Around the Web Digest- March 19

As spring begins to rear its head, I come bearing the fruits of internet.

Buenos Aires, anarchism, and pastries. If a similar movement in bakeries happened in the U.S., I would like to propose the “cake pop(ulism)s” and immediately apologize for that joke I spent 20 minutes thinking about.

NPR illustrates the lives and history of a forgotten immigrant community in the Southern U.S., the Chinese of the Mississippi Delta.

For anthropologists looking to work with indigenous communities in the U.S., a helpful list was compiled on Native Anthro filled with tips to avoid awkward neocolonial moments.

CNN follows the life of Jorge Matadamas as he attempts to readjust to life in Mexico after being deported from the U.S.

Even after years of work to prove race as a social reality, not a biological one; Governments and public policy continues to be driven by the ideology of racial panic.

See you all next week.

 

 

Kendzior: In Defense of Complaining

This was meant to be a book review. Instead, it’s an essay about the power—and importance—of complaining.[1]

The book under consideration here is Sarah Kendzior’s The View from Flyover Country, which was published in 2015. In case you don’t know, Kendzior is an anthropologist-turned-journalist whose academic work on authoritarianism turned out to be just slightly relevant to the recent turn of events here in the US (and elsewhere).

People ask me all the time what you can do with a degree in anthropology. Now, thanks to Kendzior, I can suggest that students study the intricacies of autocracies and use their analytical skills to warn fellow citizens of the impending erosion of constitutional democracies.[2] Just for starters.

If you follow Kendzior’s work, you know she is willing to speak out. She is not shy. She doesn’t waver. She was willing to talk about issues that many academics—including myself—are hesitant to address. Ever since I first heard of her work, I respected her willingness to take on the kinds of issues that many academics often save for our closed conferences and pay-walled journals (or, perhaps, our Twitter accounts). I’m not sure if she identifies primarily as an anthropologist these days, but in my view she’s one of the few who is doing the kind of “public anthropology” that many of us talk so much about. This is what happens when the analytical perspective of anthropology is unleashed.

The View from Flyover Country is a collection of essays Kendzior wrote for Al Jazeera English between 2012 and 2014. I read most of these essays when they first came out. But readings through them again was a powerful reminder of issues, and voice, that Kendzior brings to the table. The book is arranged in 5 parts: 1) Flyover Country; 2) The Post-Employment Economy; 3) Race and Religion; 4) Higher Ed; and 5) Beyond Flyover Country. There’s also a Coda titled “In Defense of Complaining” that is so poignant to the present moment I’m going to start—and end—there. Continue reading

Pandora’s Brew: The New Ayahuasca Part 4

Ayahuasca Healings

Last week (March 18, 2017), I received an email that read, in toto:

Just like I promised:
Get the free eBook here (right click, “Save Link As…”)
I wrote this back in 2010, and the secrets contained within this eBook, have allowed me to create and live the most beautiful, fulfilling life I could have ever imagined.
It is actually a “channeled” book, are you familiar with what channeling is?
Back in 2010, I met The Teachers who showed me how to create my ideal life experience, no matter where I was at.
(The Teachers are the true authors of this eBook)
Following Their words, led me down a path more magical, more beautiful, more filled with joy, love and freedom, than anything I could have ever dreamt up.
Because they taught me, how to truly follow my heart. There’s no secret, that following your heart, is
the key to creating the life of your dreams.
The question is:
How?
You know you want a life of freedom, but how do you get there?
The mind can be so strong in it’s fears and doubts.
And we can be so controlled by other people’s expectations of us…
So the question is, above all of that, how can you still follow your heart?
This is the key to your most fulfilling life, ever.
And this eBook gives you the answers, and shows you, how you can move forward, to create the life that your heart and soul, so deeply yearn for.
It’s time!
So enjoy this eBook, and I’ll talk to you soon! [To be continued..]
With infinite gratitude, so happy to share this,
Trinity de Guzman & The Ayahuasca Healings Family

