Making It Matter: Robert Kett '09
Kett is a PhD candidate in anthropology at the University of California, Irvine. His research focuses on the history of art and science in southern Mexico.
I have been doing research in Mexico City, and then I'm heading to Mexico's Gold Coast to do ethnographic fieldwork. I'm particularly interested in how the histories of Olmec archeology, oil geology and scientific collection altered the states of Tabasco and Veracruz throughout the 20th century. I recently gave a talk at Northwestern about an anthropology project that I worked on that explored the local history of Irvine. It was a great privilege to return to Northwestern, and exciting because it was there that I became interested in what I'm doing now.
What I really enjoy about the work I do, and academic work in general, is that it helps us rethink everyday life. Anthropology enables us to examine things that are ignored by a lot of people, and discuss what they mean. It has the strange ability to make the things we take for granted, like the objects and buildings around us, seem weird. It helps us recognize the significance that exists in the everyday, as opposed to celebrating giant achievements or money or fame. It makes us aware of what's going on around us and allows us to think about what those smaller events mean.