Remote Internship Connects Art History and Anthropology

Shafaa Lang

This image is of a Siberian kitchen . The demon faces throughout the images are intriguing. Shamanism is a common practice amongst indigenous in Siberia which makes me wonder if the demon dragon faces are affiliated with Shamanism.

When I started college back in 2012, my major was Art History, but I ended dropping out due to some issues in school. In 2016, I started to go to community college and took up Liberal Arts. During my time in community college, I picked up a book called “Everyone is African” by Daniel J. Fairbanks and it was then that I fell in love with the study of Anthropology. After that I started reading different books like “Living Color: The Biological and Social Meaning of Skin Color” by Nina Jablonski and “Gun, Germs, and Steel” by Jared Diamond which really inspired me to study Anthropology. Anthropology was the prefect way to combine my love for History and Science.

This image is of an indigenous Siberian person, more than likely painted by someone non-indigenous.

 Before actively looking for an internship, I did not think that it would be hard to find one. Little did I know, it required more work than I thought. I got in contact with several different organizations and not one responded back to me. It is my belief that it was due to things being shut down because of the pandemic. This was very discouraging, but Dr. Gooding presented us with a remote opportunity called Endangerred Archives Programme which made things a whole lot easier.  Endangerred Archives Programme supports the preservation of cultural archives from different regions throughout the world. Their goal is to digitize these archives while keeping the original copy in its country of origin. I was very intrigued because I never knew that you could do Anthropology work from home right from your computer and with having a father who is disabled it would allow me to cut my time away from home because I also work a full-time job.

This is a typical workday. I am working on identifying appropriate keywords for an image. 

During this internship, I learned so much! I believe that this will strengthen my resume. It also shows that I have familiarity with archival work which could be good when applying to work at museums.  My Research Methods and Cultural Anthropology classes during my time at KSU gave me the knowledge necessary to make it through this internship, especially Research Methods with Dr. Lundy. Learning about different research methods and how to collect data is important in ethnographic research or fieldwork.

A picture of indigenous men of Siberia.  

The internship taught me patience and it has even taught me how to stay focused without having a boss looking directly over what I do.  If I could change anything, it would be the timing. I do not have the support from my parents which makes it hard to do an internship because I must work full-time to live. Having a job and doing an internship was ridiculously hard for me to balance, but overall, I enjoyed the experience!

  My internship was to help make it easier for people to find images of 19th and 20th century Southern Siberia indigenous peoples by giving each image keywords which is like an identification marker.  These images are digitized archives. The original archives are safe in the region origin that they came from.  In my work, I had to do my own research about the culture to be able to put keywords that made sense. What this internship taught me is that Siberia has a deep history and that the people there find it especially important to preserve their cultural heritage. Similar to the Americas, outsiders did come in and take over, this led to a fight for cultural preservation for the Siberian people.  Learning about the culture made me really want to travel to Siberia. This internship has also inspired me to pursue a future career in Cultural Anthropology and I look forward to applying what I have learned here at KSU. I would love to travel and live amongst different groups of people to study their culture. I strongly believe that travelling and learning about different cultures around the world can help you find yourself.