Let Me Lock up!

I always keep my dorm key on a purple carabineer.  When it’s not clipped to the waistband of my pants, it’s always kept on my backpack.  Coming to college was the first time I ever had to carry a key around.   I grew up in a small suburban, beach-town neighborhood.  This was the kind of neighborhood where every family had at least one dog, and after coming home from school, kids would play ball in the sleepy street waiting for their parents to come home from work.  Each yard was green, large, and filled with neatly kempt gardens.  This neighborhood was extremely low traffic so anyone who entered was either a resident, employed by the resident, or received a direct invitation.  As a kid I never needed to worry about carrying a house key because the doors of my house were rarely locked during the day.  My mother would only lock the doors at night, once everyone was inside.   According to Krystal D’Costa in her article, Is there more to Locking Up Than Personal Safety, she would argue that my mother ritualistic locking of the door every night was not only a physical act intended to insure safety, but it was also a symbolic representation of the need, and desire, for privacy.

In the article, D’Costa talks about how privacy is an “Institutionalized method of withdrawal.”  She details how unlocked doors are unlocked for everyone, and how an invasion of space can be representative of a violation of self. She brings up how lock doors are a guarantee of privacy, and that the allowance of privacy is representative of a social code.  A locked door establishes this level of distance, and physically puts up a barrier between yourself and the outside world.

The locked door is a signal of desired privacy, and because it is a method of withdrawal, sometimes that barrier is important. Now more than ever I understand the importance of privacy as a guarantee.  Living in on campus housing means you are always around your friends, and you can’t escape from both the social and academic sides of the institution.  Having the ability to withdraw from society for a while is an important coping mechanism used when there is overstimulation due to constant interaction.

While my mother only locked the door at night to protect everyone inside from a home invasion, I understand the importance of secure privacy, and need for withdrawal.  Due to the cramped living situations in cities and on college campuses, having the ability to lock your door is relieving not only because of the physical protection factor, but also because of psychological preservation.


$100?! What the f***!?

A couple of nights ago I was graced with the opportunity to go to the emergency room for a very stupid injury. Everyone was incredibly kind and helpful, and I was patched up in no time. I was ready to leave, had my insurance out and everything, expecting the cost to be about $50. Yet when I reached the discharge window the woman said, “Ok sweetheart that will be $100.” I was like, $100?! What the f***!? This experience opened my eyes to just how grave the medical inequality situation is. If I, a middle class college student found that amount to be outrageous, what must it be like for those who struggle each day just to stay alive?

Here at home we are able to enjoy warm clothes, a good education and some fun every now and then. Yet due to the unequal access to resources in underdeveloped and third world nations, people are struggling to find food and proper healthcare. This lack of access to resources is a form of structural violence in which those with resources have continued access to them, while those without remain without. This social inequality is defined by the unhealthy situations that some people live in, and their economic inability to get help. While that $100 was a dip in the bank account for me, it would be a lifetime’s savings for those who are without.

“Evolution” (?) of Communication

While sitting next to my friend she suddenly said, “communication is awful!” To be honest, I have to agree. Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter, Myspace, dating sites, chat rooms, texting, etc. Methods of communication have drastically changed over the last decade or so. Some may argue that the change was for the better, since we can now easily and quickly communicate with people outside of our area code. However, I beg to differ. Yes, we have more amazing ways to talk and interact with others who are far away, as in if I am on the continent of Australia and you are sitting in your dorm room, we can have a perfectly good conversation on the phone or through video chat. But have you noticed that when people are sitting right next to each other, more often than not they are on their phones or their devices?

50 years ago, to ask someone out one would call their house multiple times or ask them in person at school. Nowadays, one is lucky if they receive a call, for the main methods of communication are through these little “personal” devices. Personal in the fact that they are intended for the use of a singular person, not in the sense that they make our lives and interactions more personal. We have become absorbed in the universe that is personal technology. For a good portion of our generation, it is important to check all these apps with short videos, and images that delete themselves after a few seconds, and status updates. Why are we so reliant on these apps and programs? I know that for some, it is a way of feeling connected to others. Some may also try to remain connected via technology. I respect and understand that. I also respect the fact that people do not have to verbally communicate to have healthy relationships, whether friends or more. People can just sit together, and if they want, they can use their personal devices. But when technological communication takes precedence to personal, face-to-face communication (or at least using our voices to communicate) I think that there is a problematic topic worth addressing. Yes, the technology of the world is advancing and aiding us in many ways. But as a result, has communication really ‘evolved’?

To read more about this topic, click here for a professional article on the Evolution of Communication.

Gun Culture: Why not US?

