Think about what an anthropologist does and chances are you’ll picture someone who spends time in ‘remote’ locations, trying to understand the ways ‘exotic’ peoples act and think. But these days you’re as likely to find an anthropologist embedded in an Amazon warehouse as in the Amazon rainforest. In fact, anthropologists are found in all kinds of contemporary contexts, using the same methods to illuminate the behaviour of business, consumers, government and the media.
To explain the power of anthropology to help us better understand the modern world, Financial Times journalist and bestselling author Gillian Tett came to Intelligence Squared in June 2021. Tett has a PhD in anthropology from Cambridge University and has long used her training to break new ground in financial journalism, most notably predicting the 2007-8 financial crisis after she observed the behaviour of bankers around the world. Outlining the ideas in her acclaimed new book Anthro-Vision, she showed how we can identify what she calls the ‘webs of meaning’ that underlie consumers’ behaviour in very different cultures across the world. She revealed the concealed systems of barter that shape our relationship with Silicon Valley, and delve into the cultural shifts driving investments in new markets and green issues. And she will revealed what anthropology can tell us about our own workplaces too (even when we are working from home), identifying the hidden tribes and rituals within a team.
In conversation with former BBC economics editor Kamal Ahmed, Tett showed how business leaders and policy makers can benefit by asking themselves the questions every anthropologist asks: ‘If a Martian were to land here, what would they see? What am I ignoring since it seems so familiar?’
‘Absolutely brilliant.‘ – Daniel Kahneman
‘Anyone working to rebuild a more equal world will benefit from Tett’s well-argued case that to solve twenty-first-century problems, we must expand our fields of vision and fill in old blind spots with new empathy.‘ – Melinda Gates
‘In a world of volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity, we need an antidote to tunnel vision, argues Gillian Tett. That antidote is Anthro-Vision . . . Admirers of her journalism will love this book, but they will also learn a great deal from it.’ – Niall Ferguson
Speakers subject to change.