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.
(via FieldNotes): These are the first words in an article on how the internet is changing life in First Nations communities in Canada:
"This year, the internet saved a child's life."
For Internet may mean different things to life up there in the North:
A broadband connection doesn't mean downloading the latest Bedouin Soundclash album or "messengeing" a friend who lives down the street. For the aboriginal communities that are being wired, internet means school, family, health-care and job opportunities.
High-level physics courses are now available online, and bright aboriginal students who choose to stay in their villages … have the drive to take online classes and strive towards university.
First Nations leaders think keeping kids in the community -- educating and mentoring them -- might stem some social problems.
And previously isolated villages might cooperate and share news via the web:
Turtle Island Native Network has a forum page where aboriginals post essays, ideas and concerns. Chief Tommy Alexis of the Tl'atz'en Nation posted an essay on clean water issues on the afternoon of May 22. By 9:00 p.m. on May 30, it had been viewed 3250 times. Other communities facing water pollution problems now know that they are not alone. Maybe one of the communities new to the web will learn for the first time that other First Nations have similar land-rights issues, or water-quality issues. It is possible that isolation will no longer disempower nations.
At Vanderbilt University, students will work with health organizations in Uganda this summer as part of that country’s response to HIV/AIDS. They are part of a project called "The Kampala Project on Global Citizenship" that has a nice website and they will even run a blog as soon as they have arrived.
Anthropologist Greg Barz, who has studied the successful role music has played in the fight against AIDS in Uganda is the students’ academic adviser during the trip. He says:
These students will be immersed in a different culture, learn firsthand about a global health crisis and have the opportunity to interact with Ugandan political leaders, artists, doctors and non-profit leaders in an innovative human rights dinner seminar series. The experiences gained by these students will be invaluable to them and will enhance the university community once they return.
The program director for the Kampala Project is Mark Dalhouse. He explains:
Our aim is to foster lifelong civic involvement among our students. Their academic coursework helps them become even brighter students, but we encourage them to take that a step further to explore how they can apply that knowledge to promote social justice and public awareness as active citizens serving the community.
Germany's real problem isn't "honor" killers or skinheads. Instead, what keeps this increasingly diverse nation from gaining a strong sense of social cohesion is its self-made confusion over what it means to be German in the first place, Gregory Rodriguez writes in a great article in the Los Angeles Times.
He quotes Barbara John, professor of European anthropology at Humboldt University in Berlin, who says: "We stick to the ethnic definition probably more than any other European nation." He writes:
Indeed, long before Germany's terrible experiment with ethnic supremacy during the Nazi years, Germans had a narrow view of themselves as a people. Unlike, say, the French, who acknowledge that their culture and language derive from the Romans and that they are akin to other Latin peoples, the Germans see themselves as unique.
What he (and many others as well) wonder about: Have the Germans learned from the nazi-period and World war II?:
Even after World War II, when West Germans did everything in their power to rid their culture of chauvinism and racism, they left intact a citizenship law that was based on blood kinship rather than on place of birth. That meant that the children of Turkish guest workers, born in Germany, were not automatic citizens, yet an ethnic German from Romania whose family had never resided in contemporary Germany was.
It wasn't until 2000 that a more open citizenship law took effect. In arguing for a territory-based notion of citizenship, then-Interior Minister Otto Schily proclaimed that Germany needed to rise above "the destructive principle of ethnocracy."
Six years on, Germans are only beginning to differentiate between their ethnic and civic identities. Ethnic Germans still tend to look on non-ethnic Germans as auslander, or foreigners. Even the media, when they acknowledge minorities as German citizens, use tortured phrases, describing someone as a "Turk who carries a German passport," for example. Not surprisingly, such marginalization has negative consequences.
Rodriguez believes that the shaping of Germany's future identity lies in popular culture. He mentions a popular sitcom "Turkish for Beginners," and Turkish-German novelist Feridun Zaimoglu who says:
"The truth is you can't talk anymore of a foreign population and a native population, as if they were enemies. As I understand myself, I am a German," Zaimoglu says. "I love my country, but I don't make a Wagner opera out of it. I don't try to define what it means to be German. I just live it."
If you cannot access the article there, you can read it at CantonRep
Recent political events have shown an alarming lack of awareness in western countries of life in the Middle East. Anthropologists play an important role in making social and cultural developments in the Middle East more comprehensible to a wider world, states Berghahn publication in its announcement about their new journal - Anthropology of the Middle East.
This journal will be run with the editorial of Soheila Shahshahani, Iranian anthropologist in Shahid Beheshti University in Tehran and managing editorial of Brigit Reinel from University of Tubingen.
“There are so many journals in the area of anthropology in the world, but it will be the first special journal in the field of anthropology in the Middle East” Soheila Shahshahani says in an article by the Cultural Heritage News Agency.
Ever since Europeans first came to Australia, public views of Aborigines have veered between two extremes. Aborigines have been promoted either as disgusting savages or as admired paragons, uncivilised riff-raff or as noble bearers of their culture - bad or good, but never ordinary.
As we now enter a new phase of Aboriginal affairs, Indigenous Australians once again enter the public mind as radically different types of people. On the one hand, we are bombarded with material about dysfunctional communities plagued by drug and alcohol abuse, rampant violence, uncontrolled children and chronic sickness. On the other hand, we routinely hear about “the oldest living culture in the world”, Aboriginal people caring, sharing and looking after country, and the profound qualities of Aboriginal art.
In these circumstances, it’s hard to know what “the oldest living culture in the world” might be. Indeed, it’s hard to know what people are talking about at all when they refer to “culture”.
We’ve heard a lot of arguments about the “true” nature of Aboriginal culture in recent weeks. Some say Aboriginal culture fosters violence against women and children. Others gainsay this and suggest that violence is cultural breakdown stemming from neglect and marginalisation by mainstream Australian culture. There are many more axes to grind in relation to employment, health and education, but always with a view to promoting a good or bad image of Aboriginal people, not to mention a good or bad image of the “mainstream culture” which provides Aboriginal services.
This blame game doesn’t give us “the truth” about Aboriginal or any other culture. It simply reduces the extremely complicated relationship between Aboriginal communities and all the arms of the state (governments, bureaucracies, the police, land councils, schools, health centres, etc.) with which they engage. Recourse to “culture” always seems to deliver imagined parodies of real life, transforming it into something inordinately valuable or completely worthless.
British cultural critic Raymond Williams once remarked that “culture” is “one of the two or three most complicated words in the English language”. (...) In fact, it’s an empty word: you can fill it with pretty much anything you like. That’s why it functions so well in slogans.
In the meantime, there are many people both inside and outside Aboriginal communities who recognise that there are big problems in Aboriginal affairs. It’d be good if they could all be allowed to get on with the job of finding appropriate solutions to those problems without “culture” getting in the way.
(post in progress) Threatening deadlines prevented me from updating this blog as often as I should/ would like to and I haven't checked the news for a while. Here are at least some of recent blog posts: