The Boundary Blur : Interfacing Anthropology and Architecture

A Personal Narrative on the Multidisciplinary Nature of Career Design

Practicing Anthropology (36)2. Amy Goldmacher and Amy Santee, editors. March 2014.


The following narrative explores my current negotiation within professional boundaries. Boundaries can establish lines that divide, bind, or exclude. Boundaries can create order, organize, and establish networks. Boundaries separate disciplines, in this case architecture and anthropology. Boundaries can also transform a natural environment into a cultural landscape, providing a sense of place and capturing the identities of people. Although the built environment is not always designed to readily adapt, it still grows. The same is true for education; while disciplines are often designed for the needs of the moment, they grow as well. In reality, people shape their environments, and subsequently those environments shape us. A profession also shapes how we learn, and how we learn shapes how we approach our careers. The stories below illustrate how one’s career can inform and be informed by multiple disciplines.

The Story of the Cat Meeting

Many professionals, especially professionally trained architects, find themselves on an increasingly non-linear career path. Similarly, after arriving in Memphis, Tennessee, in 2007, my own professional trajectory was not straightforward…