March 2011 Blog Posts (19)

Foreign Perfume and Other Fetishes, Part III

It’s interesting in light of this to compare David Graeber’s and Peter Pel’s (1998) work on the fetish. Although both Graeber and Pels acknowledge all the same features that distinguish the fetish, they seem to reach strikingly different conclusions. In Graeber’s discussion, the fetish illustrates the tendency of human groups to treat their own social creations as somehow having power them rather than the other way around. His main point about the circulation of objects of “alien” or foreign…


Added by Ken Routon on March 31, 2011 at 4:05pm — 18 Comments

EF Schumacher's Small is Beautiful: another look.

A few days ago I read an article in the Observer saying that Britain's right wing prime minister, David Cameron, had based one of his core ideas - 'The Big Society' - on Ernst Shumacher's book Small is Beautiful (truthfully nobody knows if the BS is an 'idea' or even what it means). The newsmedia also informs us that the government is trying to change the academic research…


Added by Huon Wardle on March 30, 2011 at 2:00pm — No Comments

From Vincent QI

I am interested in Busiess Anthropology...

Added by QI Xiaoguang on March 29, 2011 at 10:00pm — No Comments

Rational Choice Theory at the Work Place

also posted on here meaning at work or why utility is a priori only to itself

When I was growing up, my parents presented me with a life path.  It went something like this:

  1. Go to public school
  2. Go to College
  3. Get a…

Added by Alexander Lee on March 27, 2011 at 11:36pm — 16 Comments

Appropriating the Foreign(er) and Localizing the Strange(r)

Ken Routon's posts on fetishizing the foreign have surely made me think.  It's easy to regard an insider's preference for something foreign imported from an outside culture as a fetish.  One can even go further by becoming postcolonialist and material culturist and dropping theories that range from the overstretched to the overanalyzed.  It's interesting how a bottle of perfume can touch almost anything complete with theoretical assumptions.  I'm not really allergic to theories, but  I just…


Added by M Izabel on March 27, 2011 at 11:25pm — 17 Comments

Audit Culture Evolves, and Why Not Reading Prior Work Can Sometimes Be a Good Thing

Last night Flipbook drew my attention to two items that may be of some interest to the anthropologists gathered here.  The first is


Strata Allows You to Play Fantasy Football - With Scientists…


Added by John McCreery on March 23, 2011 at 3:30am — No Comments

Foreign Perfume and Other Fetishes, Part II

It would seem that the manipulation of objects of alien value – or, the making and manipulation of images of foreign peoples and things (and I may be confusing here two issues that are best treated separately) – might serve at least two possible functions, both the flipside of the other. In both cases, it would appear that what we’re really talking about is the capacity of foreign objects/images to provoke estrangement (even if the subject of this estrangement may differ in each case). If…


Added by Ken Routon on March 22, 2011 at 4:46pm — 2 Comments

anthropologies Issue 1: What is anthropology?

The first issue of the new project "anthropologies" is up!  Thanks to Alyson O'Daniel, Megan Maurer, David Picard, Stacie Gilmore, and Keith Hart for helping me get this first issue up and running.  Check it out and (more importantly) comment and post your responses to the conversation.  This is definitely meant to be a project that invites collaboration, participation, and input--so fire away.  Things get most…


Added by ryan anderson on March 15, 2011 at 7:30pm — 16 Comments

Japan and Its Collective Karma

Back home, when we have natural  calamities,  we turn to God to make  sense  of our experience and suffering.  We pray for help  and also ask why such things happen,  and of all, to us.  We have a  word similar to karma  called "gaba."   A landslide  that kills  miners  is considered  a  nature's gaba to  the men  who deface  and  defile the environment.  We  view nature as a powerful avenger and ally that avenges for the oppressed.  If a cargo ship sinks after  a giant wave hits  it, it is…


Added by M Izabel on March 15, 2011 at 7:16pm — 11 Comments

Foreign Perfume and Other Fetishes, Part I

Foreign Perfume and Other Fetishes, Part I

Some Notes on the Senses and Commodity Fetishism

There’s a Cuban joke that goes something like this: While visiting a local secondary school, Fidel turns to one of the children and, patting them affectionately on the head, says, “Tell me, son, what do you want to be when you grow up?” The child ponders the question for a moment but soon looks up and says, enthusiastically, “A…


Added by Ken Routon on March 15, 2011 at 12:24am — 7 Comments

Notes about Greg Grandin's "The Last Colonial Massacre"

There is one overarching theme that crops up in these readings that I can’t stop thinking about: democracy. I have read several histories and ethnographies that talk about US interventions and policies in Latin America, and the stories are usually pretty similar. This book by Greg Grandin provides more of the same: the US took a position on Guatemala that was completely anti-democratic, all in the name of democracy.


Grandin writes about this…


Added by ryan anderson on March 13, 2011 at 5:00pm — 2 Comments

Media Fictions and the Menace of Facts

Lately, I’ve been considering how I might combine three of my great interests – ethnography, journalism, and storytelling – to forge an alternative career path for myself. Given my recent preoccupations, Nathan Dobson’s short but thought provoking analysis on the role of “facts” in journalism caught my attention.…


Added by Ken Routon on March 10, 2011 at 10:30pm — 8 Comments

Distribution of Monetary Capital and Purchasing Power

The current corruption investigations in my country have pained me.  Two military generals alone stole and laundered  about five hundred million pesos each from the national treasury.  Those funds were intended to modernize the Philippine military, hire and equipped Filipino soldiers, and pay well UN-assigned police forces in many global hot spots.  One million pesos or twenty thousand dollars are enough to pay two top-rated brain surgeons annually in my country.


Lately, I …


Added by M Izabel on March 6, 2011 at 7:17pm — 7 Comments

The Confusing Junk of Modernism: How Duchamp isn't an Artist


In Cabinet Magazine, issue 27, there is an article titled Readymade Remade about Pierre Pinoncelli who first made a big name for himself by pissing in Marcel Duchamp's readymade urinal. The article examines Pinoncelli's argument that he was bringing history and value to the urinal by doing so. While the French gov't did not agree with Pinoncelli at all, especially after Pinoncelli pissed in the same urinal again in…


Added by Alexander Lee on March 4, 2011 at 7:00am — 6 Comments

House Hunting and Existentialism

posted here as well, Meaning in the face of Annihilation


A few days ago, I was showing houses to an old friend who is now a client. It was raining and we had passed by a smaller duplex. The pictures on the MLS aren't the same as seeing the context of the property with your own eyes. After seeing it, he…


Added by Alexander Lee on March 1, 2011 at 9:00am — 2 Comments

In praise of Alice Buzzarte

You don't know Alice. No reason you should. She was an American woman who, if my memory serves me right, came to Japan near the end of the Occupation. She became an English-language copywriter and a close friend of several individuals who wound up on the board of directors of Hakuhodo, the Japanese advertising agency where I was employed for thirteen years. She interviewed me for the job and, after I got the job, took me aside and gave me a memorable piece of advice. "John," she said, "to… Continue

Added by John McCreery on March 1, 2011 at 2:00am — 2 Comments

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