Action Group 4 OAC

The purpose of this group is to have a peg in the OAC for people to share what they can do, or would suggest can be done to carry on the usefulness of having 5000 anthropologists linked (however protractedly).


Essentially Occupy it in the sense of bringing more life and meaning to a space.

Location: Canterbury & Online
Members: 43
Latest Activity: Jun 13, 2013






IMO - architects & techies

TIPI - relations to Occupy movement

AGARIC - offline activities

RHIZOME - members outreach

DIDGE - coherent media

Also see this discussion here: WHAT IS THE OAC FOR?

(you may need to repost your comments from the main thread)

Please still feel free to comment on the main wall.


This group has been instigated due to the reading of this by Keith Hart -

This group has two premises that should be answered (in an on-going fashion).

a) that bringing together 5000 Anthropologists is useful

b) that 5000 Anthropologists can both maintain themselves as a community for the purposes of sharing/learning and conversing on great anthropological stuff 

Proposal: We would also like it to grow to be more able at making this learning more of a total social fact outside of an academic or online discourse.

Elaine summary AG4OAC 1 Dec.odt

Discussion Forum

Isolated Anthropologists 8 Replies

Am I alone? I am indeed alone, as the single anthropologist in a University that specializes in management and technology.  This leads of course to a sort of academic isolation and - with the best…Continue

Started by Charles Kirke. Last reply by Charles Kirke Jan 11, 2012.

Suggestions 15 Replies

a place to post suggestionsContinue

Tags: sustainability, practical, suggestions, action, anthropology

Started by Abraham Heinemann. Last reply by Adonia Lugo Dec 2, 2011.

What is the OAC 4? 11 Replies

We have had some discussion on the main thread concerning a possible mission statement or manifesto for the OAC, with some emphasis on an apparent contradiction between the need to clarify what we…Continue

Started by Keith Hart. Last reply by Adonia Lugo Dec 2, 2011.

Comment Wall


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Comment by Elaine Forde on December 19, 2011 at 9:33pm

sorry keith! I didn't mean it like that, just to say that I thought that Oscar's comments about OAC's invisible reach validated its existence simply as a space for debate even if no coherent agenda can/ will emerge. But I did think some great ideas came out of the thread while I was summarising it so hopefully the admins/ tech can see that as a piece of feedback from interested parties whether they/ we have the resources to do anything with it at all

Comment by Keith Hart on December 19, 2011 at 8:23pm

Elaine, I appreciate your efforts to keep this thread going. There were 56 comments between November 16th and 25th. The next was your note about the summary you made on December 3rd. Oscar wrote in on the 6th to say that readers appreciate our content. I made my response and you have now suggested that I may have killed off the conversation. I think it was already dead.

Comment by Elaine Forde on December 19, 2011 at 8:04pm

The thread appears to be unusually quiet?

Keith- perhaps your last comment took the wind out of some of our sails? I have something to share based on recent conversations with some of the people involved with the UK Occupy movement, which was in part our departure point

As I was told-  "Occupy" does not have an agenda per se, beyond creating a space for dialogue, opening up debate on key issues of importance, which many would agree now is capitalism/ banking and economy, perhaps food sovereignty and land rights, environment and climate change and peak oil- I'm sure there are many more.

Since we started this group based on a perceived apathy at OAC and the question, what should a site linking up 5 thousand-odd anthropologists do exactly?- plus, a reaction to the growing global protest movement. Taking  heed of the Occupy example, it IS important to have a visible space for dialogue, no single manifesto or character will be able to define the views of 5000 people, especially not 5000 anthropologists!

OAC can spark co-operation, formally or informally if people want it to, and I welcome any measures which enliven these pages.

Comment by Keith Hart on December 6, 2011 at 8:08pm

Thanks for the endorsement, Oscar. I sometimes think that beating our chests about reaching invisible people and making ineffective moves to coordinate the OAC are inconsistent with what we have become. Planned change is so twentieth century. We have created the site. Let people do what they will with it. Who knows what flowers will grow in unexpected places or the watchers will in the end have very little to watch. The key word we failed to implement is Cooperative and that is so nineteenth century. We are all social beings, as you demonstate in passing things on, but we don't have to make society here, except perhaps in a very sporadic and unintentional way.

