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Making the strange familiar: A conversation with Dr Adrienne Mannov about social anthropology

May 12, 2021

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This podcast is a discussion about social anthropology with maritime anthropologist Dr. Adrienne Mannov. When confronted with the unfamiliar, how do we react and what do we do? In most instances, we discard the unfamiliar and label it as strange, even uncivilized, or primitive when it does not match with our own experiences, norms, values, and beliefs. In so doing we create divisive societies and polarized opinions. Social anthropology helps us understand the unfamiliar by looking at deeper patterns that define who we are as human beings, bridge our differences and connect us with one another as one human race. Listen to the podcast to learn more.

Nippin Anand [00:00:06] Welcome to another episode of Embracing Differences with me Nippin Anand. This podcast series is meant to bring you different perspectives and concepts in safety. The idea really is to create space for thinking and reflection, not to reinforce any grand theories or our prior knowledge on a subject. The aim is to learn and grow, not to remain stagnant. And of course, as I keep saying there is no reason for you to believe me or any so-called expert but keep an open mind and be prepared to challenge your beliefs if you truly want to learn more than what you knew yesterday.

[00:00:45] Allow me to tell a story. In Tibet, Nepal and certain parts of China, it is not unusual in certain communities for women to have two or more husbands at the same time. Often referred to as polyandry, it is a characteristic of certain societies that face scarce resources.

Reading through anthropological accounts, some of the reasons why polyandry is practiced in these communities is to limit population growth and enhance child survival. Of course there are multiple reasons, for example in the Himalayan mountains polyandry is practiced so that brothers within the same family can marry one woman – that way the family remains intact. In other settings there could be other reasons for example to ensure that children are given undivided attention. Polyandry also comes in different forms for example in fraternal polyandry a woman will receive a number of husbands simultaneously, while in successional polyandry a woman will acquire one husband after another in sequence. So that is about polyandry, it sounds strange isn’t it. Bear with me it will all make sense.

[00:02:13] Now allow me to tell you another story, this time about a very personal experience. Several years ago, I went to Egypt as a seafarer and I was sailing through the Suez Canal. The Egyptian pilot came onboard and I offered him a cup of tea. Upon sipping his tea, he returned it to me and asked me to add some sugar into it. I said, I have already added one spoon so he asked me to add seven more. It left me shocked.

The next port was Felixstowe in the UK. This time the British pilot did not ask for tea, instead he asked for a can of coke. The coke has nearly the same amount of sugar (8 spoons) but it did not surprise me at all and I never bothered thinking too much about it but the thought of 8 spoons of sugar in tea left me intrigued. Why so? Several years passed by, I took up a PhD in Social Sciences and Anthropology and it all started to make sense to me. The behaviour of the Egyptian pilot was so unfamiliar while the behaviour of the British pilot was more closer to home. What anthropology teaches us is to look at things more closely when they appear so strange. Globalization, a rising middle class, changing patterns of consumption, intake of high calorie food, these are all realities of modern life. Consuming a can of coke is no different from a cup of tea with excessive sugar.

This podcast is about social anthropology. When faced with the unfamiliar what do we usually do? We try to impose our own experience, our own values, and belief on to the unfamiliar, and we quickly discard it as strange, vague, even uncivilized, primitive, and many other labels. Social anthropology is about looking at the unfamiliar with curiosity, opening up those strange petals and understanding those things that look so strange from the outside. It is about making the strange familiar.

And for that we have a very special guest today, a maritime social anthropologist Dr Adrienne Mannov who will help us understand this topic better today. So Adrienne welcome to embracing differences, please could you briefly introduce yourself to the listeners.

