Department of Anthropology

Brown Bag: Writing for Public Audiences

Mon, November 19, 2012 | SAC 5.118

12:00 PM

UT Department of Anthropology Presents

2012-2013 Speaker Series

“The Long Hand: Anthropology, Writing, and Inscription”


Writing for Public Audiences


Anthony Di Fiore, Kristin Phillips, Samuel Wilson and Cecilia Ballí


What happens when scholars write directly for public audiences? What kind of engagements and conversations result? What are the pitfalls and possibilities? Is there even interest outside of academia in scholarly thought and research?

 This brown bag will feature four anthropologists who have made that leap and will share their experiences working across this tricky but rewarding writing border. They will reflect on the value of public writing, its limitations, and the translation of ideas and reframing of stories it demands. Also on its rewards and satisfactions, and, more practically, opportunities for practicing it. We hope you will find the subject fresh and stimulating.

 Anthony Di Fiore is a biological anthropologist who studies the social systems of wild primates through field observations and genetic analyses. He has conducted fieldwork on New World monkeys in Amazonian Ecuador for over twenty years and collaborates on studies at other sites from the Yucatan of Mexico to the Argentine Chaco. He has contributed to the New York Times' Scientist at Work blog, to the National Geographic Society's Explorer! magazine for elementary school children, and, most recently, to the forthcoming volume Primate Ethnographies, a collection of primatologists writings about fieldwork experiences.

 Kristin Phillips, a science journalist, spent years chasing monkeys up knife ridges and detailing female social interactions before settling down as popular writer. She has written about prairie wetland loss, Korean shamans, new dinosaur fossils, DNA barcoding, and carrot allergies for print and on the web (Natural HistoryRotundaAudubon MagazineLiveScienceSciencelineScience360) and was most recently the science publicist and writer at the American Museum of Natural History.

 Samuel Wilson is an anthropologist and archaeologist whose research interests include the prehistory and early contact period history of the Caribbean, and culture contact in the Americas. He also studies the way new digital technologies allow the emergence of novel kinds of communities for dispersed groups, including Native Americans. He has carried out archaeological fieldwork throughout the Caribbean and North America, most recently in Cuba, the island of Nevis, and central Texas. The author and editor of multiple books, he wrote a long series of columns for Natural History between 1991 and 1999.

Cecilia Ballí is a cultural anthropologist and magazine journalist who does comparative research on either side of the U.S.-Mexico border, with a focus on South Texas and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. Her academic interest is in patterns of social and political violence, with projects on the sexual killing of young women, the erosion of rights under the Mexican federal drug offensive, and the effects of U.S. border enforcement practices on everyday life in border communities. She’s published on these subjects and on Latino politics, life and culture in Texas Monthly, where she’s a writer-at-large, in Harper’s, and in various popular anthologies and online blogs.


For further information please contact Adriana Dingman at


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