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.

So What can You do With Anthropology?

So, you’re about to enter the professional field of Anthropology.  There are a number of traditional paths you can take; working as a participant observant studying how other cultures “make meaning, “ or even teaching the subject as a professor of a prestigious college.  But the field of anthropology is expanding, crossing over to other fields creating an exciting diversity of job opportunities.  One of the possible options presented in Emilie Venables’ piece on Anthropology and Humanitarian Aid, describes how anthropologists are working with the Doctors without boarders/Medécins Sans Frontières (MSF) aid program to help understand the culture of the people and places that require their assistance, and work with the doctors find ways to assist those people within their cultural limits and restraints.

In her article she recounts how she used her position to collaborate with doctors to help a pregnant HIV positive woman.  This woman, in order to protect the stability of her child’s future, didn’t want to take the medication keeping her healthy and protecting her baby from the illness. She didn’t take the medication in his presence in fear that he would discover her pills.   Due to her cultural background, she didn’t want the father, who was also her and her baby’s sole financial provider, to discover her health status.  She was worried he would pull his financial support upon this discovery.  For this case, the positon of the anthropologist is to work with doctors to assist the patient in the best way maneuvering within the cultural restraints and complications.

Venable concludes that due to the expansion of the field of anthropology, there are a plethora of new and interesting job options to best fit the interests of any expert entering the field.  She also explains how by applying an ethnographic lenses to her specific humanitarian work, she is experiencing the true versatility of her discipline.  She can’t deny she must work within the restraints of her domain, but due to the expansion, the professional work is realizing and taking advantage that the unique tools and outlook that anthropologists have.


My Take On The Anthropology of Mobile Phones

In the TED talk, The Anthropology of Mobile Phones, Jan Chipchase talked about how in pretty much all cultures people carry three things and they were keys, money, and a cell phone. He mentioned how they all are tools used for survival and mentioned how so. Money being a source of getting food, keys giving people access shelter as well phones cutting out the middleman when it came to tasks that a smart phone could undertake. He also explored his thoughts on the future of culture and other things, touching on the importance of cellphones in connection to culture, innovation and design.
In his discussion he talked about the different roles cell phones will play in the future and I think that Jan is actually right, I think that will represent parts of our personality as well as serve as a way to preserve our culture. Just with all the information that the internet can hold, and constant improvement of technology, it’s only a matter of time before cell phones replace many of the forums we use to do everyday errands. Jan’s ability to touch on how identity has been related to traditions, norms and other things was imperative to proving how technology is making its way into culture and how it effects it.



“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.

Undeniable Vulnerability: Climate Change and Indigenous Cultures

In our first-world society, we often view climate change as a distant problem. It certainly is pressing, but the reality of climate change causes us to disregard it out of fear, as not an “immediate issue”. We passively do things to slow it down to feel as though we are doing our part. In his article, “The cultures endangered by Climate Change,” Greg Downey, Evjue-Bascom Professor and Associate Dean for social sciences at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, takes the view of climate change from a different perspective. Using the work of Anthropologist Susan Crate, Downey discusses the way that climate change has already influenced and continues to influence the lives and traditions of the world’s indigenous populations. Maddeningly, climate changes’ effects will probably hit hardest the populations that have contributed to it the least. The effects are already widespread, from extreme droughts in Kenya to unseasonably warm winter temperatures in Siberia. The livelihoods of the cultures existing in these areas and many more are being threatened because they rely so heavily on the environments that are being significantly altered. Hunting, fishing, and herding practices, farming, cultural and ritual practices, and the overall health of these populations are being put at risk.

Amazingly, these cultures have already begun to display the incredible human ability to adapt to a changing environment. The reality is that these societies were already at risk due to the industrialization of the world, and that accelerated climate change has only increased their vulnerability. It seems beyond reason and possibility that these cultures, some of which have existed for thousands of years, would be unable to adapt to these changes. In my opinion, sensitivity from hugely industrialized modern societies to these indigenous cultures is imperative to their continued survival. A world without indigenous peoples would be a deeply saddening end to a hard-fought battle.

