Archive for the 'Anthropology' Category

RIP Mary Catherine Bateson – Daughter of Mead & Bateson

Friday, January 15th, 2021
  • Mary Catherine Bateson (wiki)

    Mary Catherine Bateson (December 8, 1939 – January 2, 2021) was an American writer and cultural anthropologist.


    We Are Not What We Know but What We are Willing to Learn.

    Legacy Obit

  • Edge obit – Mary Catherine Bateson: Systems Thinker

  • Bateson & Mead

  • >

    Thank you Mary Catherine Bateson, this reader devoured her books, she was passionate.

    Decoding of Inca Knots by Manny Medrano

    Wednesday, July 15th, 2020

  • Manny Medrano ’19, right, explains the meaning of quipus knots while holding a model. Quipus are knots that Incas used to record censuses, etc., and there are only 1000 left in the world. Medrano is the first name on the paper he co-wrote with Professor Gary Urton, left, Dumbarton Oaks Professor of Pre-Columbian Studies, that is being published in EthnoJournal.
    Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer

    The College Student Decoded the data in Inca Knots


    Nature is Healing Covid Meme

    Why Greogory Bateson Matters

    Phantom of India – Chemical Halloween 2013

    Wednesday, October 30th, 2013
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    Inspired by Heisenberg (Digital image by Fung Lin Hall)

    Green hirstutism – according to Lilyaradiaohead.

    What quantum physics tells us about Walter White’s alter ego.

  • Happy Halloween

  • Wellfleet. Massachussetts
    Patrick Morell –Golden Rabbit films LLC

    Patrick’s #1 inspiration was Louis Malle’s most personal film, Phantom of India (Oct 30 was Louis Mall’s birthday).

    See an inspirtional dance video from Phantom of India directed by Louis Malle.

    Uummannaq. Western Greenland. (click to see large)
    Photo by Patrick Morell

  • Angel Island Speed shows by Jurgen Trautwein
    (Click to see large)
    Traces of Times Past:
    Temporary space occupations @ Angel Island’s Fort McDowell’s East Garrison,
    South–East shore, 37.86˚N 122.43˚W

  • News from the world –

    List of Weird philosophers

    Mark Young (poet) – something strange from Australia

    Winterson on Oscar Wilde

    Raising Cockroaches in China.

    Gradiva by Raymonde Carasco on Ubuweb

    Saturday, August 14th, 2010

    Gradiva Sketch I carascolarge (1978)

    Ubuweb indexed Gradiva (26 min.) Raymonde Carasco’s film is finally available to the world at large.

    Step by step, delusions escape us like a snake between two stones. The solemn, ritualized repetition of a maiden’s foot stepping on ancient stones has been described as a synecdoche, a trope by which the part represents the whole. The whole in this case is W. Jensen’s novel Gradiva, immortalized by Freud, Bréton and many later French intellectuals like Jean Rouch or Derrida. It is a story about a archeologist who is entranced by the of figure an ancient bas-relief depicting the walk of a young woman from Pompei. Shot with the assistance of Bruno Nuytten (known for his work with Duras), Carasco’s Gradiva is a poetic construction about the fetishization of desire, one that seems to go against Freud’s reading: the gracious movement of the maiden’s foot is seen to be the object itself, not a mere referent, of male desire. ..-Eye of Sound (Read more Ubuweb)

    Raymonde Carasco carasco3
    In Memoriam: Raymonde Carasco 1933-2009 – Master of the Ethnographic Poem (Nicole Brenez)

    How can cinema reach the poetic truth of phenomena, how should the sensual description of appearances and particularities be converted into such a ‘magnetic song’?
    We must thus go back to the very origin of Carasco’s quest. She did not set out for Mexico in the late 1970s in order to rape and pillage the imaginary of the Tarahumaras, but rather to follow the traces of Antonin Artaud, to empirically verify the encounter between a sacred text of modernity and its reality. With the result that her research does not comprise a classical type of investigation (to hide, discover, expose), but an alliance of the senses: to enjoy the privilege of being there, to accept that that she will never see everything, to acquiesce in the gradual revelation of only a few traces, to grasp some movements, some signs that testify to the beauty of friendship, before pretending to understand anything – to share not the secret but the cult of the secret, the cult of mystery and trance.

    Image by Carasco carasco2

    Tutuguri – Tarahumaras 79 2SpectTutu-1
    Raymonde Carasco and Régis Hebraud

    Tutuguri – Tarahumaras 79 ciguri
    Ciguri 99 – Le dernier Chaman
    Raymonde Carasco, France, 1999, 16mm, VO fr / OV fr, 65′

    The words of the last of the Tarahumara shamans alternate with Artaud’s texts about Ciguri, the higher plane of consciousness they access through peyote rituals.

    Claude Levi-Strauss R.I.P.

    Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009
  • Claude Levi Strauss claudelevi
    Portrait by late Irving Penn

    UNESCO pays tribute after death of anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss

    “His thoughts changed the way people perceived each other, striking down such divisive concepts as race and opening the way for a new vision based on recognition of the common bond of humanity.

