adventures of a tyro anthropologist

Sunday, January 11

i'm feeling extremely post-modern these days

An ever-increasing proportion of our lives is spent in supermarkets, airports and hotels, on motorways or in fronts of TVs, computers and cash machines. This invasion of the world by what Marc Auge calls "non-space" results in a profound alteration of awareness: something we perceive, but only in a partial and incoherent manner.'
... says David Harvie before starting to criticize Marc Augé's book, "Non-Lieux".

Anthropology's gone mad too, in the post-modern "era". While I'm still thinking about to fieldwork or not to fieldwork in a village using hardcore modern ways, anthropologists started to do fieldworks in strange places. Augé's airport is only one of the normal ones when people like Robin Hamman are conducting research on the "internet" within the framework of rhizomatic structure* (from Deleuze & Guattari). There is some"thing" like cyberanthropology now! Hallelujah!

Please check out to see a miniature rhizomatic structure.

* rhizome is like the root of potato. water (and other things) can enter the root from various points. Deleuze and Guattari's application to social sciences signifies a non-hierarchical order; just like the internet.

Monday, January 5

fieldwork: to do or not to do ?

Dear laypeople, doing fieldwork is not easy as it looks. As a baby anthropologist trying to figure out what kind of a master thesis i should/could/would write, my main concern is to get over with without going places. (including my own country!) Yeah... Shame on me!
Even one of the founding fathers Bronislaw Malinowski - who invented "participant observation" (long-term type) - wasn't that happy being on the field, living in a hut in the middle of a Trobriand village, although he had all that fancy white outfit. "He often felt homesick, despondent, and sick and tired of 'the natives'." (A History of Anthropology, 43)
This kind of stuff made anthropology a well-respected discipline actually. But I must add, you must have balls in order to be involved with it... The question is, do I have 'em?

Tuesday, December 30

excerpts from "Waiting for Foucault, Still"

Marshall Sahlins - described as a "not-quite-Marxist" who passed a Marxist stage in his academic life by Eriksen and Nielsen in A History of Anthropology - wrote a bedtime book, "a pasticherie for our dessert", consisting of his notes in his magical notebook called Waiting for Foucault, Still. Here are some excerpts for you just to let you know how it tastes:

The Poetics of Culture, I
Anthropologists wanted. No experience actually necessary. Make more than most poets. (p. 13)

A people who conceive life to be the pursuit of happiness must be chronically unhappy. (p. 17)

How to Solve the World's Problems
There is a sure, one word solution to all the world's current problems: Atheism. (p. 36)

Some Laws of Civilization
First law of civilization: All airports are under construction.
Second law of civilization: I'm in the wrong line.
Third law of civilization: Snacks sealed in plastic bags cannot be opened, even using your teeth.
Fourth law of civilization: The human gene whose discovery is announced in the New York Times—there's one every day, a gene du jour—is for some bad trait, like schizophrenia, kleptomania, or pneumonia. We have no good genes.
Fifth law of civilization: Failing corporate executives and politicians always resign to spend more time with their families. (p. 45)

Not quite enough? You can download the whole pamphlet from here. Bon appétit !

Monday, December 29

"At least as far as Anthropology goes, two things are certain in the long run: one is that we’ll all be dead; but another is that we’ll all be wrong. Clearly, a good scholarly career is where the first comes before the second." - Marshall Sahlins

Anthropology is an abyss and there is no turning back! Fine, we've settled that, finally. (It wasn't that easy for me to come this far.) Now, since I'm trying to make things easier for myself to go on with what I do, that is to continue to be a student of anthropology, I tried to start this blog. (Well, also I'm in the exam period, as you would imagine..)
What is my objective? Ehmm.. Nothing! I'm just bored and I want to share my twisted sense of humor with my audience. In fact, that's the most important characteristic of anthropologists: having a twisted sense of humor. Because they have no other choice! So wait for juicy stuff in this blog. But before that, let's pray for me:

"Dear God, please take me from this world before I realize that all my theories were wrong. Amen."

(If he honors my wish, I'll have a fantabulous scholarly career before it's realized. Oh I love fooling God!)
"At least as far as Anthropology goes, two things are certain in the long run: one is that we’ll all be dead; but another is that we’ll all be wrong. Clearly, a good scholarly career is where the first comes before the second." - Marshall Sahlins