Every week (or so) I post a quick Q&A with one of our bloggers on the network, so you can get to know them better. This week, I chat with Krystal D'Costa from Anthropology in Practice.
Hello! Let's start with first things first. What is the name of your blog and why did you choose that name - what does it mean?
The blog is called Anthropology in Practice--AiP for short. It's meant to highlight the many ways anthropology can help us understand some of our own daily behaviors. I think too often anthropology is associated with the Other, but it can also be a great reflective tool. AiP also draws on history and psychology to help us understand daily behaviors in relation to the larger social context. In this sense, I feel, we're very much putting anthropology into practice.
Where does the artwork for your banner come from, and what are you trying to convey with it?
The artwork for the blog was done by a very good friend of mine, Andrew Borys, who worked with me closely to develop a symbol that we felt would resonate with readers. I've drawn some fire for this particular iconography, which is popularly known as "the march of progress" and has been criticized for presenting a linear view of evolution. I've actually responded to some of that criticism here and explained the choice in full, but in short, we went with this image because of the immediate connection to "change over time." Anthropology has a lot of potential to highlight cultural and social shifts, and a lot of my writing traces these kinds of changes.
Tell us more about yourself - where are you from, how did you get into science?
I live just outside of New York City now, but I grew up in Queens, New York where I had the benefit of some amazing teachers who constantly worked to open my eyes to science in all its forms. One of my favorite classes ever was Earth Science, and New York has such a rich geologic history that in many ways that made science real for me. I fell hard for the social sciences in high school, when I took a social science elective that let me design my own study based on participant observation. This experience directed me to anthropology in college.
I've always been naturally curious though--my mom could share some hair raising stories about my early experiments. I talk about one of these here towards the end of the post.
How did you get into science blogging and science writing? What were the early influences on you regarding your blogging style and topics?
My work isn't directly "anthropological." That is to say, research and science writing aren't a main component of my job, but it remains a key interest for me. The blog began as a way for me to remain connected to some of the work I had been doing, and stay up-to-date with current research. It evolved into a way to highlight the connections we have with each other via the lens of anthropology, psychology, and history.
I've always admired Eric Michael Johnson's Primate Diaries and Brian Switek's Laelaps. They've been a part of my RSS for years. And I think reading them really gave me a sense that I *could* do this--that there is room online for reflective, lengthy discussions in my own voice. But one of the things blogging has done is really open my eyes to the breadth of sci-writers online, and I like to think that my writing is shaped by a great number of them. I've grown to really admire Hannah Waters' Culturing Science, Kristina Killgrove's Powered by Osteons, and Kate Clancy's Context and Variation. It's really exciting for me that I get to keep the company of three of those people on the SciAm network. Every post for me is an exercise in testing my voice and it's hard not to incorporate a little bit of what you absorb from others.
What is your blog about? Who is your target audience, and why do you think people should read your blog?
The goal of AiP is to highlight the ways in which our behavior is every bit as fascinating the ethnographic Other. When I entered the business world and I introduced myself as an anthropologist, I would get puzzled looks. The question that came up most often was "Why aren't you living in [remote location] studying [incorrectly associated tribe]?" Or "Shouldn't you be digging something up?" Anthropology seemed really removed from the public sense of science. But it's every bit as important as the traditional hard sciences, and I think it's important to give people a means of looking at themselves through this lens.
AiP is written for a broad audience. It covers everything from why we like coffee, to the history of high heels, to subway behaviors to evolution. And hopefully there something for everyone here!
Anything else interesting about you, perhaps cool hobbies?
Last summer I caught my first ever striped bass off of Montauk, and it nearly pulled me overboard! It was an exhilarating experience. When I'm not wrangling monsters of the deep, I'm curled up on the couch with a good book. I'm a total history geek, and my husband has "lost" me on occasion because I wandered off to investigate some old sign or historical marker. I'm also a big baseball fan, and lover of bad scary movies.
Previously in this series: