The Place That Is Our Home

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

More about Erving Goffman and my German Language Problems

As I wrote before I am living in Germany and learning German.  On Tuesday and Thursday mornings I spend 2.5 hours with ten strangers from all over the world. We have little in common except that we are foreigners living in Germany struggling to integrate. Our conversations with each other are in German, and inevitably … Continue reading More about Erving Goffman and my German Language Problems

The Eyewitness Fallacy: Are Studies of China Best Done in China, or the British Library?

Ethnographers love to travel.They will always assert that travel is necessary to understand a culture.You need to travel, to feel the culture. And without such exposure, we reason that what is written is less valid because it cannot possibly be written with the critical perspective that local context provides.Or as Bronislaw Malinwoski himself once wrote, … Continue reading The Eyewitness Fallacy: Are Studies of China Best Done in China, or the British Library?

“Could be Worse!” Adventures in Maximum Security Prisons and Our Forthcoming Book

     This essay begins in February 2009, and picks up again in November 2011. And now it is going to pick up again in 2016, as I anxiously await the publication of our book "Prison Vocational Education and Policy in the United States: A Critical Perspective on Evidence-based Reform."  The book is authored by … Continue reading “Could be Worse!” Adventures in Maximum Security Prisons and Our Forthcoming Book

Carlos

Late December 2006 This morning, while sitting at one of the tables by the pool visiting with a resident of the complex, I noticed Palm fronds falling from the canopy of green above me. I followed the thwup, thwup, thwup? of a heavy tool beating in the air to the cascade of fronds falling to … Continue reading Carlos

Traveling Notes–Expect the Unexpected!

March 20, 2015 I am at Kilimanjaro International Airport, returning home after a five day whirlwind trip here. The reason for the trip was “business,” meaning that establishment of a relationship between two American universities, and a university in Moshi, Tanzania. I am reminded thought the reason is not just business, but to experience the … Continue reading Traveling Notes–Expect the Unexpected!

The House on the Hill

This morning, I walked to the beach before sunrise. Its only 4 or 5 minutes from the 3-story condo complex we are staying at, and still within the gated community of Cabo Bello, so I felt safe enough to leave my husband sleeping in the pre-dawn darkness, leave a note on the kitchen counter, At … Continue reading The House on the Hill

Travelling Notes—from Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport

I’m on a rather strange trip from Chico, California to where I live, via Sacramento, California where I had a meeting on Thursday, and then onto Kilimanjaro International Airport in Tanzania. The usual hurry up and wait of travel applies, except for the first day in Sacramento, when I went to a meeting of the … Continue reading Travelling Notes—from Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport

Zona Residencia

We rented a car at the airport and have been using it to explore the city and surrounding areas, and each day that we have driven outside of the area of our condo complex, I have become overwhelmed, feeling hypocritical and guilty. One of the residents in our condo complex mentioned to me that there … Continue reading Zona Residencia

The Best Carnitas Ever

The Best Carnitas Ever was originally published at www.norcalblogs.com.  We are in search of authentic? Mexican cuisine without the upset digestive track that we have been warned of multiple times before arriving in Cabo. The last few evenings, we grilled steak and giant red and yellow bell peppers on the oversized grill by the pool; the … Continue reading The Best Carnitas Ever

Love, Duty, and Marriage in a Classic Thai Novel

Originally published here at ethnography.com in October 2011. In summer 2011, I had the pleasure of co-teaching a Sociology/English class for American students in Thailand.  One of the real pleasures was using novels to illustrate sociological principles.  It was kind of like profession (sociology) meets hobby (reading novels).  I hope that the students liked it—I certainly did, … Continue reading Love, Duty, and Marriage in a Classic Thai Novel

Ethnography, Stigma, and Protecting a Potentially Spoiled Identity

Originally published here at e.com in April 2007. It's one of my favorites and still makes me laugh out loud, I hope you enjoy it too. -Julie This blog is about why ethnographer Erving Goffman’s observation of stigma are important not just to ex-cons, but also to professors like me on foreign exchange programs. Goffman, … Continue reading Ethnography, Stigma, and Protecting a Potentially Spoiled Identity