Adrienne Mannov [00:05:07] So my name is Adrienne Mannov. I’m a social anthropologist originally from the United States but I was educated and I now also work in and live in Denmark. My research area of focus in my research is security broadly put. So maybe if I could zoom in a little bit I could say social perceptions and practices surrounding security. When I say security, I mean it really in quite a broad sense. For example, in shipping there is a real difference between safety and security. I choose security as a cover all kind of term because it also encompasses is a term that people from development studies wonderfully recognize as human security. So not just freedom from crime and insecurity through outside actors but also what does it mean to be secure more existentially. We need a roof over our head we need to be we need to have food in our mouth we need to have some basic education, we need to have a livelihood so these very basic things are fall under the heading of my research.  I worked at Arhus University at the Department of anthropology but I did my PhD at Copenhagen University at their Department of anthropology and my PhD focused on merchant seafarers perceptions of maritime piracy.

Nippin Anand [00:06:28] What I would be interested to hear from you that what led you to this Adrienne? What inspired you to do something like this?

Adrienne Mannov [00:06:36] To study anthropology or to focus on maritime shipping?

Nippin Anand [00:06:38] Well I’ll come to that in a minute but let’s talk about your interest in social anthropology.

Adrienne Mannov [00:06:42] It was a complete surprise. We had just moved to Denmark in 2003 and I had a different career. I’m a trained classical singer and actor. So, I spent many years performing and when we moved to Denmark I felt like it would be nice to take some courses. But I was new in Denmark and I didn’t understand how the system worked and I started just searching for education plus and there were different themes that I searched for there were integration was a big thing so there was a lot of discussion about integration and what it is to be a foreigner and so these things moved me and so these were some of the some of the things that I started searching for and then I ran into this Department for anthropology and I didn’t know what it was and started reading the curriculum and you know what horses do they have one of the descriptions and there was no single course that I thought sounded boring. All of it sounded interesting so I said that’s it that’s what I and I applied for and it was the only thing I applied for it I didn’t realize I put it applied for tons of things was one thing and I found out later it’s really competitive and difficult to get in and they accepted so I started and I had no intentions to stop singing absolutely none but I found myself falling in love with the discipline. I decided that anthropology gave me so much inspiration and made me so happy and there was so much creativity with it and it made such sense to me that I decided I was going to I was going to take the jump in and prioritize that and I haven’t looked back since. In hindsight I think one of the reasons why it made sense to me is that I had spent many years moving between different countries and  reflecting on my identity and what it is to belong in ways that a lot of people don’t ever have to do because I stay in one place and the relationship between a feeling of home and a place of home – those two things are never separated but they were for me and so it was I really it was something that I reflected on a lot and suddenly I found texts and theories and tools that help me make sense of my own experience so I think it’s one of the reasons why I fell in love with Anthropology.

Nippin Anand [00:08:58] Well incredibly powerful but help me understand how to transform you or did it at all as a person from where you started off from and what was the journey like what sort of skills did you acquire? What did you learn what would you find helpful in your work what is it that you have learned done to this journey?

Adrienne Mannov [00:09:18] If I knew it in theory I certainly know it in practice now that it’s a lifelong journey and we keep learning and this world the world that we live in is a complicated multifaceted diverse changing place with all kinds of fabulous people and phenomena in it and we’ll never uncover all of it so I certainly learned that in practice. But more specifically I think I think I learned to think analytically really in a sense kind of zooming in on a particular phenomenon or experience and developing the ability and I’m still learning and developing the ability to unpack it and to find out which pieces belong where and how are they related to each other. So we play as analysts. We play a major role in what it is what kinds of analysis we develop so I guess that would be kind of a more overall ode to anthropology description about what it is that I’ve learned.

Nippin Anand [00:10:21] Absolutely! You cannot separate the observer from the observed. Great! So moving forward I’m excited to hear how did you come about this very unique area of work which we call security and particularly the maritime security side of things.

Adrienne Mannov [00:10:39] I’ve always been for whatever reason I’ve always been drawn to anthropological studies that deal with conflict and insecurity. Perhaps because my own life was, I mean certainly I’ve been safe by I have not been subjected to some of the things that the people that we work with have been subjected to but I recognized a thread in this question of being dislocated of not belonging. I was drawn to some of that literature to begin with and then I did my MA field work in Jerusalem. I was interested in understanding how politically left-wing Jewish families perceived security in the city in connection in relationship to how they moved about the city. I was writing up my MA and my brother-in-law came over for a visit and he’s a seafarer and he asked me what my Master’s thesis was about and I told him and he said, “Ah!  That’s like my job”. I said what do you mean? I mean I knew he was sailor of course and I knew that he sailed on tankers but I did not understand that he was sailing on a tanker in the Indian Ocean in 2011 and that point as you well know there was a real height of attacks and it was at a time when it certainly wasn’t common and a lot of cases not legal to have armed guards on board. I know that a lot of seafarers really felt quite insecure and honestly felt like sitting ducks ’cause there wasn’t much they could do.

[00:12:16] He was sailing on a vessel that was low and slow. I said how do your colleagues feel about this? How do you feel about it? What you know? What do we know about this and he said, “I don’t think we know anything about it? I don’t think anyone’s asked.” So this the short answer that to your question is I decided to ask.

Nippin Anand [00:12:43] Isn’t it amazing everything that happens to in life is an outcome of some sort of randomness that cannot be explained and yet we try so hard to plan things. as I’m listening to you I’m thinking goodness! We spend so much time thinking about planning and forward thinking and how can we optimize our time and what not but amazing.  So let’s move on to your PhD. I’m interested in hearing the entire process of going through this doctorate. This study is that you have been through because I think that’s really important to understand how that transforms you as a person. So, what was it like you had this curiosity in mind about the maritime world, the security side of things and how did that translate into questions and how did you do about your field work and what did you find and how was it? Talk me through the process and how did right you know how did you come about your conclusions and then and then knowledge that you that you that you produced at the end?

Adrienne Mannov [00:13:49] It was a very exciting journey I covered a lot of territory. The very beginning of the journey was a decision that I had to make. It was an action packed three years. I spent about 16 months doing field work, I was on board 5 merchant vessels and one warship. I did field work in Denmark, both at shipping companies, NGO’s, unions, maritime educational institutions and of course among Danish seafarers branching out a little bit in Scandinavia and Germany. I did field work in Ukraine and field work in India and in the Philippines. I needed to do field work on board vessels where the risk of piracy was a relevant risk but at the same time I needed for my own well-being and also for the ethics of doing field research to do no harm including to yourself.

Nippin Anand [00:15:02] That’s important! I really want you to share your reflections from the field work because field work is probably the most important aspect of as anthropology. Would you like to reflect upon some of your experiences from field work? What sort of stories what? What sort of challenges as a research what sort of assumptions whatever comes to mind?

Adrienne Mannov [00:15:31] I think the basic point of departure for anthropology is it’s kind of an antiquated phrase but I’ll use it here to see things from the natives POV. Now we seem native we mean people who are local people for whom this is their home this is their livelihood their everyday life and so how do you do that? How do you see something from someone else’s point of view? How is that even possible? Well, to make it, to copy that experience is not possible of course we cannot replicate it exactly one to one but how do we get as close to it as possible? Well, what is your everyday routine what do you do? Can I join you for some of that? Could you teach me how to do it? Perhaps that’s also a way to learn about what this everyday life is to spend time with them.

[00:16:15] So one of the things that I did when I did my field work onboard, I asked the captain to assign me to different department onboard. So, I would spend a few days in the galley, I would spend a few days down in the engine, spend a few days on deck, few days on bridge, repeats and so that way I got a chance to work side by side with people obviously to the extent that I was capable. I did rounds in the engine but obviously I wasn’t going to do any kind of maintenance. Obviously I’m not an engineer so I was like capable of doing that but I could certainly go rounds. I could certainly help sorting out stores and deliveries and things like that I could certainly help out with rigging razor wire on deck. I could certainly keep the bridge officer company and talk about you know, what’s on the radar or the ECDIS? How do we update charts? How do we keep watch and I spent some time in the galley as well and help prepare food and help served and cleaned up. So that’s a way to get to know people – is to spend time with them and I think that doing field work on board ship is a really generous place to do field work in part because nobody’s going anywhere.

[00:17:33] The shipping company gave me access to the ship you know, whatever company that was whatever ship it was but that didn’t mean that everyone on board felt equally comfortable with my being there and so that was also a consideration for me if someone seemed to be avoiding me or seemed particularly shy or uncomfortable then I kept my distance and said you don’t have to participate in this and others who willing and eager then we spend more time together. I think there are two takeaways from this, I think in a broad sense. One, is that I was absolutely humbled and very moved by the people that I met. I was humbled by the hard work. I was humbled by what it meant for them to be away from their families. Why they did what they did? For some of them it was a lifestyle choice which is fine and for others it was a way to move themselves and their families out of poverty. That was an explicit description that many of them gave me. So, that was it in theory and we go about our lives and we know that there were more fortunate than there’s so many other people it’s another thing to spend time day in day out working side by side with someone and hearing their stories and hearing about their families hearing about their trajectories just the way you are the way you’re asking about mine. So that’s one thing.

[00:19:10] The other thing which is of more analytical character was that by asking about perceptions of piracy I was framing the conversation in a specific way and for a lot of the people that I worked with piracy was a bad thing. It was a frightening thing if it was actualized, it was terrible and terrifying and dangerous and potentially deadly. All these things but it wasn’t as likely as having a serious accident on board. It wasn’t as likely as struggling to put food on the table if they didn’t sail in some places, it wasn’t as likely as the violence that they attempted to protect their families from in their home countries and so asking about piracy as an extraordinary work condition was really a pretty privileged question from my perspective. I changed my question to say what does it mean for you to be secure and piracy figured on that scale someplace depending on what kinds of life conditions they were dealing with and it never meant that piracy was not bad because everyone knows that if you’re subjected to an attack, we’re dealing with gunshots, with extreme violence and loss of freedom being held against your will .Sometimes for years.

[00:20:52] So these are serious things but they were less likely than so many of the other conditions that a lot of them were dealing with. So piracy for some of them in some ways became an opportunity and I don’t mean that cynically in any way but some of them were aware that by asking specifically for routes through piracy areas particularly if they worked for a company that that offered hardship allowance, I have one gentleman that I work with said, “You know, I asked for risk for passing through the high-risk area on purpose because I’ve taken out a loan ’cause I bought a house for my parents with running water inside and don’t tell them that I asked for that route but I asked for that route so that I could pay off that loan faster”.

Nippin Anand [00:21:40] I’m getting goosebumps but interesting that you’re not studying piracy, you’re not studying security, you’re really tried to understand the human being here. It is the personhood that you’re trying to understand here.

Adrienne Mannov [00:22:00] I think that’s one of the reasons why I am so taken by this topic of security because it is it’s a question about what is it to be in this world and it’s a deeply relational question because we don’t exist in the world in a vacuum, we exist and we feel safe and we have a sense of belonging because we’re connected to others and that causes us to make the decisions that we make and take choices that we choose.  So, what it is to be safe or secure is a deeply existential question and it’s like you said it’s question about what is it to be a human being?

Nippin Anand [00:22:43] It will take me a long time to absorb what you just said.

Adrienne Mannov [00:22:50] There are a few sorts of major analytical takeaways I think from this, I mean the first one we’ve already spoken about that asking about piracy is a privilege question that’s one thing. The other was what kind of spaces to this so one of the one of the questions that we that I always ask my students as I say defect ask them is to please delimit your field. Where is your field? We can’t study everything though we want to. We need to delimit the field how did I limit my field what kind of field is this I mean it’s enormous. So, one of the things that became clear to me in the very beginning when I was planning my research that I would it would really misconstrue the project if I focused on this question from a particular national perspective because shipping is per definition international. It is per definition global. So, what kind of field is that? Do I study the globe?

[00:23:52] I started reading about logistics infrastructure what came to me is that this field is a supply table it’s a global supply chain and not just it’s a global maritime supply chain and if I zoom even more into it that it’s a global maritime labour supply add chain which is what I was interested in and so the connections across space was extremely important we tend to think about culture and identity as something that belongs to a bounded space. So, that’s a very kind of land-based way of thinking about it. We had the Westphalia peace treaty where for one of the first times at least in Europe in order to stop bloodshed different feudal leaders decided to establish orders around space and say this is mine and here’s the border and what’s on the other side is yours.

