Ethknoworks LLC

Michael Agar @alcaldemike

The Professional Stranger

The backyard coyote

In the Zapatista village

Village Headquarters

The workshop at the medical school in Tegucigalpa

Pontificating at the Central American Anthropology meetings

My job description

Hiker watch

Thoughts and Hallucinations

June 10, 2017

Tags: Santa Fe, New Mexico

Mike promised in his auto-obituary that he would be available as a ghost for a while on his home page. While waiting for his appearance, under the photo to the left are links to some obituaries and tributes written after Mike's death, which was on May 20, 2017, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. And to paraphrase (more…)

Blog from Independence Day about ethnography

August 21, 2015

Independence Day Update

Partly because of my weird life story, I obsessed about “ethnography” for many years. The weirdness was called the Vietnam War. It meant that, as of 1968, I changed from grad student in anthropology to the equivalent of a first lieutenant in the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service. (more…)

The old birthday blog

July 9, 2015

Tuneup May 17

Here come the 70s. Birthday crises have never been a problem, but I’m telling you, that’s a pretty large number. In dog years it rises to 490. I’ve been telling people that in five more years I’ll be at the New Mexico speed limit. On a crowded bus a (more…)

IIQM webinar summary

April 13, 2015

Universals, Particulars, and the Heartbreak of the Excluded Middle

I’m assuming that “we”—those who do or those who are interested in a particular kind of human social research--are the audience of this IIQM seminar. That kind of research requires an understanding of meaning and context among those whom the project deems “subjects.” (more…)

Basic vs applied vs practice, the end of "versus"

March 3, 2015

Ever since I was lucky enough to be offered a commission in the Public Health Service during the Vietnam era, it’s bothered me. There I was, a grad student at Berkeley with a year’s experience working in a small South Indian village, reading up on burning questions like how and in what (more…)

Juneteenth homepage

September 18, 2014

Web page tuneup, Juneteenth

Since the last homepage, now moved as usual to the blog section, things have quieted down some. I did go to Puebla for two weeks, the second trip this year, so I’m thinking about that and where to take it next. Couple of pics above.Why Mexico? Well, it’ (more…)

Blog from Mayday

June 16, 2014

A new article was just accepted by a journal called Water History, the story of a water district created in Albuquerque as population exploded after World War II and how it eventually led to a flood control system that continues to this day. It's sort of a conflict-based nonlinear dynamic version of recent literatures (more…)

Traditional, applied and practicing anthropology

April 29, 2014

Lately I’ve been invited into conversations about what “practicing” anthropology is. Whatever it is, it’s clearly in the wind, with recent articles in the New York Times and Harvard Business Review. The internet is alive with the sound of young anthro bloggers who work in real world organizations.

This flow of anthros (more…)

Me and the Managers of Meaning

February 20, 2014

I’ve been riding the representational range over the last several months. The previous home page item, an article for The New Mexico Mercury about a water conference, I moved to the blog page. I decided maybe a good way to work on waterworld would be to pick some narrow domains, like that conference, (more…)

New Mexico Mercury piece on water

November 16, 2013

The New Mexico Mercury, an internet newspaper, published a piece about a water conference at I'll reprint that here now.

Water in New Mexico: The Quest for New Tools and Rules
September 11, 2013
Features, Politics / Current Events, Envirolocal
By (more…)

Selected Works

Wonder why studies you read about your world usually don’t get who you are and how you really live? Frustrated that “the numbers” don’t solve the problem? Does it bother you that policies and programs, more often than not, don’t work like they’re supposed to? People, organizations, countries–they rely on information about real human social lives. Usually they don’t have it because they only test what they think they already know in narrow situations of their own design. The results have value, some of the time, but it’s not nearly enough. We need a human social science that begins and ends in the real worlds of the humans that it claims to be about. One has been around for a couple of hundred years. The Lively Science tells the story of its historical roots and the reasons for its neglect, blends in new intellectual tools, and argues that it’s time to get on with a science that changes research objects into human subjects and learns who they are and what they’re trying to do before conclusions are drawn.
Living in a world of linguistic and cultural differences
A personal story of decades of work in the substance abuse field, a story of how our ineffective drug policy came to be and stayed in place. Now available as an e-book at iBook on iTunes and on Barnes and Noble.
The story of the working world of independent truckers in a time of deregulation
Nonfiction, Introductory Text
An introduction to ethnography