Should I Celebrate National Anthropology Day?

My thoughts on National Anthropology Day!

The Geek Anthropologist

By Marie-Pierre Renaud

Tomorrow is the first ever National Anthropology Day.

As explained on the official page of the event, the American Anthropological Association (AAA) decided that February 19th is the perfect day to celebrate ”anthropology and anthropologists across the world through the declaration of National Anthropology Day”.

Why the 19th of February? Alex Golub already addressed the relevance of this date in anthropology in a post published on Savage Minds. Give yourself a treat and read his other posts on the topic, he is pretty excited about tomorrow! (Like a geek the night before a convention).

The date is not what I have doubts about. The word ”national” is what makes the whole idea of this celebration a little bit disappointing for me. I am not from the United States, and this is a national celebration. If the AAA intends tomorrow to be about anthropologists from around the…

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I Love Engaging With Other Bloggers! (Why did I ever stop?) + Some Goals!

Goals Image on That Sort of Thing BlogAs I was providing feedback to other bloggers in the Community pool last weekend, I realized that I had truly missed interacting with other bloggers. So why on Earth did I stop for almost a year?

When The Geek Anthropologist (TGA) was turned into a community blog in 2014, a lot of my energy was absorbed into this transition. My co-editors and I had to:

  • Change the layout of the blog;
  • Create a logo that was something else than my personal avatar;
  • Think of a list of projects for the following months;
  • Edit the contents of the blog and create new pages;
  • Find new contributors and team members to write on TGA and assist us in management tasks;
  • Etc. Etc.

As I look back now, I am happy with the results. In 2014, our blog had more than double the views it had in 2013. New team members have joined us and several guest bloggers posted on TGA. We published original TGA series and we connected with other anthropologists, geeks and geek anthropologist from around the globe. It’s been a lot of work, but it’s also been great fun and a major learning opportunity.

Sadly, all this work I did to improve TGA came at a cost. And let’s not forget that I was finishing my master’s degree, working part-time and recovering for illness. I had less time to write pieces for TGA and for That Sort of Thing. I also had to cut back on my engagement within the WordPress community. I stopped reading other blogs almost completely and I lost touch with great people who had been supportive of my work even since I create TGA.

Luckily, I was able to attend Montreal WordCamp last fall, and this wonderful event allowed me to take some time to write drafts of posts I want to publish in 2015. I did try to participate actively in Blogging 101 and 201, but I had trouble keeping up with the assignments. I am currently taking part in Blogging 201 once again, and this time I am staying on track and enjoying interacting with classmates.

As part of Blogging 201, I am setting three goals for myself for 2015.

  1. Create an editorial calendar for TGA for March and April before February 28th (already on the way!)
  2. Get 5 guest bloggers to post on TGA.
  3. Interact with other bloggers and members of the TGA community at least once a week for the next three months.

I look forward to making 2015 an even better blogging year than 2014!

Image created using photo ”Mountain Study 3” by Gordon Tarpley on Flickr.

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The Weekly Geekout: Gintama

My latest contribution to The Geek Anthropologist blog is about one of my favorite animes!

The Geek Anthropologist

By Marie-Pierre Renaud

In this science-fiction anime, Edo was recently forced to open its borders to the Amanto, alien races which defeated the samurai in battle. As a result, the samurai have been forbidden to wear and use their swords, their class is in decline and Edo’s society is undergoing deep changes. The anime provides a futuristic analogy of the mid 19th century, during which Japan was forced by the USA to re-open its borders to the Western World. The story follows the samurai Gintoki Sakata who runs a freelance odd jobs business with his friends Kagura, an alien from the Yato clan, and a local boy, Shinpachi Shimura.

This anime is epic. It is compelling. It is hilarious. It is a bit meta. It is completely gross.

You normally would not expect these different qualities in the same show. Yet Gintama has it all.

Several episodes and arcs are beautifully written, bittersweet, epic and…

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Chasing Ice: I remember this from Star Trek

Light spoilers ahead! Go watch Star Trek: The Next Generation episode ”The Inner Light” (Season 5 Episode 25) before reading this post!

In my last post I mentioned the documentary Chasing Ice, which I described as ”a disturbingly beautiful account of the impacts of global warming”.

When I saw it shortly after its release, I was in awe at the beauty of the landscapes photographer James Balog documented. But more importantly, I felt deeply disturbed.

Watching the glaciers melt away at such an impressive speed is shocking even if one already knows the facts about global warming: reading about it and seeing it happen at two very different things.

This is what Balog is counting on. He hopes his documentary will leave future generations with records of the beauty of glaciers, and with a world to live in. With his work, he seeks to bring everyone a better, clearer, and undeniable proof that global warming is real and already has grave consequences.

