It isn’t often you get to see anthrobloggers in their natural habitat. I just happened to meet Marc Joseph Francois Jacquin last week while visiting his fieldsite.
He is working towards his master’s degree, spending the summer as a research assistant for Scott Simon. Scott is an old Taiwan hand, having now written a couple of books on Taiwanese female entrepreneurs and the leather industry. Now he is researching the movement to create an Aborigine autonomous region.
Mark is documenting his research experiences on his blog. It is something of a letter home to his loved ones, but there are some genuine anthropological insights as he discovers, like this one about how Aborigine culture is genuinely different:
The point here is that one of the issues that exists between this indigenous community and the outside world is that the way of life here is seen as a ‘problem’ by outsiders. Working to have enough food to treat your family (extended family in Western terms) and then having nothing is perceived as irresponsible by us Westerners. In their culture, it’s the way things work: you work to have enough to survive from day to day with your family. If you suddenly come into a lot of money from the sale of livestock or land, it is understood that you will share that ‘success’ with those upon whom you have depended in the past or will depend in the future. The situation is thus that one culture’s lifestyle doesn’t jive with the majority’s concept of how to live..so we call them poor (though they would say they are not suffering) and lazy when they refuse to take a full time job – many who don’t could because they have a solid high school education, probably equal or better than in Canada.
In a followup comment he clarifies the difference between this way of living and “insurance”:
It is also different from insurance because money does not often come into the equation. Exchange labour refers to actually going to someone’s home and helping them do something (example: building an extension on their house for a day or two, or helping a kid in the family with school work). It’s as if time, energy and labour power were flowing from people to people within the group….a very interesting way of living.