An Answer to the Why Anthropology Question

I read Didier Fassin's When Bodies Remember about AIDS in South Africa last year. Didier Fassin is a converted Anthropologist from the Insitute of Advanced Study affiliated with Princeton and was previously a doctor for Doctors Without Borders.

I read the book because someone somewhere promised that it would broach the topics of memory, bodies, and metaphors, all topics that tickle my funny bone.

So most of what I found in his book did just that for those topics. I took some notes on my twitter around September 9, 2009.

Anyhow, the dude is getting love from...drumroll please...New Jersey press.

OK, OK, some Anthropologist getting local press and love from the triple A is not really why this is important.

What's important is his explanation of why he got into Anthropology in the first place, transitioning from being a Doctor.

From via the Triple A Twitter

The question of how ethically any superpower intervenes — how it manages the politics and inequality of that relationship — is the work that absorbs Professor Didier Fassin.

The James D. Wolfensohn Professor at the Institute for Advanced Study here, Fassin is a medical doctor turned anthropologist turned philosophical gadfly, all in the service of insisting that the right questions be asked when one country storms into another with planeloads of food or soldiers.

“This is not meant to be a critique from the outside, but really trying to get inside the logic of humanitarianism to see what is gained and what is lost when a country does this,” Fassin, 55, said during an interview at his Institute office last week. “What are the impasses or the ambivalence that you bring to that situation?

“It’s not rejecting humanitarian action, it’s bringing the voice of the people, it’s being concerned with their identity and not avoiding the question of social justice. These are not contradictory. In my work I’m not describing an ideal way of dealing with these problems but rather a more realistic way of looking at them.

“Bringing intelligibility to the world. This is really what anthropology is about.”

I wonder if he could come speak at our next Anthro grad meeting. : )

"Design Ethnography" and Sex

For those of us that had the Theory class with Scott Wilson, an article talking about "Design ethnography" from Psychology Today

One of the techniques that companies like Apple use to identify and develop hit products is called design ethnography. It's a powerful tool for building hit products. Design ethnography takes the position than human behavior and the ways in which people construct and make meaning of their worlds and their lives can be observed in such a way that unarticulated and tacit needs and desires can be uncovered.

For example, a watch designer understands that the human need for status is just as vital as the need to tell time. In a traditional product survey, the questions are all about function. But in an ethnographic expedition, the designer observes the wearer of the watch in the field; he gathers firsthand data about the subtle clues and emotions that the subject might reveal. Hence, design ethnographers can unlock powerful market opportunities by seeing beyond than what people say... to see how they feel but cannot express.

If we turn our attention to the institution of marriage, one common disagreement with older couples is the common argument over how much sex is enough...when you think like a design ethnographer, your job is to delve down below the superficial issues, where something profound can usually be unraveled.

Asian Americans are like homosexuals....

"Elite Asian Americans are like homosexuals in that their claims to moral citizenship rest not so much on suffering (thought that continues as they are targeted by hate crimes) but on the revelation of their important and diverse roles in a more complex American nation." - Aihwa Ong, Buddha Is Hiding

I LOL'ed at that. It's only a simily, but I don't know that for purposes of a public audience it was an association that "needed" to be made. As if Asian Americans need to be feminized some more.

The Cambodian Arts Exhibition in Photos

So, a few of us have this class called "Historical Ethnography." It was centered on putting on this exhibit, which happened just yesterday at a local park in Long Beach.

Results of the class are as follows:

See that label? They put us in charge of that!

Hean Pin, Kingpin of the Cambodian game, Sey

Graduate Students. In Long Beach.

Useful Links

Just also want to use this space to collect good links on Anthropology.

MIT has open courseware which has syllabi and readings from courses they offer.

An Anthropology listserv tends to blow up my inbox and sometimes the debates they engage in might actually be interesting

As from me, I've saved a bunch of stuff over the years:

We've got my wordpress site:

My delicious site: with tags such as Theory, Anthrodiscipline, Academia, Psychoanthro, Medanthro, and Humanevolution

My stuff from Google Reader: My Shared Items, My starred items, Anthropology and Sociology News, Anthropology Discipline, Anthropology Journals, Medical Anthropology

Justice for Filipino American Veterans

So...I just wanted to share with everyone an article I wrote about Filipino American veterans.

This past Veteran's Day, fellow graduate student Alex Montaces and I both attended a parade/march in Los Angeles on behalf of Filipino American Veterans from World War II. This is about the 12th year that they're having the March, and they've been organizing on behalf of these veterans for over 20 year.

Unlike the American world war Veterans, who received the benefits of the GI Bill, went on to college, and bought houses and made their way up to the middle-classes, a lot of these vets are now in their 90s, US citizens, still pretty piss poor, and have been granted piecemeal benefits.

Last year, Obama's bill included a bill that would give US-based Filipino American veterans a one-time lump sum of $15,000, while those elsewhere would receive $9,000.

Filipino American Veterans were promised citizenship and benefits similar to the American soldiers in 1941. This was to help squeeze Japan. In 1946, congress decided that it would be "impractical" to pay the 250,000 Filiipino soldiers.

And so the veterans have been fighting for ever since 1946.

Transcriptions and Pain

Trying to get through my first round of transcriptions.

I was warned that for every hour I had on tape, there would be an additional 3 hours transcribing.

Currently, I am barely 45 seconds into a 26-minute tape. I am already annoyed at how I sound, the low quality sound I got, and various questions I couldn't think to follow up on.

Mostly annoyed at the low quality sound. Mine is a $60 Olympus recorder with a USB. I had a microphone, but I think the microphone may have just fubared the quality of recording. I can barely hear anything, and I'm having to go back and forth 6-7 times to get a word.

It didn't help that he kind of didn't speak into the microphone.