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.
This month, Simon starts us off (1:08) asking, how can we make the knowledge we gain from anthropology matter for policy and government? "There’s no reason why [anthropology] can’t be scaled up. There’s no reason why there shouldn’t be a chief anthropologist to the government.” As Jodie argues, "unless, as a discipline, we are willing … Continue reading Ep. #19 Anthro & policy-making, digital disruption, online research, & what is love? This month on TFS
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’.
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
In this month’s panel discussion, Jodie (1:14) tells us about documents with agency: “Ideas just get up and grow legs, and they run away with themselves.” (Trigger warning: this segment mentions the recent Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. If you want to avoid that part, skip to 3:45.) Next, Ian (6:00) … Continue reading Ep. #4 Killer Docs, Imaginary Landscapes, Political Lies, and Emotional Risk: this month on TFS
Jodie, Simon, Julia, and Ian preview what's coming up on The Familiar Strange blog in the coming month. On today's show, Jodie (1:40) follows up on 2015 fracas at Yale about free speech and Halloween, in response to a discussion on Sam Harris' podcast "Waking Up" (www.samharris.org/podcast/item/facing-the-crowd); Simon (7:10) takes us to Iran for a look … Continue reading Ep. #1 Campus free speech, mundane governance, truth in politics, and creeps v. @ssholes: this month on TFS
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
Anthropologists love to compare themselves to tourists. Nothing more confirms the merit of anthropology and its commitment to ‘in-depth’ fieldwork than the cultural missteps of globetrotters – especially wealthy Western ones – as they bumble through quagmires of etiquette and faux pas in the act of rubbing up against foreign cultures across the world. Anthropologists … Continue reading Ethnographers vs ‘Tourists’