All posts by Dick Powis

Dick Powis is a PhD student in Anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis, and is also pursuing a graduate certificate in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. His research interests include men and childbirth, prenatal screening technologies, and reproductive health in urban settings in Senegal. Read more at http://about.me/dickpowis.

Ode (Owed?) to Baltimore

[Savage Minds is pleased to present an invited post from Mike Agar. Mike Agar left academia in 1996 with an early emeritus exit from the University of Maryland and now works in New Mexico as Ethknoworks (ethknoworks.com for details on his checkered past and present). His long life on drugs is described in Dope Double Agent: The Naked Emperor on Drugs. He recently published The Lively Science: Rebuilding Human Social Research and currently works on water governance in the Southwest.]

The phone was ringing and the message light blinking when I walked into the project office in Baltimore. Fred, an outreach counselor my age with whom I’d worked on a Johns Hopkins project, had already shown me a copy of our flyer that he’d gotten I didn’t know where. “It’s all over the streets,” he said with the sideways smile he used when he knew he had me inside a teaching moment.

It was the late 90s and I’d just started running a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to figure out why illegal drug epidemics happened. Yet another white researcher in a majority black city. Though I lived in a suburb near the University of Maryland, College Park, from which I’d resigned in 1996, I wanted to do the project in Baltimore because I’d done work there before consulting with Hopkins public health and I was weary of the strange city that Washington was and is. Many people in Washington said that Baltimore is a “real” city.” Continue reading

What Are You Reading This Summer?

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The semester is nearly complete, and summer is upon us. After finishing my first year in graduate school, I have this to say: I had no idea that I was capable of reading so much so quickly. Wow.

And yet, there were many things that I wanted to read and could not fit into those tiny pockets of “free” time. You know what I’m talking about, right? You get that itch that says, “If only there were more hours in a day, I would totally pick that book up!” And reading Carole’s Ethnographic Theory syllabus is not helping matters.

So I need to keep this momentum going; here is my summer reading list for 2015. It serves a few purposes, so it has to be somewhat calculated. This time next year, I’ll need to turn in a substantial literature review that gestures (somehow) toward my dissertation research/proposal, so now is the time to ramp up my consumption of readings that will contribute to it. There are also some things that I feel like reading, because “How have I gone this long without reading that” (e.g. Nietzsche)? One is out of sheer curiosity (i.e. Bennett). A few things I’ve read in the past, but I’d like to revisit with a full year of graduate social theory seminars under my belt (e.g. Foley, Fullwiley). And I owe Duke University Press a review (i.e. Starn; coming soon!). Naturally, this does not include the rapidly growing list of articles – classics, landmarks, and brand new publications – that I’ll need to whittle away.

In order (by nothing other than a sense of urgency, I guess): Continue reading

Cultural Encyclopedia of the Penis – [Book Review]

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Cultural Encyclopedia of the Penis
Michael Kimmel, Christine Milrod, and Amanda Kennedy, eds. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2014. 251 pp.

Cultural Encyclopedia of the Penis” is a new publication (October 2014) from Rowman & Littlefield following fast on the heels of its companion “Cultural Encyclopedia of the Breast” which was released in September. I’m told that they’ve been warmly received by anthropologists, as they both sold out rather quickly at the R&L booth at the meeting of the American Anthropological Association this past December in Washington DC. As a budding scholar (ahem) of global masculinities, I thought it would have been silly to not take the opportunity to review Cultural Encyclopedia of the Penis, if not simply for the title and synopsis, definitely because of Michael Kimmel’s involvement. Kimmel, one of three editors (in addition to Christine Milrod and Amanda Kennedy), is one of the more well-known sociological scholars on men and masculinities in America. Of more than a dozen books on the subject, perhaps his best-known is “Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys become Men,” a book that I would highly recommend for undergraduate- and graduate-level students of Gender Studies. While some of Kimmel’s work is not without some anthropological blindspots (he is not an anthropologist after all), one should be able to approach Cultural Encyclopedia (henceforth, CEP) trusting that a book written by over 90 authors would ultimately deliver on its claim to being “cultural.” It should be noted that this review is written without any knowledge of the content and style of Cultural Encyclopedia of the Breast, which was edited by Merril D. Smith. Continue reading

Around the Web: Year in Review 2014

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As 2014 comes to a close, I thought I’d take up the annual task of rounding up the best of Savage Minds and the anthroblogosphere. First, some fellow Savage Minds authors will share their favorite posts from the year. As the Around the Web curator, I’ll list the posts (from SM and elsewhere) that stood out for me. Then, I’ll show some of the submissions that we received from our readers. Finally, we’ll review some of the best blogs and articles that have provided an anthropological perspective on the 2014’s current events.

Let’s go! Continue reading

Nothing like #Ferguson to Reveal those Closeted Racists (in Anthropology)

We all knew it was going to happen. For a couple weeks, we kept hearing about how the Grand Jury decision was going to happen at any moment. The governor called in the National Guard and declared a state of emergency; businesses in Clayton, MO (a small affluent suburb of St. Louis) started boarding up windows and blockading the streets. And then came Monday morning: as I left home for school, I saw the news. The city was wrapping monuments to keep them from being vandalized. As Michael Che commented on SNL: That’s like your lawyer telling you to show up to court in something orange. Continue reading

Around the Web Digest: Week of September 28

After a couple rather dry months on the anthroblogosphere, it seems that this week anthro-bloggers have rallied (and conspired against me?) to give you, dear reader, so much content. There are so many blog entries (this doesn’t include anthropology-related news) that I can’t even read them all. I just can’t – it’s not gonna happen. We’re going to try a (‘nother) new format for cases like these – author name, title, and blog – and please let me know how you feel about it. If you have a blog article that you’d like me to share next week, please don’t hesitate to hit me up at richard.powis@gmail.com or on Twitter at @dtpowis.

