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   23 episodes



This Anthro Life

Adam Gamwell

23 episodes

Jan 19, 2021

How to Manage Social Conflict, Communicate Effectively and Find Common Ground with Jeremy Pollack 

In January 2021 armed rioters stormed the US Capitol in a harrowing and politically fomented insurrection. It was an apex of years of divisive and condemnable rhetoric and fear-mongering used to stoke insecurities and desperate action. How do we ensure this never happens again? Or how do we dismantle the social structures that feed hate, fear, and contempt? What this event, and on the flip side, our celebration of Martin Luther King jr. Day (when we recorded this episode 1/18/21), reveal is that understanding what leads to social conflict and how to manage and resolve conflict is more essential than ever. Today Adam Gamwell and Astrid Countee talk with conflict management expert and author Jeremy Pollack about healing a divided nation by learning to talk with our neighbors more. We dig into:

  • Why humans need help managing conflict
  • Cognitive and perceptual biases that prevent us from communicating clearly with one another
  • How to communicate clearly around fears and intentions to find common ground
  • How to understand and disarm Worldview defense
  • That we need to start talking to our neighbors more! 
  • The importance of local leadership in modeling intergroup communication and shared goals

Jeremy Pollack is the Founder of nationwide conflict resolution consulting firm Pollack Peacebuilding Systems and author of the new book Conflict Resolution Playbook: Practical Communication Skills for Preventing, Managing, and Resolving Conflict. Jeremy is a fellow at Stanford University’s Center for International Conflict and Negotiation, and an expert on human conflict with an academic background in social psychology, evolutionary anthropology, negotiation, conflict resolution and peacebuilding.

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Dec 31, 2020

The Hidden World of Sh*t (a farewell to 2020) 

Language warning. We use the word sh*t a lot in this episode, since it is, in fact all about poop. 

To wrap up this crappy, some may even say shitty year, host Adam Gamwell and intern Elizabeth Smyth discuss the origin of the word shit, how the way we defecate is culturally constructed, what our poop reveals about us, and so much more in this New Year’s Eve mini-episode of This Anthro Life. Farewell 2020, it’s been real.

In this episode we dig into:

  • What poop tells us about culture and our biology
  • Whether to sit or squat?
  • Poop’s superpower for healing gut microbiota and potential energy source
  • How poop in space might tell us if we are, in fact, extraterrestrials ourselves

Also check our new blog Voice and Value where we dive deeper into all things human: Voice and Value – Medium

Articles referenced:

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Twitter: This Anthro Life Podcast (@thisanthrolife) / Twitter

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Website: This Anthro Life

Music: Epidemic Sounds

No Regrets - Guy Trevino

Basmati - Farrell Wooten

Episode Art: Liz Smyth

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Nov 26, 2020

More than a Game: Sports, Race, and Masculinity in Diaspora w/ Vyjayanthi Vadrevu and Stanley Thangaraj 

In this episode we meet Dr. Stan Thangaraj, an anthropology professor at the City College of New York whose research includes immigration in the U.S, being interviewed by Vyjayanthi Vadrevu, a business anthropologist and ethnographer. Together, the two discuss basketball, community, identity, race relations and so much more. Stay tuned with us as you learn about why race relations are so important and the answers to the following questions:

  • What does sports and their global popularity reveal about race relations in the US?
  • What can we learn from the merging transnational identities?
  • How has the “Black Lives Matter” Movement impacted the nonwhite and nonblack communities?
  • What are the politics within the diasporic communities?
  • Why is it so important to continue research and teaching about these communities?

Sponsors for this episode:

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Neuromarketing Bootcamp by Neuroscientist Matt Johnson and Marketing Director Prince Ghuman

Use offer code ANTHROLIFE for $500 off: Affiliate link:

And check out Matt and Prince’s episode on neuromarketing on This Anthro Life

Check out our new Medium Blog "Voice and Value":
collaborative provocations and stories that get us closer to human and deepen our perspective on society, culture, and our future. 

Stanley Thangaraj is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the City College of New York (CUNY).  His interests are at the intersections of race, gender, sexuality, and citizenship.  He studies immigrant and refugee communities in the U.S. South to understand how they manage the black-white racial logic through gender, how the afterlife of colonialism takes shape in the diaspora, and the kinds of horizontal processes of race-making.His monograph Desi Hoop Dreams: Pickup Basketball and the Making of Asian American Masculinity (NYU Press, 2015) looks at the relationship between race and gender in co-ethnic-only South Asian American sporting cultures.

