Guava Anthropology Meets Savage Minds

Language choice can be an issue of access. In attempt to shorten some of the gaps, but mostly to highlight some of the awesome anthropology happening in Taiwan, we have taken on this exciting translation project. Beginning with last week’s article, The Riddle of Sean Lien, we will be translating a handful of articles written in Chinese from the Guava Anthropology blog for Savage Minds this September. The articles we have chosen range in theme, background, and chronology, and yet all remain, in our opinion, excitingly relevant.

Guava Anthropology is a group blog written by anthropologists in Taiwan. The Guava homepage states that “GUAVA anthropology covers things that are Grotesque, Unabashed, Apostate, Virid, and Auspicious about anthropology!” The blog is a practice of public anthropology as well as an experimental space for writing outside of the academy. New entries are posted every Monday afternoon. Guava enjoys over 50 bloggers, most of whom teach in universities or work at academic institutions, some authors use a real name, some use a pen name.

Guava bloggers make observations on social and cultural issues, the everyday, and the things going on in the world from an anthropological perspective. There is no one theme. Articles discuss politics, economics, religion, the environment, art, and so much more. The ethnographic data referred to comes from field sites in Taiwan and all over the world. Authors offer advice for high school students interested in anthropology and commentary on how to be a successful graduate student and adviser. Guava aims to engage in a dialogue with the general public, expand awareness, and explore the anthropology of daily life.

Over the last six years Guava has not only attracted a large audience in Taiwan and abroad, but has also began a trend among social scientists in Taiwan to write group blogs, including Sociology at the Corner (巷仔口社會學), The History Market (歷史學柑仔店) and The Poli-Sci Market (菜市場政治學). Guava began as a blog maintained in the author’s spare time and now boasts a special session at the Annual Conference of Taiwan Society for Anthropology and Ethnology, the largest anthropological event in Taiwan.

So why is the blog named after a fruit? The Taiwanese word for guava is “bālè” (芭樂), but it is also called “fān shíliú” (番石榴), literally foreign pomegranate, in Mandarin. The blog explains that during the brainstorming process for a name, someone threw out Guava Anthropology and there was a sudden consensus. No looking back. Perhaps because guava is a local fruit, or perhaps because people just liked it; maybe because of the connotation of things both local and foreign in the term; maybe because of an association with Taiwanese ballads called “guava songs” or even to “guava tickets,” the Taiwanese term for bad checks, the name was chosen. To be honest we’re not sure why Guava, but the name sure is catchy.

Guava writers are stylistically diverse. We feel Guava bloggers simplify complex phenomena in an entertaining way and really enjoy the read. This fun is a challenge to translate. We’re ecstatic to try. Perhaps connecting Guava and Savage Minds will make something a little clearer.

Chuan-Wen Chen is taking a break from being a graduate student in the Institute of Anthropology at National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan. Her research focuses on elderly care coordination in a multicultural urban environment. Her latest projects are learning about interior design and surviving in China.

Guava Anthropology
Guava Anthropology on facebook

3 thoughts on “Guava Anthropology Meets Savage Minds

  1. 非常好。非常好。This post comes at a moment when I am preparing to attend the joint meeting of the EAAA and TSAE in Taipei on October 3-4 and coming to grips that most of the people who were young and upcoming when I did my first fieldwork in Puli in 1969-71 are now retired. This taste of what the new generation of Taiwan anthropologists are getting into is very helpful, indeed. Plus, I love Guava.

  2. ‘Guava anthropology’ is about to turn into a book, with the same name. It will come out early in October.

    John: please drop by our book signing event, 5:30pm, after the first day of the TSAE/EAAA program is over. The venue is just at the corner, you can look for the poster for direction.

  3. Pei-yi, will do. Could I ask you to ping me with an email the morning of the first day? Conferences can be distracting, especially when you run into lots of old and meet new friends. Email to jlmccreery[at] A Facebook or WeChat message will also reach me.

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