The Perfect Gift for the Anthropologist with a Smart Idea

Finally, something we have been all searching for, thinking that no entrepreneurs out there could ever really understand us and our special policy-making needs. It took a McPhee to recognize the hidden McFate in all of us. Without further ado, here it is, in all its glory, the one and only Great Ideas NAPKIN Sketchbook! (image shown may not be to the scale of users’ ambitions):

Thanks to Archie McPhee, we have long overdue recognition of the fact that the cocktail party, and the napkin on the table, is where all great ideas in anthropology first took shape. It’s perfect for the “applied anthropologist,” the human terrain mapper, anyone with a connoisseur’s nose for the fine aroma of military contractor dollars, the blogging wonk, or anyone with a burning desire to become influential.

Indeed, if you have the next great new idea in anthropology, and post it below, I will send you one of these cocktail napkin sketchbooks as a gift!


7 Brilliant Ideas Scribbled On Cocktail Napkins and Toilet Papers

Three-Martini Genius: 50 Great Ideas and the Cocktail Napkins They Were First Sketched on

“McFate found herself still grasping for purpose until one night in 2002 when she ended a long talk with her husband about their futures by scribbling a sentence on a cocktail napkin: How do I make anthropology relevant to the military”

“Like Dorothy Parker, McFate has a gift for feisty, but mordant, sound-bites. A three-year tour of Germany as an army wife ensued and, and then the couple returned to Washington to work out their next move. ‘How do I make anthropology relevant to the military?’ she scribbled on a napkin”

“She wrote on a cocktail napkin: “How do I make anthropology relevant to the military?”….Who knows? Maybe we can figure out “how to engage Iran to get the outcome we want without going to war.” Not bad for a back-of-the-napkin idea.”

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13 thoughts on “The Perfect Gift for the Anthropologist with a Smart Idea

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention The Perfect Gift for the Anthropologist with a Smart Idea" ( ) #anthro #anthropology --

  2. Maximilian Forte

    Maybe for this contest, all ideas should be phrased in this way:

    “How do I make anthropology relevant to the ___________?”

    The one with the most positive ratings will win.

  3. Osiel Cardenas

    How do I make anthropology relevant to the Mexican drug cartel of your choice?

    (Signed on back of a napkin in a cantina in Ciudad Juárez)

  4. June Harding

    How do I make anthropology relevant to the parents who think I’m wasting my time with this BA?

  5. Mike Cavanaugh

    Ok, here’s another one:

    If an anthropologist takes a shit in the woods, and no one is around to hear the shit drop, does it still count as good enough for a post on

  6. Maximilian Forte

    Apologies to anyone who might have posted a message that does not appear here: unfortunately a blog post with the words “perfect gift” in the title seems to invite a deluge of commercial spam, and often that can mean that legitimate comments disappear into a massive spam queue.

  7. Maximilian Forte

    Well Osiel, it looks like you won this contest!

    I rather liked it too, though some of the others were very good as well, and all were better than mine (which was absolutely zero, or not worth repeating anyway).

    Many thanks for your kind participation.

    Please send me a mailing address at, and of course I will keep that information private.

  8. Jeremy Trombley

    Hey Max,
    Sorry I’m coming to the party late – I’ve had a busy semester. Anyway, just wanted to share a few I thought of:

    “How can I make anthropology relevant to…..

    …Fred Phelps?

    …Rupert Murdoch, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, etc.?

    …The Tea Party?


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