The Familiar Strange · End of Season Message: June 2020 Just like that, we have already made it through half of what can only be described as a crazy year. To bring this season to a close, we recorded a short message from our homes (hence the differing audio quality ... we are KEEN to … Continue reading End of Season Message: June 2020
Being of South-East Asian background growing up in Australia, these types of comments are not something unfamiliar to me. I have grappled with race and culture many times and I expect that battle to continue long into the future. It’s not the comparisons that bother me. It’s not about the person I’m being compared to. It’s the fact that I’m even being compared. That I’m not me, but rather I am reduced to how I look or who I resemble. I don’t get to define myself anymore. That’s the part that bothers me. After all, it happens to everyone, right? It is the casual nature of these comments which makes it so problematic. It has become so normalised and so easy to dismiss that I don’t feel like I have a choice to even bring it up.
The Familiar Strange · Ep #59 The Palm Oil Frontier: Sophie Chao & Walking the forest with the Marind People “Because for a few hours, maybe sometimes a few days, you can shed your human skin and you can take on the body of a creature that will allow you to fly, to swim through … Continue reading Ep #59 The Palm Oil Frontier: Sophie Chao & Walking the forest with the Marind People
Anthropologists sometimes study sensitive topics and it is therefore not uncommon for ethnographic work to attract serious criticism along such lines. In a recent social media thread, I encountered one such critic whose principal argument was, that both I the ethnographer and the academic study of religion in general had no business writing about religious traditions (Shaligrams, in my case), should not be participating in rituals or engaging with sacred objects. What should the ethnographer’s response to this be then? What is our role in all this?