The 10th Anniversary of Zero Anthropology

For us, one of the special features of 2017 is that it marks the 10th anniversary of Zero Anthropology. We are now officially past 10 years of age, and part of the review that follows will highlight some of our achievements.

In early October, we passed our 10 year mark. The site began as “Open Anthropology,” changing its name to “Zero Anthropology” in 2009—no need to rehash all the reasons why right now. It has gone from a single author (myself), to a group, and back to single authorship since late 2015.

Zero Anthropology comes at the end of a 21 year history of producing anthropological websites, dating back to 1996 with my first site focusing on the Muslim and indigenous communities in Trinidad & Tobago, followed by several ethnographic websites focused on the indigenous people of Trinidad and the wider Caribbean, then moving on to the Caribbean Amerindian Centrelink launched in 1998 (becoming the Indigenous Caribbean Center), our first electronic newsletter in 2000, which then became the “blog” of the CAC Review in 2003 (and still exists as the Indigenous Caribbean Review). From 1998 through 2008, I also edited and managed one of the first truly open-access, peer reviewed journals in anthropology, titled Kacike: The Journal of Caribbean Amerindian History and Anthropology (which is now permanently archived on EBSCO).

Our past contributors to Zero Anthropology have been, in no particular order, John Stanton, Jamil Hanifi, John Allison, Brendan Stone, Donnchadh Mac an Ghoill, Eliza Jane Darling, and Eva Bartlett. We have had a couple of guest authors as well. Many thanks to all of them for their many contributions.

Both the content and style of the site have changed markedly over the years, from periods of multiple postings per day, often very short pieces, to our current pattern of production that is very slow, very deliberate, with comparatively long articles that are as well researched as possible. This is not “journalism,” and I doubt it can be called “blogging” in any meaningful sense. Our writing has spanned multiple genres, from fiction, poetry and book reviews, to political commentary, media critique, ethnography, and writings on anthropology.

Zero Anthropology also extended into different directions: hosting its own video productions on YouTube and Vimeo (and MySpace, Daily Motion, etc.—you can find us on most social media platforms); maintaining Twitter and Facebook feeds; continuing to build an online document library; the production of a number of bibliographies; book publishing; and, interviews with the media—all accessible via a centralized site for the Zero Anthropology Project. However, our engagement with “social media” has been substantially pared down in recent years and months, not to devote our free labour to inflating the value of an environment dominated/censored by US interests and US corporations—and because most of the important realizations and understandings are not produced a dozen per second in “streams,” “feeds” and “timelines”. “Release early, release often,” I slowly came to realize is the slogan of those who prefer instant recognition and constant gratification, likely inspired by a “social media” environment dominated by the celebrity-activist-journalist type.

In total, Zero Anthropology has been viewed in excess of 1.6 million times, with an untold number of views through RSS feeds and email distribution. We have also had over one million views on YouTube. Thankfully, we have as many as 15,000 subscribers between the ZA site and our Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube accounts. We have published about 1,300 articles in total. Lastly, we are ranked at the very top of anthropology “blogs” in the world (even if we do not actually blog).

Our Top 10, and again…

The numbers below do not take into account the dozen or so articles which have been translated into different languages (Italian, French, German, Czech, Norwegian, Spanish, Arabic, Farsi) and are hosted on other websites. The following is a list of our top 10 articles of all time, starting with the one that has been most read—interestingly, some of the most read items are among our most recent:

  1. Why Donald J. Trump Will Be the Next President of the United States (120,000+ views)
  2. The Dying Days of Liberalism (35,000+ views)
  3. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, or the “Top Thinker” in the World Scouting for the Empire in Afghanistan (22,000+ views)
  4. Wikileaks: Defend Julian Assange (19,000+ views)
  5. Is TIME’s Afghan “cover girl” really a victim of mutilation by the Taleban? (18,800+ views)
  6. Continued: Debating the Pros and Cons of Wikileaks’ Afghan War Diary (17,000+ views)
  7. Immigration and Capital (17,000+ views)
  8. M. Jamil Hanifi: Engineering Division, Instability, and Regime Change with Naheed, Neda, and Allah (16,500+ views)
  9. America’s Iranian Twitter Revolution (16,000+ views)
  10. Trump and Anthropology (15,500+ views)

As is often the case, “most read” does not necessarily translate into “must read”.

