Now the film has made its way to the International Film Festival in Toronto and to movies across Canada. In an interview with the Edmonton Journal, Kunuk tells about how film making has contributed to a revival of Inuit shamanism:
"For our Inuit audience and for our young people, we're showing that we survived 4,000 years under shamanism: Be kind to animals, use only what you need. We had everything -- food, clothes. You had to be a good hunter to be rich. Christianity came, all that was put aside. Growing up, the minister was telling us don't do drum dances, don't tell legends because they're the work of the devil. It's brainwashing. It happened in New Zealand, Australia, Africa. It probably all happened the same.
"I wanted to put it down on record. For 4,000 years of our history, it is only the last 85 years that Christianity came. It doesn't balance. We traded 100 taboos -- laws of nature -- for Ten Commandments, which now I don't have any trust for after looking at where they came from. Love thy neighbour? They're bombing the hell out of each other! But we had to throw away all these rules of the land, taboos we just dumped so we could go to heaven."
"Shamanism was here, and it's going to be here, that's what my elders tell me. After Atanarjuat [an earlier film], the elders started to talk about shamanism more. With this film, because their families are in this community, people learned about their namesakes. We live by namesakes. When I was born, I was given five names, but the government couldn't pronounce them so we were given tags and family names."
Some papers are now freely available:
The online nomads of cyberia (PDF, 337 Kb)
Alexander Knorr (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet Muenchen)
Foreign correspondents/ foreign news production (PDF, 260 Kb)
Angela Dressler (University of Bremen)
Game pleasures and media practices (PDF, 160 Kb)
Elisenda Ardèvol, Antoni Roig, Gemma San Cornelio, Ruth Pagès and Pau Alsina (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya)
Finding our subject: media practice, structure and communication (PDF, 240 Kb)
Daniel Taghioff (School of Oriental and African Studies)
First, a few words about No Shame In My Game:
Her major findings are the strong work ethic among these minimum-wage workers and the value they place on personal responsibility; to blame their difficulties on personal shortcomings would be too simplistic.
An excerpt from a review in The Progressive:
In No Shame in My Game, she argues that social science research has disproportionately focused on the plight of the unemployed ghetto-dweller or mothers on welfare. The media, too, depict welfare dependency as the natural state of poverty, while neglecting the majority of inner-city poor people who work.
She writes, "The nation's working poor do not need their values reengineered. They do not need lessons about the dignity of work. Their everyday lives are proof enough that they share the values of their mainstream, middle class counterparts."
She talks in very positive way both about the workers and the employers ("Newman sees everyone she meets in a similarly flattering light, as if she is afraid to make any judgments", The New York Times remarks). She is asked if there have been conflicts between "illegal" immigrants and native-born Americans at the work place. She answers that the work created both tension and friendship:
But the thing that I found most striking was that people created a community of friends out of the people they worked with. Workers had friendships or relationships with each other; they went to the movies together. The workplace is a great generator of cross-racial contact and friendship.
The employers, she writes, were "more honorable people than most readers would ever think":
Now, I don’t want to say that they were saints. They were business people, and they were looking to make a profit. But they were much more invested in the lives of their workers then most people realize. They helped people get eyeglasses; they helped people get ID; they cosigned leases; they were offering young people money if they got good grades; they paid for their schoolbooks. (...) Very often these employers were the only ones who were paying a good deal of interest in the school performance of these kids.
So one of the things that I argue in the book is that really contrary to common wisdom school and work are not antithetical to one another. These young people were doing better in school than the young people who weren’t working, because the discipline that they learned on the job and the oversight the business owners and mangers exercised over them was having a positive effect on their school performance.
(...) I must say that I was surprised at what I found in the businesses that I did study. And that has taught me as a social scientist that you shouldn’t prejudge anything. It's all open for investigation.
It was also important to me to show how qualitative research could give us a deeper understanding of the daily lives and real values of inner city workers. Most of the information we have on labor markets and the workforce naturally comes from economists or sociologists who work with large data sets.
That research is crucial, especially for explaining the big picture. But it doesn't help us understand how ordinary people in poor communities view their lives, their options, or how they put the resources together to survive, to raise their kids, to balance going to school and keeping a job.
You need a different approach for that and it seemed to me that anthropology has something important to add to the picture. Besides, a good anthropologist can communicate with a larger audience that won't sit still for statistical arguments, but will listen to a well-crafted account of real lives.
MORE ON "NO SHAME IN MY GAME"
The theme [Europe and the World ]encourages us to consider the global dimensions of particular ethnographic encounters. The wider interconnections, the spread of ideas, the dynamic relationships and processes which shape the everyday activity of social life; these lie increasingly at the centre of our methodological and theoretical preoccupations as anthropologists. Mediated by individual, institutional, national developments of enormous complexity, this link between global interchange and local creativity deserves our systematic attention and analysis.
Around 1000 anthropologists from many countries in Europe (and other continents?) might have been there. I've searched the news and blogs but haven't find any information on what has gone on there.
