Former professor of anthropology at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and peace activist for over 30 years, Jeff Halper has started blogging. In his post "Welcome to an Engaged Anthropologist's Blog" he explains:
My idea for this blog is to to bring you into the world of a peace activist in Israel-Palestine, an American-born Jew who became an Israeli some 35 years ago when he immigrated from Minnesota to Israel, who nevertheless believes in peace, justice, human rights, international law and critical thinking -- thinking "out of the box" when it come to framing solutions to the world's problems.
I'm not really conspiratorial or nutty as some of my words on the link among Israel, Jewish "leaders" and American Empire might imply (...). In fact, I'm a mild-mannered professor of Anthropology (used to teach at Ben Gurion University and elsewhere) who would love to do nothing more than go back to teaching and writing about the deconstruction of consciousness among the Nacirema or some other such stuff.
>> visit Jeff Halper's blog (but why is there no RSS-feed??)
Halper has been nominated for the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for his grass root peace activities, along with Professor Ghassan Andoni
"Anthropologists escape into the wider world" is the title of a press release about a recent study that shows that "holders of social anthropology Ph.D.s are highly employable and successful in finding jobs that draw on their anthropological skills".
The study tracked social anthropology doctoral students who completed their studies between 1992 and 2003 in Britain to see what they are doing now. The majority work outside academic anthropology, either in other disciplines within academia, or in various non-academic positions. Fifty-seven per cent currently hold academic positions, though one third of those are on fixed-term contracts with uncertain long-term prospects. Those who escape a conventional academic career can be found in international development organizations like the World Bank or in high-tech companies like Intel. Others remain in academia, teaching and researching.
What they bring to these settings are special skills of observation and critical analysis, born of Ph.D. projects based on long-term field research in challenging cultural locations, Professor Jonathan Spencer at the University of Edinburgh's Anthropology Department says:
"We knew that social anthropologists have a real presence at all levels in the world of international development, but we were surprised by two discoveries. One was social anthropology's success as an "exporter" of skilled researchers and teachers to other academic disciplines. The other was its growing role at the cutting edge of business and technology innovation. Employers seem to be especially interested in the close-focus research skills that are central to anthropological fieldwork. Our findings raise serious doubts about the received wisdom that employers are only interested in the most 'generic' social research skills."
In applying their skills in such diverse settings this generation of Ph.D.s is enriching the discipline in quite new ways. The challenge now is to explore ways to bring what they have learnt in their adventures back into academic training for the next generation of anthropologists.
As in several European countries, Japanese citizenship is still defined by decent. Inspired by the recent immigration debates in the US, anthropologist Sawa Kurotani reflects about the "cultural nationalism" of Japanese citizenship and concludes: "As long as this biologically and culturally produced Japaneseness continues to be the basis of Japanese citizenship, the mobility between citizen and noncitizen categories will be minimal."
Japanese self-analysis of their national character is widely known as nihonjinron (literally, discussion or theory about the Japanese), which centers on the unique characteristics shared among the Japanese that are the product of both biology and culture. The essence of Japanese identity is passed down through the "blood," and is nurtured through the early process of socialization to make one truly "Japanese," so the theory goes. This is why so many Japanese stubbornly refuse to accept a non-Japanese who attains near-native fluency in Japanese or who are able to grasp subtle cultural nuances: How can a gaijin (foreigner) without blood ties or proper upbringing possibly understand anything Japanese?
When Japan began to admit a large number of foreign workers into the country in the 1980s, the overwhelming preference was given to descendants of Japanese who emigrated to Brazil and Peru. Japanese seemed to believe that their Japanese blood made them "Japanese," despite their socialization as Brazilians and Peruvians, and they were truly surprised when they later found out otherwise. This instance gives us a sense of how powerful the belief in "Japanese blood" is.
