Editor’s Note: Robbie Blinkoff is a real anthropologist – the kind you only read about in books from the days of Clifford Geertz. He started out researching hunter-gather gardeners in Papua New Guinea and how they don’t own property as we know it.
Robbie Blinkoff is also a real anthropology researcher – the kind that many of us want to be. He helped start Context-Based Research Group, a global company that conducts ethnographic research and consumer anthropology for businesses. We are very honored to have Robbie contribute a personal essay this month. Robbie doesn’t talk about his work with companies in this essay, instead he gives us a deeply personal take of the value of anthropological research for uncovering deep complexity. Robbie teaches courses in cultural and consumer anthropology at Goucher College and plays the ukulele. You can follow Robbie on twitter. – Tricia
I’m an anthropologist. My wife is an anthropologist. I know a lot of anthropologists. I’m not an academic anthropologist, but I do teach college courses on anthropology. My job title is Principal Anthropologist. What I’ve come to realize is that “being an anthropologist” is just something I understand and am sure that’s who I am. As an anthropologist I just know nothing is for certain and that there exist a number of reasons and ways of doing things. I always looked at life this way. So when I found anthropology it just made sense that I was an anthropologist.
I remember the day I knew anthropology was what I was going to study. I had just come back from a term abroad living on a Kibbutz in Israel. It was 1985, I was 20 years old and I was a psychology major. I was taking a psychology course on gender with Suzie Benack – one of my favorite professors. Dr. Benack had worked under Nancy Chodorow who achieved notoriety for putting a feminist spin on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Read More…