ANU PhD students bring Australian anthropology to the world

11 January 2018

A new anthropology blog and podcast run by four ANU PhD students is making a wide impact.

The Familiar Strange was created by Jodie-Lee Trembath from the School of Culture, History and Language (CAP) and Julia Brown, Ian Pollock and Simon Theobald from the School of Archaeology and Anthropology (CASS).

The project is supported by the School of Culture, History and Language, the School of Archaeology and Anthropology, the Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language, the Centre for the Public Awareness of Science and the Australian Anthropological Association.

The ‘Familiar Strangers’ share a passion for communicating the value of anthropology by making it more accessible to audiences outside of academia.

‘Anthropologists talk all the time about the need for public anthropology, but they’re only saying it to one another. So that’s the challenge that we’re trying to rise to. We’re trying to figure out a way to communicate anthropology, anthropological ideas and ways of thinking in a way that’s true to the discipline,’ Ian says.

The blog and podcast feature content that is diverse and engaging. Recent topics have included New Year’s resolutions, breatharianism, waste in India and violence in Myanmar.

They have already received very positive feedback about the project. The podcast has already received over 1,200 listens since it launched on November 19, while the blog has had over 14,000 views since September.

While many of their followers are based in Australia, they also have substantial audiences in the US, UK and Canada, and have reached as far as Israel, Turkey and China.

The opportunities to engage with new ideas have enriched their own PhD research. As Julia reflects, ‘The Familiar Strange has helped me be more productive and balanced. It helps me keep a foot in a wider world and engage with ideas that go far beyond my thesis.’

They have also gained a range of new skills through their involvement with the project, including audio production, project management, website management, blog writing and outreach.

They have big plans for the future, including releasing foreign-language podcasts to further expand their reach and promote ANU’s strengths in anthropology internationally. They are currently producing an Indonesian language episode.

Another aim is to build their relationship with their audience. ‘Our goal is to build an anthropology community, so we’re reaching out a lot on social media and getting ideas that are sparking new conversations in the blog and in the podcast,’ Jodie says.

Jodie, Julia, Ian and Simon hope that The Familiar Strange will become a forum that brings Australian anthropologists together to promote their work to the rest of the world and inspire a new generation of anthropologists.

New blog posts are published each Thursday morning, and podcast episodes are released fortnightly on Mondays. Fans can also get the content delivered straight to their inboxes by subscribing on the website.

Visit The Familiar Strange.

Image: Fiona Wiebusch 




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Updated:  24 April, 2017/Responsible Officer:  Dean, ANU College of Asia & the Pacific/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team