What Halloween Masks

A very thoughtful consideration of Halloween from the eyes of little children. Perhaps because I have spent the past two days at grief workshops, this article made me wonder if forcing little children to confront death and danger while playing at adult roles and power serves a greater function or at least has the opportunity to. The power inversion of being “grown up” for a day and the freedom of taboo and prohibition breaking is empowering, perhaps, empowering enough to help prepare youngesters to face the danger and death they are forced to confront. Does confront death and danger in this controlled fashion (it may not seem controlled to the kid but it definitely is) help prepare them for facing death and danger the rest of the year? It would definitely be interesting to study why children choose to dress up as whoever or whatever. I think there is are a lot of ethnopsychology questions that could be asked in this arena as well.

Welcome to the AAA Blog

October 31st is America’s curious anomaly.  On October’s last day, as trees defoliate and nature ebbs towards the deadness of winter, parents mark the day by lifting  prohibitions.  From sugar treats to stranger visiting, what is usually forbidden falls within kids’ reach.  That day children lampoon adults, dressing up in roles of mature power (princesses, firemen, astronauts, pirates); kids arrive at strangers’ doorsteps and ceremonially threaten the grown-ups within with a veiled threat, “trick or treat.”  Without further ado  adults  hand over candy, normally a controlled substance in children’s lives.

Remarkably moms and dads don’t resent the entailed power inversion.  They support it – helping with children’s costumes and following close enough behind as young ones ring doorbells. Parents say they enjoy seeing their kids range around the neighborhood to collect booty.   On this festival of inversion, when the small powerless become mighty and the big powerful do their…

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Call for Managing Editor

The Society for the Anthropology of Consciousness is looking for a new editor for their journal Anthropology of Consciousness.

Anthropology of Consciousness Open Access

CALL FOR MANAGING EDITOR

Anthropology of Consciousness

DEADLINE FOR APPLICATIONS: December 15, 2014

The Executive Board of the Society for the Anthropology of Consciousness is now inviting applications for Managing Editor of its peer-reviewed journal, Anthropology of Consciousness. Interested applicants should submit a CV, a written statement specifically addressing the qualification criteria listed below and her/his vision for how the journal might evolve. Please send all materials to Beth Savage, SAC Secretary/Treasurer at savagebetha@gmail.comFinal selection will follow an interview, preferably before or at the 2015 SAC Spring Meeting in Oregon.  The three-year term begins August 1, 2015.

Qualifications for Anthropology of Consciousness Managing Editor:

  • Demonstrated interest in and knowledge of SAC’s areas of research and scholarship.

  • Experience and knowledge in publishing, editing, and journal administration.

  • Excellent written and oral communication skills.

  • Higher degree in anthropology or closely related field.

  • Proven record of refereed publications.

  • Ability to adapt…

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Mobile Health in Context

Mobile Health in Context: How Information is Woven Into Our Lives  

@SusannahFox @PewResearch

Susannah Fox from Pew Review Research put together an excellent presentation of the latest health and digital technology related statistics.  The slides are concise, accessible, and thought provoking.  Can we put cell phones to use improve health and health information seeking strategies?   

I came across this presentation of data at exactly the right time thanks to Carol Torgan.  The information will be incredibly insightful to my future dissertation research and will go along way in demonstrating the significance of my proposed research.

About Me

My name is Sydney Yeager. I am cultural anthropologist and an ABD PhD candidate at SMU (Southern Methodist University) PhD program.  My primary research interested are focused in digital anthropology and medical anthropology.  In particular, I plan to conduct my PhD dissertation research on emerging grieving practices in digital spaces, with particular focus on Facebook, and their impact on participants’ lives and social well-being.  Additionally, my medical interests are in the areas of neuroanthropology, consciousness, biocultural medical anthropology, and social well-being.  I am interested in the anthropological study of friendship, community, and religion as well.  More broadly speaking, my research interests include folk healing, spirituality, identity, consciousness, communitias, the processes of acculturation, education, community, cultural change, and the impact of our increasingly digitalized social lives.

I am  on the Executive Board of the Society for the Anthropology of Consciousness.  I serve as SAC’s first Media & Social Media Chair beginning in November.  Check out SAC’s blog here and our website here.  SAC has a nice Twitter and Facebook following as well.

I have also recently taken over the responsibility of convener (a strange title, currently the only leadership position) for the AAA’s new Digital Anthropology Interest Group, fondly known as DANG.  I occasionally write for their blog and manage DANG’s G+ and Facebook accounts.

