Anthropology & Education

25 June – 28 June 2024


First of a series of online events preceding the Royal Anthropological Institute conference on Anthropology and Education in 25-28 June 2024


Thursday, 21st September 2023, 13.00-16.00 (UTC)

13:00 – 13:25 Introduction by TAN Co-Convenors: Annika Strauss, Giovanna Guslini, Lorenzo Cañas Bottos, Shukti Chaudhuri-Brill
13:30 – 14:50 Panel 1 – Panel 2 – Panel 3 (self-organised parallel sessions)
15:00 – 16:00 Roundtable: Teaching anthropology in a local and global perspective: TAN networking inside and outside of Europe

Friday, 22nd September 2023, 13.00-16.00 (UTC)

13:00 – 14:20 Panel 4 – Panel 5 – Panel 6 (self-organised parallel sessions) + Workshop
14:30 – 15:30 Plenary
15:30 – 16:00 Concluding discussion: How do we want to take the panels further at the RAI Major Conference 2024 ‘Anthropology and Education’


If you are interested in attending the event, please, register here! by 19 September.

A zoom link will be sent to you one or two days before the meeting.

Participation is free of charge and open to all stakeholders, not only from TAN but also from other networks and associations interested in teaching anthropology and education.

Parallel Sessions

Panel 1

‘Addressing fear, trauma and repression in the classroom’

Discussant: Shukti Chaudhuri Brill

Anna Jaysane-Darr:
Higher Education in an Age of Anxiety

As students returned to in-person higher education classrooms in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was immediately clear that this collective trauma had left its mark on our learning communities. While mental health struggles have been on the rise for years (Healthy Minds Network 2023), the scope and intensity of student mental anguish was unmistakable. Instructors, too, coped with increased mental burdens and burnout. Would such shared trauma provide a point of solidarity between professors and students? Or would it too deeply call into question engrained practices and pedagogies, even the ones considered most conducive to learning? This discussion focuses specifically on the expansion of anxiety as both a diagnosis and an experience in the classroom setting that shapes interactions between instructors and students, and among students themselves. What can we learn from our students about their experiences of anxiety? How have our own experiences of fear and trauma crafted new engagements with anxiety both in and out of the classroom? This presentation serves as an initial inquiry into what an anthropology of anxiety can reveal to us about the promises and challenges anxiety poses to the undergraduate classroom.

Diana Garcia Catena and María Rubio Gómez:
Reflections from the project “Weaving networks between the classroom and the street: what anthropology can contribute to society.”

In our present university setting, where uncertainties regarding job prospects are evident, it is common for students to feel a lack of meaning in their studies. There is a palpable fear regarding the resumption of face-to-face interactions and the demand for inter/multidisciplinary perspectives in professional fields is greater than ever. Against this backdrop, we want to share a project we are currently undertaking at the University of Granada. The project aims to encourage reflection and collaboration among students (pursuing the graduate degrees of Social Work, Anthropology, Pedagogy, Geography, and Archaeology), exploring the contributions of anthropology to their professional and educational careers, as well as to society. This is achieved through artistic activities and the creation of audiovisual materials. To this end, we organise collage workshops, in which we revitalise face-to-face interactions and use art as a means of reflection. During these workshops, we delve into the students’ concerns on this topic. In a second stage, and after analysing the results of these workshops, we are conducting interviews (which are edited as audiovisual material) with anthropologists who promote, from their various expert fields, applied anthropology committed to the people and communities they work with. In this way, we want to continue highlighting the value of a discipline that is more necessary than ever in a convulsive world.

