M Izabel's Blog (46)


The liberal scholars and professors who stifle conservative voices on university campuses and unwelcome conservative thinkers. The LGBT activists who focus more on the festive spectacle of their identity politics than on the economic side of it. The social policymakers who use…

Added by M Izabel on February 20, 2017 at 2:36pm — 26 Comments

Can Sex and Violence Revive the Public Interest in Anthropology?

Whether they were full of lies and exaggerations or not, Mead's adolescent sex in Samoa and Chagnon's fierce people of the Amazon definitely made anthropology popular.  I wonder if these thematic schemes--sex and violence--so overused in Hollywood will work in marketing anthropology.

I'm now trying these thematic schemes in my writing, so I won't lose my interest in poetry.

How I Got Syphilis

I blamed hashish at first



Added by M Izabel on March 29, 2015 at 11:31pm — 1 Comment

Allende's Zorro

Allende's "Zorro"

(a found poem)

Mi Dios, the creator of "the infinite plan",

What have I owed--para este mundo vacío?

What is left of my love, my "Eva Luna",

Is her "portrait in sepia"--es tan doloroso.

"Maya's notebook" is all I have of my child, 

My poor "daughter of fortune"--mi vida perdida.

What remains…


Added by M Izabel on January 28, 2014 at 1:38am — 8 Comments

On Chagnon and My Field Experience

First off, power scares and sickens me.  I don't associate myself with people who relish and strive for it. Power-trippers make my blood boil and turn me into a confrontational savage.

I was a victim of departmental politics years ago, and it was an experience I would not wish on the worst of my enemies.  It was the first time I got disillusioned with anthropology as my chosen career.  Anthropology, from studying to publishing, is a matter of numbers like politics, where the…


Added by M Izabel on April 26, 2013 at 8:44am — 5 Comments

Theoretical Anthropology: Is It Possible?

The best thing here at OAC is that anyone can write a blog post or a comment or a discussion topic about anything as long as there's a discernible anthropology in it.  Other anthropology sites are too academic and formal; thus the posts and the comments seemed restrained, awfully familiar, and vanilla--that's not out of the box.  It makes me wonder if anthropologists in those sites are really sharing their best or if they are being careful not to sound unprofessional or come out unacademic.…


Added by M Izabel on March 31, 2013 at 7:31am — 12 Comments

Anthropology of Sadness

I have been writing sad poems lately, and the sadness is not mine, but from the people I see and know.  I wonder how would an anthropologist write about sadness.  It is easy for a poet to be emotional since logic is not the foundation of poetry.  Can an anthropologist rely on his emotion about someone's feelings or sadness?  Since anthropology is a science, should logic supersede emotion?  I just don't think anyone can write about someone's sadness without empathy or sympathetic feelings.  I…


Added by M Izabel on August 23, 2012 at 3:34am — 7 Comments

Anthropologizing Prehistory: Mutual Trust to Mutual Distrust in Exchange

While writing my last blog post, Losing To Win, I felt my assertions were somewhat vague and lacking in substance. Even though I hate copying and pasting citations and passages in quotations, I always try to find papers or books I can cite to support my views in case push comes to shove.  I hate when someone accuses me of relying on my opinions and irresponsibly passing them around as facts.

So, I…


Added by M Izabel on August 7, 2012 at 10:18am — 1 Comment

Losing To Win

The worst of Asian values was on display at the Olympics in London, and I was embarrassed.  Eight female badminton players from China, Korea, and Indonesia tried to lose their games, so they would reserve their energy, have good positions in the next round, avoid matches against other players from their countries, or secure sure wins or medals.  It was painful to watch not because their games did not excite me but because of how "losing to win," a game strategy that, I believe, exists all…


Added by M Izabel on August 2, 2012 at 4:59am — 11 Comments

Children of the Dew: A Creative Visual Ethnography

Since I have resigned from the most boring job on earth: cooking the same thing everyday, my desire to go home and pursue a PhD in economics/anthropology/sociology is now firm.  I can save a lot if I follow that route.  To prime or, actually, reorient myself with Philippine Anthropology, I have been checking how anthropology has been publicly practiced nowadays in my country.

Sadly, it is only in the media where anthropology seems relevant, and another sad thing is that it is…


Added by M Izabel on July 14, 2012 at 6:13pm — 6 Comments

Defamiliarizing the Familiar

If the title sounds postmodernist, then I think it is the best thing Postmodernism has contributed to the intellectual development of man. Let me start this post with the poem I recently wrote after reading a collection of American postmodern poems.