Focusing only on my own work (now exceeding 1,200 articles), my top 10 list of what I would recommend the most would look substantially different—so here it is:

  1. The New Victorianism (series of four articles, links to each included)
  2. Canadian Anthropology or US Cultural Imperialism? (series of six articles, includes: US Anthropology is Imperial, not Universal; US Anthropology: Political, Professional, Personal, Imperial; Canadian Anthropology and Cultural Imperialism: Criticisms; BDS, the AAA, and Academic Imperialism; and, Canada, First in Anthropology)
  3. Immigration and Capital (series of three articles, includes Anthropologists and “Illegal Immigrants” and Open Borders, Global Citizenship, and the Working Class)
  4. Terminal Condition: Neoliberal Globalization
  5. How to Make Extremism Mainstream and Fake a Debate about Islamophobia
  6. The Real World of Democracy (and Anthropology) (series of two articles, includes Democracy in Cuba and at Home)
  7. The Shape of Things to Come in Libya (series of two articles, links to each included)
  8. Donald Trump, Empire, and Globalization: A Reassessment (following from Donald Trump and Empire: An Assessment)
  9. Debating the End of the Human Terrain System (series of two articles, part 2 is here)
  10. 101 Things We Learned from WikiLeaks’ Podesta Emails

The subjects which occupied the attention of writers on this site have primarily been, in chronological order, debates around the US Army’s Human Terrain System (primarily from 2007 to 2010); the war in Libya and “humanitarian” imperialism (from 2011 to the present); and, critiques and history of anthropology, from the inception of the site to the present. In that time, much has changed in terms of the objectives and scope of this site. The one theme that is likely to persist is the necessity of a Canadian anthropology that, unlike its US counterpart, grasps imperialism as fully as possible as a major force that has decisively impacted the human condition worldwide.

Finally, for listings of our top articles by category, see the Zero Anthropology Project. Thanks again to our many readers over the years.


4 thoughts on “The 10th Anniversary of Zero Anthropology

  1. shea05

    I found this site after taking a class at Concordia with Professor Forte. When I had the free time after finishing my undergrad in May, I began to steadily devour article after article here. Thanks for providing such a wealth of information on important subjects. This site went a long way towards my “understanding how the world works”, (a nebulous goal that one seems only ever able to approach and never reach.)

    Cheers to another 10 years!

    – Shea

    PS I’m not sure if you’ve considered this, but if you put some of your lectures up on Youtube I can guarantee they would see some degree of success. Not to suggest entering the social media popularity contests, but I do believe it would be of great benefit to all for this information to be made as accessible as possible. Having spent quite a bit of time in “new media”, I can assure you there is a deep hunger for truth out there. Specifically, topics like (De)globalization, imperialism, immigration covered in ANTH 385 garner enormous interest on places like Youtube and in podcasts, but few channels / personalities employ the rigorous research and breadth of scope found at the academic level.

    1. Maximilian C. Forte

      Thanks very much for your kind comment Shea, much appreciated. That was a really productive version of ANTH 385 that you took, and it came at the right time. As for your suggestion, I will consider it, though I am a bit wary of what is happening in the major US-owned social networking sites in terms of censorship, and in the past YouTube has censored material I put up–but there are other possibilities I can look at. Many thanks again and very best wishes for the holidays!

  2. stanleydundee

    Many thanks for great material challenging conventional wisdom! I’m a relatively recent reader who found your work via Fabius Maximus. Your Trump analysis was helped to shape my political views on the recent US election. The New Victorians and your other critiques of neoliberalism have also been useful and illuminating. You’ve also been a major influence in my ongoing program of study of indigenous cultures and colonialism/imperialism/globalization. Also I really appreciate your measured pace of posting with genuinely weighty content in every post. Wishing you many more years of research, insight, and argument!

  3. Kevin Kresse (@kevinkresse)

    I just came upon this site via twitter this morning. I am excited to know about your work and the work of your collaborators. I most likely will read everything on this site over the coming weeks and months, as I recognized immediately that your perspective on imperialism, globalization, nationalism etc is both nuanced and grounded in honest intellectual inquiry. Thank you for your work. Thank you for having the courage to publish it here and make it available to a global audience.

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