Friday, July 20

new adress

this blog is now continued at:

Wednesday, February 15

vulgarity debate...revisited

In an Anthropology News article called "Persian blogs against the dual language" ORKIDEH BEHROUZAN, a PhD-student at Oxford makes an interesting point connected to the vulgarity debate, that was brought up by Alireza Doostdar in the American Anthropologist. She says:
Today in Iran many experience a dual life, and
speak what I call a “dual language.”There is an
expansion of ambiguous talk routinely affecting
all aspects of a person’s daily life. Lying,
hypocrisy, fear of punishment and being judged,
and an urge to please superiors are all common.
In opposition to dual life in Iran, many young
Iranians are increasingly turning to Persian blogs
as gateways for speaking out.

Regardless of how we understand the vulgarity
debate, and whether or not vulgarity applies to
all non-literary forms of writing and all taboo
subjects discussed, this so-called “vulgar sprit” in
Persian weblogs is a means of confronting dual
language, by which some bloggers intend to use
somewhat unconventional modes of writing to
express what they understand as their “pure” and
“real self.”

Whether certain trends in blogging can make a
difference in the future of Persian society is a
tempting question. Although we can’t determine
where this path of uncensored self-expression is
leading to at present, there are clues that they will
lead to a promising destination

Saturday, February 4

Mohammad caricatures...

The last few days I had a lot of discussions with friends and family about the cartoons in Jyllands Posten. I read lots of newspaper-articles online as well as Blogposts.

The sources which I found most interesting were Daniel Variscos blog post: Much Ado about Something Rotten in Denmark as well as a blog post by Mona Eltahawy (also quoted by Varisco) called A Mountain Out of a Molehill Over Danish Cartoons.

If you read german, there's a good overview at perlentaucher on the reactions of european media and an entry at wikipedia.

Here is a link to the "mohammed image archive" -
"an archive of numerous depictions of Mohammed to serve as a reminder that such imagery has been part of Western and Islamic culture since the Middle Ages -- and to serve as a resource for those interested in freedom of expression."

Thursday, January 19


I went for a coffee with a friend after classes yesterday. She converted to Islam some time ago and told me about muslim hiphop in german - something I never even knew existed. The band she was so fascinted from is called "ammar114" and all of their songs are freely downloadable. I just tried, but their website seems to be down currently. Anyway, I found a link to a songtext (Schwester) and some of their songs are free for download here.

Monday, January 16

commenting essays...

For the next few days I've got the "pleasure" of commenting about 60 student essays on three different questions (Boas; Levi-Strauss; Mauss & Van Gennep). I've already read a few and what's really surprising to me is the range of quality, because most of my students are in their first year of studies and should therefore have roughly the same background. And for those of you, whoe are curious, here are two positive examples...

Tuesday, January 10

fighting with complexity

I'm trying to find a nice'n'easy explanation of the term "complex society" and seem to get more lost, the more I am searching.

Ulf Hannerz: [the term complex society]"is used somewhat imprecisely to refer mostly to societies with a developed division of labour and with sizeable populations. State organiszation, urbanism, organized social inequality and literacy tend also to be aspects of the complexity involved. (in Barnard & Spencer 2002)

Sydel Silverman: The term complex societies haslong been used in anthropology to refer to state-organized systems, including those of premodern times [...], those of the modern industrialized era, and those whose states stem from postcolonial or other recent political transformations.
(p. 292 in Barth, Gingrich, Parkin, Silverman 2005)

entry at wikipedia: a complex society is a social formation that is otherwise described as a formative or developed state.

Wilson/Introduction to Archeology: Societies which show in particular increased specialization and occupational separation. As inferred by the social typology set out by Elman Service, in complex societies, people "no longer combine, say, the tasks of obtaining food, making tools, or performing religious rights but become specialists at one or other of these tasks"

interesting comment by Hannerz:
The rather loose usage my be criticized - what society is realy not complex? - but anthropologists have obviously found it a convenient alternative to such terms as "modern society", "industrial society" or "civilization", with which it may partly overlap but which entail emphases or connotations one may prefer to avoid.
(again in Barnard & Spencer 2002)


Thomas Hylland Eriksen is blogging at Savageminds since yesterday:

I expect to submit a handful of blogs on a daily or bi-daily basis for a week or two, and my chosen topic is a staple on this site, namely the role of anthropologists and anthropology in a wider public sphere.

So he will write on a topic that he also adresses in his book Engaging Anthropology (Amazon)(see here, here and here for a review by Lorenz Kazaleh at

Instead of repeating myself, I'll make a new proposal for productive public engagement in each posting on this site. Tomorrow, I'll give you the story of a sport club in Drammen (a town near Oslo, where I live) and its struggles to incorporate minority children in its activities, and suggest how anthropologists might intervene. It goes without saying that I'm keen to receive your views, objections and suggestions as we go along.

Apart from interesting discussions that will surely follow his posts, there's something else happening here, which I want to keep an eye on: How are relations within academia influenced if well established anthropologists start blogging? I guess, like Will, I can say: "I'm looking forward to reading your posts, Thomas."

Tuesday, December 27

Cultural choices in the aftermath of the Tsunami

I listened to a broadcast on Ö1 today, it was about the Nicobar Islands. The presenter (Andreas Obrecht) spoke to Simron Jit Singh and Oliver Lehman who published a book called: Die Nikobaren. Das kulturelle Erbe nach dem Tsunami. [The Nicobar Islands. Cultural choices in the aftermath of the Tsunami.] Singh is research fellow at the IFF Social Ecology, Lehman chief editor of "Universum Magazin".
The book is published in both english and german and aimed at helping the survivors of the catastrophe to revive their traditions and customs. 50 of these books were sent to the Nicobar Islanders to "give these people a manual for their own, lost culture".
"The publishing house Czernin will donate all profits from the book’s
sale to the Sustainable Indigenous Futures (SIF) Fund, which supports
medium and long-term development projects for indigenous peoples from
Tsunami-affected areas on the Nicobar and Andaman Islands."


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