(via CultureMatters) Prostitution is a fascinating topic and means different things in different parts of the world. In the American Sexuality Magazine, anthropologist Lisa Wynn writes about her difficulties to understand what Egyptians meant when they said “prostitute”.
The article explains why we always have to think out of the box and leave our own preconceptions behind. She writes:
Eventually I realized that the reason I was struggling to understand the concept of a prostitute had everything to do with my own preconceptions about sex and money. I thought of prostitutes as women who had sex for money.
It was not the injection of money into a sexual relationship that defined it as prostitution:
What is involved in defining a prostitute in Egypt, then, is a complex moral judgment about a woman’s social behavior, the number of her sexual partners, the extent to which she submits to familial controls over her social life, and her loyalty to her current romantic partner.
Similar points have been made by anthropologist Bjarke Oxlund who conducted research among students at the University of Limpopo in South Africa, see my earlier post An anthropologist on sex, love and AIDS in a university campus in South Africa. Earlier this year, anthropologist Patty Kelly argued for a decriminalization of prostitution.
Some years ago, the researchers observed how people talked on the phone while watching the same TV show. Now Motorola-anthropologist Crysta Metcalf and her team are designing a Social TV, the Chicago Tribune reports.
The researchers designed a prototype and recruited friends of friends for the first phase of testing. “It looked like a PC attached to a television with a big microphone on a coffee table,” Metcalf says.
There are several publications by her and her team online, among others Ambient social tv: drawing people into a shared experience. There is also a pdf of a presentation at a conference by the Society of Applied Anthropology Investigating the Sharing Practices of Family & Friends to Inform Communication Technology Innovations
It sounds like a satire on capitalism but reality is often even worse. If you have written an article for SAGE you cannot send your own article to colleagues, you cannot copy nor save it. You can read it on one computer only according to anthropologist and Culture Matters blogger Lisa Wynn.
Wynn had published an article in the Journal of Social Archaeology. Instead of getting a PDF of the published article, which is what she gets from all the other journals, she received this e-mail:
Dear Contributor, Thank you for submitting your article titled “Shape Shifting Lizard People, Israelite Slaves, and Other Theories of Pyramid Building: Notes on Labor, Nationalism, and Archaeology in Egypt” to Journal of Social Archaeology, which was recently published in volume 8 issue 2 of the journal.
We invite you to visit http://articleworks.cadmus.com/doc/872534 to download an electronic version of your article (we are no longer sending out paper offprints/tearsheets). You can download this file as an .exe file, which will allow you to view and print the PDF an unlimited number of times on your own computer, and you can forward it as a link up to 25 times to your co-authors and other colleagues. Please note that it is a protected file and you will not be able to forward the file itself or upload it to a website.If you have difficulty please check our FAQs section http://articleworks.cadmus.com/open/sagehelp.html
“I will NEVER again consider publishing with them as long as Sage is running things this way", she comments.
I have followed the download-link and made these two screenshots.
PS: Strangely enough, as a SAGE-subscriber via my university account, I could download a conventional pdf-file of her article.
Christopher Kelty wrote about similar difficulties to get a free copy of his own article, published in the journal Cultural Anthropology in his Savage Minds-post Recursive public irony.
The above procedure applies only if the author is no subscriber of the journal, as Lisa Wynn writes in reply to my question:
Yes, according to what Sage sent me, if your university subscribes, you can download a conventional PDF (and then spread it around as much as you like). But if you don’t belong to a subscribing university, then you can only get this executable file (and only 25 people, too). The irony is that even if an AUTHOR doesn’t have a subscription, then the author doesn’t get the normal PDF, just the executable protected PDF. Maddening!
“A boycott would be swell (but don’t see that happening). digital disobedience is even better", somebody commented on the blog laguayabita.blogspot.com
Greg Downey has similar thoughts and comments on Culture Matters:
Yeah, I got one of these, too, recently from another journal, but I cheated on the whole thing: I printed off a copy and then scanned it as a .pdf on our departmental copier. It’s a bit bigger than a normal .pdf, so it’s harder to circulate, but it does give me a way to send the article to overseas colleagues.
PhD students at the Social and Cultural Anthropology Department of Barcelona University have started a new journal called (con)textos. Their aim is to make known the research that is carried out during the doctoral period and to set up a space for debate and training.
The texts in the first issue are in Spanish only, but in future issues, texts in English will appear as well ("Texts may be written in Catalan, Spanish, English, French, Italian and Portuguese"). All texts ate published with a Creative Commons licence. It is even possible to comment articles.
How has Free Software transformed not only software, but also music, film, science, and education? Anthropologist and Savage Minds blogger Christopher M. Kelty explores this question in his new book “Two bits” that now is “available for purchase, for download and for derivation and remixing” as he writes.
A really web 2.0 book in other words. It is both available on paper (published by Duke University Press) and online - freely accessible. Both book, blog and wiki!
