Who They Truly Care For

The ice bucket challenge is a social media phenomenon that has spread all over the world.  People have posted millions of video of them dumping a bucket of ice water over there head after nominating three other people to do the same thing in the next 24 hours. If you did not complete the challenge within 24 hours of being nominated the consequence was for you to have to donate 100 dollars to ALS organization. The challenge was fun and made a huge difference in the ALS community, it gave millions of people more awareness of the disease which lead to 200% increase in donations to do more studies to try and find a cure.

If you take a step back and look at the whole picture you realize something bigger about the Western society as a whole. This disease itself affects mostly white men, it was not commonly known before the challenge but it brings light to the question of how health care and wellbeing are reflections of structural inequality. Take the Ebola virus for example; this disease that did not achieve the same amount of positive publicity, but yet has killed millions of poor African individuals. Ebola did not become a trend where people in the United States donated millions of dollars to. But what if we had? Would Ebola still exist today? Would it still be as big of a problem and health risk in parts of Africa? Western society shows who they care for and what they are willing to pay to save it. It’s just more to show that the publicity of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was not an accident but a demonstration our society’s creation of hierarchy and importance.

source:

http://savageminds.org/2014/08/27/is-the-als-ice-bucket-challenge-about-structural-inequality/

A Man’s Best Friend

Growing up we have all heard that common phrase “a dog is a man’s best friend”. In the United States, dogs are welcomed by many and thought of as an important parts of one’s family. Often we would see dogs in family photos, dressed up for big events like Christmas or Halloween and even given a funeral, when the time comes. In Canada, the dog- owner relationship has developed over time. This devotion to dogs has spread over many establishments such as supermarkets, clothing stores and medical offices now allowing dogs inside. Certain establishments that need to maintain a sanitary standard post “cutesy” signs outside asking kindly for dog owners to keep their dogs from coming inside. Western society has incorporated the dog so deep into our values that dogs are now included in daily life activities and can be taken almost anywhere.

Fortunately not every society has incorporated dogs into their everyday activities. In Islam, a dog’s saliva is considered impure and even though the Quran states that it isn’t necessarily haram to own a pet dog, most Muslims refrain from having owning a dog. For the insignificant amount of Muslims who do own a dog, the life style of the dog is very different from Western society. Muslim dogs tend to have their own living space and are used for security and protection for a family.

This contrast in views towards dogs shows not only the impact of Religion on a society, but also how far different societies extended their kinship.

Resources used:

http://popanth.com/article/must-love-dogs/

http://islam.about.com/od/islamsays/a/Dogs-In-Islam.htm

You are Not Really Alone

Most people may believe that the city has way too many people and that’s it’s too hectic to live in. But most fail to realize that living in a city can surprisingly be the loneliest place to live. Individuals can easily become lost within the large morning crowds of school children, business personal, construction workers, and early morning shoppers. To escape it all, it is easy to duck your head down and avoid the eye contact on the subway as stated by Erin B Taylor in her analysis, “Alone in the city: How we create personal space in the madding crowd”.

Living in a big city all my life, I have tried to duck the casual conversations from tourists and natives of the New York City area. I have failed. I am not antisocial but the city environment gives me the opportunity to be alone, but still enjoy the sense of safety being surrounded by people gives me. Yes city people move fast and usually seem too busy to be stopped, but many fail to realize how much a city can be seen as a large family. Take the Boston Marathon for example; stranglers bonded together to support victims, and their families. People that would usually just pass by each other formed a bond that lead to a state wide family feel.

For anyone who comes to live in the city or just visit it can be a very overwhelming experience. But the excitement that comes when people realize how much energy city life has is very rewarding.

