What unexpected challenges are anthropologists facing in these unprecedented times? Does enforced distancing from the very people they study cause a problem, or can it reveal insights to help see humanity a different light?
Evan Hanover is an anthropologist and self-confessed ‘word nerd’ who combines academic rigor, strategic thinking, and sense of performance and storytelling to bring insight and energy to his work. By day, he draws on his fascination with language and culture in order to better understand how people create meaning and value in everyday experiences. By night, he is a photographer in Chicago’s theatre scene with pictures featured in publications ranging from American Theatre Magazine to the New York Times.
As Director of Conifer Research, an ethnography and design research agency in Chicago, Evan will be featuring in the US section of our Nudgestock Global extravaganza. We’re hoping he can shed some light on what social distancing means for consumer behaviour change at this present time.
If you can’t wait til the big day, we caught up with him before and fired across a few questions…
What are your top tips to survive lockdown?
"I’m an anthropologist, and all anthropologists know that food – its preparation, sharing, and consumption – is critical for social bonds and ritual. For their part, social bonds and ritual help hold our worlds together. Therefore, to keep the world functioning, I recommend taking the time to savour your eats – cook, experiment with flavours, drop a dish off at a neighbour's house. And barring that…remember food is freakin’ delicious."
Tell us about a development in your field that surprised you the most this year…
"The big developments are yet to come. Ethnographic researchers like me will be pushed to creatively cobble together methods and repurpose technologies to account for spaces and interactions that we have less access to due to Covid-19. Luckily, from my perspective, research is not ethnographic because of a singular, static practice, but because it produces a specific kind of understanding of human behaviour and culture through a complex set of methods."
What is your favourite nudge?
"I mean, whoever put stickers in urinals to encourage...accuracy...is a genius, but I bet everyone gives that answer."
What is the piece of work that you are most proud of?
"I just finished a research and design project to help an organization make ethics a formal and fundamental part of their innovation process. I believe that there is no company operating today that shouldn’t be doing the same. The trouble is that ethical responsibilities and implications are incredibly complex to define and address. Our work is just a first step, but I am proud of how we brought ethical principles into dialogue with company culture, R&D practices, and defined value that ethics delivers to build a business case for ethics."
And finally, tell us a fact we wouldn’t know about you…
"My go-to karaoke number is "It Takes Two" by Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock."
Nudgestock Global session title:
"Absence Makes the Insights Stronger: Deprivation Research and Consumer Behaviour Change"