Entries tagged with “anthropology blogs

So, I’m “officially” started on my year of self-study. As discussed in a previous post, my core plan consists of reading a review article from the Annual Review of Anthropology each week and writing something about the experience. I have various textbooks for general reference, a few other books, the Internet and the public library. I don’t feel ready or prepared or organized, but here I go. I’ve picked Mondays as the due date for writing a first response to the current article I am reading. I may blog about the article several days during that week or just on Monday.

The Annual Review of Anthropology lists reviews under five main headings: archaeology, biological anthropology, linguistics, regional anthropology and cultural/social anthropology. I won’t try to choose evenly between those topics, but I will read some in all. I’ve chosen my first five reviews to read:

Death:  A Cross-Cultural Perspective
Cultural-Social Anthropology
Phyllis Palgi and Henry Abramovitch

Language and Disputing
D. Brenneis

Hominid Paleoneurology
Biological Anthropology
Dean Falk

The Archaeology of Equality and Inequality
Robert Paynter

India:  Caste, Kingship, and Dominance Reconsidered
Regional Anthropology
Gloria Goodwin Ratheja

I chose to read “Death: A Cross-Cultural Perspective” first as someone special to me died suddenly this year. At the time, I found that I had no strong attachment to any particular beliefs about death, and that was a problem. I had decided as a tween that the benefit of rituals and/or spiritual beliefs was not dependent on any connection to truth, so that type of struggle wasn’t an issue. I had just left the matter of death beliefs unresolved. In the short-term I borrowed from the strength of belief of people I respected. I engaged in special prayers and chanting for 49 days in Buddhist fashion. I found it helpful. I’ve started the article. I will write more about it next week.

I’ve been reading articles in various volumes of the Annual Review of Anthropology.  These articles are reviews of the literature on a given topic.  The writers give a snapshot of trends and consensus.  In thinking about my year of reading anthropology, part of me wants to read as many of these reviews as possible thus creating a collection of snapshots.  The other part of me wishes to focus on a collection of related reviews and read as much of the referenced literature as possible.  As much as I am drawn to the latter choice, I believe I am at a stage where a survey of anthropology might be more appropriate.

Now it’s on to constructing a plan of study.  My initial premise is to read one review a week for a year.  That sounds vaguely reasonable given work and life and all that.  What remains is to figure out how I plan to digest the reading.  Each review could easily spawn months of reading.  I need a clear plan of approach.  Ok, I read the article and write a summary/notes.  Then what?  How do I blog about that experience?  Perhaps, I will be able to figure that out as I go along.  It seems if I try to get it all clear in my head before getting started then I will never get started.

As much as possible, I would like to lift what I can from the review on its face.  However, I imagine that as I read a variety of reviews, certain works will move to the front as essential background reading.  How do I fit those into my reading schedule?  Should the schedule be more flexible?  I think reading one review a week and writing “something” about it will have to be the baseline.  I will have to trust that something meaningful and enriching will come of that.  So, stick to the baseline and be flexible as far as other reading.

Which reviews do I read?  Do I set out the 52 reviews from the beginning or do I schedule them a few at a time? Do I set a tentative schedule of 52 reviews, but remain open to changing them around and/or switching one out for another?  I like the idea of getting a list together.  I hate the idea of being tied to a list, but I know there will be times when I would otherwise spend too long deciding what to read next.  So, I will make a tentative list of 52 reviews, but leave open making adjustments as I go along.

That’s my thinking so far.  Now I have to fight this notion that I have to commit this general plan before getting officially started.  I’m on a test drive.

I’m still in the process of deciding how I want to blog.   I continue to read anthropology blogs and other materials.

Last night I came across this blog: Cicilie among the Parisians, “a blog from Cicilie Fagerlid’s fieldwork research on poetry, anger and cosmopolitanism in Paris.”  Cicilie is a Scandinavian woman  living in Paris and blogging in English.  Most of my person-to-person accounts of life in Paris have come from Americans.   I look forward to seeing Paris from a different cultural perspective.   From a post titled “A Day in Commemoration of Slavery“,  Fagerlid writes the following:

In his speech, President Chirac proclaimed that “the greatness of a country is to take on all its history, the glorious pages as well as the dark parts. Our history is that of a great nation. Look at her with pride. And look at her as she is. That’s the way a people can unite and become more close(-knit).”

(As a foreigner, I do find interesting this constant return to the greatness of the French nation, and I can’t forget another of Chirac’s speeches lately on the issue of nuclear weapons, but be that as it may)

As an American this type of nationalist expression seems very familiar.  I’m not sure this would have stood out to me.   There are many instances of this type of difference in perspective.   From what I’ve seen, Fagerlid writes on politics, literature, city life, diversity, motherhood.  She shares pictures and video — something I’d like to do.  I look forward to reading more of this blog and others like it.

I’ve been reading, but I haven’t been sticking to my loosely defined reading list.  Instead I’ve been tumbling around various anthropology blogs and making lists of things to read.  I’ve been perusing Anthropology Blog Newspaper where they list the title of the blog along with the titles of the most recent posts.  In the process I’m developing my own list of anthropology blogs that I would like to read regularly.

I’ve been reading some French.  Well, put more accurately, I’ve been reading some lists of French words.  I studied French in the past and I’ve returned to study in part as an exercise in brain stimulation.  I’ve been enjoying the free audio lessons at Coffee Break French.     A Scotsman teaches French in 20-minute segments.  Each audio lesson has a page for questions and comments.  They have paid learning materials, but I haven’t tried those.  I have my own collection of French grammar books.

Perhaps I should try to come up with some sort of syllabus.   I’ll look around for some guides on self-study.