source:

http://popanth.com/article/alone-in-the-city-the-importance-of-being-unsociable/

The Fire is Still Burning

In a shocking article posted to Savage Minds, Carole McGranahan tries to explain why one-hundred forty-one Tibetans have self-immolated in the last twenty years. Given Tibet’s history of hostile invasion in 1949, it’s surprising that this level of protest has relatively recently began taking a foothold in the policed country. Most of these 141 “demonstrations” have taken place in the last five years. It’s a trend that has spiked disproportionately. McGranahan explores why these protesters would resort to this ultimate form of protest. What could bring a person to such extremes? McGranahan walks us through the history of China’s intrusion into Tibet, the mistreatment of religious and government officials, and eventual exile of many native Tibetans. McGranahan said that the only way to really study the self-immolators would be to talk to those who planned on carrying it out, because those who carry it out do so with the intention of dying. And even the survivors, usually the protestors who are stopped by Chinese police, are taken from the spot, their whereabouts now unknown. McGranahan expresses frustration at not being able to create and ethnography on self-immolators because all kinds of journalist are prohibited from entering Tibet to conduct any kind of study. There are more journalists in North Korea than there are in Tibet, which is why self-immolation is not such a globally discussed topic, even though it is a form of radical political protest that has recently grown significantly in trapped Tibet.

http://savageminds.org/2014/12/22/141-for-tsepey-who-self-immolated-in-tibet-six-hours-from-now/

The Power of Silence

Speaking up is a big issue with regards to social justice and activism. It is a common belief that those who are silent during times of injustice are taking the side of the oppressor, but authors Netta Avineri, Jena Barchas-Lichtenstein, Robin Conley, Mariam Durrani, and Kathleen Riley from the Society for Linguistic Anthropology dispute the simplicity of this claim in their article “Silent Meditation: Speech, Power, and Social Justice.”

One problem with the claim that speaking up is necessary is that it leads to an increase in slacktivism. When people write blog posts online or share an article on their news feed, they tend to believe too quickly that they are doing something productive for the cause, and therefore they fall into the trap of thinking it is enough instead of wondering what more they can do to help.

Also, sometimes the ways in which people speak up about oppressed groups can end up silencing other oppressed groups as a result. This is why some Muslim-Americans were resistant to the Black Lives Matter movement because they didn’t feel like they were getting the same support for their own problems. This is an inevitable issue with those kinds of hashtags.

There is also the argument that silence can actually be an act of rebellion when it is expected that an oppressed person speak, such as when someone who is being arrested chooses to exercise his right to remain silent, or when a rape victim refuses to tell a judge what she was wearing. Plus, the recent increase in die-ins as a form of protest proves that being silent in solidarity can actually be a major form of protest.

Finally, silence can actually be an important tool for those who are trying to be allies to social justice movements. Although a part of being a good ally is about amplifying the voices of the oppressed, it is also important to spend a lot of time listening. From an anthropological perspective, this strategy is important because you cannot even begin to understand others’ struggles or cultures unless you go into the learning experience highly aware of the fact that you don’t know anything.

Overall, this article raises several important objections to the assertion that speaking up is all that matters in social justice, and it challenges the notion that silence is always problematic.

Does Constructive Criticism Help?

Several years ago, a man named Alan Kaiser tried in vain to publish an article about an archaeologist who plagiarized a female student’s work. He ultimately failed to do so, but he did eventually end up publishing it as a book, and he also wrote the article “Why The Peer Review Process Works Even When It Doesn’t” in order to illustrate his experience and what he learned from his failure.

The story in question that he was trying to publish involved a woman named Mary Ellingson, who wrote her dissertation on a number of figurines that she had excavated. However, her advisor, Robinson, published her dissertation as an entire chapter in one of his books, without giving her credit. As Kaiser thought this was an interesting story, particularly with regards to the role of women in research, he was eager to publish this article.

However, the article was met with a lot of criticism; not only did a few people doubt that the story was very interesting, but also a lot of people tried to justify Robinson’s behavior or insist that the scandal should be kept quiet; Kaiser suspects that that is due to the conservative nature of the field.

While Kaiser never managed to get his article published in a journal, he was able to take in all the criticisms he received from professional editors and peer reviewers alike, and instead published the story as a book. He therefore concludes that even though there are some flaws in the peer review system, it is still a system that works, and it can lead to unexpected benefits even if a story is initially met with rejection.

The Effects of Making English More Widespread

In his article “The Future of Language,” Samuel Victor discusses the implications of something called lingua franca English, a language resembling English that can help non-native speakers more easily communicate with native ones. On the one hand, there are a number of benefits to implementing something like this. Teaching a language like this more often is important because English is so widespread throughout the world, and an inability to understand or communicate with native English speakers puts one at a huge risk of being cut off from much of society.