    NYtimes obit

    The final volume ends by suggesting that the logic of mythology is so powerful that myths almost have a life independent from the peoples who tell them. In his view, they speak through the medium of humanity and become, in turn, the tools with which humanity comes to terms with the world’s greatest mystery: the possibility of not being, the burden of mortality.


    These Swaihwe masks, and the right to wear them in profane ceremonies, belonged exclusively to a few lineages of high rank, were transmitted by marriage, and brought luck and facilitated the acquisition of wealth.

    Swaihwe Mask cowichanswaihwe1
    Claude Levi – Strauss, The Way of the Masks (La Voie des Masques)

    Sontag on Levi-Strauss

    What journalists are saying – (The Atlantic)

    Berkeley graduate school audio lecture

    Claude Levi-Strauss at 100 (Previous post)

    Claude Lévi-Strauss at 100

    Friday, November 28th, 2008

    Claude Lévi-Straussclaude_levi-strauss
    Happy Birthday Claude! He is 100 years old today.

    Claude Lévi-Strauss did not see the West as superior (via)

    “Every effort to understand,” he says, “destroys the object studied in favor of another object of a different nature.” Or: “Anthropology could with advantage be changed into ‘entropology’, as the name of the discipline concerned with the study of the highest manifestations of [a] process of disintegration.” (Tristes Tropiques)

    The Antinomies of Tolerant Reason by Slavoj Zizek

    To many a Western historian of religion, Islam is a problem – how could it have emerged after Christianity, the religion to end all religions? Its very geographic place belies the cliché on Orientalism: much more than belonging to the Orient, the location of Islam makes it a fatal obstacle to the true union of the East and the West – the point made exemplarily by Claude Levi-Strauss:
    “Today, it is behind Islam that I contemplate India; the India of Buddha, prior to Muhammad who – for me as a European and because I am European – arises between our reflection and the teachings which are closest to it /…/ the hands of the East and the West, predestined to be joined, were kept apart by it. /…/
    The West should return to the sources of its torn condition: by way of interposing itself between Buddhism and Christianity, Islam islamized us when, in the course of the Crusades, the West let itself be caught in the opposition to it and thus started to resemble it, instead of delivering itself – in the case of the inexistence of Islam – to the slow osmosis with Buddhism which would christianize us even more, in a sense which would have been all the more Christian insofar as we were to mount beyond Christianity itself. It is then that the West has lost its chance to remain woman. [1]”
    This passage from the last pages of Tristes tropiques articulates the dream of a direct communication and reconciliation between West and East, Christianity and Buddhism, male and female principles.

    Saudades do Brasil: A Photographic Memoir

    The Savage Mind – included here are some quotes from this work

    Bourdieu about Lévi-Strauss

    Re: Trickster

    Lévi-Strauss thinks the trickster of many Native American mythologies acts as a “mediator”. Lévi-Strauss’s argument hinges on two facts about the Native American trickster: (1) the trickster has a contradictory and unpredictable personality; (2) the trickster is almost always a raven or a coyote. Lévi-Strauss argues that the raven and coyote “mediate” the opposition between life and death. The relationship between agriculture and hunting is analogous to the opposition between life and death: agriculture is solely concerned with producing life (at least up until harvest time); hunting is concerned with producing death. (Wiki on Claude Lévi-Strauss)

    Claude of the Jungle: The other Lévi-Strauss turns 100 By Benjamin Ivry

    More links here, including this from the

    Previous birthday post on Claude Levi-Strauss

    Saul Steinberg and Erik Erikson

    Sunday, June 15th, 2008

    Finger Print Landscape gallery_fingerprintland
    1950 (Via)

    She met the artist Saul Steinberg in 1958. When she went to his home to make a portrait, Steinberg came to the door wearing a mask that he had fashioned from a paper bag. Over a period of several years they collaborated on a series of portraits, inviting individuals and groups of people to pose for Morath wearing Steinberg’s masks. (via)

    Saul Steinberg wearing one of his masks, c. 1961. Photo by Inge Morath.

    June 15 is the birthday of Saul Steinberg and Erik Erikson.

    The Erikson life-stage virtues, in the order of the stages in which they may be acquired, are:

