I attended my second anthropology talk since I have been here, surprisingly both of them were on Africa. The first on migrant sex workers in Benin city, Nigeria and Turin, Italy and the second on experimental huts in the Gambia and Tanzania. In the first talk she read an entire chapter from her PhD thesis and in the second she also read an entire paper but at least this time she had pictures on Powerpoint to illustrate. I particularly do not like this format as I feel if you are going to read an entire paper why not send it in advance and we can come prepared to discuss it. During both talks I got real frustrated because I was not clear what the objectives of the study were, the methodology, the results, and analysis. Maybe this is typical of how scientists think. Anthropology is a comparative, evolutionary and historical study of humankind and with any study methods, results and conclusions are of course inherent. But both times I got irritated with what appeared as blatant generalizations and prose that often had no substance, it was dribble – waffle at best, talking without saying anything. I think therefore from now on I will minimize my contact with anthropology so that I can retain some respect for this field.
By far the worst event I have been to was the PADS+ at the Institute of Criminology. The advert in the brochure hyped it as a hands on event, “an intimate look at the longest and largest longitudinal study in the UK”. All it was was a wall of terrible conference posters (Jan Dook would have balked – too texty, too colourful, no white spaces, terrible titles), two very lovely young PhD female students available to answer any questions, and a power point presentation on loop. Did I miss the interactive hands on part?