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Dr. Katie Biittner, assistant professor of anthropology, is presenting at TEDxMacEwanU on January 23.

Truth told: Katie Biittner

January 15, 2019 | Society
Truth. The pursuit of this five-letter word is the responsibility of every post-secondary institution: to seek truths that are sometimes universal, often personal and occasionally just plain controversial.

It also happens to be the theme of a TEDxMacEwanU event on January 23, where MacEwan faculty members and alumni will explore truth in its many forms.

Dr. Katie Biittner is an assistant professor in MacEwan’s Department of Anthropology, Economics and Political Science. As an archaeologist, she has been privileged to excavate in several countries – from Tanzania, investigating our origins as modern humans, to Mill Creek Ravine, examining Edmonton’s early industrial days. Katie’s diverse field experiences have helped her come to understand truths about both her discipline and identity.

Leading up to the event, we’re asking our TEDxMacEwanU presenters some questions about truth. Here's what Katie had to say.

What do you think we struggle with the most about the truth you’re presenting?

Accepting the truths of others as true. In my research, I’ve seen that witchcraft is very real and very "true" to people in cultures where it is practiced.

What truth do you think we, as a society, struggle with the most?

That race is not a biological fact. This doesn't mean that race doesn't have important consequences — it may be constructed, but it is still very real because of how it is experienced.

What’s the truth you’ve had the most trouble accepting about yourself?

That I am good at what I do — I am an excellent instructor, mentor and anthropologist who has earned and achieved my position. Imposter syndrome is all too real!

What’s the most meaningful truth someone has ever shared with you about yourself?

A counsellor I was seeing to help me with anxiety and depression told me I was really nurturing. She explained how my actions, words and behaviours reflected this. I'd never heard myself described as such — it was really powerful. It allowed me to tear down some of the walls I'd built and embrace a more open, vulnerable side of myself.

Name one universal truth:

Humans are biocultural beings — this means that what we are is determined by complex and dynamic interaction between our biology (i.e., our bodies, our genes) and our cultures (i.e., our ways to knowing, of feeling).

To tell the truth . . . I am a witch. To find out why and how, you'll have to attend my TEDx talk.

Join Katie on January 23 at TEDxMacEwanU: Truth Told.


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