Mobile Health in Context

Mobile Health in Context: How Information is Woven Into Our Lives  

@SusannahFox @PewResearch

Susannah Fox from Pew Review Research put together an excellent presentation of the latest health and digital technology related statistics.  The slides are concise, accessible, and thought provoking.  Can we put cell phones to use improve health and health information seeking strategies?   

I came across this presentation of data at exactly the right time thanks to Carol Torgan.  The information will be incredibly insightful to my future dissertation research and will go along way in demonstrating the significance of my proposed research.

DANG Panel Accepted

The BRIDGING DIGITAL AND PHYSICAL PUBLICS: DIGITAL Anthropologists’ CURRENT ENGAGEMENTS WITH 21st CENTURY PUBLICS panel has been accepted!!  It is being reviewed by the Society of Visual Anthropology. The panel with include the following papers:

Anastasiya Travina (Texas State University-San Marcos)                    500,000 Tweets and Posts During The First Two Hours Of The London Olympics: Does IT Mean The Olympics Is A Universally Lauded Event?

Meghan M Ferriter (Smithsonian Institution Archives)                           “It Boils Down to Respect”: Defining the Values of a Fandom Through Conflict Online

Sarah Elaine Dillard Mitchell (Indiana University, Department of Anthropology)                                                                                       TIFF’s Immediate and Mediated Public: Social Media, Public Relations, and the Economies of Talk At the Toronto International Film Festival

Michael P. Oman-Reagan (Hunter College of the City University of New York)                           Occupying Cyberspace: Indonesian Cyberactivism and Occupy Wall Street

Laura C Jarvis (Southern Methodist University)                           Facebook Or Face-to-Face: Studying Youth In and Out of the Field

Sarah S Ono (Department of Veteran Affairs)                                         By the Time We Get to the Station Will the Train Already Have Left?: Keeping Up With New Media in the Public Sector

Alissa Beth Kaplan Soto (Hunter College)                                    Women’s Autonomy Through Self-Insemination and Cyberspace

Congratulations and Thank You to all the panel participants and DANG!

Check Us Out on the 112th Annual AAA Conference!

 

About Me

My name is Sydney Yeager. I am cultural anthropologist in my 4th year of the SMU (Southern Methodist University) PhD program.  This fall I’ve returned to my hometown in rural Arkansas with my husband, Greg Wright, while I am preparing for my PhD exams.

My primary research interested are focused in digital anthropology and medical anthropology.  My medical interests are in the areas of neuroanthropology, consciousness, biocultural medical anthropology, and social well-being.  I am interested in the anthropological study of friendship, community, and religion as well.  More broadly speaking, I am interested in folk healing, spirituality, identity, consciousness, communitias, the processes of acculturation, education, community, cultural change, and the impact of our increasingly digitalized social lives.

In particular, I plan to conduct my PhD dissertation research on online communities and their impact on participants’ lives and social well-being.

I was recently elected to the Executive Board of the Society for the Anthropology of Consciousness.  I will serve as SAC’s first Media & Social Media Chair beginning in November.

I am also an active member of the AAA’s new Digital Anthropology Interest Group, fondly known as DANG.  I occasionally write for their blog and manage DANG’s G+ and Facebook accounts.

Contact Me:

slyeager@smu.edu

@slyphi

G +

Facebook

 

DANG Call for Papers

DANG Call for Papers

Deadline April 10th (To Meet April 15th AAA Deadline for Sessions)

Email Abstracts to sydneyyeager@gmail.com

Digital Anthropologists’ Current Engagements with 21st Century Publics: #Digital Publics, #Ethics, #Methods, #Insights

The future publics, which anthropologists of the 21st Century will engage with, occupy a social space in which the digital and the physical overlap.  Therefore, ethnographic study of these future publics merits consideration of the corresponding and relevant digital social spheres.

In light of this year’s conference theme “Future Publics, Current Engagements,” this panel intends to demonstrate how digital anthropologists are currently engaging with and researching “digital publics.”   This panel will highlight the current engagements of anthropologists conducting field research which bridges the overlap between digital publics and physical public spaces.  This panel strives to foster a discussion of the methods, ethics, and insights that Digital Anthropology can offer for “engaging with future publics” as digital technology continues to become a part of the everyday lives of the people anthropologists study around the world.  Major questions include: How do anthropologists collect and analyze data while doing digital field work?   What are the ethical issues facing anthropologists who rely on visual data and texts collected in the digital publics of the internet (social networking sites, forums, websites, etc)?  How does digital anthropology intersect with the physical as people increasingly act in physical space in response to the digital realm?  What kind of “future publics” are being constructed through today’s “current engagements” by users and anthropologists in the cyberspatial plazas of the internet (social networking sites, etc.)?

