05 October 2011

Dormant blog

Hi all, anybody still there?

We've been super lazy with the blog lately, mostly because graduate school is working me hard. 14 hour days? Really? So I just thought I'd send out an update on what I'm doing and a bit on what Amanda's up to.

I"m taking three courses this semester - Evolution and Ecology, Socio-cultural Theory, and Anthropology of Design. Taken together this is about 1500 pages of reading per week, but it's really interesting stuff. In my last master's I studied contemporary social theory (from 1990 approximately) so now I'm kind of working my way back to see the foundation for today's theory. It's also a good way to bring back old ideas to refresh new ones.

Besides courses I'm TAing 3 recitation sections for introductory anthropology - this is basically teaching three classes every two weeks. The students will be doing mini-ethnographies this semester so it should be interesting to see what they come up with. I'm also tutoring in the athletic department.

I'm already working on grant applications for next summer. First I have to decide which project I'll pursue. One would be going back to Bolivia to study how quinoa commercialization has led to conflicts over land tenure in some communities. After the price of quinoa rose and the price of tin fell a lot of tin miners returned to their original communities to farm quinoa - the problem was that others had taken over production of their land while they had been away. So the issue isn't just who owns the land, but what does it mean to own land. I would be looking into the land tenure issue, but also how the farmers and miners' different knowledges and experiences are embodied in their farming practices and their political practices.

The other project would be to do an ethnography on a large-scale farming operation in Argentina, Paraguay, or Bolivia. There are a lot of critiques on 'hegemonic globalization' of farming and the impacts of large-scale export farming for the environment and for local economies - I would be looking at the issue ethnographically.  Like my research of intermediaries in Bolivia, I imagine that most large-scale farmers in these countries aren't simply harbingers of environmental destruction, but are only working towards their own vision of development within the framework of the global economy. So I would look at the farmers' myth-making and how their development story can help understand how agricultural development works. In other words, this research would take on 'hegemonic globalization' as a process performed by local-based actors with distinct visions of development and ontologies.

Amanda is working on job applications and has a schedule full of interviews so we're hoping that she'll have something lined up by November. This week she's at the NC Library Conference so I'll be eating sandwiches and cereal for the next few days.

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