The duodenum is a noble, noble organ and I am totally, totally willing to own that name.

anthroduodenum /anTHrəˈd(y)o͞oəˈdēnəm/ or /anTHrōˈd(y)o͞oəˈdēnəm/ n 1. an anthropology blog dedicated to breaking down the most important issue facing our discipline. 2. the hard, under-appreciated, but vitally necessary work that gives anthropology energy. 3. an organ which digests contemporary trends and ideas into an easily readable form. 4. a site dedicated to taking all of the acid and bile of the Internet and turning it into something mentally and emotionally healthy in your daily diet of social media.

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Overall, responses to our blog’s new name have been positive — and often enthusiastic. That said, we’ve had our fair share of objections: some people miss the old name (that’s sweet of you guys but it’s time to move on), while others are glad the old name is gone, but don’t like the new one. Along the way, Social Media has generated a good-sized list of ‘anthrodendum’ parody names, ranging from Latinate-racy (anthropudendum) to botanical (anthrodendron, invoking either coral or rhododendrons), or Trump-worthy (anthrodumdum). The one that seems to keep coming up the most, however, is the one I am most willing to own: anthroduodenum.

It’s sad that people think it is funny to lampoon our blog by calling it ‘anthroduodenum’. This stigmatizes the duodenum and disavows the hard work that the duodenum — including your very own duodenum, which is inside you right now at this very moment — does on a daily basis. The duodenum is an essential organ in your body. It absorbs more nutrients than your stomach. It turns the food you eat into the energy you need to live.

True, the duodenum lacks the glamor that a lot of contemporary anthropology craves. Many anthropologists see themselves as crusading moralists. They want to be our discipline’s heart, reminding us of right and wrong. Others walk around believing that everything that comes from their lips is the most philosophically important thing ever written. They want to be anthropology’s brain. The self-important impresarios who run our journals and funding agencies imagine themselves to be the bones and tendons of our scholarly body, holding it together.

No one ever imagines themselves to be the lymph nodes of anthropology, which help our discipline fight infection, or the pancreas, which regulates anthropology’s blood sugar levels. These less glamorous organs never make it into our analogies, despite the yeoman’s work they perform every day.

But I’m happy to own the name ‘anthroduodenum’. We do our work, every day. We raise issues of importance, like open access and net neutrality (my issues) to colonialism and racism (which I hope to hear more about from our new member Zoe Todd). It’s regular, unglamorous work. It’s not a good feeling to sit in front of a keyboard and say: “ok, I have to have something to say this week.” And these days, you know that pressing ‘publish’ will immediately result in criticism, since someone on social media will dislike (often intensely) what you have to say.  Instantly. Often without reading past the headline! That’s the acid and bile we neutralize on the site. Over the years, we’ve also had our fair share of ulcers, readers and commenters who seem to enjoy trying to puncture us. But we soldier on.

But we all still do this work, focusing on issues that deserve focus, recruiting guest bloggers who deserve exposure to a wide audience. It’s all part of the regular, often grinding act of digestion that we perform on the discipline.

To be fair, we’re an award winning blog and we’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback, so I don’t want to sound ungrateful. I enjoy writing for the blog, and really appreciate the fact that visitors enjoy reading it. I’m just saying that when it comes to being called a duodenum, I wear that name as a badge of pride. Yes, that is what I am.

This weekend, when you are enjoying a nice meal with someone you care about, stop for a moment and thank your duodenum. It’s working hard, even if you don’t notice it. And, like Anthrodendum, it’s keeping track of all the important stuff in your (anthropology) diet so you don’t have to do it yourself. So keep taking fat bites off that thick, juicy Internet. We will keep breaking it down for you and keeping it real. ANTHRODUODENUM 4 EVAR!!!!!!!

 

Rex

Alex Golub is an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. His book Leviathans at The Gold Mine has been published by Duke University Press. You can contact him at rex@savageminds.org

4 thoughts on “The duodenum is a noble, noble organ and I am totally, totally willing to own that name.

  1. This post really gets to the guts of what matters. I love it! After digesting this astute and pointed comment, I’d be happy to own this name too.

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