Recently I ran across a Western diplomat, this one from an embassy in Southeast Asia. I dream of having intellectual conversations with such people. After all they hold the levers of governmental power, particularly the big aid budgets in Myanmar, Thailand and other countries in Southeast Asia. Unfortunately, the conversations are usually one sided. … Continue reading George Orwell and the Modern Yangon INGO Worker
Here is a link to a book with a real original thought! The Lost Ethnographies. Most projects of course never get anywhere. For example last month I wrote a brief blog about my trip to Yangon, and why I though it seemed like an interesting and engaging city. I promised a follow-up blog about its … Continue reading Lost Ethnographies, and other musings
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
Christina says I should write about my trip to Yangon (Myanmar/Burma) these last few days, as it is a city unfamiliar to the readers of Ethnography.com. Her impressions, and those of our readers are probably in the context of the international news about Myanmar which focused last year on the Rohingya refugee crisis in which … Continue reading Thinking about Yangon: Normalcy or Conflict?
'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
Reposted from The Irrawaddy, February 11, 2019 By TONY WATERS In 2017 and 2018, between 600,000 and 800,000 Rohingya fled Myanmar following attacks and clearance operations targeting their villages and coordinated by the Myanmar military. The result is the world’s largest refugee camp, Kutupalong, situated in a low-lying corner of Cox’s Bazar District in Bangladesh. The … Continue reading The Fortunate Failure of ‘Voluntary Repatriation’ For Rohingya Refugees
James C. Scott is one of the major social science writers of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. His first book Moral Economy of the Peasant published in 1976, studied Vietnamese peasants, and how they resisted social change while being rooted in a different “moral economy.” In subsequent decades he expanded his work to … Continue reading Who Influneces American Foreign Policy in Burma More? James C. Scott or John Rambo?
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
Hey, I published a book last October, Max Weber and the Problem of Modern Discipline. It is about Max Weber’s view of authority, and why so many of us obey. What follows is a lightly edited version of the introductory chapter where I have a bit of fun comparing subsistence peasants to well-paid UN bureaucrats.. … Continue reading Discipline and Modern Society: Something about Max Weber and Well-Paid Development Bureaucrats!
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
I spent last semester in Chico, California, where occasionally the issue of Burma/Myanmar would come up. A number of people in Chico are well-enough read that they have familiarity with the issues there primarily through writing in the western press, particularly The New York Times. The western press highlights the role of the Nobel Laureate … Continue reading Mon Mon Myat’s Articles in the Irrawaddy Times of Myanmar/Burma