At the same time, getting into the habit of making English a more widely spoken language puts the burden on people in non-English-speaking countries because they have to learn English in order to get decent jobs in English-speaking countries, and so those economies have to devote time to making sure their citizens can speak English when they could be spending more time on things to improve their own societies.

Furthermore, the notion of LFE becoming more widespread poses a threat to cultural diversity, and it only serves to worsen the hegemony that native English speakers already hold over non-native ones. This is especially the case since aspects of LFE involve some parts of English that have a connection to English-speaking cultures. Some people have argued that if we want people who speak different languages to be on equal footing, it actually makes more sense to encourage English speakers to learn other languages instead.

Ultimately, the widespread teaching of LFE is not a neutral practice, even if proponents of it try to find ways to minimize the harms. It is impossible to deny that trying to make English a more widespread language serves as a threat to cultural diversity, but at the same time we need to acknowledge that the language barriers that exist between countries as it stands are currently inhibiting non-native English speakers from being able to interact with a large part of the world.

Apps and Availability of Health Information

More and more, people are turning to mobile data for health information and tracking. Since the introduction of smartphone apps in 2008, apps have been developed for all sorts of purposes, including games, productivity, communication and social media, education, and health and fitness. It is estimated that 20 to 30% of smartphone users have downloaded apps about health and fitness. Scrolling through the google play store, one can see many apps designed to help someone lose weight, track running or biking paths, prepare nutritious meals, gain mindfulness to reduce stress.

Many of these apps have been developed by hospitals and medical schools, but many others were developed by corporations seeking to make a profit. In addition to personal use, health and fitness apps have great potential to be used in medical settings. As technology, apps reflect the beliefs and practices of the culture and can even be seen as active participants of culture. These apps have not been studied from a social science perspective, so we are not sure how this would change the patient-doctor relationship and society at large. With technology progressing faster than ever, it is important that social scientists keep up. A greater understanding of how health and fitness apps affect how people interact with their health care providers would benefit both medical institutions and individuals alike.

http://ethnographymatters.net/blog/2014/09/23/app-ography-a-critical-perspective-on-medical-and-health-apps/

My Take On: Small town parades, chocolate medals and Washing up

In the PopAnthro blog post, the author starts out depicting a scene from a parade, then uses what is said in the midst of the parade to begin anthropologically analyzing rituals. The author says that rituals are usually done for their cultural ceremonial value, emphasizing on the importance of the ritual’s representation and less on what it’s supposed to do or be physically. The example of the author’s boyfriend’s mother was very important in regards to understanding rituals and how they are seen. The contrast of how what humans do as families in regards to family routines being not so special rituals were interesting. I think that it all depends on the person’s point of view, if that person is willing to look at everyday motions as a ritual, then they may not be that special, but if that person thinks of rituals being something special and keeps routines as just routines then rituals could or should be more special to that individual. That being said, both points are valid and should be taken into account when thinking about this ordeal. It depends on the cultural importance of different rituals, because certain everyday rituals can be considered part of a person routine, like prayer, or reading of scripture before bed.

Works Cited

http://popanth.com/article/small-town-parades-chocolate-medals-and-washing-up

Catification

Who is your house designed for? It is expected that a house is set up to cater to the person who lives there, and pets are an afterthought. However many people are beginning to “catify” their homes: that is, to build in places for their cats to run, climb, and explore. This practice can be carried out in different degrees: sometimes this can be as simple as the addition of hammocks or bunk beds, but some people take it as far as to build shelves and ladders to make their house more cat-friendly.

Custom cat furniture serves two purposes: to be aesthetically pleasing to the human and to add mobility for the cat. It’s hard to argue that cat’s don’t look adorable snuggled up in a bunk bed, but cat bunk beds don’t provide any added functionality over normal cat beds. However a big part of “catification” is allowing your cat more opportunities to explore the space in three dimensions. Watching a cat’s natural curiosity and agility allows humans to see their own homes in a different way, and expands the cat’s freedom.

Of course, some of the cats seen in the article still prefer to sit on the keyboard.

article: http://popanth.com/article/outfitting-the-modern-cat-the-material-culture-of-felines-and-their-humans

photo: http://www.hauspanther.com/2013/10/10/the-perfect-cat-house-by-thinking-design/