Andrei Vazyanau:
Teaching anthropology from exile during mass repressions in an invisible country

My presentation focuses on the challenges of online teaching for an audience experiencing mass repressions and hybrid occupation. For this, I use my notes about teaching media anthropology for Belarusian students at European Humanities University, Vilnius, Lithuania. For Belarus, 2020 was marked by electoral fraud and police violence, followed by mass protests and, arguably, the most massive repressions in Europe since the USSR. More than 1% of adult Belarusians went through politically motivated detainment in 2020 and 2021 (Stebur 2021), dozens of academicians became political prisoners (Shchyttsova 2022). Belarusian-speakers are disproportionately affected by repressions – increasingly so after the arrival of Russian military in Belarus, January 2022 (unwelcomed, as seen from partisan movement and surveys [Chatham House, Vardamatski]). In this context, the significance of EHU, Belarusian university in exile since 2003, increased. However, teaching anthropology via Zoom for Belarusian students finds itself at the intersection of several challenges: Inside Belarus, it exposes students to additional scrutiny with risk of imprisonment (since 2020, any personal gadget in Belarus can be randomly checked by police). In the West, the policies regarding Belarusians are dominated by colonial visions of them as similar to Russians, resulting into discriminatory visa policies and radically reduced academic opportunities. This pushes us, me and students, towards a more symmetrical and responsible, but less algorithmic forms of collaboration.

Panel 2

‘Politics and Ethics in Times of Crisis’

Discussant: Amy Stambach

Florencia García-Rapp:
Intro to ethnography: (Teaching) The limits of the political critique and criticism we can make of others

My reflections arise from exchanges with first-year undergraduate students of film and digital communication in the context of a seminar in media research at a public German university. After presenting excerpts of a recent ethnography discussing contemporary digital media practices of Chinese rural workers, a pedagogical opportunity revealed itself. Workers exchanging WhatsApp messages containing pictures of sports cars, wedding dresses or large houses as objects of desire symbolising their worldly dreams, was considered reproachable by students. While I acknowledged that this is what we usually teach at university −the negative effects of capitalism, consumerism, the Frankfurt School− I had to seize the chance of underlining the inherent contingency, partiality, ambiguity, and incompleteness of any of our accounts. Beyond paternalist views and normative attitudes towards alterity and even against those politics we do not share, I saw the need of adding a word of caution against dismissing these workers’ dreams and hopes.

Lydia Maria Arantes:
Crafting wisdom in the anthropology classroom, or: How can needles and threads help stitching inspiring learning experiences?

For the course I recently taught entitled DIY in Times of Crisis and Beyond, I went the pedagogical extra mile, putting making at the heart of it all. Creating a space of epistemic uncertainty we developed our thinking from tool-guided making. Temporarily marginalizing the intellectual realm, we allowed it to gain momentum peripherally while stitching away on our embroidery hoops.

I will give insights into how crafting while thinking and vice versa within an academic teaching context serves as a low-threshold approach for students to learn to think, reflect and critique and thus empowers them to develop their own voice. Putting the body and “felt sovereignty” (Cvetkovich 2010) centre stage in a masculine space that has traditionally suppressed the body in favour of reason by bringing tools, materials and crafts into the classroom, also offers haptic certainty in biographically and societally disorderly times. Ultimately, I will argue that this approach not only fosters creativity and imagination but also offers strategies to detox university (Prior 2022), to mitigate social acceleration and instrumentalisation of education and to cultivate self-care. Bringing the body into the knowledge factory, we take one step further from making knowledge to crafting wisdom.

Matthew Michael Wingfield & Mukisa Mujulizi:
Pedagogical power dynamics seen from the South: A case study of the Global Classroom for Democracy Innovation (GCDI)

Critiques of the composition and impacts of global educational offerings have in recent years become animated by a range of scholars. As Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) seek to ‘internationalise’ their pedagogical offerings, often students from the ‘Global North’ and ‘Global South’ find themselves in globally diverse spaces. This became increasingly prevalent during the COVID-19 pandemic, with similarly-aligned online engagements becoming ubiquitous. This paper is based on an international ‘Global Classroom’ with students from Stellenbosch University (South Africa), University of Toronto (Canada), and University West (Sweden), and others. We argue that while prevalent global power dynamics (in various forms) embedded in internationally collaborative sessions were intentionally engaged, there are a range of dynamics that emerge on different levels that need to be navigated (Boughey & Mckenna, 2021). Our investigation therefore, takes a multi-level approach in addressing global power dynamics. It is shown that without such an approach, engagements with power dynamics can be largely superficial, further styming productive and inclusive student engagement. This paper is based on two years of planning and managing the Global Classroom for Democracy Innovation (GCDI) project, and further supported by both qualitative and quantitative feedback from student participants.