Contact Me:

slyeager@smu.edu

@slyphi

G +

Facebook

 

DANG Call for Papers

DANG Call for Papers

Deadline April 10th (To Meet April 15th AAA Deadline for Sessions)

Email Abstracts to sydneyyeager@gmail.com

Digital Anthropologists’ Current Engagements with 21st Century Publics: #Digital Publics, #Ethics, #Methods, #Insights

The future publics, which anthropologists of the 21st Century will engage with, occupy a social space in which the digital and the physical overlap.  Therefore, ethnographic study of these future publics merits consideration of the corresponding and relevant digital social spheres.

In light of this year’s conference theme “Future Publics, Current Engagements,” this panel intends to demonstrate how digital anthropologists are currently engaging with and researching “digital publics.”   This panel will highlight the current engagements of anthropologists conducting field research which bridges the overlap between digital publics and physical public spaces.  This panel strives to foster a discussion of the methods, ethics, and insights that Digital Anthropology can offer for “engaging with future publics” as digital technology continues to become a part of the everyday lives of the people anthropologists study around the world.  Major questions include: How do anthropologists collect and analyze data while doing digital field work?   What are the ethical issues facing anthropologists who rely on visual data and texts collected in the digital publics of the internet (social networking sites, forums, websites, etc)?  How does digital anthropology intersect with the physical as people increasingly act in physical space in response to the digital realm?  What kind of “future publics” are being constructed through today’s “current engagements” by users and anthropologists in the cyberspatial plazas of the internet (social networking sites, etc.)?

Furthermore, as digital technology continues to become a part of the everyday lives of the people anthropologists study, what insights can Digital Anthropology offer the broader discipline for “engaging with future publics”?  A discussion of ethnographic examples and evidence of the interactions between digital/online and physical life is pertinent to both the future of anthropological engagements with the public and to current concerns about digital studies in anthropology.

Building off goals established in the first organizational meeting of the newly formed Digital Anthropology interest group (DANG), this panel will address critical questions relating to the methods and ethics of digital fieldwork.  Presenters will demonstrate the applicability of insights, drawing from their current engagements with digital publics to advance the discipline of anthropology and prepare anthropologist for engagement with future publics.

 
Digital Anthropologists’ Current Engagements with 21st Century Publics: #Digital Publics, #Ethics, #Methods, #Insights

DANG Call for Papers

Deadline April 10th (To Meet April 15th AAA Deadline for Sessions)

We are seeking presenters with papers which will address questions of ethics in digital anthropology.   We want to include papers which demonstrate innovative methods solutions to issues particular to digital fieldwork.  Papers with findings and insights applicable to digital anthropology and the future of anthropology as a whole are strongly encouraged.  We are particularly interested in having papers that discuss the overlap and interactions between digital/online and the physical.   We invite presenters to submit paper abstracts pertinent to the themes outlined above; however, we do not wish to limit abstracts to strictly these themes.

We invite abstracts of 250 words to be submitted by April 10, 2013 to sydneyyeager@gmail.com  Look for email confirmation.

 

Irish America Day

Americans in Ireland during the first week of July may be surprised to learn Ireland celebrates the 4th of July.  It seems to largely be a celebration of Americaness, the Irish-American connection, and Americana.

Image

Photo borrowed from http://irishamerica.com/2012/05/irish-america-day-4th-of-july-in-ireland/

When I asked about why one middle age gentleman back in 2005, he told me that it was because Ireland does not celebrate its own Independence Day.  He claimed the Republic of Ireland doesn’t celebrate its Independence Day, which would be April 24, because all of Ireland is not yet free.  Now, this is obviously a very political statement and while from the outside the reason can be debated, from the inside the fact is they don’t celebrate their Independence Day, but they do celebrate ours.

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Photo originally from http://4thjulylimerick.com/

Having been in Ireland for two US Independence Days now, I have to say that the Irish celebration of American Independence feels a lot like the American celebration of St. Patrick’s Day.  In some places it is referred to as America Day and it is celebrated with parades, fireworks, festivals, and races.  In our immediate area there was a bicycle race and festivals with fireworks in close by cities.  By and large, it is an incredibly curious phenomenon for Americans to experience.  In someways, it is honestly a bit humbling to have my national identity so succinctly summed up in Milk Shakes, Pizza, Hot Dogs, BBQ, Mark Twain, Fireworks, and Rock-n-Roll Music.  At the same time, America Day seems to be a time to acknowledge Ireland’s strong connection to Ireland.  Famous Americans of Irish descent such as JFK.   As an American descended from people who left Ireland in some of the earliest waves of the Irish diaspora, this celebration definitely offers a curious moment of solidarity and connection.

Ireland Week 1

Week 1 Ireland – Dublin

Highlights from my first week in Ireland.