  • 1. hope – Basic Trust vs. Mistrust – Infant stage. Does the child believe its caregivers to be reliable?
  • 2. will – Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt – Toddler stage. Child needs to learn to explore the world. Bad if the parent is too smothering or completely neglectful.
  • 3. purpose – Initiative vs. Guilt – Kindergarten – Can the child plan or do things on his own, such as dress him or herself. If “guilty” about making his or her own choices, the child will not function well. Erikson has a positive outlook on this stage, saying that most guilt is quickly compensated by a sense of accomplishment.
  • 4. competence – Industry vs. Inferiority – Around age 6 to puberty. Child comparing self worth to others (such as in a classroom environment). Child can recognise major disparities in personal abilities relative to other children. Erikson places some emphasis on the teacher, who should ensure that children do not feel inferior.
  • 5. fidelity – Identity vs. Role Confusion – Teenager. Questioning of self. Who am I, how do I fit in? Where am I going in life? Erikson believes that if the parents allow the child to explore, they will conclude their own identity. However, if the parents continually push him/her to conform to their views, the teen will face identity confusion.
  • 6. love (in intimate relationships, work and family) – Intimacy vs. Isolation – Young adult. Who do I want to be with or date, what am I going to do with my life? Will I settle down? This stage has begun to last longer as young adults choose to stay in school and not settle.
  • 7.caring – Generativity vs. Stagnation – the Mid-life crisis. Measure accomplishments/failures. Am I satisfied or not? The need to assist the younger generation. Stagnation is the feeling of not having done anything to help the next generation.
  • 8. wisdom – Ego Integrity vs. Despair – old age. Some handle death well. Some can be bitter, unhappy, dissatisfied with what they accomplished or failed to accomplish within their life time. They reflect on the past, and either conclude at satisfaction or despair.
  • Gandhi’s Truth On the Origins of Militant Nonviolence by Erik H. Erikson –

    Previous post on Father and Son – Oe Kenzaburo, Arthur Miller and Gandhi

    Beyond Culture – Edward T Hall

    Wednesday, May 16th, 2007

    Happy Birthday
    Edward T Hall Edward T Hall

    From 1933 to 1937, famed anthropologist Edward T. Hall lived and worked on the Navajo and Hopi reservations in Arizona. West of the Thirties is the story of Edward as a young man discovering his way in what might have been another century and another world, a frontier where four cultures – Navajo, Hopi, Hispanic and Anglo – clashed.

    We play out our own paradigms until we learn another. But this was not something that I learned in class. When I was on the reservation, figuring out how to work with the Hopis and the Navajos, this is where I found out they were entirely different. And that imposing my paradigm on others would not work
    Gifts of Wisdom: An Interview with Dr. Edward T. Hall | The Edge

    Beyond Culture Beyond Culture Edward T Hall

    More words of wisdom from Edward T Hall.

    Now, you can’t tell me, we have the only God in the whole world. You can’t tell me that nobody else has God.

    The future for us is the foreseeable future. The South Asian, however, feels that it is perfectly realistic to think of a ‘long time’ in terms of thousands of years.

    The information is in the people, not in your head.

    The reason man does not experience his true cultural self is that until he experiences another self as valid he has little basis for validating his own self.

    Two points that are very important points to remember and ask: Is it real and does it work?

    We should never denigrate any other culture but rather help people to understand the relationship between their own culture and the dominant culture. When you understand another culture or language, it does not mean that you have to lose your own culture.

    We tend to do a lot of top down, micro-managing. In other words, we use the reptilian model.

    You are the instrument of research.

    Raise the Red Lantern & Mosuo Women – A Meditation on Contrast

    Tuesday, September 20th, 2005

    “Saturated in hothouse colors, the three-act “Lantern” is an intense dance-theater version of the multi-award-winning film by Chinese auteur Zhang Yimou (“Hero,” “House of Flying Daggers”). The stage version is as lush and fluidly cinematic as Zhang’s — which, ironically, was banned in China when it was released in 1991.” (LA Times)
    Raised the Red Lantern

    “Raise the Red Lantern is now a “Chinese Ballet making an American premiere this month in Berkeley and will be also at the Orange County Performing Arts Center for six performances beginning Tuesday. (The company then goes to the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York.)
    “Having seen and admired the film of the same name, I have to report that the ballet is entirely different and only the theme of female subjugation remains” (from past review when it showcased in England)

    A few days ago BBC had this curious article about Mosuo Women in China – it says ” The Chinese region with women in charge

    The two images from BBC.

    Now read Mr. Zhang Jia in a comment to the blog Peking Duck referring to this same article.
    “A huge fuss is made of the supposedly “matriarchal” Mosuo who live around Lugu Lake. The Mosuo were just one of a whole patchwork of local ethnic groups who had adapted in different ways to their environment. They mingled with Tibetans who practised polyandry [several brothers, one wife] and Han Chinese who still practise polygamy with their Da Laopo and Xiao Laopo. The Mosuo were a lot more than just a matriarchal society: to label them as some unique sexual social group is to misrepresent them as freaks. Unfortunately, they have attracted the attention of prurient tour group visitors who come thinking that they will be able to partake of casual sex in the name of a “walking marriage”.
    If you want to read more about the traditional mix of Mongols, Mosuo, Pumi, Naxi and Tibetans in this area, try:
    In the Footsteps of Joseph Rock

    Edge on Dan Sperber talking about Anthropology.
    “Anthropologists started studying themselves and trying to reflect on their own situation. It was a kind of reflective anthropology, which had a number of interesting aspects. I certainly don’t think it was useless although it became a bit obsessive. Parallel to these developments, were the post-structuralist and then post-modernist movements in the humanities and the social sciences, the development of “cultural studies,” and many anthropologists felt at ease in these movements. This produced a new kind of discourse, taking the study of other cultures as much as a pretext as a subject matter to be investigated in a standard scholarly manner. Again, some of the products of this appraoch are of genuine interest, but on the whole more harm has been done than good.”