Furthermore, as digital technology continues to become a part of the everyday lives of the people anthropologists study, what insights can Digital Anthropology offer the broader discipline for “engaging with future publics”?  A discussion of ethnographic examples and evidence of the interactions between digital/online and physical life is pertinent to both the future of anthropological engagements with the public and to current concerns about digital studies in anthropology.

Building off goals established in the first organizational meeting of the newly formed Digital Anthropology interest group (DANG), this panel will address critical questions relating to the methods and ethics of digital fieldwork.  Presenters will demonstrate the applicability of insights, drawing from their current engagements with digital publics to advance the discipline of anthropology and prepare anthropologist for engagement with future publics.

 
Digital Anthropologists’ Current Engagements with 21st Century Publics: #Digital Publics, #Ethics, #Methods, #Insights

DANG Call for Papers

Deadline April 10th (To Meet April 15th AAA Deadline for Sessions)

We are seeking presenters with papers which will address questions of ethics in digital anthropology.   We want to include papers which demonstrate innovative methods solutions to issues particular to digital fieldwork.  Papers with findings and insights applicable to digital anthropology and the future of anthropology as a whole are strongly encouraged.  We are particularly interested in having papers that discuss the overlap and interactions between digital/online and the physical.   We invite presenters to submit paper abstracts pertinent to the themes outlined above; however, we do not wish to limit abstracts to strictly these themes.

We invite abstracts of 250 words to be submitted by April 10, 2013 to sydneyyeager@gmail.com  Look for email confirmation.

 

Performance Enhancing Drugs – College Edition

Passing with Pills: Redefining Performance in the Pharmaceuticalized University”  is a very thoughtful and thought provoking ethnographic look in the mirror.  Tazin Karim of Michigan State University did an excellent job applying a critical, medical anthropological lens to academia and the pressures of the rite of passage in America referred to as college.  
When discussing the exportation/globalization of mental illness and Western pharmaceuticals, undergrads in both my Intro to Anthropology discussion sections admitted to knowing a ‘friends’ who used Academic Performance enhancing drugs …  I have to admit my own caffeine dependence could fall in the same category.  American culture in general gives preference to substances which promote productivity and the University is no exception.  A few of my students discussed being prescribed Ritalin and Adderall long before they entered a college campus.  One girl described for us how ease it had been for her best friend to get a prescription, which she used primarily to write papers and make it through finals week.  

I think this is a very serious issue which is largely ignored because it gets the desired results and is socially linked to productivity and achievement.  For my part, some might argue that I am part of the problem, as a graduate student and teaching assistant who was aware of these thinly veiled “confessions.”   But I am 25 years old which makes me only a few years older than most of my students and this time four years ago I was the undergrad who had close friends doing the same thing.  However, it also raises an important ethical issue.  This was information I gained from a semester of building rapport with my students and a safe environment for discussion in my classroom.  In that moment, I saw my responsibility in guiding my students to think critically about the social and structural pressures that make the need for academic performance drugs and in interrogating the problematic dichotomy between legal prescription drugs and illegal drugs.  I pushed them to critically think about any substance they put in their body and I urged them to be accountable for researching these medicines, their purpose and their side effects.  In that classroom, I felt that was the extent of my ability to influence the matter.

But as a medical anthropologist, I think this is definitely an issue which merits further investigation and careful attention to potential solutions that address this “inconvenient truth.”  Karim’s narratives demonstrate the hidden reality on our campuses.  I hope to see more work along these lines in the future.

 

Gunman Suicide – A Social Illness

The media storm follow the Newton school shooting has left our nation with heavy hearts and that unanswerable question “but why…?”  The shooting occurred the day left Dallas heading home for Arkansas to spend my Christmas break with my family.  These incidents which have become all too frequent always leave me initially dumbfounded, but as the social scientist in the family people expect me to have a more educated response than a look of horror on my face.  Within hours of the shooting Facebook and Twitter was aflame with arguments for gun control and explanations of mental illness.  I found myself driving home in the dark and trying to explain to my father on the cell phone that it was “more complicated than that”.

