AAA Annual Meeting 2021

November 18, 2021

Baltimore, United States

Don't Forget to Like and Subscribe: Anthropology Content Creation as Public Outreach


science communication


digital humanities

In a saturated media landscape, how do outreach-minded anthropologists find a foothold in the minds of the public? This roundtable seeks to bring together creators working across the breadth of the discipline to discuss strategies, successes, and pitfalls of public outreach through digital means, such as podcasting, video production, social media, and more. Anthropologists often contend with a disconnect between the research they conduct and the way that their work is understood by the public. The trend of distrust in the sciences and openness to pseudoscientific theories can be counteracted by humanizing the past and the scientists who study it. Podcasts, YouTube videos, and other freely accessible media are uniquely suited to engage public audiences with storytelling as a form of democratized production. The intimacy that these formats create between host and listener/viewer allows anthropologists to bring their audiences with them “into” the field or their subject. The structure of the discussion will include, but is not limited to: A review of individual projects’ approaches to their subject matter; adapting material for varied audiences; the value of podcast hosts as parasocial “companions” aiding in learning and unlearning; the four-field and interdisciplinary nature of content creation, role of this content in combating academic gatekeeping. We especially wish to address the value of (and strategies for creating) accessible, engaging, non-academic or academic-adjacent media in counteracting the perceptions of the human story that fuel pseudoscience and other racist or harmful ideologies. Podcasting and other media creation move beyond academic publications, and even beyond articles written for popular consumption to provide flexibility in the kinds of narrative that can be told. By assembling a diverse group of voices with multiple approaches to creating anthropology-based content as public outreach, we hope to demonstrate that there is no single way to “do” public-facing anthropology. We also hope to share and develop ideas for the continuation and improvement of content creation for the public.


Transcript English (automatic)

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