About once or twice a week I get a missive like this from Trinity, the messianic young founder of Ayahuasca Healings Native American Church. Since I initiated my membership in the Ayahuasca Healings community (by reluctantly giving them my e-mail address), I have received at least 48 of these love bombs, with subject lines ranging from “Welcome Beautiful Soul” to “Day 6 – How To Choose The Right Shaman” to “…I’m going to be a father!! Yay!!” Continue reading

Pandora’s Brew: The New Ayahuasca Part 3

Part 3: Legality (or lack thereof)

(In the last post, I promised to start this one with some explanation of what goes into ayahuasca that makes it the concern of the US Drug Enforcement Agency, and why some people in the U.S. can drink it legally while others can’t. Here goes.)

Ayahuasca is most commonly defined in the literature both lay and academic as a brew made from the combination of two plants: a vine, ayahuasca (Banistseriopsis caapi); and a leaf, usually chacruna (Psychotria viridis) but sometimes chaliponga, chagroponga or yáji (Diplopterys cabrerana). Although this definition obscures the myriad historical and contemporary iterations of brews that use the ayahuasca vine as a base, the ayahuasca-chacruna dyad is the basis for the spread of ayahuasca usage in the Amazon and around the world.

The leaves that go into the ayahuasca brew contain a substance, dimethyltryptamine or DMT, that has a number of interesting characteristics. It is produced in the healthy human body and brain, and recent research (here, here, and here) suggests that it modulates the immune system and may provide other biologically protective functions as well. DMT is also produced in numerous other plant and animal species. When extracted, purified, and smoked (or injected, as it was in a series of clinical experiments that jump-started the current wave of psychedelic research), DMT produces prodigious if short-lived hallucinations. When ingested orally, however, it does nothing at all. That’s because an enzyme in the human digestive system, monoamine oxidase or MAO, breaks down the DMT before it can get into the bloodstream and through the blood-brain barrier.

On the other hand, ayahuasca the vine (and subsequently the brew) contains substances that inhibit the monoamine oxidase (we call them mono-amine oxidase inhibitors, or MAOIs), thus rendering the DMT orally active and, therefore, hallucinogenic.

The legal problem arises over the fact that DMT is a Schedule 1 substance, a classification reserved for drugs that the US government defines as having no legitimate medical use and a high potential for abuse. Possession of Schedule 1 substances is illegal. Therefore, possession of ayahuasca is, ostensibly, illegal as well.

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Remembering Teresia Teaiwa: An Open Access Bibliography

Scholars of the Pacific are mourning the loss of Teresia Teaiwa this week. Teresia was an iconic figure in Pacific Studies: A poet and critic, dedicated teacher, and determined institution builder. Teresia was the director of the Va‘aomanū Pasifika (Pacific Studies Center) at Victoria University in Wellington, the first and only place (afaik) where you can earn a Ph.D. in Pacific Studies.

I only had a chance to meet Teresia a few times, and I can’t speak to her life the way that so many others can, except to say that she was an impressive figure in every sense whether it be reading poetry or rethinking Pacific Studies. She had mana. She was a trenchant critic of colonialism and other things, but in person she was hardly austere or intimidating. She was an approachable person, down to earth, with a sense of humor. I think in her mixture of dignity and a willingness to laugh she was deeply Pacific.  So many people counted on so many more years of work and inspiration from her. I can’t say I knew her enough to mourn her the way her family and friends do, but her presence and project impacted everyone who ever met her or read her work. Just being in the same room was enough. She was on a journey, and still is. But we had hoped to spend more time traveling with her then we were allowed.