[00:24:47] We have flag states right and we have port states we have international law we have commercial law; it’s a hyper legal space and it’s constantly shifting as illegal space what it means to be protected which is the flip side of what it means to be secured right? So, what does it need to be protected really depends on how that particular space is constructed in that moment of motion? So, it really has implications for how we understand software sovereignty is about protecting. It’s about the monopoly of violence but the flipside again of that is about the power to protect? So that was one thing. Another major takeaway from it was really to think about and through this metaphor of or through this notion of the supply chain with this idea of arbitrage and arbitrage is a financial term used to describe how derivatives are traded on the global market and basically the simple idea behind it is that you have two commodities that are the same but they’re sold on two different markets in two different geographical places and sold for different prices and the clever arbitrager will become aware of the discrepancy in price and capitalize on that gap. We have something called labor arbitrage as well.

[00:26:10] That’s the whole reason the whole idea behind outsourcing of maritime labor is that we can get the same labor from someplace else cheaper and for this we had the STCW convention where we have the globally recognized certificates and so on but what became clear in particular with piracy is that there was labor arbitrage and there’s a real sort of was kind of a slippage between what is the value of the labor and what’s the value of the person but that’s with labor anywhere that’s not so that’s always just a problem with labor it’s a slippery category but then we start looking at high risk payment what is the what is risk worth with that follows your salary right 100% of a day’s pay to sail through a high risk area well my labor is cheaper than yours so my risk is worthless right? So, all the sudden it starts to become existentially problematic and then we get to the issue of actualized piracy cases where people are being held against the world and sold for ransom where there is also a racialized hierarchy of human value where some people are worth more than others so that was another sort of major structure in the dissertation that I’ve written about.

Nippin Anand [00:00:00] I can very well relate with what you’re saying face some of the very similar issues in my own field work. We talked about the key analytical takeaways, we talked about your experience and journey as a researcher. How do you see the importance of these transferable skills that you take from this PhD? I’m interested to hear from you on their way to very specific reason but I’ll come to that in a minute.

Adrienne Mannov [00:28:11] I think that what it is that social anthropology can offer to the maritime industry is a way to understand the social implications of how the industry works, to understand those implications better and that is useful because it can help people do their job better if you keep them more safe we can keep them more secure it helps you to understand leadership and communication issues because you understand not just what does it take to comply to this particular rule or requirement but what are the social underpinnings of the job that’s being done. These things are connected people are not just we’re not just set in the world to comply with a certain set of rules. move for human beings right so a lot of the skills that are required to do a particular job to require a certain certificate for example there’s a whole set of skills that are not described in the convention that have to do with emotional skills for example how to work together with someone else also the fact that people are willing to be away from their families for such a long time in order to provide for them that means that in a sense their family are part of that skill that they bring with them because it’s a family endeavor, it’s not just an individual endeavor and so understanding those complications can help you be a better leader. I had a wonderful captain that said to me he said you have to do all the jobs on board because if you don’t do them at some point at some point in your career then you don’t understand what it is to do that job.

I’ve been down on deck chipping paint and I know that I cannot ask somebody to go down there and do that for 8 hours because I’ve done it and I know that it’s terrible. So, in a sense this person it was hard in your body you know and so in a sense this captain was practicing his own form of participant observation because he had an embodied experience of what this means and because of that he was a better leader.

Nippin Anand [00:30:23] I think what you’re talking about is what really understand the human being. What it means to be a human being. I can only relate with profound example in my own life I used to be a second officer on the ships long ago, Adrienne and I used to keep this midnight watch from midnight to four in the morning and 8 o’clock in the morning they would start chipping on my head every day and this was ship carrying multimillion dollars’ worth of cargo and I would often say that if possible, can you please plan your work after 10:30 because I’m a human being, you know even after I finish my watch at 4:00 in the morning I don’t get to sleep before five 8:00 o’clock in the morning you already start chipping it’s not helpful and the response from the captain was that if you are tired you will sleep and that was his lived experience. His journey. So, I felt completely let down by my ship’s colleague.

