Why Does Anthropology Worry about Jared Diamond when they have Nigel Barley?

The Anthropology blogosphere (including Ethnography.com, SavageMinds.org, anthropologyreport.com and even National Public Radio) has recently lit up with critiques of Jared Diamond’s new book The World Until Yesterday.  Jared Diamonditis seems to be a regular affliction of anthropology, re-emerging every time that the esteemed Professor of Geography (and Physiology) publishes a new tome of big picture history.  … Continue reading Why Does Anthropology Worry about Jared Diamond when they have Nigel Barley?

Love, Duty, and Marriage in a Classic Thai Novel

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, and this blog is about what … Continue reading Love, Duty, and Marriage in a Classic Thai Novel

Which Thumb is on Top? Questions about Culture from a Mlabri Village in Thailand

Explaining why people do things, even when it doesn’t seem reasonable to an American undergraduate is what I do for a living.  I’ve explained why people don’t agree with their political views, the persistence of “irrational habits,” why most people don’t want to move to America, why poverty persists in a world of abundance, and a … Continue reading Which Thumb is on Top? Questions about Culture from a Mlabri Village in Thailand

Changing Thailand, Not Changing Thailand: Of Water Buffalo, Work Elephants, and Cultural Persistence

Karen Connelly was a Rotary Exchange student in Phrae Province, northern Thailand, in 1986-1987 as a 16 and 17 year old. She published an enchanting memoir about her experiences in Phrae Province Dream of a Thosuand Lives: A Sojourn in Thailand in 1993, a book that won the coveted Governor General’s prize for Canadian Literature.  … Continue reading Changing Thailand, Not Changing Thailand: Of Water Buffalo, Work Elephants, and Cultural Persistence

The Case of the Stung Ducks: A Study of Law from Sukumaland in Tanzania

This is a story about the nature of law, what is like to feel like an outsider in court. It is about laws of liability which are rational, reasonable, and legtimate by local standards.  However, as I think that the following example shows, such assumptions about liability and law are always embedded in the unspoken … Continue reading The Case of the Stung Ducks: A Study of Law from Sukumaland in Tanzania