So a few days ago I was scrolling through BBC Asia when I saw an article about a deadly shooting in South Korea. Early Tuesday morning a man open fired in a convenience store, killing three people. In South Korea, it is against the law to possess or distribute guns. One can only have a gun if they are security personnel, and hunters must keep their guns locked up in police stations. However, most men have experience using firearms due to South Korea’s compulsory military service. Annually, the rate of gun deaths per 100,000 people is 0.06 (GunPolicy).

Great Britain has the “reputation of having some of the tightest gun control laws in the world.” (Library of Congress) The Firearms Act of 1968 defines a ‘prohibited weapon’ and dictates what is illegal in terms of those weapons. It is an offense to “possess, purchase, acquire, manufacture, sell, or transfer these prohibited weapons without the written authority of the Defence Council or Scottish Ministers.” Therefore the only people who are legally able to have guns are officers, members of the armed forces, or those with permission from the Home Secretary. Annually, the rate of gun deaths per 100,000 people is 0.23.

Gun Laws Comparison

Right here in the United States the rate of gun deaths per 100,000 people is 10.3. Over the last five years there has been an increase in gun-related crimes. We as a nation are divided over the issue of making stricter laws concerning gun possession, especially considering the recent Newtown shooting. Firstly there is the debate of whether current gun laws are sufficient or whether more should be implemented. Then there is the issue of whether less guns would be safer, or more guns – like having guns in schools – would offer more protection. Unfortunately, this has been an ongoing issue for many decades. In the 1990’s, there was a deadly confrontation and siege at Ruby Ridge that resulted in controversy over the actions of federal agents going after the Weaver family. There is still disagreement over “which side” open fired first, but a woman and a young adult were killed in the process, thus escalating the event to a national level. The public was divided over federal rights vs. personal rights, just as it is today. Who should be trusted with guns? Higher ups and people with experience so that they can help prevent crime, or the public so that they can protect themselves?

Concussion’s Memory Problem

Concussions are no light topic. Having suffered more than one myself, I can honestly say that they can be scary, especially when memory is involved. It has been long known that contact sports can cause serious head injuries. In fact, the American public has been aware of this fact since the late 19th century, as in, the 1800’s. Yet despite this awareness the so-called “concussion crisis” is not as big of an issue as it should be. In the week before the Super Bowl, Emily Harrison recently wrote an article in light of the publicity around the incident of ball-deflating where she states that while the news was blowing up over whether or not one competing team purposely deflated balls, there was an even bigger issue that was going virtually unnoticed. People who were appalled at the frenzy of attention to so trivial a matter advocated that the big hullabaloo was in all actuality a means of distracting from the major issues involving the NFL; namely, concussions and law suits regarding head injuries.

The crisis of concussions and the effects of such injuries has been pushed under the rug repeatedly over the years by the politicking of the NFL. In fact, this has been a recurring problem over the last hundred or so years because of the covering up by football’s supporters. There are current studies of head injuries in football, but similar studies were going on during the Progressive Era when football boomed as a sport. In the process of trying to legitimize football as an American sport, the problem of injuries has been forgotten over and over again.

Nowadays there are advocacy groups that are striving to prioritize public awareness and make it an issue rather than a hushed-up topic. This form of organization did not exist in the past. Thankfully as a result, the issue of concussions is no longer just a concern for collegiate-level sports; it is now a “public health problem whose impact has spread across the population and raised particular alarm for its effects on children.” These advocacy groups and everyday citizens are working hard to keep clear eyes on the honest goal of risk reduction. Many people who look past the sport itself, the industry, and its popularity will continue to advocate for safety instead of submitting to the media stream that keeps the sport alive.



Portrait of a styled professional model. Theme: spa, healthcare.

When we think of the word aroma, we automatically associate it with something pleasant and then we create a certain image in our mind of what it is we smell. Many other cultures are a lot more descriptive when describing a scent. This Is what makes every culture so different.

This is supported in the article,  “What’s in an aroma? Languages with odour vocabularies” by Gregory J. Downey, an anthropologists report states that many non-Western cultures devote much greater attention to aroma than Europeans or North Americans do.

Another example used that is used is the Maniq and Jahai scent descriptors who cover a very wide range of variety but don’t cover the actual source. An example given in the article is a Maniq scent term which is linked to a very wide range of reference which talks about mushrooms, water, mud, bamboo, soil, sweat, urine. When we describe a certain smell we usually use words such as “sweet”, “strong”, or “flowery”. We never usually associate it to something specifically. The comparison of these two different cultures helps us determine why it is usually so hard for us English speaks to describe an odor and for other cultures it is so easy. Because, they have such a rich vocabulary to choose from it makes them so easy to describe something.

Describing a scent is something easy to do but for many cultures there is a specialized vocabulary which needs to be used. For many cultures that vocabulary used then leads to a more sophisticated and highly trained sensory system. Anthropologists use this example to explain that even simple everyday tasks which might very simple for one culture can be completely different for another which explain how diverse and unique every culture is.

