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#22 Just the way things are: Steve Woolgar talks mundane governance, & the rules that run our lives

"Although this stuff is very ordinary, very day-to-day, very unremarkable... it's actually quite dangerous, too." Steve Woolgar, emeritus professor at the Saïd School of Business at Oxford University and giant in the field of science and technology studies (STS), spoke to our own Jodie-Lee Trembath about the little niggling rules that we run up against everyday. Together they unpack what it means to be an "everyday person," how we all operate in a thicket of regulations, the storytelling...


#21 Misogyny, irrational politics, the ontological turn, & multi-media learning: this month on TFS

Jodie (1:04), drawing on the book Down Girl by Australian philosopher Kate Manne, starts us off by asking what misogyny is, and how we should tackle it as a culture. “If our goal is behaviour change, for bigots to stop being bigots, racists to stop being racists, misogynists to stop being misogynists… is the approach to say 'there is no place for you'… do we castigate them, or do we try and find [other] ways, even though that seems unfair?” Next Simon (5:45) looks at a mad week in...


#20 Wearing the black armband: Mick Dodson talks ongoing colonisation in Australia

“We don’t look back enough to go forward, I don’t think. We need to look in the rear view mirror everyday.” Professor Mick Dodson AM, a Yawuru Aboriginal man, Australian barrister, academic and recently retired Director of the National Centre for Indigenous Studies at ANU, talks to our own Julia Brown about some of the ongoing struggles for Indigenous Australians. They discuss education and language, calling out everyday racism and unacceptable behaviours toward women, the role of...


#19 Anthro & policy-making, digital disruption, online research, & what is love? This month on TFS

Simon starts us off (1:08) asking, how can we make anthropology matter for policy and government? "There’s no reason why [anthropology] can’t be scaled up. There’s no reason why there shouldn’t be a chief anthropologist to the government.” As Jodie argues, "unless, as a discipline, we are willing to step outside our disciplinary mores and our disciplinary boundaries and make ourselves indispensable to people who have power in government, then no, we are not going to be useful." And Simon...


#13 TFS presents Anthropod: "Podcasts and Pedagogy: audio in the anthropology classroom"

"Storytelling: that's part of the power of podcasts, and just the power of ethnography in general, to really have people tell their own stories. And I think it's those stories that really capture students' interest and attention, and make them start to think about why anthropology really matters." This month, we're bringing you an episode from our friends at Anthropod, the podcast for the Society for Cultural Anthropology. In this episode, Angela Jenks, medical anthropologist and Assistant...


#12 Cultural imaginaries, deepfake videos, hatred in anth, & social dissociation: this month on TFS

This month, Ian (1:12) asks how we should engage when people describe their culture one way, but our observations of their behavior don’t match those descriptions. What is a “culture,” Ian asks, if its members don’t adhere to it? As Julia argues, “what people say is just as important in their cultural imaginary of who they are as what they do.” Ian mentions his blog post about kasti: find it at Next, special...


#11 Alternative worlds: Ghassan Hage talks multiculturalism, teaching the enemy & thinking in public

“Any concept -- capitalism, neoliberalism, etc. -- leaves an excess that it is the aim of anthropology to unearth. These are spaces that are not dominated by whatever’s dominating at a specific time. So there are existing alternatives, there are not just Subscribe on imaginary alternatives.... Anthropology in this sense does provide the possibility of thinking of alternatives. There are ways of living that you can build on, that are not aligned with the dominant ways of being.” Ghassan...


#10 Smoking v. vaping, anthrosmelling, de/colonization, & America's gun "tribes:" this month on TFS

This month, Julia (1:12) questions Australia's black-and-white moral stance against vaping as a way to help people stop smoking, arguing that Australia's uncompromising stance borders on “the definition of psychotic thinking, where you become fixated on ideas to the point that you’re not open to exploring a middle ground or someone else’s viewpoints. And I would contend that the situation we’ve got in Australia, in regards to harm minimization around smoking, and the reluctance to endorse...