I must say, if seeing this documentary doesn’t convince you to change your habits and plant a few trees, then chances are you have a clinical denial problem. 

Then again, people tend to be dense. People tend to strongly deny global warming. It seems that we won’t react until it’s too late. That brings me to Star Trek.

As an avid science-fiction fan, I am familiar with scenarios involving apocalyptic climate changes. Many episodes from the Star Trek and Stargate franchises, for instance, revolve around a planet on the verge of catastrophe because its inhabitants caused irreparable damage to its ecosystems and atmosphere. Such scenarios can be found in several sci-fi books, short stories, movies, etc. They most likely reflect the issues of our time, including global warming.

Watching Chasing Ice, I couldn’t help but think of my favorite Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, ”The Inner Light’ (Season 5 Episode 25)’.

I won’t summarize the scenario. Go watch the episode. I don’t care if you don’t like sci-fi: watch it. It is regarded as one of the best, if not THE best Star Trek TNG episode. The music and Sir Patrick Stewart’s performance are memorable. Do yourself a favor and watch it.

All I will say is that the episode revolves around a civilisation in denial of its own imminent doom, and their incapacity to stop it. They did not cause the problems they are facing, but the government, knowing there is nothing to be done, denies everything to the public. The inhabitants face increasingly harsh environmental conditions, and realize that their children have no future.

As I sat in the movie theater, looking at the glaciers of Earth melting away forever, I thought of ”The Inner Light”. I thought of many more sci-fi scenarios of the sort. I wondered if we will be dense enough to allow them to come true. I wondered if maybe, we already have.

Learn more

Morgan Gendel, who wrote ”The Inner Light” discusses the episode and its webcomic sequel on Forbes and

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Hate Traffic, Love the Bus: Why Claustrophobia is the Future of Humanity

I'm out of here! (1)It’s back to school week and now that vacation season is over, public transportation is once again filled with swarms of people at peak hours. The streets are also filled with a lot more cars, and drivers are honking at each other in anger at several intersections where there are traffic jams. They’ll have to get used to the increase traffic over the coming weeks.

Looking at the sea of cars yesterday, I thought of how much I hate being stuck in traffic.

I am a little claustrophobic, you see, and I am no fan of feeling confined to a small space like a car. When I think of the record-breaking 12 days traffic jam which occurred in Beijing, China in 2010, I feel chills coming on. I would prefer living through a zombie apocalypse rather than being in such a scenario.

Don’t get me wrong, I am happy to ride a car on a week-long road trip, and enjoy taking the plane a great deal. But put me in a traffic jam for 15 minutes, or make me wait in the passenger seat while you are looking for parking, and I quietly start climbing the walls. I’ll sit peacefully on a plane for hours despite turbulence, but as soon as we land I want to rush out and can’t wait for the doors to open.

Go figure. Phobias are a strange thing. 

My hate of traffic and of travelling by car in the city are among the reasons why I live in a central area, close to the center and my work. It is why I prefer taking the bus, which I don’t have to drive or park, and in which I can sit and read my emails in peace.  I often ride the bus outside of peak hours as my work hours are flexible. And I would gladly pay more rent in order to save 20 minutes of the time I spend in transit.

You could say that I have a problem. But yesterday as I looked at all the cars stuck in traffic, I realized something: if everyone was like me, global warming wouldn’t be as bad. 

Think about it. If everyone hated traffic, looking for parking and driving around the city as much as I do, they wouldn’t use one car per person and would walk, take a bike, ride share or hop on the bus. Instead of being so spread out around a big city center towards which hoards of humans converge each day, cities would once again be organised around smaller neighborhoods with their own centers. Wouldn’t it be bliss to have services and work close to home? Forget the suburbs!

Yikes! The Suburbs!!

Have you seen Chasing Ice? If not, see it now! Global warming is very real and it’s impacts are already felt.

And in that sense, I think it’s safe to say that impatient and claustrophobic people like me are the future of humanity.


Learn more!

Composting, recycling and avoiding mindless consumption can’t hurt either, of course! So head over to the Zero Waste Home blog for great tips and inspiring lessons!

Read The Worst Traffic Jams in History by Jim Gorzelany on Forbes.

Watch Chasing Ice, a disturbingly beautiful account of the impacts of global warming.

First image created using the photo ”Traffic Jam” by Wendell on Flickr.

Second image created using the photo ”Chicago suburbs from the air” by Scorpions and Centaurs on Flickr.

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On the topic of introversion

Recently I saw this image online:


For anyone who is unfamiliar with Supernatural, you probably won’t understand why that makes complete sense. And if you don’t watch My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, you won’t understand this other version of the analogy I came up with:

Introverts art by zacatron94-d6mboih

Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy banners by Zacatron94 on Deviantart

I recommend both of these hilarious TV shows by the way.

