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Outside In: Breaking Some Anthropology Rules for Design [guest contributor]

Note: Apart from the author’s illustration by Shu Kuge, all photos are by Shibaura House.

 

Our July guest contributor is Jared Braiterman, a design anthropologist based in Tokyo, Japan. Jared starts off the summer with an exciting post, first telling us that we should break anthropology rules and second suggesting that design anthropology is distinct from ethnography.   The last time we had a post this provocativel was guest contributor Sam Ladner asked if “Corporate Ethnography sucked?” What are your thoughts on Jared’s ideas? What rules do you break? And how different do you think design anthropology is from ethnography? We’d love to hear your thoughts on Jared’s article in the comments section.

I came across Jared’s work via the AnthroDesign network, a great online group of social scientists and designers. (Thanks Anthrodesign!) Jared’s work caught my attention because he documents his research process very openly and I was inspired by his transparency. On  Tokyo Green Space, Jared writes about his research on making cities more livable. His blog focuses on Tokyo, but urban planners around the world turn to Jared for leadership on making cities healthy places for humans.  He also writes about his work in leading customer-focused design teams for established brands and startups. The American Anthropologist has reviewed his blog as a form of public anthropology. In addition to blogging, he has published internationally about human interfaces and urban landscapes. Here’s a wonderful interview with Jared in the Techno Times section of the Japan TimesJared is currently a Research Fellow in Landscape Architecture Science at the Tokyo University of Agriculture.  You can learn more about his work at TokyoGreenSpace or find him on twitter.

Read our past guest contributor’s posts and consider contributing to Ethnography Matters. Email us! – Tricia

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Leading a workshop about fieldwork and Tokyo green mapping for Shibaura House, I ask Japanese participants to imagine themselves as outsiders. Outsider in Japanese is an imported word, and I want to challenge them to consider if such people exist in Japan.

Last year’s tsunami and nuclear disaster prompted a revolt against government and corporate leaders’ promotion of a harmonious “nuclear village.” And Japan now faces dire predictions of an unprecedented population decline of thirty percent in the next forty years. Now more than ever before, Japanese seem eager to explore new ways to engage each other and the world.

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