#8 Savage Bitcoin, hamster flushing, scholars at work, and New Mandala: this month on TFS

This month, Ian (1:25) digs into Bitcoin, arguing that the cryptocurrency is no different than regular currencies, and can be analyzed along all the same lines: symbolically, materially, institutionally, relationally. “The same material problems of decay that would affect some other kind of material currency like a Subscribe on Androidcoin or a bill still applies to Bitcoin.” Ian mentions podcast episodes from NPR's Planet Money (“#816 Bitcoin Losers”) and and Gimlet's Reply All (#115 The...


#7 The knowledge we value: Dipesh Chakrabarty talks the contentious politics of knowledge production

“Doing history ideally is like doing anthropology of people who are gone, except that you don’t have native informants, you only have these written fragmentary sources. But the same hermeneutic struggle goes on: you’re trying to understand somebody from their point of view.” Dipesh Chakrabarty, the Lawrence A. Kimpton Distinguished Service Professor of history & South Asian languages & civilizations at the University of Chicago and Distinguished Dean's Professor at the ANU's School of...


#6 Golden Globes allyship, thinking sick, health gaps, and working slow: this month on TFS

This month, Jodie (00:53) points to what the men didn’t say at the Golden Globes, and the problems of performing allyship. “So if we’re looking at the men at the Golden Globes who appeared to not behave like allies… are you saying we can’t rely on appearances because we can’t see inside to really understand their intentions, or that we should?” Ian (6:05) asks about using sickness as an ethnographic method, and just how far recreating someone’s physical experience can help you understand...


#5 Stunted thinking: Annie McCarthy talks slum children, NGOs, and stunting in Delhi

“...the child operates as a powerful figure in our society, where children can mobilize anything, from anxieties about same sex marriage to fears about children in detention, and all these things that we see in our own society today.” Dr. Annie McCarthy, who teaches anthropology at the Australian National University, tells our own Jodie-Lee Trembath about the moral pitfalls of aid and development in the slums of Delhi, India, how the poor and the young take power back from NGOs that may...


#4 Killer Docs, Imagined Landscapes, Political Lies, and Emotional Risk: this month on TFS

In this month’s panel discussion, Jodie (1:14) tells us about documents with agency: “Ideas just get up and grow legs, and they run away with themselves.” (Trigger warning: this segment mentions the recent Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. If you want to avoid that part, skip to 3:45.) Next, Ian (6:00) considers what it’s like to live in an imaginary landscape: “the kind of imaginary landscape that I’m talking about [is] where the one that’s around you,...


#3 The flies that bind: Assa Doron talks mobile phones, policy impact, and waste in India

“The flies that go from feces into the water, into the food, don’t look at your bank account…” When a problem cuts across social divisions, “we call this the ‘binding crisis.’ What are the ‘binding crises’ that would generate enough political will and drive amongst a population that’s polarized around caste, class, gender?” Dr. Assa Doron, associate professor of anthropology at ANU (, spoke to our own Ian Pollock about India’s waste, both...


#2 Medical tribes: Tanisha Jowsey talks anthropology in the ER and teaching med students to be human

"Part of my role in teaching medical students is to peel back the inculturation that they're in, to be able to relate with patients. Remember before you were a med student, what it actually meant to be the person sitting with your dying grandmother...That's something that, as an anthropologist, that's part of my role is to be able to see where those boundaries are, what it means to be a doctor, and what it means to not be a doctor." Dr. Tanisha Jowsey, a medical anthropologist at the...


#1 Campus free speech, mundane governance, truth in politics, & creeps v. @-holes: this month on TFS

Julia, Simon, Jodie, and Ian preview what's coming up on in the coming month. On today's show, Jodie (1:40) follows up on 2015 fracas at Yale about free speech and Halloween, in response to a discussion on Sam Harris' podcast "Waking Up" (; Simon (7:10) takes us to Iran for a look at gender-segregated public transportation, and the ways rules unwind in authoritarian countries, original research he'll present...


Introducing The Familiar Strange

Welcome to The Familiar Strange! In this brief introduction, the four hosts of the show introduce themselves, the podcast, and The Familiar Strange blog ( This is a podcast about doing anthropology. In intimate conversations and open panel discussions, the hosts (four PhD students) and our guests (senior academics and experts) explore the world by taking part and being with, struggling toward knowledge through experience. Brought to you with support from...