Panel 3

‘Inclusive Pedagogies’

Discussant: Lorenzo Cañás Bottos

Shankar Gugoloth:
‘Covid batch is good at nothing as new normality’: An Ethnographic Study of Tribal student in Telangana in India

One of the most affected area by covid is Education, especially in India; having Education has become the Privilege than a fundamental (basic)right; education has become accessible to only the student who can afford internet and mobile devices; this phenomenon led to creating a stigma among the tribal students as ‘Covid batch students as nothing, not good at studies and grades.’ This paper/presentation discusses the tribal students’ challenges to accessing education during covid times, their experience of Covid education struggles, and their strategies to tackle those challenges in Telangana, India. Further, it also discusses how Covid created a stigma and new normalities as “Covid batch as good at nothing.” This paper is an Ethnographic study of 12 months in the Telangana tribal school as part PhD dissertation fieldwork.

Desire’ Christian:
Post-Apartheid and Post-coronial Teaching and Learning in Poor and Marginalised Communities in the Cape Flats, Western Cape, South Africa

The apartheid era separate education systems in South Africa left a legacy of bitterness and a backlog in academics and infrastructure, resulting in huge inequalities. These inequalities were highlighted and exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. The post-apartheid South African schooling system is plagued by overcrowding due to a lack of infrastructure, which, along with poor quality teaching, results in poor academic outcomes in poor and marginalised communities.

This paper is based on interviews conducted with teachers from primary schools located in poor socio-economic areas, as a result of the legacy of apartheid, in South Africa. This paper considers the history of schooling in South Africa and the strategies put in place during the pandemic crisis as a backdrop to schooling conditions in post-apartheid and ‘post-coronial’ Cape Flats, Western Cape, South African schools. The paper further considers the strategies being deployed by the Western Cape Education Department to mitigate the learning losses brought about by the pandemic on teaching and learning.

Amurabi Oliveira:
Challenges for inclusion in post-pandemic academic training

The COVID-19 pandemic had a profound impact on the entire educational system, not only because classes became online during that period, but because we started to rethink our pedagogical and academic practices. Examination boards, congresses, supervising meetings, many of these activities continued to be at least hybrid in the post-pandemic context. In this work, I seek to examine the challenges of thinking about an inclusive pedagogical and academic practice in the post-pandemic context, based on my own experience as a professor at a university in the Global South (Brazil) that adopts affirmative action for black and indigenous students in the graduate training. How can we demand that our students continue to attend the university in the same way, especially in a scenario of research funding crisis, expansion of new university audiences, and opening of new horizons in the post-pandemic scenario? How can we develop an anthropological reflection on how markers of class, race and gender shape the university experience of our students and their possibilities for academic insertion.


Mary J Hallin, Giovanna Guslini, Guillermo Vega Sanabria:
Teaching anthropology in a local and global perspective: TAN networking inside and outside of Europe

The purpose of this activity is to provide an initial assessment of TAN’s efforts in expanding interest in teaching and learning anthropology both within and beyond Europe. From this view, it is crucial for us to reflect upon how the “borders” of TAN have changed in recent years, the impact of this change, and how we envision TAN’s future. This reflection should also encompass considerations on how we can bridge our diverse areas of interest, geographical and political positions, available resources, and challenges while promoting the teaching and learning of anthropology. We should particularly emphasise the conditions of social inequality in our respective countries, persistent disciplinary and institutional asymmetries, and the current landscape of contestation of Human Sciences.

Panel 4

‘Metacognitive Teaching and Learning

Discussant: Amy Stambach

Suzana Jovicic and Simone Pfeifer:
Co-Teaching Postdigital Ethnography

Innovative, engaging, hierarchy-defying and above all, precise descriptions of teaching exercises suitable for teaching complex theory and a methodological approach as multilayered as postdigital ethnography are rare and mostly scattered across a few non-specific blogs and private Twitter feeds – finding them is a matter of an obscure combination of serendipity and algorithms. In this working paper we reflect on our co-teaching methods applied in a Masterclass on post-digital ethnography. Our aim is twofold: not only to reflect on teaching methods in post-digital ethnography, but also to present concrete examples of implementation in teaching and co-teaching constellations by means of teaching exercises.