[00:31:38] I found that somebody whose race with these ranks would understand what it means to keep a midnight watch. But no, don’t get me wrong very good captain, really nice person. But he failed to understand what it means to be to be in that position and I think it’s important if you take it even one step further today there are many people who are visiting ships. Inspectors, auditors, writing squadrons, repair technicians and whatnot everyone just wants to get their job done and go off as quickly as possible. What I’m hearing from you is that perhaps you should slow down and think that you know at the end of the day the person you’re dealing with on the other side is a human being you know it’s his daughter, his son, has something in common with you, they have birthdays, they share experiences, they laugh they sing, they cry like yours do.

Adrienne Mannov [00:32:36] I think one of the things that I love about anthropology is that it’s not just about observing what’s happening it’s also not even about doing things together with someone it’s being primed for becoming attuned to the logics with which someone does or says something. So, there’s a layer underneath it. For example, I had a wonderful conversation with young men on the bridge and he was he was from India and he was talking about one of his colleagues from northern European country. He was embarrassed to ask his colleague from this European company but he felt comfortable asking me he said, “My colleague said to me that he left home when he was 15. That’s terrible and I feel so sorry for him what happened to his family it must be a horrible tragedy for him” and I knew that for this other gentleman there wasn’t a tragedy at all because it was normal where he came from, it was a sign of independence. It was a sign of capability and going out and doing things on your own it didn’t mean that he had become detached from his family but I knew for this young man from India with his particular family background that that could only be interpreted within an infrastructure, a logic that said something happened that was terrible. So becoming attuned to not just what somebody says but what’s the background for what they’re saying what is it that leads them to make those assumptions I think that’s one of the most wonderful things about anthropology to be attuned to that that’s what makes communication capable they are possible.

Nippin Anand [00:34:19] Indeed and one step further with what you just said because I think what you’re talking about in these assumptions lies some very powerful explanations about how they world operates. This goes back to reinforcing the idea of field work you know where you say that you are actually working with these people are laughing but then you’re working with them, you’re singing with them we could in fact what you see the whole science behind it is that is to is to in some ways keep distance from them but not in other ways penetrating their lives and try to understand what does it mean to be a Filipino, what does it mean to be an Indian, in that moment because the next time when they say something like this you less surprise but you’re more analytical in your thoughts

The Chinese bosun on the Cosco Busan when the ship was sailing out says he made a very profound statement to say that they were actually being pushed out of the share of the of the port because of keeping to the schedule and it was dense fog outside and this Chinese person was heard talking on the VDR to say “An American pilot would never do that to Americans, he’s doing it because we are Chinese” and that’s such a profound statement and I think we miss things like this and this is where the real value of the human being lies.

Adrienne Mannov [00:35:43] And I think this is it’s about understanding what are the kinds of values are people coming with what kind of you know my experience is that most people do what they do for really good reasons you just need to understand the reasons and it could be that somebody is doing something that interpreted within your own framework seems dangerous, seems risky seems, disrespectful, seems uneducated, backwards, the list is long but once you dig in and say tell me about who you are it tell me what your background is you begin to understand why.

[00:36:09] I remember there was one Filipino that said to me that always be friendly you can you can manage anything if you’re friendly and I got to know him a little more and I challenged him on that and I said but you get angry sometimes too don’t you I mean we all get angry right yes we do but I know that I my job will be safe – this was his you know his narrative my job will be safe and my family thereby will be safe if I am service-minded and friendly that is the role that has been assigned to me and that’s the way I need to behave in order to keep my family safe. So that’s all the sudden that becomes a very different kind of logic we’re not just looking at some happy go lucky guy that hasn’t have a care in the world and always smiles there’s actually something very deep behind that smile yeah so understanding and I think one of the other major takeaways I think in the dissertation was also this issue of masculinity.