Comment by Oscar González on December 6, 2011 at 6:40pm

I don’t know if I qualify as a lurker. I read a lot of discussions at the OAC site, but writing comments is difficult for me. Even when each member is special, my own situation describes a case in OAC.

 I´m a stand alone anthropologist out from academy, attempting to understand human 21st C. people, glimpse their future, and trying to do in depth.

Those discussions that Keith, John and other active people at the OAC promote are hugely important and you shouldn’t worry about a poor impact of your posts.  

 As an example, the recent text by Keith, The euro crisis seen as an episode in the history of money is a great article on the European-global-financial-social-historical crisis. It deserves to be replicated and translated as many times and languages as possible. I sent it forward (as I often do with posts and URLs from OAC) to about 20-30 people  (anthropologists sometimes, but also journalists, educators &c.) interested on social or political themes in Mexico, Argentina, USA and Canada.

Then, (even if nobody knows them exactly) there are unknown but likely positive consequences of your (our) discussions and proposals.

 Best regards, Oscar

Comment by Elaine Forde on December 3, 2011 at 1:09am

In response to comments about the length of this discussion, for those just picking up on this group I've posted a summary of the main suggestions and points raised from the following (or preceding?) six pages of discussion, it's in the box above (and open office format- sorry word-heads). If you don't need to save time, please take the trouble to read the discussion though since most of the flavour is missing from the summary and ideas are not properly attributed.

Comment by Huon Wardle on November 25, 2011 at 1:24pm

OK, I am here now. I have been reading the ideas with interest and what I have noticed is that merely the thought of regenerating OAC has sparked a lot of engagement. I am sure that the people who joined want OAC to succeed, the problem has always been that it is not clear what kind of social thing OAC is.

As to commitment, I remember that in Britain in the 70s one of the major concert orchestras began to give very successful concerts for children. The conductor made the point that some sort of reciprocal involvement was somehow psychologically significant, so they charged 50pence for the concerts in return for which the children knew they would get the Nutcracker suite which was popular because of an advert for chocolates at that time.

So, there is still some kind of genuine mode of engagement missing from OAC that you would expect from working social forms. If you were to take, for the sake of argument, Graeber's types - Communism, Hierarchy, Exchange - OAC hasn't really managed to prioritise any one of these nor yet found a fully functioning blend that creates true interaction; maybe the seminars are one of the best examples of a working mix of this kind.

Comment by Keith Hart on November 25, 2011 at 12:45pm

I share John's analysis and priorities. If we are to become more specialized in our engagements, then online member outreach would certainly be one of mine. I already welcome most new members and pay close attention to the pattern of visits to the site. I have over 400 friends in the membership and take part in many discussions. I am trying to launch a Portuguese branch of the OAC Press, since I am acutely aware of the fact that we do not cater well for non-native English speakers; and I was glad that many groups in other languages were once active. I also try to encourage non-academic members. So I will take these interests to the special thread that John suggested and Abraham has provided (Working Group Rhizome).

But John's more general point is about expanding the core of active participants in the OAC's development. We should start with the people who already signed up for this group. It says we are 35, but I can only count 30. Some left presumably (including Paul, Michelangelo). Of these the following already are doing something for OAC or have said they want to:

Abraham Heinemann, Keith Hart, Elaine Forde, John McCreery, Ryan Anderson, Fran Barone, Heather Gilman, Justin Shaffner. Huon Wardle already does a lot, especially for the Press, but isn't here. Several individuals have approached me privately about joining in, but they are understandably wary of making an open-ended public commitment.

We are 22 men and 8 women. 8 of us are from the US, 7 from the UK, 3 from the Commonwealth (Canada, India, Kenya) and 12 from the rest of Europe (2 each from Germany, Portugal and Ireland, 1 each from Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Sweden, Iceland and Finland).