Shukti Chaudhuri Brill:
Teaching the City through the Linguistic Landscape

American students conduct their study-abroad experience at host universities typically located in urban centers around the world. These cities often form a type of classroom themselves, especially in courses including an experiential learning component. In this article I will reflect on teaching and learning anthropology in the study-abroad situation and will comment on the use of linguistic landscape methodology as a fruitful means for students to critically engage with the city as a social text. The linguistic landscape method requires students to investigate how language(s) are inscribed on the urban landscape, through signs, billboards, public notices, or other written media1. I discuss how the method gives students a tangible understanding of anthropological topics such as identity, ethnicity, power, and agency within a discussion of colonialism, (im)migration, cosmopolitanism, and globalization. We also engage in epistemological debate about the nature of methodology itself, an aspect that seems particularly relevant in the current climate of fake news and unreliable sources. Finally, as students engage in fieldwork using this method, they encounter various technologies that help them record, analyze, and interpret their data.

John Loewenthal:
Existential Pedagogy, Teaching as Ethnography, and Encouragement over Explication

I here reflect on educational themes that arose from teaching an adult education course, ‘What makes life meaningful? Perspectives from anthropology’, at the Oxford University Department for Continuing Education. My presentation derives from a blog post for Allegra Lab, forthcoming as part of a series on the anthropology of absurdity. Beneath the meanings-in-life explored in the course lingered a sense of nihilism. Sociocultural anthropology shows ‘the social construction of reality’ (Berger and Luckman, 1967), which may deconstruct and dissolve meanings. However, an optimistic approach emerges when recognising the existential potential of anthropological education. I discuss three educational concepts worth sharing. The notion of existential pedagogy centres people’s subjectivity in their education, eliciting issues that are pressing for them as human beings (Malik and Akhter, 2013; Kazanjian, 2019). Further to this, I experienced learning of an ethnographic nature through teaching (Cortese, 2005). Furthermore, I experienced Rancière’s (1987) conviction in education’s potential to elicit the intelligence of ordinary people without a pedagogy of explication. I encouraged students “to pass through a forest whose openings and clearances [I myself] had not discovered” (Rancière, 1987, p. 9). It is aimed that ensuing discussion will assess possibilities and limitations of such pedagogies, in-person and online.

Panel 5

‘Engaged Anthropology in schools’

Discussant: Giovanna Guslini

Murillo Nascimento Nonato:
Between the lines: ethnography of a book club on social diversity in a public school in Salvador, Ba, Brazil

This article deals with the first ethnographic reports of the Between the lines Project – Social Diversity at School. It was created by members of the Ethics, Power and Abjection Research Group (EPA) linked to the doctoral degree program in Anthropology at the Federal University of Bahia (UFBA). The contact of students with social diversity is fundamental for the teaching-learning process and preparation for ethical coexistence in society. Although the school context is a fruitful space for understanding differences and promoting respect, educational institutions still harbor prejudice and other forms of violence. The project involves an estimated group of 30 students aged between 15 and 17 enrolled in a public high school of Salvador/BA/Brazil. The objective is to encourage students, through a monthly reading club, to read and debate politically engaged literary works by brazilian and international authors who address social markers of difference and other subjects that are relevant to anthropology. In addition, we will seek to understand, by carrying out an ethnography, whether or not there was adherence to the project and we will seek to capture possible changes in attitudes, ideas and values of the students involved in the project related to respect for social differences and their impact on their citizenship and school education. As we are investigating the first steps of the project, we conduct here an analysis on the resistances and acceptances of the school and students regarding the activity and also about the perspective of the teachers about their own students.

