I made a silly little video about what happens when I tell people I study archaeology.
This is actually adorable. “I watched the mummy.”
You should have heard by now from the news and at twitter about what happened in my country…
This is big and should be televised.
“Oh! I read this thing about the Pirahã; you’ve probably never heard of it-“
If they’re in Language Revitalization
If they’re in Morphology
Ah, feels good…now that I’m out of school for the summer I can actually focus on posting academic stuff. I know that sounds silly but I was really swamped this semester.
If you’re in linguistics or anthropology or linguistic anthropology, chances are you’ve happened upon Charles Hockett’s Design Features of Language at some point, or will happen upon them at some point. They’re kind of useful to know! Problem is, it can be difficult tracking down the original articles where he discusses these design features which can be very problematic when trying to cite and source for a paper.
As I worked on my senior thesis on “The Capacity for H. Neanderthalensis to Acquire and Utilize Language” I did happen to find one copy of it not hidden behind a pay wall (it’s free). It’s an article called The Origin of Speech by Charles Hockett (1960) [click the link to view] The quality could be better as parts of it are faded/hard to read, but it does provide some great visuals like this:
The book, Language files: materials for an introduction to language and linguistics by Bergmann, Anouschka, Kathleen Currie Hall, and Sharon Miriam Ross (10th Ed. - 2007) also introduces Hockett’s design features but does not go as in depth as this article. As a side note, this book is still very good to have especially for beginner linguists.
This particular article is great in explaining the differences and similarities between human and nonhuman communication, as well as the general complexities of human language. Of course, much research has been added since 1960 in the field of linguistics and linguistic anthropology. However, it is important to be aware of the previous research done and what contributions have been made already so you’re not making wild and uninformed assertions about human language and non-human communication. I figured I would share this article because it can be difficult to find (outside of databases that require subscriptions), and because it’s very useful.
Anybody ever buy bedding from Anthropology??
the reviews are either really good and worth the money, or really bad and complaining about seams tearing easily.
No, I find it very difficult to purchase bedding from social sciences.
I would also advise against trying the Australopithecines and other hominids because they’re all fucking dead.
This extensive Buzzfeed article investigates the troubling story of Leo Jiang, a man who has spent years and tens of thousands of dollars on cosmetic surgeries designed to mask his “ethnic” Chinese features. While the phenomenon of plastic surgery is an increasingly common one, Jiang’s deliberate attempts at “de-racialization” and obvious psychological issues confound the conversation on beauty, race, and the choice to go under the knife.
Jiang explains his reasoning for undergoing such extensive facial reconstruction, and his childhood trauma being teased as a Chinese “other” growing up in the UK:
“I believed that my ugliness was in part due to my ethnic features. My father thinks I’m ridiculous for building a complex system of beliefs based on that shallow stimulus. He says, ‘You’ve gone and done this, so you must be very proud of it, but initially it was some stupid kids opening their mouths to you.’”
But Jiang’s attempts to “Westernize” his own features cannot speak for the decisions of many South Korean men and women to opt for the colloquially-termed “double eyelid surgery,” which some have called an overt reflection of the East’s fetishization of Western beauty standards. Such a reading may be a simplistic imposition of our own Western understanding of race and beauty into a very different societal context. NYU’s Sharon Lee explains:
“Race does not enter the consciousness [in Asia] in the same way it does here. It’s easy to pathologize a whole country of people. This notion that Korean women want to become white becomes a really easy answer. That’s not to say that race isn’t important, but when we stop there we’re overlooking much larger structural and historical phenomenons. No Korean woman says, ‘I want to look white.’”
Jiang’s provocative journey and its implications for the larger conversation on cosmetic surgery’s increased ubiquity is explored further here.
This poster’s comment on the Buzzfeed article sums up everything I want to say on the issue, forever:
Victoria Le - Brown University:
What a repugnant article, soaking in unquestioned bias, condescension, and racial privilege.
