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Soft skills, hard rocks

Making diamonds ethical in Canada’s Northwest Territories

Lindsay A. Bell

miners. In line with general transformations of job training programs for the poor and unemployed across North America, Ready for the Job focused on “soft skills” over and above technical industrial know-how ( Peck and Theodore 2000 ; Purser and Hennigan

Open access

Andrew Sanchez

waste from a nearby pile of rubbish: an empty water bottle, a broken CD case, a child's toy boat, and a carrier bag. Over the course of our lunch break, Dipesh provided me with a careful tuition in the manual and entrepreneurial skills of the scrap

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Diplomat, Landlord, Con-artist, Thief

Housing Brokers and the Mediation of Risk in Migrant Moscow

Madeleine Reeves

show ethnographically, part of the skill of the broker lies in the capacity to move between different affective registers: now intimate, now distant; now ironic, now deadly serious; now cajoling, now threatening. As Rothman (2010: 75) has illuminated

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The men who knew too much

Sardines, skills, and the labor process in Jaffa, Israel, 1948–1979

Naor Ben-Yehoyada

This historical anthropology of the rise and fall of Israel's post-1948 sardine purse-seining development project shows what happens when marginalized groups, who are initially excluded as “backward” or “primitive”, enter modernization projects that are based on politics of skillfulness and experts' control over the labor process. By focusing on the role that skills play in the struggle between experts and artisans over the labor process, I show how the dynamics within state-run production apparatuses can make workers and experts face dilemmas about productivity, profit, and effectiveness, leading to such projects' implosion. This mode of analysis exposes the contradictions within projects of governance as well as in their relational intersection with the people they subjugate and exclude.

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Apprenticeship and Learning by Doing

The Role of Privileged Enclaves in Early Modern French Cities

Jeff Horn

suggest. Although guild rules, government regulations, or apprenticeship contracts might mandate technical training or that apprentices should learn certain skills, local custom, market dictates, and the experiences of many immigrants surely were

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Mike Keating, Cathal O'Siochru, and Sal Watt

This article describes a C-SAP-funded project evaluating the introduction of a new tutorial programme for first year Sociology students, which sought to integrate a 'skills framework' to enable students to develop a range of academic skills alongside their study of the subject.

The pegagogical and institutional background to the decision to adopt this 'integrated' approach is summarised and the staff and student experiences are then evaluated using both quantitative and qualitative methods. Primarily concerned with evaluating staff and student responses to the new programme, this paper also raises some issues with regard to the methodologies of evaluation.

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Sensing and knowing noises

An acoustemology of the chainsaw

Thorsten Gieser

Within sensory anthropology, scholars have for some time now developed ways to think with acoustic phenomena and to interpret the multiple meanings of sounds and soundscapes. Yet actual practices of listening and experiences of listening subjects feature rather less in that field. Drawing on a case study of chainsaw use in tree felling, this article presents listening as a mode of acoustic knowing that is both aesthetic and epistemological. This is achieved by combining a consideration of listening as a skilled practice with a problematisation of the notion of ‘noise’. Whereas noise is commonly conceived of as unwanted, chaotic and meaningless sound, skilled chainsaw use shows how a particular practice re‐evaluates what is defined as noise and even takes it as an entry to acoustic knowing. Through a careful description and analysis of the process of tree felling, this article traces how skilfully mediated listening with the chainsaw develops from a felt, embodied sense of a sound world that is still indeterminate and ambiguous to recognisable ‘objects’ of clearly identifiable sounds. It is argued that through such a broader conceptualisation of listening as a form of sensing, we can more deeply investigate the sonic orders of sociocultural practices.

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Nathan Hughes, Sue Wainwright, and Caroline Cresswell

Whilst approaches to the development of undergraduate academic writing skills vary between disciplines and institutions, academic tutors are consistently presented as playing an important role. One aspect of this role is supporting students to engage effectively with feedback in order to develop consciousness and competence regarding academic writing. This article reports on the use of a form, which was designed to encourage students to use feedback in a structured and consistent manner and to support subsequent tutor-tutee dialogue. Students and tutors who used the form suggest it encouraged students to reflect on their learning needs and identify priority issues for discussion with the tutor. However, barriers to its effective use remain. In particular, there was resistance amongst students to accessing academic support, due to anxieties that staff would look negatively upon those who seek help. Students expressed concern that tutors would perceive those seeking support as failing to cope with the demands of independent study, a set of skills they perceive that they were required to have on arrival at university, rather than to acquire during the course of their studies with the help and guidance of their academic tutor.

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Rachel Gooberman-Hill, Isabel de Salis, and Jonina Einarsdottir

This issue of Anthropology in Action examines the relationship between conventional anthropological methods and those used by anthropologists working in applied health research. Three of the articles were originally presented at a workshop at the 2006 conference of the European Association of Social Anthropologists, while a fourth (Poehlman) addresses related themes and sits well alongside those from the workshop.