notes, senior seminar. theories and variables

theories in our anthropological paper is a way to explain something. the variable is the thing to be explained.

paper 1
building of dams affects women’s livelihoods in a particular river valley in Senegal. variable is the dam and new irrigation methods, which is to be explained, and the result of the dam being there is the affected livelihood of women as measured by employment, household income, and so forth

paper 2
prostitution is conceptualized as a particular thing in anthropological literature. E will draw upon his particular experience in mongolia where he massaged the feet of an old man and felt like a prostitute because he was providing a sexual service (unpaid, however) using this he will criticize one of his own papers that he wrote in another anthropology class and expand it to anthropology in general. here, the variable is the anthropologist’s conception of prostitution, and the result thereof is the current literature about prostitution.

fun term: prostitutive anthropology. how is anthropology perceived in prostitution? how is that anthropologist who hanged out with prostitute informants in DC and ended up singing in the car together while raining? (at C&C)

theories suggested: theories of representation of manhood, WGS stuff, etc

paper 3
nursing women in south africa are immigrating en masse to places like saudi arabia, britain, and so forth. there are pull and push factors: wages, satisfaction at the job, social instablity, (what else was here?) variable is all of the factors together

theories suggested: mimi sheller’s movement of bodies theory

paper 4
revival of shamanism in mongolian youth and how it relates to the revival of nationalism after the fall of communism in mongolia. weatherford indicates that just the “practice of shamanism among youth” is a invariable phenomenon, and that it doesn’t change – not a variable. i suggest that maybe the study should compare traditional perceptions of youth towards shamanism before the fall of communism to the revival post-fall, and that would give two differing situations where the two variables, revival of shamanism and neonationalism/fall of communism are correlating variables.

theories suggested: john fiske’s study of suburban white youth using hip hop from black urban youth as a cultural artifact through which they build up their own sense of belonging/resistance

observation: i think it was not clear throughout the class what we meant by “variable”. because it seemed to be one kind of thign in one paper, and then in the next paper it was on the other end of the equation.

weatherford: make sure you bring in the external theory because it fits well with what you want to talk about, not just because you want to show off how cool Foucault or Derrida are and/or you read them. a lot of the academic garbage produced these days comes from students trying to “identify” with a certain school of thought which they find cool/progressive but they are unable to articulate the theory with their actual research, because it was forced upon to start with. (this rings with Guneratne warning of scholars just dropping names to fit in with the rest of academia)