Possessed Eyes
Between glances and stares

When God's…

Added by M Izabel on June 21, 2012 at 6:34am — 1 Comment

Textual Archaeology: Analyzing Form and Content in Poetry

This past week, literary trolls got the best out of me and somehow forced me to write daily lectures from Death of the Author to theories of form to interpreting the interpreter.  The topic was Formalism in literary criticism.  At first, instead of responding in an essay form, I wrote a parody in a Sapphic stanza complete with syllabic count, spacing, metering, and adonean line, which I turned into a literary negation.

The Imagist

I do not ask what brush or…


Added by M Izabel on May 12, 2012 at 11:21am — 2 Comments

Ethnography of Hallucinations

The most difficult thing to do in life is not to have something to do at all, indeed.  It was my day-off yesterday, and I could not think of anything to do.  I already did Spring cleaning, reading, writing, watching TV, listening to Carla Bruni's husky voice, and arguing with my dad on the phone about the Philippine economy.  I had my all afternoon ready to be given up to boredom again.  

Since I like to challenge myself very much, I decided to explore an inner city in Southern…


Added by M Izabel on April 11, 2012 at 11:56am — 7 Comments

Goldman Sachs, Culture Change, and the Resignation of Greg Smith

I'm off-work on Wednesdays.  I spent the entire morning with my folks today enjoying my mother's Filipino brunch.  A brunch at my parents' household always ends with coffee and my father's argumentative discussion of what he reads from the day's news.  He passed The New  York Times to me after my second gulp.  He wanted me to read what he highlighted with a pencil, "Why I'm Leaving Goldman…


Added by M Izabel on March 15, 2012 at 8:55am — 3 Comments

Anthropology of Boredom

I have noticed that the least studied in Anthropology are the abstract feelings of humans that can be observed through their culture-specific actions and behaviors.  Feelings such as hate, fear, regret, boredom are interesting and important to study as they are the basics or cores of bigger problems such as violence, rape, addiction, divorce, suicide, mental illness, etc.  It is boredom that has tickled my brain lately.  Three incidences have made me think that there is a need to study human…


Added by M Izabel on February 29, 2012 at 4:35pm — 2 Comments

Ethnophilosophy: Speculative Logic/Logical Speculation

Let me skip the Hegelian Speculation and the Aristotelian Reasoning.  I am more interested in Speculative Logic or Logical Speculation as a tool for studying culture, considering culture as a reality where there are parts of it that are immaterial, abstract, and unobservable.  I think we can still study a whole house even if we only see its front porch.

The latest news back home has been the ongoing public impeachment trial of the Chief Justice of the Philippine Supreme Court.…


Added by M Izabel on February 17, 2012 at 1:40pm — 2 Comments

Culinary or Anthropology? Why not both?

Okay, I'm in a career crisis.  Lately, I have been wanting to really involve myself in professional anthropology.  By professional, I mean academics  and scholarship.  I feel it would be regretful in my part if I would not try.  I'm done with my being a copyleftist (not a slave  to copyrights) and literary anarchist (not believing in conventions in academic writing).  I've done it, and it has brought me nothing and to nowhere.  Maybe it's time to humble myself and…


Added by M Izabel on February 9, 2012 at 3:28am — 5 Comments

Theorizing Theories

Since I became a sous chef in a 5-star hotel in Southern California, I told myself to forget anthropology indefinitely if I wanted to become a chef in a year or two.  It is hard to  ignore anthropology in my current job. Besides cooking and eating being social and cultural, cooks having  different cultures, and guests exhibiting different tastes, the food I cook always remind me what is wrong in current anthropology and, in general, social theory.  I just cannot escape from the things that…


Added by M Izabel on September 12, 2011 at 6:01pm — 6 Comments

Anthropology of Corruption

Often, I ask what anthropologists can do to eradicate or curb corruption.  I seldom encounter an impressive ethnography about corruption.   What  I  usually get  hold of is an ethnography that details the after effect or end result of  corruption.  We  need more anthropological studies that show corruption as a sociocultural process.  It is easier to come up with a conclusion that corruption causes poverty, but tough to ascertain how corruption takes root socially and culturally.  I do think…


Added by M Izabel on May 1, 2011 at 6:55pm — 2 Comments

Sorro, The Street Hero

John's proposal  that we reconsider the role of creative literature in anthropology/ethnography is timely as I have gone back to writing short stories about the people whose faces are stored in my memory.  Like in this "first draft" piece , I know the protagonist did exist, but my memory of him is very limited.  What I have in mind are the things that happened to me where he played a peripheral part.  The question is whether this story of estrangement and derangement-- mine and Sorro's-- is…


Added by M Izabel on April 19, 2011 at 12:32am — 1 Comment

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


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