Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Cyber “Stalking” (Not *That* Kind of Stalking)

I had an interesting conversation with a fellow grad student at the AAAs about “stalking” people online. This is the word we used, though I want to make clear that we were not in fact talking about scary, dangerous, creepy, actual stalking. Rather we were talking about using the Internet to gather information about people we were curious about. Still sounds kind of like stalking doesn’t it? Well, since we both agreed on that point and could not think of another commonly accepted word to discuss the topic, we talked about “stalking” people at the conference.

Monday, November 25, 2013

AAA Series: Conference Tidal Waves

I just returned from the AAAs in Chicago (the American Anthropological Association meetings – not the other AAA) and I am again motivated with ideas for this blog; not to mention flooded with ideas for my dissertation, future research, places I’d like to work when I graduate, and a million other academic, professional, and personal insights for my life. This is why I love conferences. In the next few days, as my mind mulls over all that I learned over the last 4 days, I will be posting a series on my experiences, insights, and new questions.

However … as great as this intellectual stimulation was, in truth, it wasn't all roses and my love/hate relationship with conferences continues.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Unnecessary College: Part 1: The Money Myth

This past weekend Bill Maher had Mike Rowe on his show. (See clip above.) Mike talked about the plethora of blue collar jobs going unfilled in America - where unemployment is high - because these jobs are not sexy. High schools, Mike says, are pushing everyone into going to college, whether or not the kids want to. I would argue, after being both a college student, TA, and a lecturer now, that high schools, "common knowledge", parents, and who knows what else, are also pushing kids to go to college whether or not they are really ready. I realize that this may seem weird coming from a dorky PhD student who has literally devoted her life to academia, but college is not the end-all-be-all (or at least it shouldn't be). College is not for everyone. In general, this is has nothing to do with intelligence, but with personality and differing aptitudes. Unfortunately, this topic is too big for just one post, so after the jump I will begin by discussing financial aspects of college that go beyond what "common knowledge" likes to pretend.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

On Memory, Or the Importance of Fieldnotes

This post is a personal account of how memory, as discussed in the above video, effected my recollections of fieldwork once I came home.

The importance of taking detailed notes while in the field and doing interviews was stressed in every methods and research class I took throughout my college tenure. I never doubted my teachers were right, but as with many lessons, knowing something intellectually and understanding it experientially are two very different levels of knowledge. On an intellectual level I knew what these professors were saying was correct, but it wasn't until recently that I experienced the reality of it.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Domesticism–The Forgotten Phase of Reverse Culture Shock

I am 6 months home from almost 3 years living in Asia. For a while I thought I was over my culture shock, but truth be told, I’m not so sure anymore. I’ve realized that I seem to be going through another phase of integration – or discovery; one that doesn’t appear to have a name or even a mention on any of the culture shock posts I’ve found online, so I am dubbing it domesticism. So what is domesticism? Well, in order for one to understand I need to give an introduction of the beginning stages of reverse culture shock (RCS) because I find that many people have quite simply never heard of this before. For those of you who have lived abroad and don’t feel like reading a tldr post, skip to the 3rd from last paragraph for my explanation of domesticism.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Experiences in Teaching – The Hardest Lecture of My Life

Last night* I gave the hardest lecture of my life. Perhaps I should have known it would be difficult. Perhaps it is best that I did not, or I may not have ever touched on this topic, as important as it is.

The topic was violence. The assigned reading was a chapter from their textbook on the cultural construction of violence. The week before my students turned in papers on interviews they conducted about identity. Having grown up largely sheltered from any seriously violent conflicts and coming off of grading these papers, I decided the best way for me to prepare for this lecture was to do the assignment myself. So I interviewed an Iraq war vet and presented the interview to my class.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Writer’s Block

I came home from the field in time for last Christmas with no intention of beginning on my dissertation for a couple of months. It had been 2 years since I’d seen my family and friends, and on top of that I needed to prepare a syllabus for the first class I would be teaching on my own (as a lecturer rather than as a TA). Besides, I was advised to take a break before delving into writing.

So in the beginning I wasn’t worried, but as the weeks passed and I still hadn’t written anything I began to worry. The problem was I didn’t know what to write. It was the strangest thing. I spent over 2 years (close to 3) in the field and had a mountain of data, but I was so overwhelmed by it all that I couldn’t start.

169 days into being home the first words finally came to me.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

乾杯 Or Knowing the Mind of Another

Much has been written in English about the drinking culture of Taiwan and other places, but mostly these blogs focus on giving foreigners the surface knowledge they need to survive it. It is not uncommon for people to even lament the necessity of drinking for business, or to look down upon it. As a foreigner I can understand how this ritual can appear chaotic and pointless to the untrained eye, but this quick judgement is far from the reality of the situation. Drinking in Taiwan is about trust and 關係 (guanxi - relationships)...and maybe pride a little.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Personal Definitions of the Word “Game”

How would you define the word game? It seems like such a simple word. I was sure I knew how I would define it: in my academic speech, “A game is a semi-bounded and socially legitimate domain of contrived contingency that generates interpretable outcomes.” Actually that’s Thomas Malaby’s definition (Beyond Play: A New Approach to Games, in Games and Culture April 2007 vol. 2no. 2 95-113) but I like it. In my every day speech I would say a game is any semi-bound activity or product that serves no direct productive function other than socializing or diversion. On a personal level I would call both of these definitions working definitions, but they served as a basis from which I could communicate with others, so they were useful…

Until they weren’t.

I had a “lost in translation” moment. The connotative meaning of the word game had changed in my every-day lexicon without me even realizing it. It wasn’t until I “misused” the word (“misused” if I was going by my former definitions) that I realized the change occurred. All this after struggling through understanding Taiwanese variants of this very idea, and I come home and suddenly I begin to question my own conceptualization of games. How did this happen?