In preparing for fieldwork, I took a class on language training with Piers Kelly. While Piers was talking more specifically about learning in a context where a language hadn’t been written down before or had very limited resources, I think there was a nice takeaway for any learner of a second (or third, or more…) … Continue reading Talking like a child: Language learning for anthropology fieldwork
During my 15 months of fieldwork in Iran, the gripe that a bachelor’s degree was now equivalent to that of a high school certificate from a few years earlier was pervasive. This has seen a tandem effect of young men who historically belonged to the educated classes now frequently forgoing tertiary study, and moving straight into the job market. However, such options are rarely open to women, leaving education as one of the main, if not the only way for improving social standing.
"Livestock are essential to our lives. We live in a world that is saturated with livestock, and not just with the food that we eat, but with the lives that we live and in the other byproducts that come through livestock production." Brad Weiss, head of the anthropology department at the College of William and … Continue reading Ep. #18 What taste is made of: Brad Weiss talks pig farming and the meaning of food in America
Even as I attempted to (re-)present my research as anthropological, on its journey into the public sphere and a wider audience, it was interpreted and reinterpreted as ‘international relations’. When I was interviewed, I was introduced and thanked as a generic ‘PhD researcher’.
Elizabeth has an agency all of her own, albeit one that we might not be familiar with, and so to reduce her experience only to the ties of sociality that bind her to others, is I think, to miss a significant portion of the story.
I was determined to make sure that I was never bored during my fieldwork. Vibrant informants and constant social interaction were to be the key to my successful defeat of apathy. And yet, when it came to the crunch, I frequently found myself bored.
“Any concept -- capitalism, neoliberalism, etc. -- leaves an excess that it is the aim of anthropology to unearth. These are spaces that are not dominated by whatever’s dominating at a specific time. So there are existing alternatives, there are not just imaginary alternatives.... Anthropology in this sense does provide the possibility of thinking of … Continue reading Ep. #11 Alternative worlds: Ghassan Hage talks multiculturalism, teaching the enemy, & thinking in public
I still remember vividly the words of an informant who, when asking him about his vision of a freer Iran, responded adamantly, “we don’t need more freedom, what we need is less corruption”. While such a view is not obviously universally transposable, I think it taps into a certain social current.
As the dust settles on Iran’s recent bout of protests, the surge of commentary, punditry, and analysis is likely to continue, no longer working to explain these apparently ‘spontaneous’ protests, so much as to understand why they have petered out. Much of the commentary on what has been labelled the ‘greatest challenge to the Islamic … Continue reading The Price of Eggs: Iran beyond liberalism and capitalism
For those of us who have grown up in the ‘West’, we tend to think of religion as a customizable category. Some of us are born into a particular sect, others with no particular orientation, and as we travel through life, we’re presented with a panoply of options from which to choose. Many of us … Continue reading Like a Skin