I have not done a count of our membership (this might be a task of the outreach group), but you may be interested in how this reflects the pattern of visits to the OAC. In the last month to 24th November we had 15,500 unique visitors of whom 1,100 turned up last Tuesday when I sent out a mass message. 500 visits a day has been our average for a while now.

This breaks down as USA 30%, Other Anglophone 28%, Europe 32% Others 10%.

The top ten countries last month were in order of numbers: USA, Britain, Canada (50% of the total between them), India, Germany, Australia, France, Portugal, Italy, Brazil.

I will post a list of the minor countries on the working group. The largest exotic countries were in order: India, Brazil, Japan, Philippines, Turkey, Mexico, Taiwan, Indonesia, South Africa, Argentina, Kenya, Pakistan, Chile and China, with all but the first four accounting for less than 1% of visitors each.

We must be careful not to confuse country of residence with national origin and one busy person can influence such small figures disproportionately.. Thus John and I boost the figures for Japan and  France respectively. The stats suggest to me that the dominant Anglo-American cohort needs to reach out to India (the largest English-speaking country outside the West), Brazil (with Portugal as a bridge) and Western Europe (Germany, Scandinavia and the Mediterranean).  And this may be a major source of the division between active participants and lurkers. I can say that in the OAC's first year the top three's share of visits was 40% and the non-Anglo presence was most visible in the groups which have since mostly died.

One last point. We need to develop a mechanism whereby members of this group can indicate their willingness to be part of the active core in specific or general ways. The core group also needs the chance to exchange concerns and reflections in private as well as public. But if half of the current members sign up for an active core, we will already be a good way towards the first 25 that John mentioned.

Apologies for the length, but it took me a morning to assemble this stuff.

Comment by John McCreery on November 25, 2011 at 5:12am

Another brainstorm: I ask myself which sites besides OAC I go back to every day. One favorite is Arts & Letters Daily. What I like about this site and the way the top page is structured is that it provides a quick overview of what is almost always a lot of highly varied, mostly enjoyable, sometimes offensive writing. The brief leads tell me what might interest me, and clicking through on the links makes it easy to check for  myself.

I find myself wondering, then, if OAC could provide a similar service, focused on anthropology and related disciplines. It wouldn't I think be hard to do if even a handful of people would join me in browsing the Net for interesting links and writing brief two or three sentence leads about why them seem interesting. 

Comment by John McCreery on November 25, 2011 at 4:59am

Francine's observation that the lurkers make up the majority of our cooperative is a vital point on which I would like to build. As a marketer, I can say with complete confidence that any proposal intended to get everyone more involved is doomed to failure. I see a lot of proposals that fall into the "If we build a better mouse trap, everyone will buy it" category, and I don't believe that any such approach will work. 

Suppose, I say to myself, what our real problem is? It isn't getting people to sign up. Our 5000+ membership is testimony to that. Isn't the immediate,  more urgent problem that a handful of founders and administrators who have labored heroically to set up OAC are approaching burnout, while OAC is settling into a predictable pattern, a small cadre of regular contributors and a lot of folks just hanging around?

If I am right in this diagnosis, our pressing need is not to get masses of new people contributing. It is, instead, to enlarge the core, to recruit and motivate an enlarged pool of activists who will bring new energy to OAC. That is why I have have been advocating the proposition that we need to find some way to provide more personal outreach. Now I would add that it doesn't have to be outreach to everyone, which would certainly overstrain our resources. 

What I propose as a first target is to grow the core group to 25 people, 0.5% of our current membership.

The trick will be to identify likely prospects and concentrate enough personal attention and follow-up on them to motivate them to join the core. How to identify them and how to follow up are the critical tactical issues before us. 

Once we hit 25, then we can target 50, once we hit 50 a 100....We need a snowball. Not a blizzard in which we get lost or, worst case, buried.



OAC Press



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