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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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«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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