First, some business:

Most importantly, the AAA Webinar on Ebola and Anthropology. If you missed it, do yourself a favor, watch it, show it to your classes, and talk with them about it.

Next, a petition: Anthropologists for the Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions

And then: A Letter to the AAA in Response to IAA’s Letter of 28 August 2014

And now your digest awaits. Continue reading

Around the Web Digest: Week of September 21

Here are some items you may have missed this week in anthropology. If you have something that you’d like me to share next week, email me or hit me on Twitter @dtpowis.

Bruce O’Neill wrote about living a life of boredom in Bucharest. (Allegra Lab)

Anne-Marie Martindale talked about ethics and the face, in the context of facial transplant. (Allegra Lab)

Sharon Abramowitz listed the reasons that anthropologists are needed by the global response to Ebola. (Somatosphere)

Susan Lepselter moved towards an ethnography of feeling. (CASTAC Blog)

Anthony Stavrianakis related impatience to assisted suicide. (ARC)

This is why liberals love the Disease Theory of Addiction, written by a liberal who hates it. (Pacific Standard)

The names of our diseases carry meaning and the way we use Ebola is political, racist, and xenophobic. (Salon)

Around the Web Digest: Week of September 14

In case you missed it, here are some of the best things provided by the internet this week. If you have something that you want me to post next week, email it to me at richard.powis@gmail.com or hit me up on Twitter at @dtpowis. Now go ahead a procrastinate a little.

Dr. Todd and Natalia are talking shit again. (YouTube)

Adia Benton called attention to the “race and immuno-logics” of spectators of humanitarian efforts in Ebola-afflicted regions of West Africa. (Somatosphere)

Raad Fadaak discussed the difficulty of tracking the migration of “emerging infectious disease.” (Somatosphere)

Anthony Stavrianakis responded to George Marcus’ reviews of Demands of the Day and The Accompaniment, as well as Michael Fisher’s review of the latter. (ARC)

Elizabeth Ferry described the ritual of the West Point Class Ring Memorial Melt. (CASTAC Blog)

Michael White wrote on why science might help, but it certainly won’t stop Ebola. (Pacific Standard)

Around the Web Digest: Week of August 24

If, like me, you’ve been living under a rock this week, here are some things you may have missed. (From the size of this list, I feel like I missed a lot.) If you have something that you’d like me to feature next weekend, please send it to me at richard.powis@gmail.com or on Twitter at @dtpowis.

A new anthropology MOOC is starting up on edX, called World101x: Anthropology of Current World Issues. (World101x)

Gerhard Hoffstaedter, course director of World101x, has written on the immigration from the perspective of Australia’s own crisis. (HuffPo)

Also, be sure to check out the World101x interview with anthropologist-journalist-blogger Sarah Kendzior. (YouTube)

While you’re on YouTube, a full length video of the documentary on Bourdieu, “La sociologie est un sport de combat,” was uploaded this week (in French, no subtitles). (YouTube)

Continuing in the theme of legendary French theorists, the audio of a lecture by Durkheim was also made available this week (in French). (Urban Demographics)

Stephen T. Casper discussed neuroscience, Ferguson, and the concept of “contagious shooting.” (Somatosphere)

Jennifer Carlson sat down with John Hartigan, anthropologist and director of the Americo Paredes Center for Cultural Studies at University of Texas at Austin, to talk about the use of multispecies ethnography in his work. (CASTAC Blog)

Laura Seay and Kim Yi Dionne described the long history of Africa’s reputation as a “dirty, diseased place.” (WaPo)

Around the Web Digest: Week of August 17

Here’s a recap of what you might have missed this week. If you have something to send me for next week, shoot me an email at richard.powis@gmail.com or on Twitter at @dtpowis. Classes start this week for me, and I know they’ve already started for some of you. If you’re teaching a course with a Twitter component, tell me about it! If you have articles or blogs that you’re linking your students to, let me know! I want to see what kinds of class discussions are springing out of the blogosphere.

Until then, let’s see what we have from last week. Continue reading

Around the Web Digest: Week of August 10

Between the crisis in Gaza, the militarization of Ferguson, and the death of Robin Williams, this has been a rough week in the news. At least Rick Perry is being indicted. Also, as of today, I’ve been writing these digests for six months, and it’s been a blast. Thanks for your help and support. If you have a blog article or something that you think should be in next week’s digest, send it me at richard.powis@gmail.com or on Twitter at @dtpowis.

Check out what you may have missed last week. Continue reading

On Being Fed Up: Blackness, Resistance, and the Death of Michael Brown – [An Invited Post]

[This invited post is submitted by Discuss White Privilege, an anthropologist who has written extensively to refocus the academy’s critique of racism on itself. We respectfully ask that you review our Comments Policy before responding below. Thank you. –DP]

Homeland Security: Fighting Terrorism Since 1492
I just read the Michael Brown post [by Uzma Z. Rizvi] while in a Black hair salon in East Oakland, where my African friend is getting her hair done (behold: transnationalism, diaspora!). I found the shirt pictured [above], worn by an older Black man exiting the salon, poignant in light of the article mentioning the Department of Homeland Security, and Prof. Rizvi’s statement about the inescapablity of being judged on the color of one’s skin. I wonder how many White anthropologists, reading what Prof. Rizvi has written about racism and the absence of benefitting from White privilege, are really willing to reckon with the implications of this admission, or care about the deep pain of racism they know they will never experience, especially in relation to racial profiling and brutalization by police–which as Prof. Rizvi rightly notes, occurs, especially to bodies coded Black, regardless of education and class (though low socio-economic status clearly exacerbates such racist encounters and outcomes).

Continue reading