August 21, 2009

Hiatus etc.

Note: Driving across the country with an extra heavy U-Haul trailer in tow can negatively affect blogging possibilities. That's the down side of a 38 hour drive across the country at 55 mph. The upside, naturally, is seeing how massive this country is.

Upcoming possible subject matter (so that I don't forget):

1) The politics of tourism as I saw it through a recent trip to Hearst Castle, which was amazingly insane. Especially the film that they show you before you see the castle. Talk about whitewashing history. Gotta love depoliticized tourism!

2) Reflections on the supposed clash between the objective and subjective sides of anthropology (inspired by some recent posts over at the OAC (this one and this one too).

3) Some thoughts about teaching a four-field class for the first time. Lately I have been thinking more and more about how I am going to talk about race, class, and gender. And I have also been thinking about different ways of covering evolutionary theory AND cultural relativism in the same course. One of the major issues is how to cover religion in the course. In my opinion, many anthropologists do a wonderful job of describing and analyzing religions and beliefs all around the world, but when it comes to certain beliefs here in the US, well, sometimes everything breaks down. The openness to listen to divergent points of view has to apply at home as well, right? So then, how can evolutionary theory (and certain other aspects of physical/biological anthropology) be taught while still allowing for opposing opinions and viewpoints? I tend to follow the lead of the late Stephen Jay Gould, who tried to argue that the clash between religion and science need not exist, since they cover completely different territory. Still, I have been thinking a lot about how I am going to field certain potential questions of students. I am sure, however, that I am not going to take Richard Dawkins' approach. I actually really like Dawkins in many ways, but I think when it comes to religion he goes a little overboard. This means, in short, that I think he tends to the more polemic side of the debate, and that sometimes his style does little to advance the overall discussion. But maybe I'm going overboard, who knows?

4) The relationship between anthropology, tourism, and photography (an ongoing and maybe repetitive theme. But I want to get back to this one, especially after re-reading Susan Sontag's essay on Diane Arbus) (From the book "On Photography").

5) Applied versus academic anthropology. Again, this comes from some recent discussions on the OAC, where there are some very different views of what anthropology is supposed to be. In my opinion, there is room for several "anthropologies," but maybe I have lost my connection with the rational world. I blame it on the 2,100 miles that my wife and I drove the last 5 days. Other excuses appreciated. Overall, I think there is a little more to anthropology than describing and analyzing the world in objective terms. Hmmm.

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