Grit, Grind, and Praxis: The Memphis Model of Applying Anthropology

Lindsey Raisa Feldman
Keri Vacanti Brondo
Stanley Hyland
Edward Maclin


In this paper we define “The Memphis Model,” or the type of praxis-oriented, critically engaged anthropology developed and used by the Department of Anthropology at the University of Memphis. This model draws inspiration from the Grit and Grind ethos of the city of Memphis, along with its deep cultural and political traditions of grassroots activism for social justice. Here, we define how this is done in practice. The Department of Anthropology continually brings together current students, faculty, alumni, and community partners in coalition to develop approaches to address emerging social justice issues throughout the city, country, and world. This paper draws on one specific example, the Welcome Home Memphis Initiative, a long-term partnership with community housing agencies, alumni, faculty, and students to counter exploitative housing practices, to explain the process of the Memphis Model.