Teresia was a prolific author, and much of her work is open access. However, google searches for her work produce a maze of citations that is hard to find your way around in.  I feel like my way to contribute to her memory is to help provide a guide to her work which can help future readers stop digging through search results and start reading Teresia. What follows is a quick bibliography of work that is available open access. I’ve included both poetry and academic publications. I’ve linked to stable repositories as much as possible so the information on this page will age well. Many of these links will take you to a repository entry and you will then have to click through to the PDF. Others are online journals which lack librarian-friendly meta-data. In all cases I’ve tried to give reasonable citations but I’m sure there are irregularities in the format that I’ve used. There are also probably typos. Also, please note that these are just the open access texts Continue reading

Rogue: Scholarly Responsibility in the Time of Trump

What if scholars need to go rogue? If anthropologists need to go rogue? In the USA right now, we are not in normal times, but in a new period of attack on academia and science, on facts and funding, on communities with whom anthropologists conduct their research, and on communities to which anthropologists belong. Our scholarly knowledge is increasingly needed in new political ways. But, how do we act effectively and with an awareness of the issues and risks involved?

On Saturday, February 4, 2017, I gave a talk at Duke University as part of their “Precarious Publics” workshop. My invitation was to speak about public anthropology and the current political moment. The initial title of my talk, decided upon after the election but before the inauguration, was “Political Crisis and Scholarly Responsibility, or, Public Anthropology in the Time of Trump.” After the inauguration, things changed, and so did my title. Amidst not only the Muslim ban/immigration ban, but also the attack on climate change science, including the banning of the open, public sharing of scientific knowledge, and in some cases, the erasure of scientific research conducted during the period of the Obama administration, it was no longer sufficient to simply consider “public” anthropology. Instead, along with colleagues in numerous governmental offices and institutions—from the National Park Service to the EPA to NASA to the White House itself—it was time to think of a rogue anthropology. The new title for my talk, delivered on the sixteenth day of the Trump presidency (and posted here on the sixty-first day) was: “If On the Sixteenth Day … : Rogue Anthropology.” Continue reading

Black flags from Rome: Mafia and Isis, as before Mafia and Al Qaeda

Savage Minds welcomes guest blogger Stefano Portelli. Stefano is a cultural anthropologist with a doctorate in Urban Studies, his primary fieldsites are a barrio of Barcelona and the Ostia neighborhood of Rome, where the issue of mafia is crucial. Starting September 2017, he will be a Marie-Curie fellow for Leicester University’s Department of Geography.

Black flags from Rome: Mafia and Isis, as before Mafia and Al Qaeda
by Stefano Portelli

After the Charlie Hebdo massacre of January 2015, some social networks mostly based in Southern Italy published an uncanny piece of news, that bounced back on the web immediately after the much more deadly attacks in November. The Sicilian mafia boss Totò Riina, from the maximum security jail where he is secluded since 1993, was reported answering to the fear of terrorism spreading across Italy, by suggesting that if the Italian state really wanted to defeat Isis, they should release him from prison, and let him do. “Ci penso io” is a sentence that could condense the mafioso’s claim of being able to deal with the Islamic state: a very ambiguous formula in Italian, as anthropologists know. It entails taking charge of somebody else’s problem through one’s connections and savoir faire, but without disclosing the means. It creates a relation of gratefulness tinged with admiration – the basis for dependency and patronage.

The piece of news was certainly a hoax, as some of the websites themselves suggested. Still, that same January some newspapers echoed it in a more ‘respectable’ form, by quoting an interview with an anonymous secret agent, who literally said: “Terrorist leakings are much more difficult in the South [of Italy], where there is somebody who controls or even manages the territory”. A title was “Half of the country is safe (under the Mafia)”, the other “Isis only fears the Mafia”. In November the idea gained even more popularity, when the online version of an influential weekly magazine built a whole article on it, quoting another source from the intelligence community who declared that “the real protection” for Italy against Isis is “the indirect one wielded by criminal organizations”. “The Mafia succeeds in opposing terrorism”, was the title. The thesis was promptly rejected by an Italian left-wing journalist, but its very presence in public discourse reveals a rather unexplored consequence of the terrorist threat. Fear quickly evokes national cohesion, but can reach the point of crossing the boundary of what is publicly admitted, into the realm of the unspeakable, and of the obscure.

