What is Ethnography? Often, people do not understand my work as an ‘ethnographer.’ Perhaps, they assume I am creating a life of luxury for myself and just sitting somewhere. Or, they will ask me, are you a writer for the news? Then I reply, no, I am not that kind of writer. Often, those kinds … Continue reading What is Ethnography? Ethnografia ni nini?
The writings of an important Thai writer & journalist are just beginning to surface in the English language. I feel confident enough to say that I am the first anthropologist & ethnographer indebted to 'Rong Wongsawan, because my mentor Dr. Tony Waters is conducting this translation work, with the help of his Thai students, and … Continue reading The New Face of Ethnography, from Tanzania to Thailand
Since returning to Kigoma, Tanzania on the shores of Lake Tanganyika in central Africa for my Fulbright research, I have been looking for two of my Congolese friends. I was told that they crossed the Lake, and returned to two of the cities in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo to live– to be together with … Continue reading Rumba is good, even through war, through Ebola
Life as an Insect Inside a Glass Jar: Language Learning Through Immersion (Sic Semper, Malinowski and the Tropical Beach...) What does it feel like to live as an insect inside a glass jar? The praying mantis was removed from its environment suddenly, and plopped into a clean, bright glass vessel, along with other things that … Continue reading Life as an Insect Inside a Glass Jar: Language Learning Through Immersion
Notes From the Liquor Store... Thought I was finished working here. But I remembered, I do like the liquor store. Been coming in and chatting with Norm at night. He's helping with my studies in Arabic philosophy. So I thought I'd give him a night off so he can run errands and cook dinner for … Continue reading A Liquor Store is like a Drive-Thru Cheers
This challenging mind bender puzzle is great fun to do over coffee, with friends, or on the toilet…alone. Imagine you are working as a cashier at a liquor store, late in the evening, the night after St. Patrick’s Day. Note: all California Super Lotto transactions are not entered in the cash register, but they must … Continue reading Liquor Store Mind Bender Puzzle
'Mental health' has been shown to be social and environmental, though we've heard of Prozac, and even music therapy led by professionals. Well-being may also be connected to collective, organized sound among ordinary people. I'd like to share a recent study in biomedicine, and draw these scientific conclusions into the anthropological realm. First, because I'd … Continue reading Is Drumming Better than Prozac? An Anthropological Reflection
Notes From the Liquor Store It's the second time Rita has been into the liquor store where I work in Chico, California. Last time was Wednesday, when it was pouring rain, and the man she was with was dressed from hood to boots in bright yellow PVC. She's from Paradise, or what was the town … Continue reading Would sobriety coins be an acceptable form of payment at the liquor store?
There need be no explanation for most occupations– but ethnographer? At least one of Argentina's beloved poets would not have asked what I do if we'd met at a cocktail party, so I'd told him I was an ethnographer. It's 1969, an assortment of olives and cheese crumbles between us, I swirl my dram glass … Continue reading “Certain esoteric rites” for The Ethnographer
In 1978, Remmy Ongala left his home in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (not far from the city of Bukavu) for Tanzania. He boarded a boat across Lake Tanganyika to Kigoma, Tanzania's main port city on the great lake. From Kigoma, he then traveled by train to Dar es Salaam to eventually become one … Continue reading The Place That Is Our Home