“Esteemed, Albeit Slightly Unhinged:” the Portrayal of Anthropology Professor June Bauer in US Sitcom Community

Betty White made a cameo in the first episode of season two in the hugely popular US sitcom Community, rocking the role of anthropology Professor June Bauer. Described by the writers and publicized by the Hollywood Reporter as “an esteemed, albeit slightly unhinged, anthropology professor,” Prof. Bauer typifies one widespread perception of anthropologists.

A Better Way to Namasté

Namasté is no longer just a pleasant Hindi greeting, but an English lexeme; a unit of language in the form of a word or phrase that has become an abstract representation of something other than its literal meaning. In this case, indexing a kind of white piousness that explicitly exoticizes and homogenizes South Asia into a caricature of disembodied Sanskrit words (like Ayurveda and Tantra), yoga poses, and “more authentic” religion all the while making unsubtle nods to imagined noble savagery and imitative ancient wisdom.