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Smoking Gun Anthropology | Normification of Academic Cannabis Discourse (2014)

Nicole Martensen


Participant observation is a method developed by anthropologists to attempt a deeper emic perspective for their discourse. This method puts the researcher in the position of their research subjects, and attempts to counter the subjective biases of their background. Participating in some experiences, however presents a challenge as legislation and hegemonic influences can differ greatly across and within cultural groups. This is especially evident in the discourses related to cannabis. Currently, cannabis culture in the United States resides in a liminal grey area of legislation control and social stigma, presenting a unique situation for anthropologists. When legality is concerned, admission if experience can affect future career opportunities, as several projects are federally funded. Whether the experience occurs illegally within the federal borders or away from legislative consequences, the social stigma related to cannabis influences the way it is perceived, and what language is used in its discourse. A normification…

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Digitizing the Heritage Experience

Read more about anthropology, archaeology, and museums at

Nicole Martensen

The concept of design thinking — taking into account how users interact with and experience a website or product in order to design a responsive experience — has become standard in the digital world. However, the concept of user experience is not a new concept, nor is it exclusive to sectors such as technology, design, and e-commerce. If you think about it, heritage professionals — from archaeologists to museum and exhibit curators — have been immersed in the question of how people experience and consume information and artifacts from the past for centuries. Understanding how visitors continue to interact with and experience museums and historical research in the 21st century is the question currently facing heritage professionals.

Curating the Past for the Digital Age: History and the Online Experience

The internet has disrupted everything — from how we communicate and learn to how society stores and interacts with information. Google…

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How to Show Your Support for Dancers in their Digital Transition

Welcome To The Dance

What happens when dance venues close? The dancers find a new venue. With social distancing restrictions, many artists and dancers are exploring what is to many a new frontier of digital arts online. This is bringing many new forms of collaboration, but there is also much more competition. Regardless of when we can go back to physical classes and performances, it’s likely that online classes will remain a large part of the dance industry.

I believe we are going to see a drastic shift in how we create and consume art, and so we will also need to consider new ways to show support for artists. I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how we can best support each other during this time. Support doesn’t need to be monetary to be valuable, and this is especially true for artists. Keep reading to find out how you can help, with or…

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Follow these Dance Leaders! (A List of Dancers Who are Doing Good Things)

Welcome To The Dance

Take a look around you. The dance world is changing! Recently, I have taken some time to reflect and redefine what it means to me to be a good dancer. It is one thing to have good technique, but we can take it so much further and use our dancing to do good things. This post features dancers who are doing good.

Brown Girls Do Ballet

Brown Girls Do Ballet is a nonprofit organization that promotes diversity in the arts by providing scholarships, mentors, and community programs for young girls. The organization began as a personal photography project by TaKiyah Wallace to highlight girls of African, Asian, East Indian, Hispanic, and Native American ancestry in Ballet programs.

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3 Way Museum Visitors Are Consumers of the Past

Nicole Martensen

The museum of a generation ago is changing. While you may remember a passive museum experience, where you quietly browsed the galleries while learning as much as you could from an expert, the museum of today offers an active experience that has turned visitors from passive consumers of information to active consumers of the past.

And there’s a term for this new kind of museum. It’s called New Museology. Basically, in order for museums to thrive, they need both new and repeat customers. To do this, they need to offer something new to a new kind of consumer. Read on to learn three ways museum visitors are consumers of the past under new museology.

1. Cultural Consumers

The cultural consumer puts value on experiences that include creativity, aesthetic appeal, doing good, solving a problem and a reflection of personal values. This type of consumer may represent a small part of…

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Using Social Media to Increase Your Museum’s Reach

I love how popular online museums are now!

Nicole Martensen

Long before Google’s Arts & Culture App went viral when people realized they could upload their selfies to be matched to historical paintings, the app existed to share great works of art with the masses. Certainly, the sensational nature of the matching feature has increased traffic and usage of the app — and, that makes it an extremely successful example of using social media for academic outreach. Looking for something similar? User experience research and design ideas will customize social media outreach to your programs for the greatest success.

Museums Using Social Media for the Greater Good

To successfully use social media in the Science communication (Scicomm) space, especially when it comes to museums, a different voice and way of thinking is necessary. No longer do we live in a world of outbound information. Today’s social media platforms require robust engagement and relating to users, and that incurs a cost…

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How to Market History with Social Media

Nicole Martensen

The Charleston Museum was the first museum in the U.S., opening in 1824. Since the 19th Century, museums have advanced in archival, storage and exhibition techniques. Yet the experience many museums offer to visitors is still severely outdated, especially in an age of ever-expanding digital technology.

How Visitors Experience Museums

The museum experience is extremely important to visitors. When visitors walk away from a museum, that experience will shape their opinion of every other museum. If a visitor leaves a museum feeling uninspired and “bored” by the experience, he or she is unlikely to want to visit another museum anytime soon.

In a world of digital technology, our society is now used to a guided journey of storytelling. Gone are the days when we feel compelled to suffer through an arduous experience in the names of art or history. Thirty-seven percent of art museum visitors don’t even consider their visit…

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What to Consider When Visiting Rock Art Sites

putting the archaeo in archaeochic..

Nicole Martensen

Visiting archaeological sites can be a great way to connect with nature and involve kids in a fun, family-oriented adventure. Yet when visitors flock to these important locations, they might end up littering or even damaging the site itself. It is practices like that, among others, which have slowly eroded the beauty of these sites. When visiting rock art sites, we should appreciate the culture and art of older civilizations and also learn to preserve their majesty for future visitors to enjoy.

The Effects of Visitors at Archaeology Sites

People might not intend to disturb the art at archaeological sites, but large numbers of tourists are bound to cause some damage. Visitors who intentionally damage rock art sites are undoubtedly the biggest part of the problem. These practices can be anything from touching the walls the art rests on to littering throughout the archaeological site. Visitors could even go so…

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Old Questions, New Technology: Today’s Digital Historians

Nicole Martensen

Over the past two decades, the internet has touched every aspect of our lives, changing how we shop, learn — even how we date. And while it represents technological progress and the promise of future innovation, it has also proven to be an invaluable resource for those interested in the past. Where genealogical researchers once had to spend untold hours poring over dusty family albums and disorganized archives, they now have seemingly limitless resources available with just the click of a computer mouse.

Sites like have done much to popularize genealogy, but family researchers can also find a trove of information on their own through online census and court records and social networks that make it easy for even novice investigators to locate, organize and share their family links. Person A and Person B might have never met or even be aware of any connection to each other, but…

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