cultivating & crashing

an organic collection of notes, observations, and thoughts

Tag: anthropology

anthropology or bureaucratic white man’s land?

I went to a lecture by a published anthropologist that will go unnamed. It obliterated any notions of staying in academia.

Points of note:

  • Lecture was sterile; divorced from subjects and over their heads, perhaps purposefully?
  • Herskovits imagined his book Myth of the Negro Past would create for them a history and shared heritage so that they could feel confident and move forward with a renewed sense of self. In other words: white men destroyed their culture, so white people will reconstruct a history and heritage to be proud of. This saviour mentality is a well-meaning but ultimately misguided paternalistic wish to help because they cannot help themselves.
  • ignorance ≠ objectivity
  • Ruth Landes went to McMaster
  • We are not outside of history and politics but we can still do good work (but how do we make sure of it?)
  • “Master’s tools can never dismantle the master’s house.” So let’s kill anthropology as we know it.
  • Praxis vs. applied anthropology

More reading

  • Bowen, Elenore Smith (Laura Bohannan’s pseudonym). 1964. RETURN TO LAUGHTER: AN ANTHROPOLOGICAL NOVEL. Garden City, NY: Natural History Library. [Vanier 3rd floor: DT 500 B6 1964]
  • Castaneda, Carlos. 1968. THE TEACHINGS OF DON JUAN: A YAQUI WAY OF KNOWLEDGE. New York: Washington Square Press. [Webster 4th floor: E 99 Y3C3 1990]
  • Donner, Florinda. 1982. SHABONO: A VISIT TO A REMOTE AND MAGICAL WORLD IN THE SOUTH AMERICAN RAINFOREST. London: Triad Books. [not at Concordia]
  • Jackson, Michael. 1986. BARAWA AND THE WAY BIRDS FLY IN THE SKY. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press. [not at Concordia]
  • Knabb, Timothy. 1995. A WAR OF WITCHES: A JOURNEY INTO THE UNDERGROUND OF CONTEMPORARY AZTECS. New York: HarperCollins. [not at Concordia]
  • Narayan, Kirin. 1999. “Ethnography and Fiction: Where is the Border?” ANTHROPOLOGY AND HUMANISM 24 (2): 132-147.
  • Also, RICHARD PRICE has a few, really good ones.


One thing I like about anthropology is that it is increasingly showing me that there is no neutrality to life. Whether one is upper-middle class and going on a safari or a lower class single mother, there is no “normal” and to think in such simplistic terms misses the point. This validates my thinking deeply about my choices in life, and it is comforting to find after so many years of feeling eccentric for not being mainstream American and feeling like there was something wrong with me—turns out I just see further than what is fed to me. // But this too, of course, is a product of my socialization and place in life as somewhat of an outsider in American suburban society.

I like anthropology and all but at the end of the day I don’t take it too seriously because it has many flaws–first and foremost being that it’s fundamentally a white man’s discipline. To assume that it’s completely sound is to lose the ability to question its faults and fall into another ditch propense to misunderstanding and ethnocentrism. To be unable to question the science leads to more stiff, outdated Truth that turns out to be wrong some time later.

I think that sociology that does not disturb shit is sociology that fails.


This morning, I received a package. As I’m wondering who it might be from, I see my address written in Livio’s handwriting and as soon as I do, I begin to cry. For the next hour or two I cry like I hadn’t in a while, not even sure why I was crying to begin with. I was not thinking, just feeling. Feeling that I love him a lot, that I miss him, that he is such a big, beautiful and important part of me. So at some point during the while that I closed my eyes and shut everything out in order to let tears and feelings pour out, Keep reading