[00:37:16] It’s and we don’t talk about it I don’t think we talk about it enough in shipping and I will adjust what I just said because it’s not masculinity, it’s masculinities. It’s you know it’s the same thing with gender and other more generally speaking and also other identity markers we are diverse and what it is to be a good man, in this particular case, in the world, is different all different kinds of places. So, sacrificing yourself for subjecting to use it yourself to some kind of risk often fits into a logic of this is what I have to do to care for my family in other cases it’s a being independent, being in authority, being rational, being clear fits into a norm for what it is to be a good man in other places and so I think often there’s miscommunication that happens. Someone is weak someone is not strong he’s a bad man he’s not a good sailor these kinds of conclusions can come and that’s a shame because we couldn’t be further from the truth but we just need to understand each other’s logics.

Nippin Anand [00:38:38] Indeed it is an important point because people who are making those judgments are often removed in time and space enough to call somebody a good captain or a bad captain purely because he or she greets you in a particular manner would an opportunity last to understand the performance of that person who that person and we see that all the time because communication or miscommunication whichever you call it this is a prime ground for something like this because we’re so far away from the people who we are who are working with us. Absolutely! One final word from you to say why do you think the shipping industry should care about people with a background in cultural or social anthropology? Why do you think that’s important? Why should business leaders listen to you?

Adrienne Mannov [00:39:25] I think a lot is there to be learned from with anthropologists in the maritime industry and it’s not just onboard ships, it’s in the offices. It is about understanding social aspects of financial logic, supply chain or technologies work, could be about leadership training lots more. The reason why I name all these very sorts of disparate fields is that they all involve social interaction. So maybe I’ll give you 3 examples socialize apologists can help a maritime school, for example, we work the curriculum so that it moves away from static ideas about culture and focuses more on cultural process so that could be one way. Another one it could be on the business side. So for example there’s a well-known anthropologist called the Jillian Tett, and she’s the editor at the Financial Times today and she’s a social apologist and she did research among derivative traders and ended up predicting the 2008 financial crisis. How did you do this? She did participant observation. She identified the discrepancy between what these leaders were saying they were doing so for example at conferences and presentations and what they were really doing. The third example is it social topologists can also help with the implementation of from technologies there are lots of new technologies being introduced into the industry now. But do we really understand how they work in practice for example, on board?

So, a social anthropologist can do user experience research to make sure that what works on paper also works in practice and not just does it work but also questions of are there unintended effects of introducing this particular technology. It could be that increase digitalization is useful for optimizing fuel consumption but there’s an unfortunate side effect in practice that lessons safety, for example. These are things that anthropologists would be able to clarify and to help design new ways of implementation that would be safer for example. So I’ll just finish by saying that anthropologists are not just are not oracles of course so it’s a discipline that studies social processes and it also means that it’s carried out through social interactions needed willing partners. So if you’re facing a tough problem that you can solve in your maritime work then consider working with an anthropologist.

Nippin Anand [00:42:04] What did you think?

Fascinating insights into social anthropology. By now you should know why I started this podcast the way I did. This is not about consumption of high calorie food, polyandry or maritime security, it is really about who we are as human beings and behaviors that look so strange from the outside make so much sense within a social or cultural setting. We can scoff at the seafarer who dares to put his life at risk and go into a high risk piracy area just to earn some extra money that his company provides as high risk allowance. But what about that offshore worker who flies to an offshore rig during Christmas time so that he can earn some extra bucks, buy more gifts and bring a smile to his family. We all do things to put food on our table, to bring smile to our loved ones – things that seem so bizarre from the outside. But when we view those practice, those norms, those values from within a cultural or social setting, it all makes sense. After all we are one human race and understanding our differences will bring us so much closer together if we really want to create a better, more peaceful future. I leave you with those thoughts.

Nippin Anand [00:43:43]: Thank you for taking the time to listen to this podcast. I hope the time you spent was worthwhile. If you think the podcast has made you think, slow down and reflect, I have achieved my purpose. Please share it with others in your community so that messages reaches far and wide.

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