Japan is now one of the few developed countries that do not allow dual citizenship. This is not a major problem in the world of "one citizenship per person per lifetime," which is, perhaps, the world in which the majority of my compatriots still live. But, it is about time that we acknowledge that the myth of "homogeneous society" is just a myth, and that an increasing number of Japanese nationals are experiencing transnational/multicultural lives outside Japan, while more and more non-Japanese are choosing to live and work in Japan.
>> read the whole article in The Daily Yomiuri (updated with copy)
Apologies for the delay since my last post but I have started a new job at the Cyberspace Research Unit at the University of Central Lancashire and that has been a bit hectic – I am now living in Lincolnshire, working in Preston and Lodging in Liverpool.
When I first began my research all I knew was that there were people ‘out there’ on the Internet and that I wanted to talk to them. I didn’t know how to do that, who was there, why they were there, or even where to find them. I simply had an unshakeable belief that cyberspace was a real place populated by real people. I remember discussing the problem of trying to find people with my then supervisor, Prof Allison James (now at the University of Sheffield). She told me a similar story regarding her own experience - of walking through the streets of a UK mining town watching the children playing and wondering how she could establish contact.
Much of my experience as a cyberanthropologist has been like that – a voyage of discovery – learning that anthropology as a practice is very similar in every field, not only as a discipline, but also in the minutiae of research… for example, learning a new language: for my friend Michaela it was French, for Julia it was Russian, for myself it was a new interactive text-based language.
I have come to realise that the Internet presents a unique challenge to ethnographers in that the written word is the key means of communication, and presented me with a key epistemological problem - how can I make sense of a culture that does not use verbal communication?
Unsurprisingly, written words are often seen to be either lacking in emotion, or lacking the ability to convey emotion without being supported by sight or sound. For example if someone says they are sad, it is a much more believable performance if their words are accompanied by the sight of tears and the sound of sobbing. Yet in cyberspace these physical modalities of speech are to all extents and purposes absent. As a result, in cyberspace, words have had to be transformed. They also express larger meanings in cyberspace. Words have become emotive and descriptive, active and performative. Thus my earlier question - how can I make sense of a culture that does not use verbal communication was largely irrelevant: instead the problem was one of showing that this is communication like in any other ‘real’ place.
Of course much more work has been done in the study of language and the Internet since I first began. But what I really want to share are the similarities with my colleagues who come back from the field to find their speech peppered with language from the field until they had fully integrated back into academic life. I was taking a walk with my beloved one evening when he said something amusing. To my chagrin I didn’t laugh, instead I said ‘LOL’.
This was the moment when I realised how difficult it was to leave the field behind.
That's what is it about:
A proposed legislation would require final manuscripts of peer-reviewed journal articles based on federally-funded research to be made freely available on government-hosted websites six months after publication by commercial and non-profit publishers (such as the AAA).
The AAA does not like this and joined 65 other disciplinary associations and small publishers etc and protested against this legislation.
Here are their main concerns about the legislation, expressed in a letter by these associations:
1) it would undermine the value-added investments made by publishers in the peer review process;
2) it would duplicate existing mechanisms that enable the public to access scientific journals by requiring the government to establish and maintain costly digital repositories;
3) it would position the government as a competitor to independent publishers, posing a disincentive for them to sustain investment and innovation in disseminating authoritative research. The net result, opponents argue, is that the overall quality of research competitiveness would be lowered.
The AAA is mainly concerned about "the potential impact the proposed legislation may have on the AnthroSource business model and revenue generation".
Three excellent comments on this issue:
Bryan McKay: Will AnthroSource go open source? (Les Faits de la Fiction)
Kerim Friedman: Open Source Anthropology (Concerns over the ethical dilemmas involved in producing knowledge about the “other” have, in the past few decades, radically changed how anthropologists conduct research and write ethnographies. Unfortunately, they have not changed how we publish).
Does the World Cup put a stop to war? It is undeniable that football has the power to unite - but its power to divide should not be underestimated, Daniel W Drezner writes in a Washington Post article where he quotes a 1973 article by Richard Sipes in the journal American Anthropologist. Sipes distilled the debate into two arguments: One is that combative sports and war are substitutes for aggressive behaviour. The other is that sports induce a warlike attitude. Sipes tentatively concluded that sports foster aggression.
