Would sobriety coins be an acceptable form of payment at the liquor store?

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?

“Certain esoteric rites” for The Ethnographer

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

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

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?

“Culture” in the Science Fictional Universe of “Big Data”

As the Obama Administration’s new “Big Data Research and Development Initiative” has made clear, the “big data” era is officially upon us. The term – “big data” has been used in multiple ways, but most generally refers to the avalanche of “raw data” generated by the internet and other new kinds of data-capturing sensor and … Continue reading “Culture” in the Science Fictional Universe of “Big Data”

Ethnography, Tanzania, PhD degrees, and Something to Read at Bedtime

         Someone told me once that a PhD is a license to write for other PhDs.  As Donna Lanclos notes, this is different than making a living, and getting a full-time tenure-track job.  Nevertheless, as Donna herself demonstrated with her own book about childhood in Northern Ireland, this is a license that we can … Continue reading Ethnography, Tanzania, PhD degrees, and Something to Read at Bedtime