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#35: Loneliness, Positionality, Personhood & Violence: This Month on TFS

This month Julia (0:59) starts us off with the relationship between loneliness and health after listening to an episode of 'All in the Mind', a podcast that explores the connections between the brain and behaviour. She stresses that loneliness is something that everyone is vulnerable to and is becoming more of a problem in our modern world. In the podcast episode, it was suggested that simple acts of kindness and exchange could help overcome this isolating feeling. Jodie questions whether...


#34 Knowledge Making: Emma Kowal talks Indigenous health care, difference & genomics

“Wherever you work, science and technology are everywhere … [and] ethnographic methods are crucial for answering the kinds of questions that STS scholars want to answer.” In the second episode of our STS Series, Emma Kowal, a cultural and medical anthropologist and Professor at Deakin University, author of over 100 publications including Trapped in the Gap: Doing Good in Indigenous Australia and part of Somatosphere’s editorial team, and recipient of the Thomas Reuters “Women in Research”...


#33: Getting ready for the field: Themed panel with Dr Siobhan McDonnell

This month on TFS, we bring you a special themed panel with Dr Siobhan McDonnell about getting ready to go to the field. Siobhan is a legal anthropologist and Research Fellow the Australian National University with interests in Indigenous land rights, climate change and gender studies. This is also Ian's last panel podcast with us as he is moving to Indonesia (Don't worry though-Ian will STILL be involved in the project!) [We had some technical difficulties during the recording of this...


#32: 'Hula Hoops not Bicycles': Genevieve Bell talks Anthropology, Technology & Building the Future

"We were bringing the voices of people that didn't get inside the building, inside the building and making them count. And I took that as an incredible responsibility, that you should give those voices weight and dignity and power." We are excited to announce that this is the FIRST EPISODE OF OUR STS SERIES! The goal of the STS (science and technology studies, or science, technology and society - your pick!) Series is to explore the ways that humans, science and technology interact. While we...


#31: Field ties, clear truth, cringy rap & liminal states: This month on TFS

In this panel, we welcome Shamim to the Familiar Strange podcast. This month Ian (1:15) starts us off by asking how we maintain relationships with people that we met in the field. Whether it’s a family that we stay with, or a key informant who shared their lives with us, or anyone who helped us out while conducting research, often we want to show our appreciation. Ian tells us that he wanted to send a package to the family that he stayed with while he conducted his fieldwork, but found it...


#30 Bringing your heart home: Tiffany Cain talks Tihosuco identity and heritage projects

"Especially when you’re dealing with questions of representation of the past, politics around the past, especially when you’re dealing with not just the past, but a violent past, right, it’s ethically irresponsible to not recognise your own position in that conversation, in that space. And that doesn’t mean that you necessarily take sides, but I do think that it means that you act as a connector for conversations.” Tiffany Cain, a PhD Candidate in Anthropology at the University of...


#29: Multimodal ethnography, monolithic China, online bans & the 'anthro helmet': TFS at AAS

We, at The Familiar Strange, would like to acknowledge and celebrate the First Australians on whose traditional lands we recorded and produced this podcast, and pay our respect to the elders of the Ngunnawal, Ngambri, Yindinji and Yirrganydji peoples past, present and emerging. This month on TFS, we bring you a special panel episode recorded at the Australian Anthropological Society's (AAS) 2018 Conference at James Cook University, Cairns, in December. In this episode, our own Simon Theobald...


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

“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...


End of 2018: A message from TFS

As 2018 draws to a close, this week on TFS we bring you a special ‘End of Year’ message from our own Ian Pollock, Julia Brown, Simon Theobald and Jodie-Lee Trembath. This past year has been an incredible one for us, with 27 podcast episodes and almost 60 blog posts. We have touched on topics ranging from dog-spotting to decolonisation, ethnographic practice to trade agreements. We’ve released interviews with Annie McCarthy, Dipesh Chakrabarty, Elizabeth Watt, Ghassan Hage, Vijayendra Rao,...


#28 Relational Wine: Deborah Heath talks wine anthropology & living with the trouble

“If wine hasn’t been turned into a standardized beverage, there’s room for variation. There’s an appreciation for variation that has something to do with the taste of place. And there’s different vintages, if not manipulated to achieve a standard outcome, will be distinctive. You’re tasting 2009 compared to 2016. And that tells you something about how warm it was that year or things that are more complex than that” Deborah Heath, a leading anthropologist of wine and Associate Professor of...


#27: Elevator pitches, problem labels, public anth & estrangement in practice: TFS at AAA

This month we bring you a special panel episode straight from the AAA (American Anthropological Association) Conference in San José, California. In this episode, our own Julia Brown and Ian Pollock are joined by Dr Esteban Gómez, a professor at University of Denver and co-host of the Sapiens podcast, and Dr Carie Little Hersh, an associate teaching professor at Northeastern University in Boston and host of the Anthropologist on the Street podcast. (This episode was not recorded in our usual...


#26: Mining Banaba: Katerina Teaiwa talks mining phosphate & decolonising modern anthropology

"The body of the people is in that landscape so when its mined and crushed and dug up, you’re not just doing it with rock, you’re also doing it with people, with the remains of people, and we know that happened on Banaba.” Katerina Teaiwa, Associate Professor at the School of Culture, History and Language at ANU, author of ‘Consuming Ocean Island: Stories of People and Phosphate from Banaba’, and current Vice-President of the Australian Association for Pacific Studies, spoke to our own Simon...


#25: Zombie Nouns, meaningful objects, biopolitics in politics, & value trials: this month on TFS

Julia (0:59), starts us off with a discussion about zombie nouns – words that are created by nominalisation – such as sociality, irrelationality, neoliberalisation, etc. Julia asks us the ultimate question: why can’t social scientists communicate with simpler words instead of jargon? Jodie argues that the jargon can be beneficial when used within a discipline, but problematic when communicating with a public audience. Ian reminds us that jargon is a part of our identity at The Familiar...


#24 Learning in disaster: Kim Fortun talks STS, knowledge politics & anthropology's role in a crisis

“We need to be experimental because we’re not up to the task at hand; there’s a real practical and ethical call to responsibility, that drives that experimental commitment.” Kim Fortun, professor of anthropology at the University of California, Irvine, author of ‘Advocacy After Bhopal: Environmentalism, Disaster, New World Orders’ which won the 2003 Sharon Stephens Prize from the American Ethnological Society, current president of 4S (Society for Social Studies of Science), and founder of...


#23 Decolonizing anthropology, with Sana Ashraf and Bruma Rios-Mendoza: this month on TFS

"We think we are supposed to be comfortable. As long as we are trying to do everything to be comfortable, we will never make a change." In this themed panel discussion, our own Jodie and Simon sat down with Sana Ashraf and Bruma Rios-Mendoza, two PhD candidates in anthropology at ANU, to talk about decolonization: what it is, and what it means for anthropology, in the academy, in the field, and inside our own minds. Sana Ashraf's work looks at blasphemy claims and related violence in...


#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 Australian...


#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...


#18 What taste is made of: Brad Weiss talks pig farming and the meaning of food in America

"Livestock are essential to our lives. We live in a world that is saturated with livestock, and not just with the food that we eat, but with the lives that we live and in the other byproducts that come through livestock production." Brad Weiss, head of the anthropology department at the College of William and Mary and author of the book "Real Pigs: shifting values in the field of local pork," talks to our own Simon Theobald about the intersections of American farming with big industry,...