Following the Steps of the Beat Generation

Experience, knowledge, an escape from social responsibility, and the promise of adventure. That’s what awaits the young traveller setting out on a trip. Jacqueline Arruda’s PopAnth article, “How Kerouac’s On the Road Influenced my Generation” compares her own generation of twentysomethings in brazil, to the Beat Generation of the 50’s, and how each has been equally inspired by the writings and philosophy of Jack Kerouac.

Young adults in Brazil are picking up books like “On the Road” by Keruoac and other books from writers of the Beat Generation. These college students, not unlike ourselves, are pressured to leave school and find a good job and be able to find their place in society with ease, all the while, trying to find out who they are as individuals. This is where youths are turning from the normal path, and following in the footsteps of The Beat Generation, who rejected standards, experimented with alternate life styles, and lived the life they wanted.

While I have not yet read “On The Road,” I too have been touch and influenced by this lifestyle. Last year, I took a gap year, and was very fortunate to be able to travel to Costa Rica for three months, and Israel for four months. Over the course of the year, I was confronted with many new experiences, different people and cultures, and adventures I would never have had at home or in school. Needless to say, I’ve been infected by the travel bug and look forward to my next big trip. This summer I plan on driving across the country to pursue agriculture, the field that I intend to study and practice


Anthropological Research and Emotions

Is is really possible to keep personal feelings separate from work? Many would argue that this is essential in conducting research, especially in the field of anthropology, but how is that really possible when sensory is inevitable when conducting this research? Is using your senses actually an effective way in observing?

Elizabeth P. Challinor talks about how senses may interact with research in the her article, “Sensory ways of knowing when research tunes into emotions”. She gives the readers insight to her old field notes and shares an excerpt in when she spent time with some Cape Verdean friends. She explains how throughout the fun conversation, in a language she wasn’t quite familiar with, she could not help but smile along even though she couldn’t quite follow what was happening in the story. She describes the mans use of animated gestures and loud laughs and attributes that to the contagiousness of the happiness she felt all around her. Should anthropologists allow their senses to act as another tool in research along with the survey , statistics, etc? Maybe the mixing of tuning in emotions into research will allow anthropologists to really become one with another s culture and give a deeper understanding in which plain questionnaires cannot give.


Anthropology and Infanticide

The article “Male Infanticide in Papau New Guinea? Get real” addresses the claims of male New Guinea children being killed by parents in order to cut off soldiers, in turn ending a tribal dispute. The article addresses historical tendencies by the native people, acknowledging the fact cannibalism was a reality in the past but asserting that the modern would not do these acts for the reasons stated.

Placing blame on family members and killing them in efforts to end the dispute is a not how the people think, professor Paige West writes. They instead would blame the tribe they are disputing with, rather than killing their offspring.

Anthropological thought allows us to gain insight on the thought process of the New Guineans as well as their history as a people. We are able to learn how they make meaning of infanticide and their thoughts regarding long-standing disputes. A deconstruction project would reveal the intentions of the people and the fact that female infanticide is much more common than male infanticide in this culture.

Thinking anthropologically allows us to explore the history of the people and the way the have conducted themselves in the past. Deconstructing the scene to address how the New Guineans make meaning of killing their own children allows us to discern how events happened and why.

Attack of the Social Media Zombies

Social media is an important aspect to getting news out to the public. The author of the article dictates his experiment of creating a dialog of Baltimore and what it’s going through. He discusses the aspects of what social media does and creates a dialog for people based on the poster and the replier of news. He states the multiple aspects of it from placing important news worthy news about drugs and crime to food and leisure. This use of social media is important because it is used as a study for what the public wants for demographic studies. This will allow companies to package that information and use it in their companies strategies. Moreover he states the differences of multiple monsters of media old and new media, with social media becoming huge.

This is connected to anthropology because it describes what is possible for generating ethnographic fieldwork. Moreover the use of social media allows the understanding of a specific place and will make meaning toward an individual or a group or a location. Furthermore this article shows the interconnection and viral spread of news to and from people. Thus understanding hierarchical structures of the influencers and influenced we apparently become zombies melding to one another and accessing each others information. Which further emphasises the kinship relationship.