Marzia Balzani:
Teaching International Baccalaureate Anthropology at high school level: the programme, the challenges, and half a century of experience
The International Baccalaureate (IB) – an educational organization that offers programmes to a worldwide community of schools – has been teaching Social and Cultural Anthropology (SCA) to pre-university high school students across the globe for over 50 years. Anthropology was one of the initial disciplines offered by the IB and, although one of the smaller subjects, it has grown significantly over time so that thousands of students now take examinations in the subject each year. In the paper I discuss the place of anthropology in the IB diploma program, the rationale for the curriculum and the training resources provided for schools, teachers and examiners. In particular, I consider the IB anthropology curriculum in relation to international mindedness, one of the key values an IB education is designed to impart and which seeks to produce students able to tackle present-day global preconceptions and social misconceptions, and to equip IB graduates for a future in a complex, uncertain and often divided world. The paper offers a brief historical overview of IB anthropology to suggest the value of teaching anthropology to cohorts of high school students across the world.

Giovanna Barros Gomes:
An ethnography about educational regulations and teachers’ experiences during the pandemic in Florianópolis/SC

This research is a study carried out from 2020 to 2022, following events related to education in Florianópolis, capital of Santa Catarina, during the Covid-19 pandemic. This research focuses on the experiences of professors of the public education system of Florianópolis, in relation to the governmental regulations of the municipality, state and federal. The objective of this research was to understand how the constitutions of these norms and governmental postures affect those who practice the art of teaching. From an anthropological approach, I conducted this study understanding the relationship of these experiences to impact education in the capital, thus influencing, for example, 2021 teachers’ strike and the early release of vaccination for teachers. Additionally, the period of 2020 was marked by virtual teaching, 2021 by hybrid teaching and, finally, 2022 by face-to-face teaching. The field survey was performed at first virtually, then following the face-to-face assemblies and finally, with an online focus group.

Panel 6

‘Learning Anthropology without borders’

Discussant: Mary Hallin

Mauricio Caviedes:
An online community seeking to teach and learn Latin-American Anthropology

The growth of online events in anthropology, during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, revealed previously unusual instruments to strengthen partnerships between Latin-American academics. Previous efforts led to the Latin-American Association of Anthropology (1990) and the birth of professional associations of anthropologists in countries that had no associations. This paper studies the 2020 online Congress of the Latin-American Association of Anthropology (ALA) and the recent creation of the International Course (Diplomatura) in Latin-American Theories in Anthropology. The paper studies those two events as an expansion of engagement and activism linked to anthropology in Latin-America. Said expansion goes beyond national frontiers and avoids the costs of international academic events. Between 2020 and 2021, this network of professional associations also played a role supporting social protests in Latin-America (Chile and Colombia). The paper is based on interviews with board members of the Association of Latin-American Anthropologists (ALA), the Colombian Association of Anthropologists (ACANT), and the Colegio de Etnólogos y Antropólogos Sociales (CEAS), from México. This paper argues that a network led by the Latin-American Association of Anthropology can strengthen social movements and educators in the current political context of Latin America.

Subhadra Channa:
Teaching Anthropology Across Cultures

During my long teaching career I have found that students respond differently to anthropological texts and theories according to their own cultural background and identities. The same concepts may appear lucid to some and dense and incomprehensible to some others. Students tend to filter the concepts through their own experiential world as well as internalized values. The relationship of teaching material to those being taught then becomes problematized as text and context interact from differently situated cognitive fields making communication a challenge, as well as puts a question mark against the relevance of teaching some material as against others. The cross-cultural diversity of the class room is in my understanding a crucial aspect of teaching that needs more attention for a global anthropology.

Edgar Tasia:
Pedagogical puzzle: how to teach anthropology to future teachers in a complex and unprecedented institutional context?

Following a series of public policy reforms aimed at improving the performance of the education system in French-speaking Belgium (FWB), social–including anthropology–must now be integrated into the Initial Teacher Training program. In itself, familiarizing future teachers–destined to exercise in preschool, primary and lower secondary education–to anthropology is a fine challenge. But what to say about the task of introducing them to the discipline, when they are spread among 4 Higher Education Institutions in the province, within the specific framework of an “Equity” course coordinated by 3 different faculties (social sciences, philosophy, and psychology), as it is set to be the case at the Université de Liège at the start of the next academic year (2023-2024)? How can anthropology be made to exist in the midst of other disciplines? How to demonstrate the target audience the relevance of the discipline for their future profession? These are some of the questions I would like to address in this paper, in the light of my dual role as a lecturer on the course and as an anthropologist.