From the book description:
Drawing on ethnographic research that took him from an Internet healthcare start-up company in Boston to media labs in Berlin to young entrepreneurs in Bangalore, Kelty describes the technologies and the moral vision that binds together hackers, geeks, lawyers, and other Free Software advocates.
Kelty shows how these specific practices have reoriented the relations of power around the creation, dissemination, and authorization of all kinds of knowledge after the arrival of the Internet.
The researcher interviewed individuals in the UK, Pakistan, Northern Cyprus and Turkey to identify the key features of the inspirational night dream. He also reviewed transcripts including that of Osama Bin Laden, who has spoken of the night dream in the context of his concern that “the secret [of the 9/11 attacks] would be revealed if everyone starts seeing it in their dreams.”
According to Iain Edgar, dreams were interpreted to justify violence and legitimise actions. At the Cheltenham Science Festival on the cultural significance of sleeping and dreaming, Edgar said:
Islam is probably the largest night dream culture in the world today. The night dream is thought to offer a way to metaphysical and divinatory knowledge, to be a practical alternative and accessible source of inspiration and guidance, to offer clarity concerning action in this world.
Even if reported jihadist dream narratives are fabricated, the fact that Muslims often believe them and are mobilized to jihad partly on their account is of significance".
Overall, how Moslems, and people in general, understand their night dreams is a powerful tool in assessing their worldview and implicit key motivations.
Iain Edgar has studied the relationship between night dreams and culture, between dream imagery and human behaviour for twenty-five years. He writes more about his dream research in the text “Encountering the ‘true dream’ in Islam: a Journey to Turkey and Pakistan” (pdf)
He has also written a text about Anthropology and the dream
Robert Fisk has commented on his research in the Independent, see his article Visions that come to men as they sleep
The story of the so-called “uncontacted tribes” in the Amazon has made its way around the world (even to Norway!). At the same time, there is a complete lack of interest in the story of indigenous people being publicly humiliated in Bolivia, the CultureMatters author Jovan Maud notes.
Are indigenous groups only interesting as long as they are “uncontacted” and “lost"? Has this something to do with obscure notions of “purity"?
Anyway, the anthropology blog CultureMatters has done a great job in deconstructing the “uncontacted tribes"-myth and criticizing organisations like Survival International that use this myth in their work to help indigenous peoples. CultureMatters-blogger Greg Downey writes:
While I certainly agree that small pockets of cultural diversity should not be aggressively assimilated, I feel a little queasy that we have to sell the drive for cultural autonomy and respect for foraging peoples with the whole ‘never seen a white man’ drivel. The term ‘uncontacted’ is part of the problem; ‘isolated’ would be better, as these groups have seldom ‘never seen a white man.’
One of the reasons these groups are attracting attention is that they are under pressure, especially on the Peruvian side of the border, not only from the usual suspects (miners, loggers, and ranchers), but also from a French petroleum company that wants to drill in the area.
Why can’t we go with that story: protecting the environment, wildlife, and the local people’s ways of life against the shattering impact of wreckless resource extraction to feed petroleum addiction? Why do we have to stoop to the whole ‘they think the plane is a giant bird or spirit’ and ‘their way of life was unchanged for 10,000 years’ cannard?
The CultureMatters-author was interviewed by ABC Radio in Melbourne about this issue and they started discussing the common idea that it is ‘inevitable’ through ‘progress’ that people like this will have to disappear.
I wonder if all those ‘well, it’s sad but that’s the inevitable cost of progress’ really even think for thirty seconds about what they’re saying: are they saying that every acre of land that might support people who want to hunt or gather food, inevitably, must be drilled, logged, burned, or dug up for minerals? Really?
Savage Minds followed up with Stone-Age Links and a post The myth of the “untouched” Amazon that concludes that “today’s hunter-gatherers might be descended from the builders of four-lane highways, bridges, moats and canals".
And Maximilian Forte writes (in a satirical post) about a maybe even greater discovery Four New Tribes Discovered: 3 in the USA, 1 in Iraq
With similar thoughs in my head, I wrote one year ago “Help the Hadza!” - Why focus on culture and not on human rights?
See also earlier posts:
The number of young newspaper readers is declining. In order to better understand the behaviors of young readers, Associated Press commissioned a team of anthropologists to follow 18 young individuals around the world and examine their media habits, the Editors Weblog reports.
The Anthropologists found few major cultural differences. “The young digital consumers in Hyderabad were very similar to the ones in Silicon Valley in the United States", said Jim Kennedy from AP.
The researchers uncovered the social aspects of reading news: Almost all of their informants shared news with each other, through text messages, emails and social networks. “These young consumers are looking up to news as a form of social currency", Kennedy said.
Strangely enough, 16 of the 18 individuals consumed news through email, “a popular and powerful platform that often tends to be discounted by traditional media", according to the Editors Weblog.
The full results of the study will be presented at the 2008 World Editors Forum in Gothenburg, Sweden, to be held June 1-4.