Vyjayanthi Vadrevu is an ethnographer/ design researcher and strategist with a background in anthropology, business development, and nonprofit administration. She works on social impact design projects as well as corporate technology projects, delivering insights to help clients better serve their end users and beneficiaries. Vyjayanthi is also a trained bharatantyam dancer, with additional experience in Odissi, Kuchipudi, Kathak, and West African dance, and uses movement and choreography to connect to the deepest parts of the human experience.

Music: Epidemic Sound
Show notes: Xin Yao Lin, Elizabeth Smyth
Episode art by: Sara Schmieder 

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Nov 11, 2020

Life in the Age of Social Media and Smartphones with Daniel Miller and Georgiana Murariu 

Do you have a sense of how much time you spend each day on social media and smartphone? Whether you can live with them or you can't live with them, we know for most of us, these are ingrained parts of our everyday lives. In this episode, we will uncover the life in the age of social media and smartphones, featuring Dr. Daniel Miller and Georgiana Murariu from the University College of London. Stay tuned as you learn about the ‘Why We Post’ project, ‘Anthropology of Smartphones and Smart Ageing, and the ‘AnthroCOVID’ project. We dig into:

  • How do people use social media differently around the world?
  • What are some strategies for making research accessible?
  • What is the impact of smartphones on health?
  • What are some creative ways that people have documented lives during the pandemic?
  • How do you get so many anthropologists to work together globally?
  • What is some advice for researchers who want to do collaborative and comparative work?

Daniel Miller is a Professor of Anthropology at University College London and directed the ‘Why We Post’ project, which investigated the uses and consequences of social media in nine different countries around the world. The project resulted in twelve open access books, one about each fieldsite and two comparative ones. He is currently leading a project called ASSA (The Anthropology of Smartphones and Smart Ageing) which aims to analyze the impact of the smartphone on people’s lives based on 11 simultaneous 16-month ethnographies around the world. He is also the founder of the digital anthropology program at University College London (UCL).

Follow Daniel on @DannyAnth

Georgiana Murariu is a public dissemination officer at UCL, working with Daniel Miller and the team of researchers on the ‘Anthropology of Smartphones and Smart Ageing’. She is currently developing and implementing a dissemination strategy for the project which includes helping create a MOOC based on the project’s findings as well as using social media and digital tools to encourage the public to engage with the project’s findings and anthropology as a discipline.

Follow Georgiana on Twitter: @georgiana_mu

Twitter: @UCLWhyWePost

EPISODE SPONSOR: Check out the world's first Neuromarketing Bootcamp and sign up today with our Affiliate link!
| Use offer code ANTHROLIFE for $500 off: Affiliate link:

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Oct 23, 2020

Getting Down to Business and Making a Career with Anthropology: Guest Podcast w Adam Gamwell on Anthro Perspectives 

This Anthro Life is based on lifting up the voices and value of anthropologists and human scientists in all fields through sharing their stories, thought leadership, struggles, and winding paths. Today we've got something special, where we turn the mic around on our host, Adam Gamwell and hear some of his story on how he is building a career as an anthropologist. TAL's Adam Gamwell recently guested on fellow business anthropologist Keith Kellersohn's new YouTube series Anthro Perspectives, where he interviews anthropologists in industry and businesses about their work. This episode has a bit of everything:

  • whether you're an anthropology student in school looking to get your first job, 
  • an academic looking to move into industry, 
  • if you're already working somewhere out there and looking to change careers, 
  • or perhaps if you don't work anthropologists and you want to find out and understand value anthropology can bring to your business. 

We cover all of this and more in our conversation. 

One of the most helpful things in these scenarios I find is hearing other people's stories about how they did it or are doing it, or even how they just stumbled around in the dark and making it up as they went along and still came out with some kind of experience. I think perhaps the latter is closer to my own story. 

So I invite you to join me for a chat about career paths, learning to articulate the value anthropology. Social sciences provide to businesses and a bit about why I do what I do. Thanks to Keith for sharing this episode.

Check out the world's first Neuromarketing Bootcamp and sign up today with our Affiliate link!