Discussant: Annika Strauss

Sonja Dobroski:
Co-designing Assessments: Pedagogy & Employability Research with Undergraduate Anthropology Students at the University of Manchester

This workshop presents the findings of a research project conducted at the University of Manchester that sought to investigate how students understand and employ skills developed in social anthropology assessments towards employability. The project consisted of several focus groups and one to one interviews with current students and alumni of the Department of Social Anthropology. The focus groups gathered feedback and reflections on popular assessments (the essay and the exam) and served as a space to co-designed new forms of assessment that took into consideration diverse employability needs in a ‘post’ pandemic world. By investigating how our students and alumni understood and employed specific skills that they develop through social anthropology assessments, the project produced valuable insights into how assessments in anthropology can lead to success in a range of careers. The first part of the workshop will present some of the key insights from the research and highlight new forms of assessment that were generated from these discussions. The second part of the workshop offers an opportunity for participants to discuss the types of assessments they use and how they link to employable skills.Using the insights from the project, in small groups, we will experiment with the process of designing general anthropology assessments for non-academic careers.


Amurabi Oliveira, Professor do Departamento de Sociologia e Ciência Política, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Membro afiliado da Academia Brasileira de Ciências, Brazil

Amy Stambach, Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Wisconsin-Madison,USA

Andrei Vazyanau, Lecturer at European Humanities University (Vilnius, Lithuania) and researcher at Minsk Urban Platform (Belarus/Lithuania)

Anna Jaysane-Darr, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work, Chair of Undergraduate Research, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, USA

Annika Strauss, EASA TAN Co-Convenor, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Germany

Diana Garcia Catena, Instituto de Migraciones-Universidad de Granada, Spain

Desire’ Christian, Education Specialist, Researcher in difficult teaching environments on the Cape Flats of the Western Cape Province, South Africa.

Edgar Tasia, Professeur associé OMER, Université de Liège, Belgium Florencia García-Rapp, Department of Sociology and Social Work University of Valladolid, Spain

Giovanna Barros Gomes, Doctoral student in Anthropology in Brazil at the Federal University of Santa Catarina (UFSC)

Giovanna Guslini, EASA TAN Co-Convenor, IUAES Commissions on Education and Documentation, Formerly of the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research, Italy

Guillermo Vega Sanabria, TAN Board Member, Federal University of Bahia, Brazil

John Loewenthal, Lecturer in Education, Keele University (from September 1st 2023), UK

Lorenzo Cañás Bottos, EASA TAN Co-Convenor, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway

Lydia Maria Arantes, University of Graz, Austria

María Rubio Gómez, Profesora Contratada Doctora Indefinida, Coordinadora del Grado en Antropología Social y Cultural, Departamento de Antropología Social, Instituto de Migraciones-Universidad de Granada, Spain

Mary J Hallin, TAN Board Member, IUAES Chair of Commission on Documentation, University of Nebraska at Omaha, USA

Marzia Balzani, New York University Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Matthew Michael Wingfield, Postdoctoral Fellow, Stellenbosch University, South Africa

Mauricio Caviedes, Universidade Federal da Bahia, Professor Visitante, Brazil

Mukisa Mujulizi, Researcher and Project Manager, Global Classroom for Democracy Innovation, Tanzania

Murillo Nascimento Nonato, Doctorate student in Anthropology at the Federal University of Bahia (UFBA) Brazil

Shankar Gugoloth, PhD Scholar, IIT Hyderabad, India

Shukti Chaudhuri Brill, EASA TAN Co-Convenor, New York University, Paris, France

Simone Pfeifer, University of Cologne, Germany

Sonja Dobroski, Lecturer, Department of Social Anthropology, the University of Manchester, UK

Subhadra Channa, IUAES Senior Vice-President, Formerly of Delhi University, India

Suzana Jovicic, University of Vienna, Austria Organisers and Facilitators


The project of this event was designed by the TAN BOARD. You can find the names and contacts of its convenors and members in this EASA web page: EASA Teaching Anthropology Network