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Falling in love with @MerriamWebster in the era of Trump (and his budget proposals)

I grew up with dictionaries. I have had my own dictionary for as long as I can remember. Even now, when I walk by one of those BIG dictionaries on a pedestal in the library, with the leather binding and almost translucent thin paper, I will run my finger down the page and read the words. I am usually looking for some word I haven’t heard of, or an etymology of a word I was unaware of, but curious about, and sometimes just to remind myself of words I already know. There continues to be something alluring about the book, and the form of the book as a vessel of knowledge.

Because of this intimate, longstanding affair with books, I have to admit to being slow to commit to any one dictionary online. My searches for meaning online have become more opportunistic, focused, yet strangely scattered, and entirely dependent upon where in the world I am when I am searching and which search engine I am using. The variety did not bother me because there was nothing particular about any of the online dictionary platforms, they could have all been the same because they felt the same. And then last fall, I saw Merriam-Webster across a crowded twitter-scape, and I caught my breath and thought, I never knew how much we needed a dictionary in our social lives at this moment. They won me over with tweets like:

We’re seeing a spike for both ‘ombre’ and ‘hombre’. Not the same thing. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hombre …

and

*whispers into the void* In contemporary use, fact is understood to refer to something with actual existence. https://www.merriam-webster.com/news-trend-watch/conway-alternative-facts-20170122 …

I went from being an occasional user of @MerriamWebster to subscribing and following them. On March 16 I recognized my growing need to touch base with the dictionary as I read the FY18 Budget proposal from the White House. As I looked through it, excavating the many meanings embedded in words used, I felt like I was engaged in some paranoid action, but it was the best way not to panic and gave me a feeling of control through words. I found myself thinking at various points during my read of the budget proposal: words have multiple meanings and interpretations; words can combat words; we just need a good argument made of specific words; words, words, words… (although to be fair, the cynic in me rolled her eyes at the idea that the current White House even cared about words).

It is probably the only thing I do have access to, words and arguments. But where and how those words are used, needs to be reassessed and re-imagined (for example, see a recent post by Alex on intervening on Wikipedia here). I don’t think we’ve (collectively as Anthropologists) have figured it out yet, but @MerriamWebster has hit their stride.

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Open Access and Anthro in Community Colleges: HELLZ YES.

I was originally going to title this post #OA & @SACC : HELLZ YES, but I was afraid that would be too hard to understand. But what isn’t too hard to understand is the bang-up job that the Society for Anthropology in Community Colleges is doing  to advance open access in anthropology. First, they create Flip The Portfolio, a website asking the AAA to develop a five year plan to go open access. And second, they are getting ready to drop the first (afaik) open access intro anthropology textbook at the end of the month. Bam. Continue reading

Resistance, Hegemony, Violence, Empire: The Next #AnthReadIn on March 24, 2017

By: Paige West and J.C. Salyer

This month the Anthropology Read In (#AnthReadIn) will move our collective focus to the articulation of United States Empire, environmental violence, and the dynamics of resistance. On March 24 (the third Friday of the month) we will come together to read the following pieces: the Introduction to Alyosha Goldstein’s edited volume “Formations of United States Colonialisms” (Duke 2014), the Introduction to Rob Nixon’s “Slow Violence” (Harvard 2011), and an excerpt from “Poor People’s Movements and the Structuring of Protest” by Frances Fox Piven and Richard A. Cloward.

Taken together these three pieces guide us to towards an understanding of how the United States became a global hegemonic force, how that force and the structures of capital behind and within it came to override the rights and needs of global citizens with regard to the environment, and the complex dynamics of how politically marginalized people resist multiple forms of domination and oppression.