Neuromarketing Bootcamp by Neuroscientist Matt Johnson and Marketing Director Prince Ghuman 

| Use offer code ANTHROLIFE for $500 off: Affiliate link:

Episode Art: Sara Schmieder
Music: Epidemic Sounds

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Sep 30, 2020

Death Work: The Life and Culture of Forensics with Lilly White 

When most people think of forensics or forensic anthropology the first thing that comes to mind are TV shows like CSI or Bones, or maybe in Six Feet Under.

This may sound overly obvious, but people die every day. And this means that every day someone has to deliver dealth notifications to next of kin, especially when people live apart. Often times coroners are the ones who deliver these notifications. Coroners are elected or appointed public officials whose primary duty is to determine and certify cause of death.

and while they have the scientific knowledge to do so, sometimes with the help of apps and digital tools, the social part of dealing with death, both for next of kin and the coroners themselves, is often ignored.

We all experience death at some point but across 2020 more people have been directly impacted by death than ever before due to COVID-19. Meaning that more people than ever are receiving death notifications, which was a difficult conversation even before the pandemic. These notifications are challenging to give, Imagine knocking on a door or picking up the phone delivering the news that someone has passed away. It’s essential work. And it’s not easy. It’s also deeply social and cultural.

This is why I’m talking to Lilly White a forensic anthropologist who focuses on the cultural side of forensics, especially on the lives of coroners and medical examiners and the best ways to handle death notifications. Lily got her PhD from the University of Montana in 2019 and currently owns and operates Bones and Stone Anthroscience with her husband.

So today we’ll be talking about how cultural anthropology can play a role in forensic anthropology especially with death notifications.

Top Takeaways

  1. We dig into the unseen/secret life of coroners (from a cultural perspective)
  2. Death notice work is essential but emotionally difficult so there’s a struggle keeping coroners in the practice
  3. The challenges of scientific training and having to deliver the worst possible news; the mix of scientific and social knowledge
  4. We’ll open the conversation like I often like to do, with Lily’s story and how she found her way into forensics and forensic anthropology, what life is like training to be a coroner, and her path to running her own forensics business today.

Read about Lilly’s work in NYC with COVID-19 deaths (University of Montana)

Lilly’s Instagram: Bone & Stone Anthrosciences (@deathphd) • Instagram photos and videos

What is a Coroner?

Episode art: Sara Schmieder

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Aug 18, 2020

How to Study Meaning at Scale: AI and Big Data Ethnography, Microcultures and the Future of Innovation w/ Ujwal Arkalgud 

Artificial Intelligence. Natural Language Processing. Machine Learning. Big Data. If you've studied Anthropology at all, you'll likely notice these terms don't often get use, unless you happen to be studying one of these areas, like doing an ethnography on artificial intelligence. Yet if these tools are used everyday across millions of applications and software lines of code to make our world run, how might they help us understand ourselves better? Big data often gets used to understand patterns people's behavior and thinking at a high level, and it is common to see people split into segments from this data.

So in the world of market and consumer research you may know that people are commonly categorized into segments or generations - you've likely seen people written about as Millennial or Baby Boomers (OK, Boomer). But what limitations to understanding people are present when putting them into segments and generations and only seeing them from a high level? That's often where ethnography comes in, and where anthropologists like to live with and get to know people on their terms. But there's a huge stretch between massive Big Data sets and individual ethnography, right?

What if there were a way to do ethnography with big data? That is, what if there were a way to be able to understand the nuances of cultural meaning people assign to things from big data sets? What this entails is, in essence quantifying ethnography. And turns out, the key has to do with focusing on meaning. That and some computer science wizardry.

I'm excited today to have on the show one of the pioneers in this field, Ujwal Arkalgud, CEO, cultural anthropologist, and co-founder of Motivbase, a global tech research firm that has cracked the cultural code and developed software and research tools that bring together the analytical power of anthropology and the wide reach of big data.

We’ll dig into

  • the concept of micro cultures, which are are a set of meanings that make up a market space,
  • the need to study of meaning and behavior in business, why don’t companies think about meaning as a primary mover?
  • why traditional market research doesn’t effectively get at meaning,
  • how the internet has changed the way we make culture and meaning and that betting on cultural homogenization is a trap

Checkout Movitbase here

Microcultures: Understanding the consumer forces that will shape the future of your business

Ujwal's Medium page

If you enjoy This Anthro Life, please consider supporting the show with $5 - $20 a month on Patreon. We're self funded so rely on you to help make the show happen!

