why the world needs anthropology

Business Anthropology events in 2018

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Generally, when we change the year on the calendar, people tend to look back and see how they have evolved, what they have done and reflect on it. Something similar happens to us with Business Anthropology. Year after year we try to collect the main milestones and events celebrated in the domain of B.A, and we write an article where we collect them all. You can check the 2017 one here.

In this way we are able to “measure” the evolution of anthropology applied to business, which, I am already advancing, is progressing very well, attracting more and more interest from students, universities, and companies.

Despite our efforts to try to monitor the progress of the sub-discipline worldwide, we will surely forget to pick up some important events. That is why, especially in this article, we ask you to comment or send us updates if you know of a Business Anthropology event that happened anywhere in the world on 2018 but that is not on the list.

We have collected the events in chronological order. In addition, we include a link to upcoming events, their date and venue. So if you know someone interested in Business Anthropology, don’t forget to send them this article so they don’t miss the most interesting events.

And without further ado, we begin:

Society for Applied Anthropology Annual Meeting

5 – 6 February 2018
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (USA)

As every year, the SfAA held its annual congress where numerous applied anthropologists met. Business Anthropology was represented by numerous workshops including “Ethnography and Experience Design”, “Teaching Business Anthropology: Opportunities for Departments and Students” or “Becoming a Practicing Anthropologist: A Workshop for Students Seeking Non-Academic Careers”.

Will there be a next edition?
Yes, in 2019 the SfAA Congress will be held in Portland (Oregon) on March 19 and 20, 2019.

Link: Consult the panels organized here

Global Business Anthropology Summit

April 24, 2018
Detroit, Michigan (USA)

The first edition of the Global Business Anthropology Summit had an amazing line up: Marietta Baba, Melissa Cefkin, Ann Jordan, Rita Denny, Dominique Desjeux, Robert Morais, Alfons van Marrewijk, Patricia Sunderland and Gillian Tett are just a few examples of the incredible talent that gathered in chilly Detroit last year.

In addition to this great display of authors and professionals, the Global Business Anthropology Summit was sponsored by large companies related in one way or another to anthropology, such as Red Associates, Hitachi, Nissan, Fjord, Intel and of course, the organizing university Wayne State University.

You can consult the report of the event here

Will there be a next edition?
Yes, and this time we won’t miss it! The next edition of the Global Business Anthropology Summit will be held on May 29th and 30th at Fordham University in New York.

Link: https://bit.ly/2FJX8E9

IV International Congress of Anthropology AIBR

4 – 7 September 2018
Granada (Spain)

There is no doubt that the annual AIBR congress is an essential meeting place for all Ibero-American anthropologists. It is the fourth year we have attended this event (we´ve never missed an edition so far), so we can speak with a certain perspective, and of course, with much affection.

It is true that the AIBR congress is not a specific congress on Business Anthropology, but from Antropología 2.0 we have been pushing for the sub-discipline to have a permanent (and growing) presence in the organization.

In 2017, in the third edition of the congress, we traveled to Puerto Vallarta (Mexico) to organize the first specific panel on Corporate Anthropology. You can read about it here.

In 2018, in the fourth edition, we returned to our alma mater (Universidad de Granada) to organize two specific panels on Corporate Anthropology, and the truth is that the result was amazing. In Granada we met academics, students and professionals interested in the application of our discipline in business environments.

No less than 12 papers were presented that dealt with different relevant topics.

You can read the report here

Will there be a next edition?

Yes, and we will attend again, although this year we will only present two papers, one related to Business Anthropology methodology and the other to Transhumanism (Techno-Antropology).

The next edition will be held from 9 to 12 July at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (Spain).

Link: https://bit.ly/2MgeKZk

Business Anthropology Workshop

20 – 21 September 2018
Memphis (USA)

In September, the University of Memphis organized a series of very interesting conferences with luxury speakers: Robert Morais, an expert in ethics in Business Anthropology and Elizabeth K. Briody, expert in organizational anthropology and cultural transformation. The conference was held at the Crews Center for Entrepreneurship in collaboration with the University of Memphis.

Although we were not fortunate enough to attend, the syllabus of the conference seems to us to be a very good synthesis of what Business Anthropology is, with the classic divisions proposed by Jordan (Organizational, Consumer Research, Design).

Will there be a next edition?
Honestly, we don’t know yet. As soon as we have news we will update the article.

Link: https://bit.ly/2MiGCfp

EPIC Conference

9-12 October 2018
Honolulu, Hawaii (USA)

EPIC Conference is currently the most important ethnography event applied to companies in the world, and an essential appointment for those who want to be at the forefront of ethnographic methodology. You only need to see the companies sponsoring the event to get an idea of its importance in the world of big technology: IBM, Spotify, Facebook, Nissan, Google, Intel, Salesforce, Mozilla or Uber, among others.

It is important to point out that EPIC is an event focused on applications of ethnography to the private sector, not strictly about Business Anthropology. This gives it a greater “multidisciplinary”, attracting profiles as varied as strategic designers, specialists in UX, Business Intelligence, IoT, Big Data, AI ethics, lots of techies, and other many fields where ethnography is highly valued.

Will there be a next edition?

Yes, and this year we will try to attend. The next edition will be held from 9 to 12 November at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, Rhode Island (USA).

Link: https://bit.ly/2ASSgcj

Why the world needs Anthropologists

26 – 27 October 2018
Lisbon (Portugal)

Europe’s most indispensable applied anthropology event. In this blog, we never get tired of saying how much we like the project undertaken by the EASA Applied Anthropology Network. So much that we have dedicated a tag on our blog exclusively dedicated to the event (which you can check here).

Why the world needs anthropologists, is one of those events that make you understand the immense value of anthropology in the contemporary world, and that seek to generate an active worldwide community of applied anthropologists (link to their Facebook collaborative group). In their eagerness to be as inclusive as possible and to break with the expensive logic of tickets, the event is totally free of charge for attendees (although the event was fully booked in less than a week last year, so make sure you stay tuned to their social media!).

Every year WWNA hosts a different theme. This edition (which had Antropología 2.0 as partners and organizers), delved into the relationship between anthropology and design, with special emphasis on the value of ethnography in processes of Design Thinking and Design centered on people. Among its sponsors are the Portuguese anthropology associations, the most prestigious design and research firms, the AAA and our partners, KMZERO Open Innovation Hub.

Will there be a next edition?

Of course! But, where and when are still a secret. As soon as it becomes official we will update it in this article. In the meantime, we strongly recommend you to follow their Facebook page.

Link: https://bit.ly/2CuJdi1

American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting (117th Edition)

November 14-18, 2018
San José, California (USA)

One more year, the largest and most prestigious anthropology association in the world organized its annual congress. Some have said that this event had more Business Anthropology than any other AAA meeting before… And it definitely doesn’t look like it was a coincidence that it was celebrated in San José, Silicon Valley´s capital, where all of the big tech companies headquarters are. The topics addressed at the American Anthropological Association congress give us an idea of the importance that technology is gaining in the universe of Business Anthropology, in addition to the greater presence in organizational consulting and market research. Some of the workshops offered at the meeting were:

  • Silicon Valley and Wall Street: Places of Business/States of Mind
  • Consulting in Organizational Culture and Change
  • Doing Consumer Research and Collaborating with Clients
  • User Experience Research in a Digital Agency: Drawing on Anthropology and Practice Theory to Understand Contradictions in the Workplace
  • Anthropologists in Tech: Making the Transition from Academia to UX Research
  • Anthropology Outside Academia, Part I: Personal Reflections from Anthropologists working in User Experience Research and Design
  • Anthropology Outside Academia, Part II: Personal Reflections from Anthropologists Working in Business, Marketing, and Consulting


Will there be a next edition?
Yes, the next edition of the annual congress of the American Anthropological Association will be held from 20 to 24 November 2019 in the city of Vancouver (Canada).

Link: https://bit.ly/2Su5GWg

Patient Experience Congress

November 21, 2018
Madrid (Spain)

The Patient Experience Institute, directed by anthropologist Carlos Bezos, held the second edition of the Congress on Patient Experience in Madrid. You can read the chronicle here.

The IEXP is an action-research institute that combines the tools of anthropology and design to address cultural challenges in the field of health, and is the first organization dedicated exclusively to the patient experience in Spain. A must-attend event for all those interested in user-centred innovation in the health sector.


Will there be a next edition?
Yes, the III Congress on Patient Experience will be held on 21 March 2019 at the Carlos III Institute in Madrid.

Link: https://iexp.es/congreso



Finally, we would like to make special mention of those universities that are betting on or at least making visible, Business Anthropology. Departments that understand the need to incorporate anthropology in new spaces, and to give their students the greatest number of job options.

Universidad Autónoma de Madrid

Probably the university in Spain that is putting more efforts in to showing to their student’s different applications of anthropology outside academia. In 2018 they organized two events, one in May and one in November in collaboration with the IMA (Anthropology Institute of Madrid). Now, they are already working on the next conference of applied anthropology for spring 2019.

Máster en Antropología Aplicada – University of Castilla La Mancha

Thanks to all of the promoters of this master who, in 2018, opted for an online presentation on Thick Data and anthropology applied to business. We appreciate your kind invitation, hospitality, and interest in all branches of Applied Anthropology.

University of Calgary (Canada)

Special thanks to Aura Cruz for the organizing the (Re)Thinking Anthropology in Business talks in which we had the pleasure of participating. Aura´s tenacity and effort are succeeding in opening new avenues for applied anthropology in Canada, and we humbly hope to keep contributing as much as we can.

Universidad de Sevilla

We recently learned about these conferences on the Professionalization of Anthropology in the city of Seville, and we were tremendously happy to know that the Universidad de Sevilla held an event where they invited applied anthropologists to explain their case studies and applied methods.

U.N.E.D. Centro de Barbastro

The National University of Distance Studies (specifically the center of Barbastro), integrated a presentation on Thick Data in a very interesting course on Big Data. Thank you for your kind invitation.


Co-founder and CEO in Antropología 2.0 I contribute to the development of innovative business strategies by providing in-depth knowledge of human complexity. As a social anthropologist, I am qualified to conduct ethnographic research based on empathy and a holistic understanding of social phenomena. I collaborate with multidisciplinary teams providing valuable insights on which to build unique and differentiated strategies. My passion for people-centred innovation has led me to train in fields such as Business Anthropology, Design Thinking and Customer Experience (Cx)


  1. Hola,

    Me gustaría saber de más universidades que ofrezcan programas sobre antropología aplicada en el sector empresarial. Estoy muy interesada para tomar una decisión informada para ingresar a una maestría. gracias

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