I only found EASA-related posts on two blogs - on Erkan' Field diary (on lost luggage on his way home) and on Savage Minds (notes by Maia who is going to present a paper there). No newspaper has mentioned the largest European Anthropology conference about a topic that is in the news every day...
UPDATE: I've found this blog entry:
Things I learned at an anthropology conference in Bristol:
1) Apparently it is not important to say anything in conferences as long as you are talking.
2) There is nothing more depressing than a passionless tango. Especially when it is done to honor someone who has passed away. If I die, please do not ask to anorexic British anthropologists to dance the tango in honor of me. Or maybe do. It would be my last laugh as you would have to endure it and I wouldn't/
3) The surest way to not keep my attention for an hour long presentation is to begin with a paragraph overflowing with alliterations. You will think you are clever. I will not.
Workshop based organization and network meetings in the evenings seem to be productive. However, I could not escape from thinking that compare to AAA, EASA has a really long way to go. I wasnt't thrilled with any theoretical development. AAA seems to be heading what is the newest in the field. EASA is yet working on the organization and deciding for near future research strategy.
As many of us know, Yale anthropologist David Graeber has been fired for his anarchist activism. He's not the only one who was punished for leaving the academic ivory tower. More and more academics have started blogging, exposing their personal opinions to the world. The Yale Herald has an interesting story about "how profs' political advocacy outside academia can threaten their success within it":
The recent explosion of professors using their academic bully pulpits to expound on everything from federal sentencing law to the need for a Palestinian state raises questions of responsibility and consequence. Every year, more professors join the blogosphere, expanding into a medium that lets them write anything about anything and makes them advocates as well as teachers.
Mazin Qumsiyeh for example was hired by the Yale School of Medicine:
He had advocated locally and nationally for Palestinian rights under his title as a Yale professor. Five years later, he was looking for a new job.
Qumsiyeh is the editor of Qumsiyeh: A Human Rights Web.
Last year, Yale decided to woo Professor Juan Cole away from Michigan. Then it changed its mind:
The provost’s office refused to comment on the reasons for his rejection; Dr. Cole refused to comment on this story. But many eyes turned toward Cole’s blog as a factor in the decision, one that may have raised his profile and polarized opinion on his candidacy. On his site, “Informed Comment,” Cole has provided commentary on the news coming out of the Middle East since 2001.
And the popular anarchist anthropologist David Graeber was invited to give this year’s Malinowski lecture, an honor given only to the world’s most promising young anthropologists. His contract went up for renewal last year:
He had been a controversial figure, but now finds sleeping on couches in his friends’ New Haven apartments after giving up his lease.
When Graeber returned from a one-year sabbatical in 2002—having joined forces in the interim with anti-war and anti-globalization groups such as the Direct Action Network and Ya Basta — he said he found his welcome back much colder than his farewell. “I thought a ‘hello’ would have been reasonable,” he said. “All of the sudden, no one was talking to me.” He continued to be a prolific writer and researcher, but his future no longer looked so rosy.
From the exotic world of technology and culture: "I feel more comfortable texting friends, because face-to-face you run out of things to talk about," a 17-year-old American high school senior said. "When you're texting, the conversation doesn't have any awkwardness. And when you run out of things to say, it's over."
Teenagers and early 20-somethings would tell me that things like face-to-face and telephone and even e-mail are a cold medium and you can't trust them, but the way you can really be authentic is through texting and instant messaging.
You are in more control when you're doing the texting and instant messaging than when you're in a group of people talking at once, with confusing messages that you have to unravel. In a group you're not presenting the real you, you're just reacting.
And according to The News & Observer, more and more technology is ending up in the bedroom, "laptops shares couples' most intimate space":
Dr. Enoch Choi, 36, and his wife, Tania, 33, who have been married 10 years, both take laptops to bed to write their blogs. "I suppose I started the trend," said Choi, a physician in Palo Alto, Calif. "But now my wife is just as much the nighty-night PowerBook key-banger, blogging away for her friends."
Sholes lies in bed and exchanges instant messages with her husband, who is elsewhere in the house on his own computer. "We discuss things, you might even say argue," she said. "The IM will often eliminate a lot of the tone, and we can discuss things a little bit better."
Great commentary (and a good example of engaged anthropology) by anthropologist Sarah Hewat about a recent TV story on Wa Wa, a Korowai boy in Papua, who should be "rescued" from "cannibals". Hewat says, the journalists should have read some work by anthropologist Rupert Stasch before talking about cannibalism. Stasch did his doctoral research on the Korowai of West Papua in the mid-1990s:
If they did, they would learn that as a Korowai, Wa-Wa does not live as a member of a lost tribe, tyrannised by tradition. (...)
The Korowai may live in the forest, but that does not exclude them from having a certain style of modern life. Korowai may fly in planes, go to church, attend school, have meetings with government officials, or sell produce at the market — or gaharu (agarwood) to black-market traders. Even in the peripheries of Korowai territory, where Wa-Wa lives, people no longer kill and eat witches. Times have changed, and in any case, they fear the barbaric repercussions of the Indonesian police.
