Tag Archives: ethnographic poetry

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Anthropology Under My Skin

By: Lorena Gibson

How we can reclaim anthropology in Aotearoa New Zealand and stake out a new public and pedagogical space for the discipline? This question was at the heart of a panel at the recent Anthropology in Aotearoa Symposium, hosted by the Cultural Anthropology Programme at Victoria University of Wellington on 10-12 May 2017. My contribution to the panel–shared below–was as part of a group of anthropologists from across the country who collectively sought to address the above question.

Writing a poem was my way of overcoming the writer’s block that hit me when I tried to turn my abstract into a paper. I was inspired to do so after re-reading the work of my colleague Teresia Teaiwa, who has been a major influence on how I think about and practice anthropology and who sadly passed away earlier this year. My poem begins where I first encountered anthropology – as an undergraduate student in a first-year class taught by Jeff Sluka – and ends with a new class I will teach next term. Providing a view from Aotearoa, it retraces some key moments in my journey towards what Faye Harrison calls an anthropology for liberation.

I am grateful to Sita Venkateswar for showing me what a classroom agenda can look like when informed by a politics of decolonisation, and to Teresia Teaiwa for continuing to inspire.

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Ethnographic Poetry and the Leaping Bilingual Mind

[Savage Minds is pleased to run this essay by guest Melisa Cahnmann-Taylor as part of our Writers’ Workshop series. Melisa is Professor of TESOL and World Language Education at the University of Georgia. Winner of the 2015 Beckman Award for “Professors Who Inspire,” she is the author of a forthcoming poetry manuscript “Imperfect Tense,”(Cahnmann-Taylor, In Press), and co-author of two books on bilingual education and artful research: Teachers Act Up! (Cahnmann-Taylor & Souto-Manning, 2010) and Arts-Based Research in Education (Cahnmann-Taylor & Siegesmund, 2008).]

Acquiring Spanish as a second language led me to poetry, and becoming a better poet helped me become a better bilingual. I had been a good high school and college student of Spanish and had studied abroad in Spain and Mexico. After college, I wanted a way to give kindness back to the many Spanish speakers who tolerated and nurtured my emerging bilingualism. As a Spanish major with coursework in theatre and creative writing, it made sense to become an elementary school teacher. I was quickly overwhelmed. I struggled to teach third grade math, science, and California history in my new classroom in South Central Los Angeles.

This was 1992. Rodney King. Race riots. Continue reading