far more complicated than we think it is.

1hr 6mins

19 Jul 2017

Rank #5

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E19 The Culture of Teeth with Dr. Julia Boughner

Why do modern humans in industrialized nations face dental problems that don’t affect primates, modern hunter-gatherers, and previous generations of humans? Biological Anthropologist Dr. Julia Boughner explains how cultural practices affect the development of our teeth and jaws.

1hr 8mins

15 Jun 2018

Rank #6

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E12 Friendship Beyond Dementia - The Anthropology of Aging with Dr. Janelle Taylor

Aging is a cultural phenomenon, made easier or harder depending on our expectations of friendships and families and our beliefs about what makes us a person. Medical Anthropologist Dr. Janelle Taylor talks about her research into successful friendships with folks with dementia, how friendships can adapt in the face of dementia, and why those relationships are crucial to patients and their family caregivers.


4 Oct 2017

Rank #7

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E9 The River is a Goddess - Environmental Anthropology with Dr. Georgina Drew

The Ganga River in India is a goddess – but does that mean she provides for her followers, or her followers need to protect her? Environmental Anthropologist Dr. Georgina Drew explains how a river is many things to its surrounding inhabitants, and how taking an ethnographic approach means viewing the partnership between the environment and culture, as well as how each impacts the other.

1hr 11mins

13 Sep 2017

Rank #8

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E14 Political Divisiveness & the Encouragement of Violence with Dr. Jennie Burnet

When leaders of multicultural societies emphasize ethnic division over national unity, assigning blame to the “other” and focusing on our differences rather than our similarities, the stage is set for political violence… or worse. Dr. Jennie Burnet’s research into the causes and consequences of the 1994 Rwandan genocide reveals why we should be concerned about the current political moment in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world, but it also suggests ways people can come together and take action to unify. Through diverse political representation, adept leadership, and public reinforcement of unity over division, other nations can avoid the catastrophic legacy that Rwandans are still recovering from today.

1hr 19mins

1 Nov 2017

Rank #9

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E10 Racism, Educational Anthropology, & Everyday Terror with Dr. Jeanine Staples

Dr. Jeanine Staples, Associate Professor at Penn State, researches the intersection of race, gender, education, and literature, revealing how young black girls internalize social messages about their lack of worth, how those messages threaten the girls’ health and well-being, and how schools both perpetuate the messages and offer a unique opportunity to stop them.


20 Sep 2017

Rank #10