Do we blame guns?  Do we blame mental illness? Do we blame the media or video games?  Do we blame American culture itself?

Part of the reason it is “more complicated than that” for me to explain to my father or most of the people I grew up with for that matter, is that Living Anthropologically’s simple answer “measures to reduce and restrict the weaponry” would begin a debate met by deaf ears.  Saying the word “gun control” to a hunter is the equivalent of saying “Internet censorship” to a member of anonymous.  Certain topics trigger a panicked emotional response that jumps to the worst case scenario first.  I know that restrictions on semi-automatics and hand guns is not the equivalent of a universal gun ban, but both the audience and the bigger picture need to be kept in mind.  The weapon of choice is definitely one way to tackle the problem, especially if you see no use for the device,  but it doesn’t fix the “why” which can always find a new outlet.

In his Neuroanthropology blog Daniel Lende reminds us that “Mentally ill patients are not more violent than anyone else.” and “Guns don’t shoot themselves.”  in his response to the two easy answers which have been put forth by the media and the public following the Newton shootings.

Follow the Aurora shooting, David Dobbs argued that “Culture shapes the expression of behavioral traits. The traits don’t rise inherent as an urge to play basketball or a plan to shoot up a Batman movie. A long conversation between the trait and the surrounding culture shape those expressions. Culture gives the impulse form and direction.”

In talking to my father who is very anti-gun control, I realized that there is a very big difference between a hunter and a gunman.  Friend and follow Arkansan, Justin Snook makes a similar connection in his blog post Guns and Games, when he says “I learned to treat a gun sensitively and reverently whether it was in my own hand or someone else’s.”  Growing up in rural Arkansas my first experience with guns did not come from video games or even TV.  I remember being between 2 and 3 years old and my dad letting me pull the trigger on his .22 while he held the gun.  As I got older both of my parents always re-enforced strict rules and behaviors relating to guns.  Guns were always present in my household, but they were also always serious.  The first rule I remember my mother telling me was to never go near the place my dad kept his guns unless he was with me.  The first rule I remember my father telling me about guns was to never point one at anything or anyone I didn’t want to kill, whether I thought the gun was loaded or not.   Guns were to be respected and were only used to hunt.  My brother, sister, and I were taught that what we did with a gun was our responsibility.  But this is not part of how most Americans are raised.  While hunters-ed is required for hunting licenses it is not required to own a gun.  You have to take two exams to drive a car but all you need is a background check to own a gun.  This means that unlike me, many Americans are taught about guns by TV, movies, and video games.  These media are artistic expressions of our culture so it is hard to blame them in and of themselves.  Films no longer warn that “you’ll shoot your eye out” and instead depict firearm novices becoming epic heroes by picking up a gun.  People who have never witnessed anything larger than a spider die are allowed to own hand guns designed for shooting people and even semi-automatic weapons designed to shoot everything insight.

If the people using them and how they are used, not the guns themselves are at the center of the “but why …?” question, then we that we are to blame.  A cultural dialogue which allows people to assign the blame to others instead of accepting responsibility makes it possible for the gunman suicide phenomenon to become an accepted cultural script.

A young man (statistically most are males) has bad relationships with his family.  He becomes/feels disenfranchised.  He is alienated from his community and he begins to blame all the people in his life for how terrible his life is.  That blame turns to hate and when he cannot take it anymore and is ready to end it all by killing himself he turns to the pre-existing techniques his culture has provided.  Going out in a blaze of glory, maximizing his ability to hurt those who he blames for his state, and regaining control of his life in a hyper-masculine villainous act.   Gunman suicide becomes the last desperate attempt at significance.

Lende argues that “If we’re going to think of violence as a sickness, then it is its own type of sickness, different in kind and in expression from the mental and physical ailments that also possess us. Violence is red in tooth and claw, seemingly primordial, until we recognize how socially regulated it is.”

My best explanation is that the gunman suicide phenomenon is a social illness rather than a mental or physical one.  These gunmen which have become all too common are suffering from a lack of the social components necessary to be healthy in body and mind.  It is a social illness in that these gunmen are men who society has failed and in that the illness harms society itself.  It takes the lives of the incident’s victims, it wrecks havoc on the lives of the victims families and the community, but it also traumatized us as a nation, as a globally connected world.  The gunman is ground zone of the social illness, proving to us that in this hyper-connected and highly visible age a ticking time bomb can still remain in plain sight.