The village idiot: Language learning for anthropology fieldwork

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 The village idiot: Language learning for anthropology fieldwork

Eduardo Viveiros de Castro: “I would like the Museu Nacional to remain as a ruin, a memory of the dead things.”

This week, a translation of an interview between anthropologist Eduardo Viveiros de Castro of the Museu Nacional in Brazil, and journalist Alexandra Prado Coelho. "My wish, with the rage that we are all feeling, is to leave this ruin as a memento mori, with the memory of the dead, of the dead things, of the dead peoples, of the dead archives, destroyed in this fire. I would not build in that place. And, above all, I would not attempt to hide, to erase this event, pretending that nothing happened and to try to put there a modern building, a digital museum, an internet museum – I do not doubt that these ideas will come forward. I would like that it remains in ashes, in ruins, only the façade standing, so that all can see and remember. A memorial." With thanks to Thiago Opperman for the translation.

Is Life What You Make of It?

In regard to how much pre-determined ‘luck’ compares to perceptions of social mobility, it is useful to remember that both luck and feelings of free-will play into social inequities. Social security measures that aim “to help people help themselves” could better acknowledge whether people really feel like they have a choice to contribute to their own and others’ circumstances, and then care for ‘being’ part of that change.

When the world invades “the field:” emotion, introspection, and ethnography

It’s been years since anthropology set aside the fantasy of “the field” -- a bounded research site, where the locals, and the researcher studying them, are insulated from events in the wider world. But assumptions about “the field,” and what doing fieldwork will be like, are hard to shake. I knew full well, when I … Continue reading When the world invades “the field:” emotion, introspection, and ethnography

Beyond Stereotypes: Success, failure, and the complexity of women’s education in Iran

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.

Imagining new imaginaries for the university

Are we seeing a shift away from explicitly imagining alternatives to the status quo? Are we even still capable, as a society, of envisaging these alternative imaginaries? There is a ‘discursive regime’ - ie. a way of speaking and discussing ideas that is so pervasive as to become inescapable - at play in discussions of universities (and indeed, the world at large) that precludes the consideration of alternatives to neoliberalisation, marketisation and capitalism more broadly. But systematic application of the imagination can create ideas, and “ideas can change reality, for ideas can turn into reasons for action, which in turn can become causes of change.” (Barnett, 2013, p. 7).

Single Shot: Poisoned Hyena

Each entry in the “Single Shot” visual anthropology series presents a single photograph or unbroken shot of video taken during ethnographic fieldwork, plus a short description, with an emphasis on the researcher’s reflexive experience. The series editor is Dr. Natasha Fijn. Submit your own Single Shots to submissions@thefamiliarstrange.com. Author: Dr. Marcus Baynes-Rock is an anthropologist … Continue reading Single Shot: Poisoned Hyena