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
English speakers seemingly use the word Burma or Myanmar to describe that country. My impression is that it is somewhat interchangeable. If you use Burma instead of “Myanmar” it is some how ok—you just sound a bit old-fashioned, which is perhaps how the United States Embassy in "Burma" sounds to ears inside Myanmar. On the … Continue reading When is the country between India and Thailand called Burma or Myanmar?
I published the following last July in The Irrawaddy, an active publisher about current events in Myanmar, and publishes (and broadcasts) in Burmese, and English. One of my PhD students, Mon Mon Myat publishes there regularly in both languages and urged me to do submit the following article. The article is about the Rohingya refugee … Continue reading Quick Repatriation of Rohingya Refugees is Not a Durable Solution
Well, it looks like Ethnography.com is going through a third or fourth re-design! Christina Quigley is taking over the web-master duties and getting the blog ready for 2019! This comes after a 1-2 year hiatus when little new content was posted. This will hopefully change, as both Christina and I begin to post ethnographic observations … Continue reading Ethnography.com is reborn for 2019!
Meetings are rituals, and rituals need symbols, and decorations, in other words potted plants. I've been to a lot of meetings in my time as an academic where I sat bored and confused, but still clap on cue. The most obvious place I am such a decoration is in May graduation ceremonies. I sit in … Continue reading My Life as an Honored Potted Plant
Quick capital trials were undertaken in the remote corners of Tanganyika Territory, even those places that did not have their own gallows. But the sentence could only be carried out at one of the officially designated gaols where execution by hanging was carried out on a permanent or temporary gallows built and conducted to official … Continue reading Gallows Tale III: The Hanging Files of Tanganyika, and Are We Hanging the Right Man?
The risk of escape of a condemned prisoner who is required to undergo a long journey on foot [of 230 miles] to the place of execution must be considerable Britain had took control of German East Africa and renamed it Tanganyika Territory in 1920. This meant that the German justice system, which had been found … Continue reading Gallows Tale II: The Hanging File of Tanganyika 1920-1928 and the Risk of Escape!
Another point requiring your attention in the cross bar which holds the trap door in position. When this is released and falls into its groove in the wall, it should be caught by a socket of some kind, to prevent its rebounding on contact with the stone. At present it is quite possible that, in … Continue reading Gallows Tale I: The Hanging File of Tanganyika Territory 1920-1928 and the Extra “Whack”
There are lots of good reasons to read Bent Flyvbjerg’s 1991 book Rationality and Power: Democracy in Practice. But for this blog, I want to focus on his description of why people in power are stupid in one particular unique way. He writes that people in power have the opportunity to define what is rational, … Continue reading Are There Two Kinds of Stupid? Gump, Nietzsche and “Stupid is as Stupid Does,” or “Power Makes Stupid?”
Ethnographers and a Lack of Common Sense How many ethnographers are crazy? This question came up for me in a Facebook post recently by Gene Long, a missionary/linguist/ethnographer who has lived with the Mla Bri (Yellow Leaf) hunter-gatherers of Thailand since 1981. In other words, he and his wife Mary Long have 34 years of … Continue reading Ethnography as a Contact Sport: the Mla Bri and the Long Family of Phrae, Thailand
I returned home to Friedrichshafen on the train from central Germany last Sunday. My wife, daughter, and I had second class tickets on the slow train—which meant a lot of stops. On the second stop, an elderly man got on the train, and asked if he could sit across from me. Sure, I grunted. I … Continue reading A Baker from Dresden