September 18, 2009

anthropology of grad school

week 4.

we read, that's what we do. they assign the pages and we take them home and open the books and print the articles and find the time to read them. in between we eat. then we go back to campus, read some more, sit around in seminar rooms and talk about anthropology. what we should do, how things are all wrong, how things should change. then we read some more. that's the general pattern. sometimes, we listen to presentations and maybe have time to have a beer with a few people, but not really. the sun comes up, goes down, comes back up. it doesn't matter, because we read read read. information comes in, and then we spin around ideas and talk and imagine what this thing called anthropology means. and what we'll do with it. then we read. things like max weber. or maybe old carlos marx. maybe some lynn meskell, ian hodder, arturo escobar, anna tsing. subjects like development, post-development, identity, subjectivity, political ecology and what nature is anyway. agency is everywhere and nowhere. can a mountain have AGENCY? i have my doubts, but people who publish books wonder otherwise. why does printer ink cost so much? and why am i always hungry/bored?

some days, when we have had enough we hope that netflix ships something good so that we can tune out for a while. tonight it was all about clint eastwood and el gran torino.

seriously. i should be reading weber.

*pardon the lack of capitalization and such. it's a small rebellion, but a good one.

8 comments:

haecceities said...

As for mountains having agency, it depends on your view of where agency is located. If it is an inert capacity, then I would say it cannot have agency. If agency is seen as relational then yes I would say that the mountain has agency. We need to think in temporality as well. The mountain seen through a couple of million years will change and affect other entities. Check out Ingold for how to merge "animism" and "science" (I will post something on this later on).

Marcel said...

I'm applying to anthro Ph.D. programs this fall, and am enjoying the glimpse that your blog provides into both anthro as a field and the wiles of graduate school.

Keep up the good work!

Conor said...

Theory is theory, but shouldnt it have some application in our everyday existence? - and not just the ability to question/debate everything haha. Interestingly, I always thought that there was some inherent paradox that one of anthropology's major goals is to understand meaning, but we are still unsure of what anthropology itself actually means and what we should do with it.

Ryan Anderson said...

hey johan:

ya, i can see your point about agency. i guess for me it's a term that is used all over the place for all kinds of things, so maybe i am a little resistant!

tim ingold is one of my favorites right now, even though i usually have to read his stuff 2-3 times to figure it out.

Ryan Anderson said...

@ conor:

"Interestingly, I always thought that there was some inherent paradox that one of anthropology's major goals is to understand meaning, but we are still unsure of what anthropology itself actually means and what we should do with it."

we understand what everything else "means" but ourselves and what we do!!!

Ryan Anderson said...

@ marcel:

thanks for dropping by. good luck with the application process...it's a long ordeal in some ways. have you already started contacting profs that you are interested by email??? that's one thing that I would really recommend. it's a good way to get beyond what the website says the program is all about.

thanks again for the comment!

Marcel said...

Good advice, Ryan. Yes, I've contacted a couple of professors already, and plan to e-mail some others within the next few weeks.

Out of curiosity, did you send your personal statement to any of the professors you were interested in working with before submitting your formal application? What are your thoughts on the etiquette of that?

Ryan Anderson said...

I would get the conversation started first and maybe send something more substantial later. Send a short email with your basic interests, maybe include a CV. But the most important thing would be to get communication going first.