May 2010 Blog Posts (18)

High time for Hermes to take back hermeneutics


In the year 415 BC, there took place one of the most infamous episodes in the history of ancient Athenian religious politics. Residents of… Continue

Added by Philip Swift on May 31, 2010 at 3:33am — 46 Comments

Clarity and Surprises

In a commonsense frame of mind, we are likely to assume that clarity eliminates surprises. If only we can be perfectly clear, what we know will be unimpeachable.* Science teaches a different lesson. Clarity is a framing that exposes gaps in our knowledge, gaps through which surprises appear. We reach a perfectly clear conclusion; then reality…

Added by John McCreery on May 31, 2010 at 12:00am — No Comments

Academia, Anthropology, and HTS: Two Recent Posts Worth Reading

First, read through this post over at Savage Minds. Be sure to read the comments as well. Then, go read this post over at Zero Anthropology.

What is HTS? How should… Continue

Added by ryan anderson on May 29, 2010 at 10:52pm — 5 Comments

Material Culture Studies: a reactionary view

I've published the Introduction to The Oxford Handbook of Material Culture Studies on my blog, under a Creative Commons License. The paper, written with Mary C. Beaudry, is online here

Full details of the book, including the Table of Contents, are… Continue

Added by Dan Hicks on May 29, 2010 at 5:30pm — No Comments

Photographs and Anthropology: Context Matters

The above photograph was taken in the summer

of 2005 at an anti-war rally in downtown San Diego.

The above photograph was taken in the summer of 2004

during a trip that…

Added by ryan anderson on May 27, 2010 at 3:30am — No Comments

Extraterritoriality and anthropological knowledge: the case of 'President' Coke and Tivoli Gardens

'Extraterritoriality' has legal usage as the state of being exempt from local law. Some years ago I used 'extraterritoriality' to describe another, imaginative, state of exemption - how ordinary Jamaicans told adventure stories about personal transport out of social-political conditions on the island. Those stories were shaped by the actual movements of friends and relatives to, especially, New York, London and Toronto. However, Jamaican social scientist Obika Gray has used the word in a…


Added by Huon Wardle on May 26, 2010 at 12:00pm — 31 Comments

the universality of consummatum est, it is finished.

Consummatum est; it is done, finished, ended, consumed. The significance of endings and beginnings is old in anthropology. Van Gennep marshaled the logic adding to it an all important image – sure enough there can be no 'self' without beginnings and endings (or vice versa) - and the primary metaphor of end and initiation is a doorway or threshold (limen…


Added by Huon Wardle on May 18, 2010 at 3:30pm — 26 Comments

Reflective analysis on cultural practice in Africa

Recently I posted a link to a very interesting essay by Alan Fiske "Learning a culture the way informants do: observing, imitating, and participating" (2000). The paper generated a fair amount of back and forth on whether or not members of any culture reflect on their own cultural practices in equal degree, so much so that Alan Fiske was asked by Neil Turner to to justify some of Fiske's observations and arguments… Continue

Added by Jacob Lee on May 16, 2010 at 10:00pm — 3 Comments


Midlife Crisis?

“We were stuck between meanings. Or…

Added by John McCreery on May 10, 2010 at 5:30am — No Comments

Is Anthropology "removed from reality"?

In a recent article in the Monthly Review Paul A. Baran writes that social theorists and social empiricists criticize each other constantly. The theorists say that the empiricists don't do enough interpretation while the empiricists say that the theorists don't do enough real research. Baran says that the difference between the two is entirely fictitious and that in fact both are far removed from reality. The apparent contradictions between the two kinds of social scientists only cloud the… Continue

Added by Mitchell Jones on May 7, 2010 at 11:25pm — 2 Comments

Cigarettes and Mutual Aid

The culture of smoking is something that interests me greatly. It is probably one of the best modern examples of reciprocity spoken of in Mauss' the Gift. A cigarette smoker will inevitably become addicted, creating a need for nicotine. It is often not considered "pan-handling" to ask a stranger for a cigarette when the addict doesn't have one. When someone has cigarettes it is considered good faith to give one to someone who needs one. Thus, a kind of… Continue

Added by Mitchell Jones on May 5, 2010 at 2:09pm — 5 Comments

Michael Wesch and KSU: "A Vision of Students Today"

If you haven't seen this video, check it out. Mike Wesch and his students over at KSU does some pretty inspiring work with media, and they explore some extremely relevant issues. I often check out their projects and I always come away with some new ideas and different ways of thinking about anthropology in relation to contemporary society. This video makes some pretty striking statements about education today:…


Added by ryan anderson on May 5, 2010 at 5:47am — No Comments

Inside the OAC: Martin Hoyem's "Southern California Lowriders"

Martin Hoyem, who runs the "american ethnography quasiweekly" site, has a photographic project about Southern California lowriders that is definitely work a look. Check out the photo gallery here, and then take some time to look around his site, which is definitely a good change of pace for anthropological publications.…


Added by ryan anderson on May 5, 2010 at 4:30am — No Comments

Michael Shanks: Ghosts, Mirrors, Machines

The above image of the surface of a daguerreotype was taken by archaeologist Michael Shanks as part of his project "Ghosts in the machine." Daguerreotypes are, of course, one of a kind photographic positives--direct reflections of light that once hit particular objects. What I find particularly intriguing are his ideas about an archaeology of media (or "media archaeology" as he puts… Continue

Added by ryan anderson on May 3, 2010 at 4:22pm — 2 Comments

Paul Mason: "Globalisation: the products but not the ethics"

Over at Neuroanthropology, Paul Mason has a great post that discusses globalization and the ethical issues that are often left out of the equation. One of his main points is that the products of globalization end up all around the world, but political and ethical concerns do not. Here is the intro:

"A photo is featured alongside the quote. In the photo, there is a billboard advertising… Continue

Added by ryan anderson on May 3, 2010 at 3:03pm — No Comments

Athropology of Spirituality?

I was just wondering whether, given my background I do have a place here - then I came across the discussion of culture and religion, so maybe i do:

I am a senior social worker and contemporary theologian. More importantly, in my diss. for theology, I dealt with what I named an aspect of the anthropology of spirituality: the effect of insight, specifically what I name the insight of being,



Added by Barbara Schaefer on May 3, 2010 at 12:22am — No Comments

Amartya Sen on "The Uses and Abuses of Adam Smith"

This might be interesting for any of the economically-oriented anthropologists out there:

Hat tip to Maxine… Continue

Added by ryan anderson on May 1, 2010 at 10:30pm — 2 Comments

Arizona, Citizenship, and Rights

All of the recent events in Arizona have me thinking about citizenship and rights. Where do our laws begin and end? Do US ideals about inalienable rights stop at our borders? What kinds of rights should be afforded to all people in all places? In his 2008 book The Latino Threat, Leo Chavez writes,

For many, especially anti-immigration groups such as the…

Added by ryan anderson on May 1, 2010 at 6:30pm — 1 Comment

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