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Jul 17, 2020

Cyberpsychology: How Life Online Shapes our Minds and What We Can Do About It w Julie Ancis 

It's no surprise that many of us find ourselves increasingly on mobile devices or the internet. We shop online with ease, connect with friends and family on social media, check the news, and play games. And especially during the era of COVID millions, more people are figuring out if they can work remotely. 

In this episode, Adam sits down with Dr. Julie Ancis, one  of the world's leading cyberpsychologists to talk about how digital technology in life online is impacting the ways we think and interact with one another.  As an interdisciplinary scholar, practitioner, and pioneer in the field, Dr. Julie Ancis is starting as Director and Professor of an exciting new Cyberpsychology program at the New Jersey Institute of Technology and currently writes for the new Cyberpsychology blog for Psychology Today where she's been offering advice on how to practice mental wellbeing as so many of us move online, especially during the time of COVID.

Digital technology can be a blessing and a curse, right? Connecting us in new ways to old friends, but it can also be addicting, cause people to unfairly compare themselves to one another on social media to feel more lonely even. When it comes to things like the news, it can be more difficult to discern fact from opinion. But don't worry. It's not all zoom and gloom. What we'll find is that it's up to us to become discerning critical thinkers about our own psychology and the psychology of others when it comes to life online. And understanding that we do in fact have the tools each and every one of us to become critical thinkers. And, if you feel like you want to learn and get an even better handle on it, there's a brand new cyber psychology program at NJIT launching just around the corner.

Dr. Julie Ancis

Ancis Consulting

New Jersey Institute of Technology Cyberpsychology Program

Psychology Today Cyberpsychology Blog

Catch Julie on:




Checkout my This Anthro Life sister project Mindshare

And our upcoming panel “Ethics are for Everyone: Four Anthropologists Talk Shop on ethics across design, business and technology” Eventbrite registration here

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Jun 28, 2020

A Neuroscientist and Marketer walk into a bar: Neuromarketing and the hidden ways marketing reshapes our brains with Matt Johnson and Prince Ghuman 

Ever wonder why certain new ideas stick while others don’t? We often hear a lot about innovation when it comes to new ideas, but really that’s only part of the equation. Psychology, marketing, neuroscience - and yes - anthropology can help us make sense of why some new ideas stick while others fall flat.

On this episode Adam Gamwell talks with neuroscientist Dr. Matt Johnson and Professor of marketing Prince Ghuman about the fascinating role neuroscience plays in our evolving consumer lives. Matt and Prince have a new book out called Blindsight: the (Mostly) Hidden Ways Marketing Reshapes our Brains that explores the emerging field of neuromarketing.

This is a fascinating conversation that gets into the neuroscience, marketing, and psychology of why we consume, why certain kinds of advertisements work for different groups of people, and -something long time listeners of This Anthro Life know - the need to clearly communicate our work as human, Neuro, and social scientists to other disciplines and people in general. And speaking of that, we dig into one of Adam's favorite subjects of all time - Star Wars - to figure out why nostalgia marketing can be so powerful.

on LinkedIn: Prince Ghuman and Matt Johnson, PhD.

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Jun 5, 2020

The Connected Cup: Coffee, Tea, Happiness and Visual Storytelling Around the Globe with Documentarian Brooke Bierhaus 

What is it about coffee and tea - two simple drinks - that both transcends culture and is intimately bound up by it? In this episode, Adam talks with Independent documentary filmmaker and coffee anthropologist Brooke Bierhaus about her film "The Connected Cup" which explores the heart of coffee and tea as global human connectors across cultures and backgrounds. For the film Brooke traveled to over 9 countries to film and capture intimate moments, stories, and portraits of human life around the connected cup. 

We dig into:

  • Brooke's process for filming across 9 countries
  • how coffee and tea provide a window into what makes the good life and happiness
  • cultures of coffee and tea around the globe
  • narrative and ethnographic voice as part of filmmaking

Brooke's Bio from IMDB: Brooke Bierhaus is an American award-winning documentary filmmaker and visual storyteller. Brooke is known for her feature film, "The Connected Cup", following the heart of coffee and tea around the world as a global language of connection. Brooke has worked and produced stories in 22 countries.

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