Part of the story is Paul Raffaele, who brought the TV-team to Wa-Wa. Raffaele has written this doubtful article I've mentioned two weeks ago "They still eat their fellow tribesmen". Hewat writes about Raffaele:
His work does not enhance understanding of the KorowaI but panders to a Western public hungry to consume the primitive.
The Korowai, like other tribal groups portrayed by Raffaele, are presented by him through a series of either/ors: either they are bright-eyed upholders of a fragile Eden, or else they are darkly menacing, horrifying us with their cruel customs.
But if we pay attention to who they are rather than what we want them to be, then we will find ordinary people trying to come to terms with their place in the world. The Korowai, like other ethnic peoples in their position, are simply struggling to engage state and global forces in their own way.
In her view, the journalists should have rather talked with her and other people who have lived in Papua for years, about "the cannibalistic nature of the tourism industry" there. "Primitiveness" is, she writes, after natural resources, a prize commodity in Papua. Tour operators have perfected the art of selling "first contact tours". She continues:
I have known locals who have been paid a measly sum to take off their clothes, brandish spears and speak of a barbaric past to satisfy the voyeurism of white tourists, journalists or filmmakers seeking a close encounter with our ancestral past. The cash-strapped locals who stage such performances are, unfortunately, adjuncts to people who get paid much more to bring Westerners to them.
Our debates about human rights should focus on real issues: supporting the growth of democracy and the rule of law in Papua, building a strong education system that extends to the villages, and, not least, interrogating the exploitative relations between the West and the "primitive other" in the international tourist industry.
PS: Thanks to Peter Keough for alterting me to this article and sorry for not having posted more often recently
UPDATE (24.9.06): I've just found an Sydney Morning Herald article where Raffaele conceded he did not know Stasch's research, doesn't speak Indonesian or any Papuan language and had spent less than six weeks of his life in the restive province. And Wa-Wa is apparently not Korowai after all. Anthropologist Chris Ballard says, says that Raffaele, two television networks and millions of viewers were misled: The Korowai depend on the tourism trade and have learnt to say what rich foreigners want to hear. "Most of these groups have 10 years' experience in feeding this [cannibal] stuff to tourists," Ballard said.
MORE ABOUT THIS ISSUE:
Australian networks clash over cannibal boy (afp, 15.9.06)
Spears fly over 'cannibal' expedition (The Age, 15.9.06)
Experts decry cannibalism claims (The Age, 15.9.06)
"Qualitative Migration Research in Contemporary Europe" is the topic of the recent issue, and most papers deal with methodolocial questions
Maren Borkert and Carla De Tona for example write about "Issues Faced by Young European Researchers in Migration and Ethnic Studies" , especially when rearching abroad as "academic migrants":
The term academic migrant refers to European academics, like the authors of this paper, who become more and more transnational while researching migration in Europe. As migrant European researchers we move to and settle in third-countries, often having to speak a new language, and learning to adjust to new social and cultural normativities, feeling the migration's uprooting and re-grounding and, in short, becoming "foreigners" as the people who participate to our researches (who may or may not be from our home country). Although we may not call ourselves migrants, we end up experiencing migration in similar ways to the participants of our research.
The emerging issue for us is how does this particular transnational aspect of our positionality (of researching migrants as academic migrants) influence us as researchers, the dynamics we establish with our participants and the ultimate shape of our research?
Similar questions are raised in the papers Cultural "Insiders" and the Issue of Positionality in Qualitative Migration Research: Moving "Across" and Moving "Along" Researcher-Participant Divides by Deianira Ganga & Sam Scott and Doing Qualitative Research with Migrants as a Native Citizen: Reflections from Spain) by Alberto Martín Pérez.
There are also case studies about Somali migrants in Finland, Greek musicians in Germany, cultural capital during migration and Reflecting Upon Interculturality in Ethnographic Filmmaking where Laura Catalán Eraso claims that ethnographic film is still very much an under-utilised research technique. Films may illuminate the "intercultural" dynamics between minority (participant) and majority (researcher) and challenge the traditional power relations between the researcher and his/her "subjects":
[T]he filmmaker(s) will loose authority in the film and that authority will tend to get decentralised and shared among subjects. Ways of doing this include allowing subjects to: manage the camera; choose the shots that are used: and, give feedback on the end results. These techniques, not dissimilar to those advocated in other forms of qualitative enquiry, will hopefully create new possibilities for ethnographic film by allowing space for greater equality between, and more reflection by, researchers and participants.
In the introduction, the editors remind us of that...
migration is not a new phenomenon: human beings have always been moving to other places, other regions and other countries. What is "new" is the relatively recent invention and creation of national borders and the "imagining" of nation-states (ANDERSON, 1983, pp.5-7). These ideological processes make migration "international" and thus problematise the natural behaviour of people attempting to improve their everyday lives.