Friday, July 27, 2012

Finds Them and Kills Them: Mirrors of Masculinity and Violence

Earlier in the spring semester, I was doing a fairly standard discussion on cross-cultural gender diversity in order to illustrate the constructed character of gender. Like a greatest hits of anthropology, we came to the general institution of Two Spirit, sanctioned identity(ies) among many Native American societies that accommodates people that most Americans would classify as transgender (and many...most would stigmatize as well?). This is usually a relatively easy talk to engage students with as they’re much more titillated by sex and gender than subsistence and economics. A modification to this particular class session amplified that interest level. This time, I added a new individual to the discussion, Osh Tisch, a member of the Crow nation who lived in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. Osh Tisch fits the general concept of Two Spirit, but my students were much more taken with her than the other peoples profiled. Osh Tisch acted like an exotic prism--talking about this very different cultural institutions broke down the students’ own views on gender making them much clearer.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Genes, Identity, Authenticity, Rigged Systems and Justin Bieber

I’m not super proud of this, but as I was surfing through news stories this morning, I felt compelled to click on a story which highlighted excerpts of an upcoming Rolling Stone interview with Justin Bieber. I don’t know why I might be a little bit fascinated by a celebrity, who appears about 13 years old, but seems to attract a lot of strange, young, lustful attention. I guess there’s just something creepy about it all that I find intriguing. Anthropologically, he also seems a nexus of gender, generation, sex, art, commodification, and now...views European Americans often hold about the place in society held by Native North Americans.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Early (and I mean early) Immigration and Genetic Testing: Why Isn't Everyone On Board?

The big news in the anthropological world of the past few days has been the stone tool and genetic evidence coming out of the University of Oregon’s field school at Paisley Caves. It’s exciting stuff. It has, however, again brought up the long-running contentious relationship between anthropologists (i.e. Western Science) and Native American communities--in this case, particularly those in the US, as only two tribal groups agreed to having genetic samples used in the study.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Of Gods and Tacos

One of the most consistent themes in this blog has been my constant search for good examples and/or metaphors that make anthropological ideas more accessible. In another effort to get my blogging momentum back, here’s a quick take on a recent inspiration.