For curio’s sake – and for its [mild] critique of anthropology – there is this short chapter from Orhan Pamuk’s ‘Museum of Innocence’. You only need to know that the ‘author’ of the text has been deliriously in love with Fusan for years. What is impressive however is the way empirical evidence gets into the novel, a documentation of this obsession. It is even possible to visit the museum and see the butts lovingly displayed.
Following this -giant- boat by ethnography.
The following post is the first in a series of oceanic dispatches from Disorder member Charmaine Chua. She is currently on a 36-day journey on board a 100,000 ton Evergreen container ship starting in Los Angeles, going across the Pacific Ocean and ending in Taipei. Follow her ethnographic adventures with the tag ‘Slow Boat to China’.
“In civilizations without boats, dreams dry up, espionage takes the place of adventure, and the police take the place of pirates.”
There is uncanny beauty in the monstrous. This, at least, is the feeling that seizes me as I stand under the colossal Ever Cthulu berthed in the Port of Los Angeles. The ship’s hull alone rises eight stories into the air; even from a distance, I am unable to capture its full length or height within a single camera frame. In describing the…
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Was asked for advice on preparation for field research today…
It is always a good question. I think most anthropologists, in preparation for fieldwork, write a fairly critical ethical reflection on what they are about to do, but invariably the actual doing of it throws up things they could not really have anticipated. That in itself is interesting, and good. A kind of dialectic based on preparing for the unexpected. Perhaps this can be called the great philosophical angst and reflection form of the existential conundrum – boiled down to: how can you get yourself ready to be surprised?
Methods courses have always somehow been about this. The anthropologist or sociologist is someone who trains to seek out what they do not know. Most especially, or maybe ideally, to find something that they probably don’t even know they are looking for. How can this even be taught? Maybe it is a philosophical attitude, maybe it requires a certain kind of person, maybe it is always self-deception? We do tend to seek out what fits our understanding, what confirms our view of the world. Yet we also try to recognise that the only reason for doing anything is really to find out if it’s possible to see the world differently that we do now.
My advice is always to stay prepared for what you cannot be prepared for, even if it means disregarding advice… An old book, Kurt Wolff ‘Surrender and Catch’ might be worth a look in this regard.
On the other hand, my position has usually been that anthropologists and sociologists should not be inflicted upon the world. Keep them home – a moratorium on fieldwork for 20 years…
It seems very wrong to classify this ‘jobs.ac.uk’ post under ‘social care’:
Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) – Behavioural and Cultural Systems Team
Location: Fareham, Portsmouth
Salary: £23,500 to £33,500
Hours: Full Time
Placed on: 13th June 2014
Closes: 18th July 2014
Job Ref: 1415972
Dstl is responsible for designing, developing and applying the very latest in science and technology for the benefit of UK defence and security, across government. We work with the best people with the best ideas around the world – from very small companies to world-class universities, huge defence companies and sometimes other nations. Together we develop battle-winning technologies, based on deep and widespread research, to support UK military operations, now and in the future.
This is a genuinely involving, unusual and rewarding anthropology role – it’s an opportunity to apply your expertise to inform the way the UK responds to security and defence threats.
You will be joining the Behavioural and Cultural Systems team within Dstl’s Strategic Analysis Group, a 50 strong group of specialists drawn from diverse backgrounds such as psychology, theology, war studies and law. Anthropology is an important element in the mix, as the UK’s ability to tackle future challenges depends on in-depth, accurate insight into populations and societies.
You will be supporting analysis at strategic and operational level, by drawing on a wide range of established and emergent human and social science theories. Your analysis, assessment and advice will be crucial to aiding our understanding of individuals, groups and organisational systems – relating to a wide range of social and cultural issues confronting Her Majesty’s Government. Ultimately, your contribution can help shape and influence government policy and UK Armed Forces operations.
It’s essential that you have an Honours degree in Anthropology or a related subject, and membership of a relevant professional body.
You need a proven record of using a variety of structured social science analysis / research methods to support decision making, together with practical experience of applying Anthropological principles in problem-sets.
You will be a customer-focused researcher who works well both independently and collaboratively.
An understanding of UK defence and security environments or experience of analysis on counter-insurgency or counter-terrorism is an advantage.
Dstl is responsible for designing, developing and applying the very latest in science and technology for the benefit of UK defence and security, across the government. We work with the best people with the best ideas around the world – from very small companies to world-class universities, huge defence companies … even other nations. Together we develop battle-winning technologies, based on deep and widespread research, to support UK military operations, now and in the future.
In return for playing your part in the UK’s defence and security, we offer extensive benefits that include everything from a pension and generous leave, to excellent learning and development opportunities – all in addition to a competitive salary. Our sites are equipped with gyms and restaurants. But it’s not just your working environment that we’ve thought about. Your home life is important too, which is why we offer childcare vouchers, a flexible work-life balance and even discounts on everything from bus tickets to the cost of a new bicycle. In short, we’ve done our best to ensure that our rewards reflect your talents.
To find out more about this role and the work of Dstl, please go to Civil Service Jobs https://jobsstatic.civilservice.gov.uk/csjobs.html/ and search for the vacancy reference 1415972. Follow the instructions to apply.
Due to the reserved nature of this role, it is only open to UK Nationals who have lived in this country for more than five years. All posts require standard Security Clearance (SC).
Closing date: 18 July 2014.