AAA2019 Roundtable:  Multimodal Methods in Changing Climates
4:15 PM16:15

AAA2019 Roundtable: Multimodal Methods in Changing Climates


Multimodal Methods in Changing Climates: Do the Traditional Methods Still Apply?

American Anthropological Association 2019 Meetings

Abstract: Anthropologists find themselves in a variety of rapidly changing climates with shifting political, social, and environmental realities. However, the standard anthropological methods toolkit of participant observation, semi-structured interviews and open-ended surveys we equip our students with has not changed much in almost 150 years. How useful is it as a strategy, then, in modern shifting and transnational realities? Anthropologists must grapple with a host of complex aspects of modernity including transnational and diasporic populations, the influence of emergent information and communication technologies, and a general sense of global precarity which has permeated many people’s lives. What is clear is that we must prepare new anthropologists in ethically and methodologically sound ways.

This roundtable starts with the basic question: Do the same cultural anthropological methodologies still meet the needs of anthropologists and the communities they work with? From there, we will explore how multimodal and community-based approaches to data collection and analysis could supplement and deepen traditional strategies. These strategies include such varied methods as digital storytelling, sensory ethnography, fictional ethnography, theater and improvisation, community-based research, graffiti walls, and many others. Drawing on their experience in filmmaking, community organizing, and ethnography, panelists and audience members will discuss ways in which innovative approaches to methodologies can aid in anthropological data collection and analysis regardless of the context. Come prepared to actively engage and share ideas with others on how anthropological methods can adapt to our changing climates.

Chair: Jason Miller – Assistant Professor, Washburn University

Chair: Carylanna Taylor – Anthropologist & Filmmaker, First Encounter Productions

Roundtable Presenter: Jennifer Syvertsen – Assistant Professor, University of California, Riverside

Roundtable Presenter: Dave Paulson – PhD Candidate, Temple University, Department of Anthropology

Roundtable Presenter: Jerome W. Crowder – Associate Director, Associate Professor, University of Texas Medical Branch

Roundtable Presenter: Rachel George – Whitman College

Roundtable Presenter: Matthew Durington – Professor, Director of Community Engagement, Towson University

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1:30 PM13:30

New York Skeptics Lecture: The science & fiction of ANYA

New York, NY
Time TBD
New York City Skeptics events

In this public lecture, ANYA co-creator Carylanna Taylor will discuss how a casual thought experiment with her writing/producing partner Jacob Okada developed into a feature film.  ANYA is a love story and genetics mystery coming in 2019. The film began in 2014 with Jacob's seemingly random question: how do species diverge? Drawing on experience teaching evolution in Intro to Anthropology, Carylanna gave a basic answer about fertility and genetic drift. Later that day, Jacob asked "Would you still marry me if I were a different species of humans?" ANYA's story about a couple and the evolutionary geneticist who discovered the unusual source of their infertility was born. We wrote the first draft over the next few months. 

To come up with a concrete, plausible source of speciation, we reached out to the National Academy of Science's Science & Entertainment Exchange. They connected us with two amazing geneticists at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Ting Wu and Dr. Ruth McCole lent their research on ultra-conserved elements of DNA to the film and became our science advisors, allowing us to observe their work, inviting us to events of the Personal Genetics Education Project (pgEd), reviewing scripts, and advising us on set.  Our collaboration led to a movie that is far richer than our original script: ANYA tackles contemporary issues in genetics such as diversity in the scientific community, research ethics, DNA testing among vulnerable populations, and gene-editing. 

Because of the research that went into making the film, ANYA has already scooped headlines and is likely to scoop more. In November 2018 news broke that a Chinese scientist appeared to have successfully created a "CRISPR baby." We filmed a similar plot point in summer 2017! 

In addition of the overview of ANYA's development, the lecture will include the film trailer, a sneak peak scene highlighting the knowledge gap between researchers and participants, and pre-recorded comments for The New York Skeptics Society by ANYA's science advisor, Dr. Ruth McCole.

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Genetics on Screen - Harnessing the Power of TV and Film to Read Broad Audience Panel: Talk
11:00 AM11:00

Genetics on Screen - Harnessing the Power of TV and Film to Read Broad Audience Panel: Talk

Personal Genetics Education Project’s (pgEd): “On May 19-20, 2016, over 40 representatives from healthcare, education, business, government, film/TV, and communities of faith came together in a one-of-a-kind meeting at Harvard Medical School. The goal of the pgEd Industry Forum for Forging Community Partnerships was to bring together experts from across disciplinary and community divides to explore strategies for tackling the gap in awareness and conversation about personal genetics between well-served and underserved communities.” 

Jacob and I attended the two day event and participated in on the “Genetics on Screen - Harnessing the Power of TV and Film to Reach Broad Audiences” panel. We were privileged to share the story of ANYA with an engaged audience consisting of our collaborators at Harvard Medical School’s Department of Genetics, their academic and industry colleagues, and community members.

The forum was an incredible outreach experience for us and we developed new friendships and partnerships, including Jeantine Lunshof, a Harvard based science ethicist, and Richard Lumb, CEO of Front Line Genomics and organizers of the Festival Of Genomics.

Listening to the diverse perspectives presented in the Industry Forum profoundly shaped how we presented the Narvals’ reaction to becoming active subjects of genetics research.

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