Recycled Minds in 2012

by Lana Lynne on December 31, 2012
Keep taking the road less traveled...
photo by douglas reeser
The changing of the calendar year always compels reflection of the past and prediction of the future. This seemingly universal response to a new year is something that the contributors to Recycled Minds like to do year-round – reflect, interpret, and possibly offer new ways of thinking about the world. What we like to do is tell stories, one of the most powerful tools in humankind’s handbag for preserving and encouraging knowledge. As a culture, we have become accustomed to hearing a single story – one that hopes to leave us complacent and taciturn. Our storytelling intentionally seeks out a different narrative with many perspectives, and we’d like to thank our readers for contributing to this collection of ideas.

Following is a short reflection on some of our stories from 2012.

Since douglas spent most of the year in the field for his dissertation research, many articles he wrote for his “Views from the ANThill” column centered on his experience as a field researcher. Among other things, he wrote about  knowledge and trust among his research participants, how language affects research and fieldwork, applied anthropology at work with the development of language classes, going through research slumps, and the positive experience of working with a local research assistant.

Similarly, the Maya and other indigenous people of Belize were a frequent topic of conversation, given doog’s research interests, including a fun video of Maya Day 2012; a not-so-fun look at the creation of a new Belizean ministry that lumps together Forestry, Fisheries, Sustainable Development and Indigenous People; and how the decline of the ancient Maya compares to today’s environmental destruction and concentration of wealth.

The “Consumption Junction” column continued to examine consumption in its various manifestations, including an article on agency and panopticism in a digital world, pursuing meaning instead of money, and the state of literature in our self-centered “culture of me.”

In addition to our monthly Picture Shows, we had two guest writers this past year: anthropologist Federico CintrĂ³n Moscoso wrote an  article on the implications of anthropologist Reichel-Dolmatoff’s Nazi past, and librarian Lana Brand wrote a piece on the Open Access movement and how the internet can be the savior of scholarly communication.

The internet and digital media occupied a fair share of 2012’s story-time. We talked about the shelf-life of the print newspaper, internet as a human right, and creating a socialist social network through user profit-sharing. In one particularly thought-provoking piece on censorship and SOPA, dooglas asked, “If we seek a truly democratic world, we need to consult the people. We may not have had much say on how the internet was developed or on how it turned out. But now that it has become such an integral part of our lives, do we not have a say in its future? Should we not protect those powers that the internet offers to the people? The powerless? The voiceless? The exploited?”

As you can see, intellectual health is one of our priorities (as evidenced by our fondness for the Mr. Rogers Remix), but 2012 also showed our concern with physical health. We pondered the implication of the decline in seed varieties and how a less diverse food system is more vulnerable; the fascinating idea of plant communication; the economic value of honeybees; as well as more research-based pieces on medicinal plant knowledge and migration,  how U.S. immigrants utilize traditional systems of healing as a complement to biomedicine, and how a person’s beliefs can be the driving factor in the use of available health resources.

So, while we may ruminate on the death of academia, Recycled Minds continues to assure us that the pursuit of knowledge is alive and well. We hope you’ve enjoyed and taken something from the writings and art we’ve collected in 2012. Here’s to a healthy and enlightened 2013!
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  1. James B.9:00 PM

    Congratulations on a good year of posts. Happy New Year!

  2. Hear, hear! It's been impressive to say the least. Looking forward to what follows now in 2013. :)


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