These readings are meant to elucidate the deeper historical context of Trump administration’s policies without diminishing the uniqueness of the challenges posed by the brutal onslaught of the administration’s revanchist campaign against the rights of indigenous people, immigrants, minorities, and the poor. Thus, we want to highlight that to act in the present moment requires that we acknowledge and understand that the historical precedents that have allowed for a phenomenon such as Trump have for a long time been a far greater burden for marginalized, disenfranchised, and oppressed peoples. At the same time, the current policies threaten to ravage the environment on a global level and dispossess people – economically, socially, and politically – on a disastrously unprecedented scale and demand unity in condemnation and resistance. Thus, we must recognize that to resist Trump now, requires us to address the crushing socioeconomic inequality that preceded this moment and generate a movement that does not merely long for a time before Trump but demands a future of equality and justice heretofore unrealized.

Now, a short reminder of how this works: On the third Friday of every month for the next four years (or as short or long as necessary), using the new #AnthReadIn on Twitter and utilizing the Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/170068806806067/ we come together in person and virtually to read, think, and discuss. The event is co sponsored by Savage Minds and the journals American Anthropologist, American Ethnologist, Cultural Anthropology, Environment and Society, and Political and Legal Anthropology, based on hundreds of suggestions from anthropologists, and conceptualized initially and curated by Paige West and J. C. Salyer.

 

Paige West is Claire Tow Professor of Anthropology, Barnard College and Columbia University

JC Salyer is Term Professor of Practice, Barnard College

Editing Wikipedia > Writing Letters to the New York Times

I copied this from the verge. I have no idea what the rights are or who the creator is. Sorry!

Various bits of social media began vibrating rapidly recently when it was discovered that white supremacists had fooled Google into providing inaccurate information about Boas and cultural relativism. The situation is now apparently resolved, but it isn’t a new problem. Old-timey internet veterans will remember that martinlutherking.org has been run by Stormfront for, like, decades. But this latest kerfuffle should give us the opportunity to think about our priorities as anthropologists writing for the general public today. In a previous post, I argued that there is a difference between the older ‘heroic’ public anthropology and ‘new’, more important public anthropology. Today I want to expand on this point and emphasize that we need shift our conception of public anthropology away from older, moribund genres and to newer, more important, but less familiar ways of reaching the public.

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Pandora’s Brew: The New Ayahuasca Part 2

Part 2: The New Ayahuasca Churches

Yesterday I sat in on a webinar sponsored by ICEERS (the International Center for Ethnobotanical Education, Research and Service) and organized by anthropologist Bia Labate. Entitled “Myths and Realities about the Legality of Ayahuasca in the USA,” the webinar featured three experts on the subject. The first was Jeffrey Bronfman, a leader of the União do Vegetal church in the US whose shipment of ayahuasca (the UDV calls it hoasca) was seized in 1999, leading to a protracted court battle and, eventually, a supreme court decision in favor of the church’s right to use the tea as their sacrament. The second was Rob Heffernan, member of the Santo Daime church (which also uses ayahuasca as a sacrament) and chair of its legal committee. The third was J. Hamilton Hudson, a recent graduate of the Tulane law school who has been following legal developments surrounding ayahuasca-using groups who are affiliated with neither of the aforementioned churches.

The webinar—and the series of which it is a part—are a response to the apparent confusion regarding the legal status of ayahuasca in the United States. This confusion, and some of the factors contributing to it, came to light over the past year and a half with the rise and fall of a group called Ayahuasca Healings, the self-proclaimed “first public legal ayahuasca church in the United States.” Also known as Ayahuasca USA and Ayahuasca Healings Native American Church (AHNAC), AH is one of a number of groups who use ayahuasca in a neo-shamanic setting and, more importantly, who claim that they have the legal right to do so. Unfortunately for AH, they don’t, and a friendly letter from the DEA (U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency) was enough to finally convince them of that fact—at least for now.

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Pandora’s Brew: The New Ayahuasca

Savage Minds welcomes guest blogger Christina Callicott.