As an introvert, I completely recognize myself in such analogies. I’ve been shy for a long time, but it was only after highschool that I realized how much other people’s perception of me differed from how I saw myself.

Once a friend said to me that she found it interesting that I dressed up in such a colorful and original way considering what kind of person I was. I hadn’t tought of my personality and my style as contradictory and it left me wondering about how others saw me. Then another friend told be he was glad he got to know me better, because he had initially thought that I was a very boring person.

Boring? Me? I could have imagined myself has having many bad qualities, but boring was not one of them.

That’s when I realized that I’m a lot more fun in my own head than I am to the rest of the world.

I simply don’t translate my thoughts and emotions well. This is certainly why although I appreciate friends and family a lot, I don’t always express my feelings clearly and efficiently to them. It’s probably also why my facial expressions don’t match what I feel. I guess it’s why I think the only person who really knows me is my husband, because when I’m with him I think out loud. He seems to think that I’m hilarious.

So I guess I’m not boring, I’m damn funny. It’s just too bad the rest of the world doesn’t know it. Castiel and Fluttershy indeed.

I don’t have the best social skills, I sometimes look like a robot with no emotions and I don’t show what I think and feel in a way people can have any idea of the party that’s going on in my head. I’m even a little fearful of others, especially in situations in which I have to meet a group of strangers and break the ice : I’ll avoid a meet and greet almost any day if I don’t have at least one person I know going with me.

And yet, I sometimes find it surprising that some people tell me that I am nice and that can listen to them very well. It’s happened several times while I was conducting interviews and discussions in a professional setting. I am happy when the care I have for others actually translates clearly, and when people can feel that I respect and appreciate them. Because introverts, while they might seem anti-social, have low social skills and even occasionally (or often) avoid the company of others, actually like people.

Afterall, there’s a difference between being fine or enjoying being alone, and feeling lonely.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think anyone enjoys feeling lonely. I certainly don’t, so I’m grateful for friends and family I get along with. I also try to make efforts to meet new people and maintain new friendships, and occasionally reach out to people I lost contact with.

But I avoid trying to break my shell too violently. I’m sure it would be fun to be a liberated, fun, energetic and extroverted lean, mean, assertive machine (hehehe). However, that’s simply not who I am. I just don’t think there’s anything wrong with being an introvert. I like myself as I am. The fact that I am an introvert only means that once I am friends with someone, our friendship isn’t simply a superficial one. I don’t have a problem with that.

Even if the party stays in my head. 


Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy banners by Zacatron94. Go check out his work!

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Les plus beaux lieux où écrire à Québec

Chaque jour, je passe de nombreuses heures à écrire : écrire un mémoire, écrire pour mes blogues, écrire mon journal. S’ajoute à cette écriture créative diverses activités de rédaction, de courriels et de documents de travail notamment.

Or, écrire à tous les jours et ce pendant des périodes de temps prolongées peut devenir fatiguant, et l’inspiration peut se faire rare.

Plusieurs techniques et outils aident à garder un bon niveau de créativité, d’efficacité et d’enthousiasme par rapport à l’écriture. Des logiciels permettent d’écrire sans distractions. Une planification méticuleuse aide à éviter le bloc de la page blanche.

Pour ma part, changer de lieu de travail m’est d’une grande utilité. Cela me donne un sentiment de nouveauté même si je ne peux changer d’activité, et me redonne de l’énergie. Certains lieux rendent le travail plus agréable et plus confortable, par ailleurs. Travailler dans un café ou un salon de thé me plaît particulièrement, mais ces lieux sont parfois bruyants et les fréquenter régulièrement draîne mon porte-feuille.

Voici donc une liste de 3 endroits où il fait bon écrire à Québec (gratuitement et dans la tranquilité) :

3. Bibliothèque Monique-Corriveau

Cette grande bibliothèque se trouve dans une ancienne église. Les abonnés y ont accès à Internet sans-fil, et ses heures d’ouverture sont pratiques (entre 10h00 et 17h00 ou 21h00, selon les jours de la semaine). On y trouve un coin café et les locaux sont neufs (inaugurés il y a moins d’un an).

Inauguration de la bibliothèque Monique-Corriveau

2. La bibliothèque de l’Assemblée Nationale

Peu d’entre nous penseraient à l’Assemblée nationale comme lieu de travail. Pourtant, le public a accès à la bibliothèque de 8 h 30 à 16 h 30 tous les jours de l’année. Il est possible de réserver pour une visite guidée, de profiter de services d’orientation et de soutien à la recherche et l’Internet sans-fil. Bien entendu, travailler dans ce lieu s’avère particulièrement utile pour consulter des documents gouvernementaux canadiens et québécois, des journaux, des périodiques et des dossiers de presse.