Drezner discusses several interesting examples from the history of football and concludes:
The problem is that historically, football has been just as likely to be the trigger for war as the trigger for peace. Football will never bring about peace on its own. The flip side is also true-by itself, Football cannot start a war. The World Cup, like the Olympics, suffers from a case of overblown rhetoric.
PS: It might be interesting to find out under which conditions football may trigger either war - or which conditions may trigger peace
By studying beer cultures, you may learn lot about identity. In the United States, German-American identity is rarely marked. But given the association between Germany and beer, craft beer allows for the active negotiation of German-American identity, anthropologist Alexandre Enkerli writes in a draft of his paper Brewing Cultures: Craft Beer and Cultural Identity in North America, that he 's published on his blog.
"Craft beer" refers to barley malt beer brewed locally by a small commercial brewery. The "craft beer movement", Enkerli explains, is oriented against the beer globalization. Slogans like "Think Global, Drink Local" are popular in the craft beer world.
Enkerli also discusses gender aspects:
Not only is the overwhelming majority of craft beer people male but masculinity and even virility are significant aspects of craft beer culture.
The negotiation of gender identity is an especially significant dimension of homebrewing, Enkerli writes. It often relates to the gender differentiation of food in general:
Historically, alewives and other brewsters have been responsible for domestic beer production. Contemporary (male) brewers often acknowledge the importance of women in the history of brewing. Yet the passage from a woman-centric domestic brewing practice to a male-dominated brewing industry and then to an overwhelmingly male craft beer culture rarely seems to represent a continuous process. It is as if male brewers, and especially homebrewers, were saying that despite their presence in the kitchen, they were still men.
Enkerli is both anthropologist and a craft beer enthusiast and has been homebrewer for several years.
PS: The picture was taken at a Norwegian-German wedding. For the wedding, two barrels of Bavarian beer were transported by the couple from Bavaria to Norway by car. Enkerli's point about negotion of German identity in the US might also be true for Norway.
The magazine India New England writes about a psychologist who has been doing ethnographic fieldwork for two years! :
Sunil Bhatia, associate professor of human development at Connecticut College, uses the tools of ethnography to explore the unspoken, invisible experiences beneath the successful exterior of middle-class Indian immigrants, sometimes referred to as the “model minority.” He conducted two years of research as a participant-observer at community and family events among members of the Indian Diaspora in southern Connecticut.
His research shows that the standard model of the acculturation process is inadequate for understanding changes in immigrant identity:
In the standard model that Bhatia has questioned, an immigrant successfully deals with the new culture of his adopted country by integrating it with the old culture of his native land, shedding values and practices that no longer work, or providing space, often in the home, for the old values to live alongside the new. (...) He notes that the standard model ignores the particular historical and economic circumstances that lead people to move to a new culture. It also treats both old and new cultures as fixed entities practically synonymous with nation states, and its heavy emphasis on assimilation misses intriguing personal struggles where individuals adopt or reject values.
Bhatia says focusing on the immigrant’s own role in constructing both old and new identities, “changes the notion of what it means to assimilate or to be multicultural, shifting the question of what ‘otherness’ means.”
Bhatia sees the modern Indian immigrant constructing a home culture or “Indian identity” in the new country that is markedly different from life in the old. The family that shunned television in India as a waste of time may now have any of seven Indian satellite or cable channels in their American home to be sure their children are exposed to the language, news, and entertainment from “home.” Mothers often have dual roles: college-educated wage earners during the day, and cultural care-takers at night, cooking Indian meals, supervising their children’s Hindi language education, and dutifully securing a distinctly Indian home life — though often without the presence and counsel of their own mothers or the extended family.
These identity-building projects undertaken by Indians — what Bhatia calls “creating a space for themselves” in newspapers, celebrations, temples — require time, energy, individual choice, and struggle.