“Top 100 Anthropology Blogs”? No, I don’t think so.

Recently a list of the “top 100 anthropology blogs” was produced by a site called Online Universities. I am certain that the intentions behind the listing were purely positive and constructive, and I am not imputing any sinister motive on the part of Patricia Gavins, the site author, or Christina Laun who authored the specific page in question. Nor do I think it is worth complaining that some sites are listed as a professor’s blog while others are not; that in some cases the professor’s name is indicated, in others it is not; that sometimes the institutional affiliation of the bloggers is noted, in others it is not; or even the tepid description that this blog gets, when others seem much more exciting. It is Laun’s list and she is perfectly free to write it in the way that pleases her most.

What is much more significant is this: “anthropology blogs.” Leaving aside previous, hot, discussions on this blog on what constitutes an “anthropology” blog, the fact of the matter is that the list is entirely Anglo-centric. This has been noted by my friends at Comunidade Imaginada, a Portuguese anthropology blog to which I link, and which I respect. The world of self-described anthropology blogs is much bigger, much richer, and much more interesting than that 100 list would lead some to believe. It is also not clear how it was determined that these 100 were the “top” blogs.

As with discussions about “open access” publishing in anthropology, our discussions of anthropology blogging must display a positive anthropological ethic by eschewing the kind of Eurocentrism, or specifically Anglo-centrism, and in some cases Ameri-centrism that pervades so much of the purview on anthropology here in North America.

All lists are acts of (mis)recognition, and one has to be aware/wary of that. I don’t think we ever clearly resolved on this blog what an anthropology blog was either, and I would welcome renewing that discussion.

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10 thoughts on ““Top 100 Anthropology Blogs”? No, I don’t think so.

  1. Pingback: top 100 internet sources on anthropology « kraut atlantik

  2. enkerli

    Agreed, this list can be a good opportunity to discuss anthroblogging.
    I personally perceived it as an attempt to group some resources, like those directories in Gopher and the early Web. Had noticed the term “top” and was intrigued by the categorization, but didn’t get too concerned about those issues. It’s more impressive to see a list of 100 anthro-related blogs than it may be frustrating to have segments of the anthroblogging community under- or unrepresented.

    What’s funny is that I keep noticing that the timing is perfect for Owen’s work. Blogs by anthropologists and/or about anthropology are gaining some visibility. An increasing number of anthropologists are connecting through social media generally (including microblogs and online social network services). Discussions about ethnography and anthropology are increasingly common. And awareness of issues related to Open Access and Open Content generally is slowly getting to the level we can expect.

    Depending on what happens in my own life in the next few weeks, I might focus more on using social media for anthropological purposes. In that case, Gavins’s list might serve as a starting point for a broader description.

    1. Maximilian Forte

      Yes, I agree that it is a good and useful start, and I doubt that my first go at something like this would have been much better. On the other hand, one would think that we really had been trained to be conscious of the meanings of recognition, selectivity and exclusivity, cultural blinkers, and what ranking means.

      Thanks very much for commenting.

  3. Pamthropologist

    I think you need to look to the source. Sites like the one creating the list are kind of clearinghouses to recommend Distance Learning programs/courses/options for non-traditional students. I teach online courses and I know we are listed and because we are a Community College we are cheap, even for out of state. I get students registering from all over the U.S. and Latin America. I was even approached to teach for an all online University (their training and compensation are not attractive btw). Anyway, in both a general and a specific way, such lists add legitimacy to the whole process.

    I doubt the list-makers had the educational background to understand the intent and purpose of many of the blogs they (probably rapidly) reviewed.

    A list for anthropologists and by anthropologists would be very different. I can’t see how we could ever achieve one, given the subject level diversity and the diversity of the geographic/area-studies focus that many of us have.

    I was amused to see that the British blogs also, were not included. Does that mean only the Anglo-diaspora (does that term work?) counts?

  4. Pamthropologist

    I debated about telling you this as I fear for your blood pressure. I pursued the offer from the online institution far enough to get some information. They provide you with a pre-established curriculum; that is they basically hand you a course. Your job is to monitor it and give feedback to students on a weekly basis. You contribute not one bit of content. Take deep breaths. Crazy, scary, huh?

  5. Pamthropologist

    Oh heck, I feel stupid posting another comment but I really didn’t make myself at all clear. The list is an advertisement. The site is linked to one woman who is trying to build a list of recommended institutions which may pay her advertising. Check out the schools that link there, they are places like University of Phoenix and all those business schools, medical assistant, and vet tech associates degree granting institutions.

    That’s why it doesn’t pass the smell test.

  6. Maximilian Forte

    Hi Pam, you’ve been busy!

    I think I saw John Postill’s blog in the list, and one or two more that are blogs by British anthropologists.

    You know, you almost make the job sound attractive…I might check them out ;-)

  7. dlende

    I agree, it wasn’t the best list ever; some of the descriptions were rather flat. Some good blogs were missing. It was slanted to a US audience. And really works as a way to promote that online education site.

    It would be interesting for some anthropologists to put together a list of 100 blogs. Or maybe 100 anglo/amer-centric blogs, and then a list of other language blogs. (I’ve been reading Grafos y Acidentes in Spanish.) What do people think of putting together our own list? Too imperialist of ourselves?

    Even if this particular list didn’t pass the smell test, it still highlights that there are more than enough anthro blogs out there that such a list can exist. And that at least is a step towards getting the anthro message out. Well, messages…

  8. Maximilian Forte

    Yes, those are interesting ideas, both about the merits of this initial attempt at a list, and especially the idea that we create our own list. There is one other site that tries to do this, but it seems that it will be necessary in many cases for the site authors to input their own details (which they won’t do if they don’t know about the list)…it’s at:


    Then there are our individual blogrolls which we could mine. Mine got too long and I had to place the links on separate pages for this site. There is also the question — and this can generate a lot of controversy as it did here a few weeks ago — of what constitutes an anthropology blog.

    Perhaps we could just have a blog that is itself a list of blogs? I’m not sure how to do this using free resources.

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