Back Online After a Very Long Time…

Well well well….here we are back where we started.  In Ireland we have some difficulties with the interwebs.  Mainly this has to do with the fact that in Ireland we have hills, valleys, nooks and crannies–all of which negatively impact on the interwebs.  Mine just disappeared one day.  I have found that I now need a huge satellite dish the size of a Volkswagen Bug in order to have any internet at all.

I finished Sid Mintz since last we interacted in a blog sort of way.  It is such an important book written by someone impassioned by the subjects of inequality, trade, the subaltern, and the aspirations of the underclass.  A true gem.  I am glad I took the time to read it again, even though it did seem to take me years to finish due to losing it, being distracted by all things shiney, and having no internet to report back on.

Now that I am back online (and rather rusty in my blogging) I have decided to move on from my Marxist mates with whom I have enjoyed such a gripping journey and move on to some classic Feminist fare:  Woman, Culture and Society.  I read it (like all these influential books) many many years ago while a graduate student.  I have come back to it and other feminist anthropological tomes many times since.  Feminist anthropology—and feminist anthropologists like Michaela diLeonardo, Rosemary Joyce, Sylvia Foreman, and countless others—helped guide me through the many challenges of my early career.  To this day I am comforted when I pass by my shelves and see the volumes of work written by scholars committed to women and women’s worlds.

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OK……..the dog really did eat my homework

Yep. Not exactly a dog. 

So….I lost my book for real.  And I had to order a brand spanking new one and it took forever for it to get to Ireland because….of something. 

Anyway, I am back to reading Sweetness and Power by the wonderful and important and just plain brill Sidney Mintz. 

While I’ve been away we had a hurricane here, well almost a hurricane.  Apparently it was some leftover hurricane no one actually heard of called Katia or something and it blew so hard all the deck furntiure flew off my balcony and crashed right through my neighbour’s french doors.  Then my elegant (but kind of manky) bamboo screening all bent in half and turned into a minefield of pointy and dangerous things much like the chevaux de frise at Dun Aenghus except it was wet bamboo and not sharp stones.  It also got cold. Then hot. Then cold. Then it rained some more. And then, one day in September it got so warm and sunny every pink Paddy in Ireland stripped off and laid out in Stephen’s Green for an entire day! No one in the whole entire country went to work except the people who work at Boots who sell sun cream! It was like 4.5million people all descended on the Green, smelling of coconuts and Hawaii, and literally glowed brightly, convinced summer had finally come.  Then it rained.  That was summer–one day, in September.

For your entertainment (and to cleverly distract you from the fact that I lost my book and am woefully unprepared for a discussion or to answer any questions), I am leaving you this gem from Simon’s Cat

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I bought you something. It’s new. And shiny.

The Open Anthropology Cooperative is a new discussion-based site for professionals and students alike to exchange ideas, critiques, pose questions, and chat about the profession of anthropology. You should join it.  Your entire life will change.

The Open Anthropology Cooperative

And yes, yes, yes, I am working away on Sid Mintz—and completely enjoying it.

Sugar Cane Cultivation

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A Moment’s Pause….

I’m taking a few days’ break to avoid my birthday (again) and to enjoy the company of horses in Roscommon.  I am completely enjoying Sweetness and Power and Sidney Mintz’ poetic and insightful discussions of sugar and commodification.  ❤ Sid.

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Sweetness and Sid….

I am reading one of my favourite books: Sweetness and Power by Sidney Mintz. Another ‘must-read’ from my grad school days, this is by far one of those anthropological books that stays with you and makes you observe the world of the taken-for-granted in a much different way.   I’ve just re-started it, so not much to comment on at the moment except that this book was the subject of much discussion among the grad students in the dusty grad lounge in Machmer Hall while I was student there, and remains thus.

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I know, I know…..

So…’s been donkey’s years since I’ve posted anything…..I have been reading, I swear I have….but it’s sort of summertime here in Ireland and I’ve been dashing around trying to find ‘sunshine’.  Have you heard of this ‘sunshine’?  It is rumoured that sunshine appears in many parts of the world during the summertime.  There recently was a news story claiming that this sunshine had been briefly seen on the coastline between Cobh and Kinsale in Cork, but alas, it could not be proven….so, I wait and impatiently scan the gloomy horizon that is my home planet of Eire….

Marshall Sahlins

Marshall Sahlins

That said, I have been reading (and in fact have finished) the glorious Stone Age Economics by the equally glorious Marshall Sahlins (1972).  I’d read bits of it in grad school like everyone else on the anthropological planet, but had not taken the opportunity to read it cover to cover until this summer.  Sahlins, in one brief chapter, challenged the way we (anthropologists and archaeologists) had envisioned stone age people.  He called them ‘the original affluent society’, remarking that they worked less time than modern people, had more time for their children and their friends and families, were bothered by fewer possessions, and in general led ‘better’ lives.  He discusses as well (from a Marxist perspective) the concepts of surplus, trade, social hierarchies, and modernisation.

Like all great educators, Sahlins presents us with increasingly more difficult questions throughout his work.  He suggests new understandings of trade and exchange, communication, expression, and this thing we know, love and worship as anthropological fieldwork.  That said, READ THIS BOOK.  Now.

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A Night at the Anthro….

One of the best things in my life is when frolleagues stop by for a weekend.  My friend and colleague E. Moore Quinn, a linguist from College of Charleston, stopped by on her yearly sojourn through the green fields.  After about 30 seconds or so, talk naturally turned to anthropology.  We also talked about men, cats, horses, scones, and how shite most ball-point biros are, but mostly we chattered on about projects we were/are working on, books and articles we’ve read or are planning to read, and the wonders of phenomenology.  I’ll be honest, my brain needed the level of stimulation only Moore can inject!  Within an hour we had a curry on the hob, a gorgeous bottle of Cotes du Rhone Villages underway, and were deep in discussion on material culture and memory a la Danny Miller, David Lowenthal, and Dean MacCannell.  It was brill!

Sometime after 2.30am we wandered off to bed (Moore with a stack of books on material culture procured from my shelves) and me with Marshall Sahlins on the night table.  At 11am we wandered downtown for some brunchy munchy and once again were picking each other’s brains on all subjects anthropological.  All too soon, Moore packed her bags and drove off to Lifford somewhere in the icey north of Donegal where it snows 11 months of the year and Yetis are regularly seen.  She likes driving rented Renault Clios to dangerous, remote and wild places.  She texted me to say she had arrived safely, but had in fact, been stuck in near white out conditions forcing her off the road and into a bakery where she consumed several cupcakes in order to sustain her strength.  That’s another thing about us anthros—we’re brave and are well versed in the four food groups: cake, coffee, wine, and cigarettes.

By the way, Marshall Sahlins won out.

Donegal Yeti in June

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