A New Year at Home

It’s warming up (20’s!) as I get ready to publish this post, but with the wind chill these past few days hovering around 0° F, it has seemed an ideal time to crawl into my  hibernaculum and do some intense writing, thinking and planning. It’s a new year and I have an agenda. I’ll spare you the quotidian details of my resolutions, but I do want to outline some of the topics that merit special attention in my own work and those which I intend to attack in the coming months. I’ll never waste time apologizing for the general dearth of posts–I will post when I have something worthy to share. In any case,  I’ve been busy–doing anthropology!

Colleague and dear friend, Ellen Rovner, and I co-wrote and presented a PowerPoint talk (accompanying slideshow with text attached) at the November AAA annual meeting in Chicago–Home: Structures Real and Imagined . What had initially sounded like a simple idea turned out to be a huge amount of work and logistically difficult (since we live three and a half hours apart) but was, in the end, vastly rewarding. I’ll offer some observations on that experience–what I learned, what inspired me and what made me think. At that same meeting I attended a most constructive and engaging workshop sponsored by the society for Visual Anthropology, and facilitated, to my great delight, by one of the few other ethnographers currently studying the ballroom world, Jonathan Marion of the University of Arkansas. This was an opportunity to meet someone who shares my fascination with a particular social world, learn some rudimentary skills for using images in my work (critical in inquiries that focus on a richly visual world like that of dance), and see some of his own great shots of great ballroom dancers, all in all a satisfying and productive morning.

Numerous other workshops and talks broadened my horizons–which have narrowed somewhat due to my cloistered existence since grad school. It felt rejuvenating to re-engage with current discourses in the field, to see old friends and meet some new ones. Ellen and I savored several fantastic meals and I got to enjoy a brief visit with my stepdaughter, a lifelong Chicago resident, scholar and educator in her own right, and major foodie–we did have fun! On the last day we wiled away the afternoon at the Art Institute. Much to our surprise, upon entering the Institute’s current exhibition, “Art and Appetite: American Painting, Culture, and Cuisine,” (there until January 27th, for anyone who might be able to nip over there and view it–I highly recommend) we encountered the Norman Rockwell painting, “Freedom from Want,” that we had featured in the first slide of our presentation. There it was, in the flesh, so to speak, a very special treat and fitting end to our trip.

I’ve just published a review of one book on language (see post of January 6) and have agreed to review another–Allan Bell’s Guidebook to Sociolinguistics (2014) for the (Wiley) Journal Gender and Language. I will post that review once it is in print. Delving back into Linguistics feels a little like having a date with an old flame and not being able to remember why in the world you ever parted. Fortunately, I’ve kept up with some of the major epistemological threads and journals in linguistics. In addition, when it comes down to it, ethnography is ethnography. Whether one’s inquiry is focused on language and communication, household economies, or ballroom dancing, the mechanics of getting a particular form of data might differ slightly (word lists and tokens of vowels versus budget items or stories about how someone got into a hobby) but the skills are the same–engaging interlocutors, working your way around their self-consciousness, showing sincere interest and developing empathy–doing your best to acquire the native point of view.  

Topics I’ll be exploring and posting on in the weeks to come include:

  • Backing Line of Dance: The Gendered Deictic of the Ballroom
  • Will the Real Rich Please Stand Up? Exploring Perceptions, Evaluations and Discourses of Class in Contemporary Culture
  • What’s Fairness Got to Do With It?:  Households, Gender and Money

On the nuts and bolts side, my goal is to learn how to use all of the great tools to make the interface of this blog more engaging, to learn the ins and outs of using media and begin linking the websites and texts I find edifying and special.

I look forward to publishing these posts and to hearing your feedback. A Happy, Healthy and Productive 2014!

Advertisements


Categories: General

2 replies

  1. In responae to your fairness article, as the mother of six, I comment as a woman of experience. Fairness is not fixed. It changes in different situations. In the case you cared about, if you had not made an issue of it, the children would have thought it perfectly fair that the youngest (smallest) sleep on the cot. You make it even up by giving the youngest another special privilege such as first choice when there are three pieces of chocolate left or the window seat on the airplane. Unless one of the children is especially selfish, they can figure out what is fair.

    I remember one time our youngest daughter asked “Why doesn’t anything ever start with me?’. I took notice. I also used to do things like count the tater tots and announce how many therw were for each so the fastest eaters didn’t gobble them up.

    Also I am a strong proponent of purposely letting things be unfair once in while so your children can handle “life”. I’ve seen brilliant people come apart because they have never learned to cope with hard knocks. So this is part of our reposibility as parents.

    • Thank you, Merri. As a mother of six, your experience does trump mine for sure! I love the idea of letting the youngest take the cot and then making it up elsewhere. I think many parents all do that, continually micro-balance the scales of justice among the children without even thinking that much about it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

George Lakoff

George Lakoff has retired as Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley. He is now Director of the Center for the Neural Mind & Society (cnms.berkeley.edu).

The Girl With The Tree Tattoo

Keeping It Real About Ballroom

DanceHistorian.com

Raw rantings on dance origins, evolutions, and lost forms

Explorations of Style

A Blog about Academic Writing

Career Linguist

We studied linguistics. What's next?

TIME

Current & Breaking News | National & World Updates

Doug's Archaeology

Investigating the Profession and Research

Organic Torah

A resource for living wisdom in a complex world

Anthropology-News

culture, language, science

Welcome to the AAA Blog

Conversations in Anthropology

Filthy Monkey Men

We did, in fact, evolve from filthy monkey men

Archaeology 3D

Towards a 3D documentation of the archaeological heritage

anthropod

What a cultural anthropologist thinks about.

Ambidancetrous: The Blog

culture, language, science

George Lakoff

George Lakoff has retired as Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley. He is now Director of the Center for the Neural Mind & Society (cnms.berkeley.edu).

The Girl With The Tree Tattoo

Keeping It Real About Ballroom

DanceHistorian.com

Raw rantings on dance origins, evolutions, and lost forms

Explorations of Style

A Blog about Academic Writing

Career Linguist

We studied linguistics. What's next?

TIME

Current & Breaking News | National & World Updates

Doug's Archaeology

Investigating the Profession and Research

Organic Torah

A resource for living wisdom in a complex world

Anthropology-News

culture, language, science

Welcome to the AAA Blog

Conversations in Anthropology

Filthy Monkey Men

We did, in fact, evolve from filthy monkey men

Archaeology 3D

Towards a 3D documentation of the archaeological heritage

anthropod

What a cultural anthropologist thinks about.

Ambidancetrous: The Blog

culture, language, science

%d bloggers like this: