Life as an Insect Inside a Glass Jar: Language Learning Through Immersion (Sic Semper, Malinowski and the Tropical Beach...) What does it feel like to live as an insect inside a glass jar? The praying mantis was removed from its environment suddenly, and plopped into a clean, bright glass vessel, along with other things that … Continue reading Life as an Insect Inside a Glass Jar: Language Learning Through Immersion
When I first taught in Thailand in 2011, I sought Thai sociologists to help me figure out what was different from my American-style sociology. In California, I taught many years of Classical Social Theory, focused on Marx, Weber, and Durkheim, and wondered: what might Thai Classical Theory look like? The Thai sociologists I asked about … Continue reading Searching for Classical Social Theory in Thailand
By TONY WATERS 24 June 2019 (Reposted from The Irrawaddy of Yangon, Myanmar) Yangon’s INGOs are full of consultancy reports which offer “professional” opinions about conditions in Myanmar. NGOs, INGOS, and UN agencies investigate transitions regarding democracy, environment, federalism, ethnicity and, of course, gender. These are the subjects that donors are interested in—and thus willing to pay … Continue reading How to Read a WEIRD Evidence-Based Yangon Consultancy Report
Notes From the Liquor Store... Thought I was finished working here. But I remembered, I do like the liquor store. Been coming in and chatting with Norm at night. He's helping with my studies in Arabic philosophy. So I thought I'd give him a night off so he can run errands and cook dinner for … Continue reading A Liquor Store is like a Drive-Thru Cheers
I wrote a blog about the city of Yangon last month. I visited there in February, and quite liked the city. It is a vibrant city, busy, without being threatening. I met some teachers there too whose company I really enjoyed, as well as a number of other people. We talked about teaching, complained about … Continue reading College Internships and Fears of Hanging
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?