The Cambridge Anthropology Podcast
Camthropod is produced by a collective of staff and students from the Cambridge Division of Social Anthropology. We aim to broadcast it fortnightly during term time. Camthropod will include interviews with visiting speakers and with members of the department about their work, as well as audio pieces presenting aspects of our research or just things that interest us about daily life. We welcome all kinds of contributions, and invite you to get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @camthropod.
or listen to episodes below:
Episode 14. Thinking about Vision. An investigation with visually-impaired theatre-goers and audio describers, by Harsha Balasubramanian
This podcast asks what vision actually means to those who describe theatre for blind and partially-sighted audiences. Harsha Balasubramanian shares some of the findings from her undergraduate dissertation, and argues that these audio describers' understandings of vision are revealed through their practices. These shape the experiences of sight-impaired theatre-goers.
With editing by Christina Woolner and voice acting from Rebecca Vaa, Francesca Firth, and Sian Lazar.
I am hugely indebted to everyone who has helped with this podcast: all its participants and my friends and former teachers from university.
Episode 13. Welcome to Dataworld, by Alex Taylor
The processing and storage of data underpins the digital economy. With 2.5 exabytes of data being produced every day, storing and securing this highly valuable asset is an increasingly challenging task. But where exactly is all this data stored and how is it secured? In this episode, Alex Taylor visits The Bunker, a subterranean data centre in south-east England and talks with Al Webb, the Head of Physical Security, about the increasingly extreme measures being taken to store and secure data within ‘the cloud’.
When credit is an essential means of getting by, how can debt advice organisations help those who are struggling to repay? This episode of the podcast considers some of the conundrums that debt advisers face in Britain today, as a result of credit having become a vital means of subsistence for millions of people. It is an attempt to explore the normative implications of anthropological research for this particular field of social practice, and considers the viability of advocating debt refusal and debt cancellation. The episode comprises a conversation between Carl Packman, Research and Good Practice Manager at the anti-poverty charity Toynbee Hall, and Ryan Davey, a researcher in the Anthropology Department at the London School of Economics.
The presenters would love to hear from any debt advisers who listen to the podcast, to find out your views about what’s being discussed. Please contact Ryan at email@example.com or Carl at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Further information about the research can be found here: http://www.lse.ac.uk/anthropology/research/An-Ethnography-of-Advice
Birdsong is a ubiquitous feature of the British countryside. But what is the cultural significance of this much-loved part of our landscape? Jonathan Woolley reflects upon the meanings made by birds - as omens, as signs, as proxies, and as music - from the Norfolk Broads, to Bosavi in Papua New Guinea.
This podcast uses audio from freesound.org:
Lapwing.wav by Juskiddink
120319_001_L4 Rooks and some magpies.mp3 by Nemark
Blackcap01_13-03-2016.wav by Tim_Lomas
20080321.warbler.wav by dobroide
The full version of Hanna Tuulikki’s ‘At Sing, Two Birds’ is available
Earlier this year Professor Richard Werbner gave a senior research seminar in the Department entitled 'The Poetics of Wisdom Divination: Renewing the Moral Imagination'. PhD student Joe Philp caught up with Professor Werbner afterwards to ask him more about his recent book, Divination's Grasp: African Encounters with the Almost Said (Indiana University Press: 2015). In the interview, Professor Werbner explains what divination can reveal about moral peril and the moral imagination in contemporary Botswana
Richard Werbner is Professor Emeritus of Social Anthropology at the University of Manchester. He has published widely on religion, ritual, politics and social history in Southern Africa, especially Botswana and Zimbabwe.
Camthropod welcomes you to the new academic year with an episode dedicated to the Mongolia and Inner Asia Studies Unit, which is currently celebrating its 30th anniversary. Sian Lazar spoke with several members of the unit to find out just what makes it so distinctive. For more information see the MIASU website.
On April 8th 2015, in North West London, without any warning or permission a buzzing local pub was torn down by developers hoping to erect luxury flats in its place. The resulting scandal made national headlines, feeding into an intense debate around gentrification and property speculation in London. But what exactly was lost? This episode looks at the demolition of the Carlton Tavern through the eyes of those who used to frequent it, uncovering the value of spaces like pubs in bringing communities together in rich and often unexpected ways.