Bibliothèque de l'Assemblée nationale

1. Bibliothèque Saint-Jean Baptiste

Située sur la rue Saint-Jean dans l’ancienne église anglicane St-Matthew, cette bibliothèque offre l’Internet sans fil aux abonnés et est ouverte en après-midi toute la semaine, et le vendredi à partir de 10h00. Il s’agit d’un lieu magnifique et le cimetière, devenu un parc, est un lieu approprié pour la lecture.

Bibliothèque Saint-Jean Baptiste


Je suis curieuse, quels sont les lieux où vous aimez écrire?

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When Fan Productions Are Better Than the Official Stuff…

This week I tried to find a picture of Pinkie Pie’s hilarious ”Forever!!!” moment. I was writing a document for The Geek Anthropologist editorial team. It was totally relevant.

In the search result I discovered this beauty: a Pinkie Pie stained glass vector by Akili-Amethyst.

Pinkie Pie Stained Glass

Of course, I had to look at her Deviantart profile! It turns out she created a ton more of these stained glasses. I particularly like Princess Luna‘s and Doctor Hooves‘. One of these would look really nice in my geek room office!

Even better, Akili-Amethyst created this absolutely beautiful coin representing Princess Celestia on one side and Princess Luna on the other! How pretty it would look in a nice frame, right next to my desk. It would be a constant inspiration and would remind me to always strive to be the best person I can be! I would have to buy two to see both sides though…

So where can I purchase these? Oh…Well it turns out that I can’t. Because of copyright infringement, Akili had to stop selling on Etsy and her Kickstarter project was shut down. I guess I won’t be able to work on my self-improvement. Oh well.

It makes sense, you might say. Well sure, it does. And yet, not so much.

Continue reading: it gets even better!

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«Raven» vs «the raven» : sur l’écriture anthropologique

Un commentaire de Bill Reid, publié en 1984 dans Culture, nous rappelle qu’il faut faire preuve de prudence et de vigilance par rapport à l’écriture.

Dans ce commentaire, Bill Reid exprime son agacement profond vis-à-vis d’une pratique qu’il juge courante chez les ethnologues : ceux-ci omettent selon lui généralement d’utiliser un déterminant lorsqu’ils font références aux créatures mythiques de la Côte-Nord-Ouest du Canada, préférant mettre une majuscule au nom de leur espèce ( ils écrivent « Raven » plutôt que « the raven »).

Pourtant, les aînés autochtones utilisent un article ou un nom propre vernaculaire pour parler des protagonistes des mythes autochtones, ce que l’écriture des  ethnologues devraient, selon Reid, refléter de manière à respecter ces aînés (1984 : 64). Il considère que cette pratique est peut-être attribuable à une association, en Occident, des mythes à des histoires pour enfants. Il donne en exemple la personnification de Winnie the Pooh, mais souligne en contraste que les monstres classiques, comme le Minotaure, sont décrits avec un déterminant (Ibid : 64).

Selon Reid, la suppression du déterminant, et surtout l’utilisation du nom de leur espèce plutôt que leur nom vernaculaire propre, diminue les grandes figures mythiques à des personnages de simples histoires folkloriques (64-65). Il conclut finalement :

« (…) [it] is an exercise in condenscension. For it is a device used only when recording the literature of tribal people, completely unsanctionned by any accepted standards of ordinary English usage, and is therefore discriminatory, and no matter how unconsicous its use, ultimately racist ». (65)

Cet exemple indique, selon moi, clairement comment des biais subtiles peuvent influencer le choix de vocabulaire des chercheurs.

Référence :

Reid, B. (1984). The Anthropologist and the Article. Culture, 4(2), 63–65.

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I Did Not Blog En Français, But I Am Going To

Photo by Diodoro

Graffiti of Beckett by Alex Martinez

As I discovered the work of Samuel Beckett several years ago,  I read that despite being a native English speaker, he prefered to write in French, a language he felt allowed him to write ”without style”.

I could not help but wonder if that was sarcasm, especially coming from someone who’s first language was English. No offense, native English speakers, but I find your language much easier to learn and speak than French. The later is more complex, has a richer, more colorful vocabulary, and relies on grammar rules which are far more difficult that those found in English, in my opinion at least. Feel free to disagree and even contradict me. In any case, it is neither a good or bad thing. Each language has its own merits and I enjoy speaking them both. It allows me to communicate with more people, and I actually use them differently.

In the last few years, I believe I have gained a clearer understanding of what Beckett meant.

Continue Reading!

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