Podcasts and Pedagogy: Audio in the Anthropology Classroom

In this episode of AnthroPod, we bring you a conversation with Angela Jenks, Assistant Teaching Professor at the University of California, Irvine and former Scholar-in-Residence at the Teaching Tools section of the Cultural Anthropology website, about integrating podcasts and other forms of audio media into anthropological pedagogy.

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The current age of digital audio has produced a fertile landscape for narrative-based journalism, which interweaves individual human stories with considerations of how those stories speak to broader social, cultural, political, economic, and scientific processes. This interweaving is what ethnographic writing also strives for, as it translates the anthropologist’s experiences in the field into conceptual conclusions and theoretical claims. We can observe these affinities in journalistic programming with anthropological undertones like This American Life and Invisibilia, or in programs like Code Switch, which often invites scholars including anthropologists to offer breakdowns of complex social problems such as race, gender, sexuality, and religion.

There is also a small, but growing subgenre of anthropology podcasts hosted and produced by graduate students, faculty, as well asand independent researchers, including AnthroPod (the podcast of the Society for Cultural Anthropology), This Anthropological Life, Anthropological Airwaves, and Anthropologist on the Street, among many others. For anthropologists, the oral and aural components of audio media not only provide new opportunities for scholarly engagement through interviews, but also offer innovative pedagogical strategies and possibilities for ethnographic communication. While the slate of anthropology podcasts continues to grow, thoughtful considerations about of how best to bring podcasting as medium and genre into our disciplinary methodological, theoretical, and pedagogical frameworks into the classroom remain sparse.

In this episode, Jenks shares her approach to anthropological pedagogy and offers thoughtful insights into how anthropologists might begin thinking about how to incorporate podcasts into their syllabi. A Teaching Tools post extends the themes of the episode further and includes a sample assignment, as well as suggested readings.  

Anar Parikh produced this episode of AnthroPod. Special thanks to Angela Jenks for taking the time to participate, Beth Derderian for her role as Executive Producer of the episode, and Camille Frazier for her editorial assistance on the Teaching Tools post.

AnthroPod features interviews with anthropologists about their work, experiences in the field, and current events. To pitch your own episode ideas or to offer feedback, email us at anthropod@culanth.org.

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