First, I think I left out one tiny detail in explaining my plans for Ireland.  I guess I should mention that assisting me in doing all that stuff I mentioned in previous posts, is my travel companion Greg Wright: part-time research assistant, part-time body guard (my mom thinks I need one?), part-time 2 am sounding board, and full-time boyfriend.

We arrived in Dublin around 8 am on Thursday June 7.   While I was still smiling then, I definitely would not advise arriving in a new country in the morning hours if it can be helped.  Unfortunately for me, the cheapest airfare didn’t really give me any options on timing.  If you do arrive in the morning, make sure you’ve worked it out in advance so that you have bed upon arrival.  Everyone may not need a place to crash after a 13 plus hour flight, but honestly it is a good safety precaution either way because even if you don’t pass out you need a safe place for your luggage.  No one wants to be dragging a suitcase any further than necessary.

That said, we got a great deal on a hostel in Dublin and were able to rest up and try to coop with the jet lag.  It was situated in the older part of the city which had lots of interesting things to see while getting adjusted to the country.

We stayed in Dublin near the River Liffey, while I met with a professor at the University College Dublin and explored the UCD’s Folklore Collection as a potential resource for my research.

I spoke with Dr. Ronnie Moore and got clear direction about the possibilities of my research.  These meetings were immensely informative for my research.  Perhaps, the biggest take away for me from our talks was a realization that focusing on “healers” per-say is not really the way to go.  In regard to Irish folk cures, the people who “have a cure” for the most part possess it because of unusual characteristic or circumstance or as a birth right of sorts.  Instead, I think I will give my attention to the knowledge of folk medicine and the use of folk healing by the average person.  More on the contemplation of this talk later.

What is the Place of Emotion in Humanistic Empiricism?

Recently, someone close to me drew the connection between the demand for the removal of emotion from scholarship and the continued presence of underlying masculine bias in academia. I was taken aback by the implications of this connection and my blindness to it.  In reading Ruth Behar’s The Vulnerable Observer and “Believing in Anthropology as Literature,” the relevance of this masculine bias and its demand for anthropology to be devoid of emotion becomes all the more apparent as do the distinct limitations it creates.  Behar warns, “Most efforts to bring emotions and feelings, including love and gratitude, into our work are likely to be dismissed as ‘feminine sentimentality’” (Behar 2011: 110).  Personal narratives, and even life histories of our informants, can be seen as risky within anthropological forms of writing. These forms of writing often have clear emotional components which are paradoxically seen as compelling and unreliably subjective.  In a discipline struggling for a humanistic empiricism, objective detachment is clung to as a means of laying claim to a scientific ideal. Yet experts from any of the hard sciences openly display emotions over their research. Scientists get excited when they make monumental discoveries; their work can also disappoint them, worry them, and even disturb them. The influence of a scientist’s passions for their work over the particular research questions posed receives little critique within the “hard” sciences.  While a geologist’s zealous passion for his or her research rarely impacts the chemical test results run on soil samples, an anthropologist’s empathetic sorrow can influence analysis of interviews. As anthropologists do we claim our fears, our sorrows, our joys as evidence of observable responses to human realities of the worlds in which we work or do we ignore those unquantifiable internal experiences so that we can focus on our observations of the people and phenomena we study?

Maynes, Pierce, and Laslett argued that the motivation behind including life histories and personal narratives in research involving both the social sciences and humanities is connected to the particularly apparent humanness of this data and its ability to generate a direct dialogue between people and the theories written about them (Maynes et al 2008). They write, “One primary motivation is the desire to examine varieties of individual selfhood and agency ‘from below’ band and practice, as constructed in people’s articulation of self understandings” (Maynes et al 2008: 1).The impact of macro-level forces on an individual lives at the micro-level are brought to life, through life histories which can be employed to try the very human realities of macro policies and forces.  Well utilized life histories can be a powerful tool for anthropological literature which allow the author to provoke emotion without being seen as overly emotional him or herself. Life history becomes a “testimonio” in feminist and activist work, which utilizes such stories to empower a person’s story to become a symbol of the movement (Behar 1996: 27). Life histories and personal narratives have the potential to invigorate ethnographic writing with the type of evocative testimony which directs emotional response and supports social change.

The reality of Behar’s struggle over how much of her to include in “Death and Memory” epitomizes the academic compulsion to remove all hints of emotions.  She warns, “to write vulnerable is to open Pandora’s box” (Behar 1996: 19). Often, the human reality of emotional truth is the story we, as anthropologists are unwilling to tell.  As Behar’s Aunt Rebeca reminds us, anthropology is “the study of people” (Behar 1996: 4). If that is true, then how do we tell the story of people devoid of a basic component of what it means to be human? If the anthropologist is the instrument through which human realities are observed and cultural data is collected, then emotional responses which they shape the anthropologist cannot be ignored.