I’m guessing that by now most of my readers will have heard of this stuff called “ayahuasca.” Everyone from Stephen Colbert to the New Yorker is talking about it, some in terms more cringe-inducing than others. A quick primer for those who don’t know: Ayahuasca is a psychoactive (read: psychedelic) brew developed by the peoples of the Amazon for ritual purposes ranging from ethnomedicine to divination. It’s just one in a pantheon of sacred plant and multi-plant concoctions used by Amazonian shamans, but it’s one that has sparked the fascination of peoples everywhere, from the Amazon itself to the distant corners of the urban and industrialized nations. Ayahuasca, along with other “entheogens” such as psilocybin mushrooms and LSD, is a centerpiece of the new Psychedelic Renaissance, an artistic and scientific movement which has, as one of its primary aims, the legitimization of these currently illegal substances by researching and promoting their efficacy as treatments for intractable ailments, usually psychological, including depression, end-of-life anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

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Reader Letters #2: Trump Edition

Here’s the second round of Savage Minds Reader Letters! We asked our readers to share their thoughts about anthropology in the Trump era for this round, and we got some great responses. Thanks for sending your letters, and keep an eye out for the next call. We need more letters!! –RA

The descent into incivility?

In your “Call for Reader letters:” you reminded us to “recognize that when you are critical of people’s ideas, you are also ultimately being critical of them as well.

Donald Trump was not only critical of the ideas of Democrats but was particularly critical of Senator Elizabeth Warren when he taunted Democrats by saying “Pocahontas — his insult of choice — is now the face of your party“.  From an anthropological perspective, Trump is changing the rules of discourse among civilized people developed in Greece and China hundreds of years ago to avoid conflicts.

Rules of discourse are a part of civility. Civility can be confused with disengaging from others so as not to offend, which Trump disparages as “political correctness”.

Trump’s 140 character tweets are mostly used to influence with mocking, ridicule and “alternative facts”. In a Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) survey teachers said schoolchildren are adopting Trump’s overall tone of more hatred for more people. (3)

Civil discourse generally requires agreement on a common set of facts. Modern communication tools, like Twitter, however, mean anyone with access to a computer has access to a megaphone to broadcast their unquestioned, “alternative facts”.

During a hard fought presidential campaign John McCain praised Barack Obama for a terrific speech that “comforted and inspired the country” and performed an important service by encouraging “every American who participates in our political debates to aspire to a more generous appreciation of one another and a more modest one of ourselves.” (4)

Senator McCain was almost prescient, asking Americans to aspire to a “more modest appreciation of ourselves” when one of the most immodest men in history is now President of the United States. Hopefully anthropologists will not look on 2017 as the year America began a descent into incivility.

-William M. Smith Continue reading

Around the Web Digest- February 20

Yesterday was Fat Tuesday and in old Chicago tradition, I tried to grab a paczki from my favorite bakery. Unfortunately, in my own personal tradition, I came back empty handed. However, I do not come back empty handed here and I bring new readings for the week!

Anthropologists live the mantra “talk s**t, get hit” when white nationalists tried to come for cultural anthropology’s eccentric, yet well-meaning grandpa Franz Boas.

As the last protestors at the Oceti Sakowin camp at Standing Rock were forcibly removed and arrested last week, we are left to recommit ourselves to environmental resistance as the powers at be continue to push for ecological disaster.

Sara Shneiderman reflects on the fragile nature of citizenship in the age of the travel ban and demands a critical reflection on the destruction it takes to create a “home”.

Youtube and other social media sites facilitate an archive and community for transgender youth in Chile, where young trans and gender-nonconforming youth can learn about the process of transitioning and document their own experiences outside the western model of LGBT life.

Harajuku is dead.

Emma Louise Backe reflects on the emotional tolls of fieldwork as both an advocate and ethnographer of rape victim advocates. For any readers out there in emotionally stressful times, please take care of yourselves.

See you next week!