This year at the annual meeting of the Society for Applied Anthropology (SfAA), I will be hosting a roundtable titled Less Common Applications of Business Anthropology. The purpose of the roundtable is to discuss how my colleagues and I apply anthropology in a business context. We have notably chosen to leave user experience (UX) absent because though working in UX is an excellent opportunity for anthropologists, there are many other professions that we wish to build awareness of.

Roundtable Abstract

Historically when people discussed business anthropology, organizational and consumer research roles were at the forefront of the conversation. Today, that conversation has shifted to user experience (UX). While these are all critical applications of business anthropology, there are other roles that students and practitioners should consider. This panel explores less common applications of business anthropology through the work of five early-career business anthropologists working in digital product management, social impact storytelling, thought leadership insights, strategic operations management, and architecture. The panelists will share their experiences with applying the theories and methods of the discipline at the frontier of business anthropology.


Matt Artz

Matt is a business anthropologist, entrepreneur, and upcoming TEDx speaker. Matt works as the Head of Product and Experience at Cloudshadow, and is the Founder and of Azimuth Labs and Anthro to UX. As an advocate for the responsible development of technology, his work explores the effects of technology on society. His UNT anthropology research focused on the benefits and risks of consumer DNA testing, which he will be discussing in his March 2020 TEDx Talk. Matt is also co-organizer of the NYC Business Anthropology meetup, and guest host on the This Anthro Life podcast.

Steven Garcia

Steven is an academically trained anthropologist studying the intersection of luxury brands, affluence, and culture. His professional experience includes over a decade as a brand strategist at several advertising agencies, including Crispin Porter + Bogusky, David&Goliath, Venables Bell & Partners, and RPA. He has worked on a variety of brands, including PayPal, Braintree, Charles Schwab, La-Z-Boy, Kia Motors, Honda, Acura, Audi, and now, Lexus. In 2016, he joined Team One, where he built a new anthropology practice, and conduct ethnography, cultural analysis, and semiotics to dig into the cultural drivers and context that influence people and their behavior.

Angela Ramer

Angela’s interests lie at the intersection of people, process, technology and the built environment. What she loves about the architecture and design industry is that solutions (via building and/or behavior) allow her to directly impact the quality of human experience. At HKS she works across departments to inform clients’ real estate, strategy and design decisions for projects ranging from corporate organizational and headquarters projects to eSports venues. Every day she brings design thinking, an analytical perspective and ethnographic methods to my work. Her goal is to balance both qualitative and quantitative insights to inform business strategy, design decisions and user experience relative to process and the built environment.

Valorie Aquino

Valorie is the co-founder of March for Science and a first-generation Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Anthropology at the University of New Mexico, where she also received her M.S. in Anthropology. As an undergraduate, she studied print journalism and anthropology at the universities of Southern California and Cincinnati.  Her sub-disciplines are archaeology and geochemistry, with the ancient Maya as her dissertation area of focus.

Shane Pahl

Shane is an experienced organizational change transformation and applied anthropology professional with an affinity for business and operational design. His consistent curiosity and intrapreneurial spirit ensure he approaches management consulting challenges from a 30,000-foot view and then dives deep to distill the complex into simple and the ambiguous into concrete solutions and results. The academic study of anthropology has afforded him the skills to engage all levels of an organization to tackle both strategic and tactical challenges. Ultimately, he strives to better the organizations he works with, both for the organization’s bottom line and the employee’s workplace fulfillment. This panel explores less common applications of business anthropology through the work of five early-career business anthropologists. This panel explores less common applications of business anthropology through the work of five early-career business anthropologists.

My Other Presentation at SfAA 2020

I will also be participating in a session titled Teaching Race & Ethnicity. Please come by and support us!