Andrew Causey's 'Drawn to See: Drawing as an Ethnographic Method' Named Outstanding Academic Title by American Library Association

Humanities, History, and Social Sciences Associate Professor Andrew Causey’s book Drawn to See: Drawing as an Ethnographic Method has been named a 2017 Choice Outstanding Academic Title by the American Library Association (ALA). Choice reviews over 6,000 books a year, and selects 10% of those titles to present awards to. With so few national prizes and awards that acknowledge scholarly work, the recognition is significant. According to the ALA website, the list “reflects the best in scholarly titles reviewed by Choice and brings with it the extraordinary recognition of the academic library community.”

Nominated by a committee of Choice reviewers, Causey calls the win a “real honor.” “When librarians across the nation are trying to make decisions about what books to add to their collections each year, the first place they may go is to the Choice awardees,” Causey explains.

In a 2016 Teaching Culture article, Causey reveals the importance of utilizing drawing in the classroom to improve visual perception. While doing research with the Toba Batak people of North Sumatra, Indonesia, Causey “realized that some understandings of life on Samosir Island became clearer” when he began drawing what he saw rather than simply writing about it. For Causey, this revelation is a valuable one, particularly in a fast-paced society in which people are “so busy scanning the world that they may have lost their knack for actually perceiving objects and images carefully and mindfully.”

Causey’s teachings, writes the University of Aberdeen’s Tim Ingold, “could transform anthropology,” and the ALA’s selection of Drawn to See as an Outstanding Academic Title reflects the importance that the book has had in the field.

In May 2017, Causey participated in Columbia’s first annual Faculty Showcase, where he discussed his book with colleagues at Columbia.