Tanya Luhrmann gave the 2016 W.H.R. Rivers Memorial Lecture in Cambridge, and during her visit she discussed with Rupert Stasch the larger research project she is currently engaged in, about contrasts in the psychological experience of “hearing voices” in the United States, Ghana, and India. Both in a study of how certain Christians experience hearing the voice of God, and in a study of the auditory experiences of diagnosed schizophrenics, Luhrmann and her collaborators have discovered correlations between the kinds of voices people hear in each of these countries and main wider understandings in those countries of the nature of “mind.”
In this episode, Sian Lazar discusses two sounds of different kinds of street mobilisation in Argentina: the bombos, or drums, which are associated with organised social forces, and the cacerolazo, or pots and pans demo, associated with the ‘middle classes’. She relates these different political soundscapes to the politics of the ‘Pink Tide’ and the recent turn back to the right in the country.
Opened in 2014, Hiddo Dhawr is Somaliland’s first and only live music venue to operate since the 1988 civil war, which decimated the capital Hargeysa, and displaced the artistic community. In this episode, social anthropology PhD candidate Christina Woolner visits Hiddo Dhawr – which specializes in the performance of acoustic music popular before the war – to explore what it means to sing, and particularly about love, in contemporary Hargeysa. Conversations with the venue’s founder Sahra Halgan, reflections from some young patrons, and an evening taking in the music reveal the many meanings of love songs, and offer insight into the social and political climate of life in a post-war, unrecognized state.
Acknowledgements: Many people were involved in the making of this podcast. Special thanks are due to Sahra Halgan for her continued and generous hospitality, and for permission to use her music (particularly two songs, ‘Hobaa Layoow Heedhe’ and ‘Qaraami’ from the Sahra Halgan Trio’s album Faransiskiyo Somaliland), to Cabdinaasir Macalin Caydiid, whose cuud playing provides the accompaniment to much of this podcast, and to Kenedid Hassan for his constant support and encouragement. Thanks also go to Cabdixakiim Cabdillahi Cumar (‘Camaje’) for help with interviews and translation, Habbane Cali Habbane, Hanan Omar, Muna Maxamed Qaalib, Xamda Cabdiwahab Siciid, Ibrahim Sheekh Axmed Cabdi, Khadar Nuux Yoonis and Sahra Maxamed Cali for speaking to me about their experiences at Hiddo Dhawr, and to the many musicians who allowed me to record and use their performances.
Anna Tsing visited our department to give the Marilyn Strathern lecture for CUSAS in 2015. Corinna Howland took the opportunity to sit down with her to discuss her classic book Friction: An Ethnography of Global Connection, and to find out a bit more about her thinking on issues of globalization, scale, environmental politics, and capitalism.
Episode 3: Treating English Handicaps: Spoken English Training Centres in Bangalore, India, by Sazana Jayadeva
Since the liberalisation of the Indian economy in the early 1990s, an entire industry of commercial English language training centres has emerged, offering spoken English classes for adults. In this episode, Sazana Jayadeva speaks with Prakruthi Banwasi, the founder of one of the first English training centres in Bangalore, about why it has become so important to know English in this city today.
Patrick O’Hare is a PhD student in social anthropology researching waste-pickers, the landfill economy and the recycling industry in Montevideo, Uruguay. In this podcast he visits Save the Date in London, a Dalston café which forms part of the ‘Real Junk Food Network’ dedicated to diverting food from landfill and transforming it into wholesome, affordable meals. With its founders James and Ruth, Patrick explores why so much edible waste makes it into the trash and how food activists like them are challenging wasteful practices and people’s perceptions about what is good to eat.
Save the Date Café
Gogo Breeze, a popular radio personality in Zambia's Eastern Province, styles himself as his listeners' grandfather and attends to them through a variety of radio programmes. In this podcast, Cambridge anthropologist Harri Englund introduces the key means by which Gogo Breeze pursues kinship over the airwaves. Examples of broadcasts bring to life the radio grandfather's multivocal approach to his vocation.
For more information, see the articles:
Harri Englund, Forget the Poor Radio Kinship and Exploited Labor in Zambia,
Current Anthropology, Vol. 56, No. S11,( October 2015), pp. S137-S145
Harri Englund, Multivocal morality: Narrative, sentiment, and Zambia’s radio grandfathers, HAU, 5 (2), pp. 251-273