Air It Out

Air guitar performances where once meant for “jamming” out by yourself, now it has the ability to gleefully capture and produce universal emotional and bodily responses from millions. The Air Guitar World Championship advertise it as being able to “promote world peace. According to the ideology of the Air Guitar, wars would end, climate change stop and all bad things disappear, if all the people in the world played the Air Guitar.” Although, many people view these competitions as silly, just plain stupid, embarrassing for both participants and spectators, and a waste of time. It can also be viewed as a ritual used to bond a group of people. The purpose of this large gathering is for the country of Finland to come together as one community. After all slogan for this competition is, “Wars would end, climate change would stop and all bad things would disappear if everyone just played the air guitar.” The Air Guitar Championships far surpass the juvenile facade one first sees when attending the event. It is truly about unity and setting aside all differences and just being a community.

Everyone can partake in the playing of air guitar, so it doesn’t exclude anyone in the population. As long they are confidence with themselves and their abilities. Performances can be exhilarating, bonding, embrace goofy theatricality, and encourages a community that celebrates each other’s performances.


Anthropologists for World Leaders

Narrow-minded thinking has led to the global turn in events. Issues such as the rising power of ISIS, increasing social injustice and the outbreak of Ebola have developed due to the bad decision-making of our world leaders who act based upon their 20th-century views. This is Paul Stoller’s view on why such issues have risen this fast. In his article, Global Politics, Global Health and the Anthropological Moment, Stoller argues that most world leaders are lawyers, economists, businessmen and military officers. All of these professions cause people to make decision in the manner of ‘getting things done’. However, when dealing with global issues, Stoller argues that we should have anthropologists as world leaders, and I agree.
Anthropologists are specially positioned to understand complex multicultural political, economic and social issues. The methods in which anthropologists conduct research affirms this notion; they tend to cooperate and get involved within a culture or a society in order to understand them. Ethnographic research develops cooperative attitude and results in mutual understanding and benefit.
The Afghanis have already figured this out when electing their new president, Dr. Ashraf Ghani, an anthropologist. In our current global situation, where the ongoing application of old solutions onto new problems is clearly resulting in the creation of more problems, when will people change their electoral path and elect someone who is interested in finding mutual benefit and cooperation for president? When will people elect an anthropologist?
Reference: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/paul-stoller/global-politics-global-he_b_5915944.html?utm_hp_ref=anthropology

The Social Inheritance of Inequality

The poverty of the lower class has always been questioned in a capitalist society. In a society where everyone has a chance at success, where one good idea can produce great profit, why is there an increasing lower-class? Some assume that the “culture of poverty” is to blame. It produces individuals who are unwilling to work and innovate. This assumption has been proved wrong; most children who are born into the culture of poverty do not grow economically due to a lack of words.
In ‘The Language Gap’ — Liberal Guilt Creates Another Not-So-Magic Bullet, Susan D.Blum looks into how children of the lower-class in America lack some English vocabulary due to being born to bilingual parents. This population isn’t fighting against the integration into American society, but against the loss of its own culture and language.
Programs such as ‘Providence Talks’ encourage lower-class students to learn language quantitatively. Such programs do not consider the background and cultural importance of this population but seeks to solve this inequality but creating another form of inequality- the right of preserving culture.
In a society where the rich blame the poor for their own poverty, while accumulating scarce resources for their own wealth, what can be done in order to give lower-class individuals an equal access to resources without having to give up their basic rights?
Reference: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/susan-d-blum/language-gap-liberal-guilt-creates-ano_b_5233638.html?utm_hp_ref=anthropology

Toot Toot


According to the United States Constitution all men are created equal, but what about the farts created by such men – are their release equally accepted? All farts are not equal. Who the farter is and whom they fart around seem to be a more important factor than the stench that is released. “Silent But Deadly – Farting Across Cultures” by Kirsten Bell tries to depict why some farts appear to be judged less harshly than others; predominately from the female perspective.

The elderly, men, and small children farts evoke relatively little response while female farts, on the other hand, fall at the opposite end of the spectrum. As the article pointed out, there are t-shirts proclaiming “girls don’t fart”. If women perform this natural bodily function, they are instantaneously embarrassed, and receive hostility and attitudes of disgust from those around them, and are shamed. In the reality that I live in, farts produced by men are greeted with laughter, and in some occasions, it’s considered honorable.

The fact that inequalities exists in relation to a natural bodily function- people do not fart because they want to, it is their body making them act that way.

This stems from the way society identifies gender/gender roles and what the role permits you to do in society. These roles all for women to prim, proper, passive (but not pass gas) and submissive.

I am one to reject and ignore arbitrary social boundaries that are based on status, race, ethnicity, and especially gender. One should never be deterred from performing a natural bodily function.