We Can’t Be What We Can’t See

When we think of places in the world that lack economic resources, we tend to think of remote, underdeveloped countries. These are also the places where we’d expect anthropologists to conduct fieldwork. Although this holds true in some cases, urban areas such as New York City are filled with education systems that can benefit from Anthropology. This idea is explored in Myeashea Alexander’s “We Can’t Be What We Can’t See.”

Myeashea refers to urban areas that can benefit from Anthropology as “sociopolitical locations.” In other words, these places suffer from social issues including “underserved education, lack access to nutritional foods, lack of community support and a number of other issues that create a complex of inequalities.” Understanding this led Myeashea to decide against creating a presentation that discussed her previous fieldwork for her speech in front of a New York public school on National Anthropology Day. Instead, she took this day as an opportunity to introduce the young students to Anthropology in a fun way.

Myeshea decided to take this approach because she knew having an understanding of anthropology could be beneficial for these children as they grow up. Even at such a young age, these children all have their own unique experiences. Understanding anthropology would allow them to analyze these experiences from different perspectives. In a sense, these children could eventually understand cultural relativism and maybe someday be able to conduct research of their own. Myeshea believes this could have an immense positive impact on their communities since they live in this culture every day and can express different ways of thinking based on their observations.

Myeshea’s presentation was a success. The students all had fun and even asked if they could have anthropology every week. This article clearly shows that anthropology is useful in everyday life, even so close to home.