While it was very nice of you to even include opinions from the defenders of these procedures, it’s clear that you’re completely uninterested in weighing the merits of their arguments or even extending to them real compassion or more than the vaguest and most pitying curiosity for their rationale.
You quote Jiang saying that “Whatever I do, I can’t become white,” yet you still feel comfortable diagnosing him with the need to “pass” and to “become this new [implied: whiter] person.” I’m not saying that racial insecurity has nothing to do with certain Asians’ decision to tuck their eyelids or reshape their noses, but you seem unwilling to entertain any other possibilities. Like here: “Protestations of doctors like Cheung aside, the procedure’s history belies its original intended purpose.” A) That sentence is stupid. No crap the procedure’s history belies its original purpose - its original purpose is its history. B) People do things for all sorts of reasons that can have nothing to do with their original intended purposes: get tattoos, keep kosher, wear blue jeans.
And it’s one thing to have a firm opinion about an issue, another to let your biases interfere with your sense of journalism. You describe the risks of blepharoplasty and jaw-narrowing surgery without explicitly acknowledging that non-racialized cosmetic procedures pose the same risks.
It’s especially sad because there’s so much about this issue you could have discussed in greater depth: the generational gap between proponents and opponents of surgical enhancement, the effect of globalization on various cultures, the changing cultural landscape of major Asian cities, how class influences people’s decisions about their bodies and appearance, how traditional Western and Eastern ideals of beauty intersect to create the kinds of body modification you see in Asian countries, etc.
Instead we get:
“Bei was undergoing jaw narrowing surgery - a slightly, but only slightly, nuanced version of taking an angle grinder to your lower jawbone” - I love that sneering “only slightly,” as if something like a facelift (remove and reattach your face!) isn’t a similarly intense procedure. Or as if grinding down the jawbone isn’t also done as a part of non-cosmetic surgery.
“I ask if [Jiang’s] lost the perspective that this is a medical procedure, and things can go wrong. Again, it doesn’t seem to properly sink in” - Again, I love the condescension.
“She was white and had dyed-blonde hair - her own, decidedly less invasive attempt at physical reinvention” - When white people change their appearance, it’s fine and not at all symptomatic of a deeper racial sickness.
“After we part, he’ll walk to a private dance class for which he’s paying $80 an hour…. A few weeks later he’ll wake at 5 a.m. for voice and drama lessons to learn how to act confidently in social situations” - How bizarre and snidely insinuating. It’s true that there is a specifically Asian market for lessons in confidence, but you might as well mention how Western stereotypes and pressure to conform feed that market.
“where two pretty parents are surrounded by ugly kids” - Yes, “pretty” and “ugly.” Not the more journalistic “who have undergone cosmetic surgery” or “who have not undergone cosmetic surgery.” I get that the ad itself is invoking a social bias, but could you try not to use language that perpetuates the kinds of attitudes that drive people to seek out cosmetic surgery in the first place?
“It’s all a way to muddle the real emotion behind the actions - 16 years ago some dumb people made some dumb comments and it’s still dominating his life” - Spoken like someone who’s never been the victim of persistent and culturally encompassing racial prejudice (yes, yes, you’re only agreeing with Jiang’s father, but you have even less of a basis to infer anything about Jiang’s psychology).
I’m Asian. I haven’t had any of these procedures done, but my mom has (an eyelid tuck), and as far as I can tell, she’s happy with her surgery and content with herself in general. If there was a racial component to her decision, she never mentioned it.
But racial prejudice is more than just a few isolated incidents. It’s not just that a kid in school can call you a chink or a gook or make squinty eyes to mock you. It’s that there are almost no Asian actors or actresses in Western-made film or TV; it’s that the Asian (more likely half-Asian) performers who do appear tend to conform to Western beauty standards; it’s that stereotypes about Asian impotence and submissiveness are tied to height, penis size, and jaw strength; it’s that eye makeup is designed for Western features; it’s that you can get passed over for jobs or relationships because of your appearance; it’s that people look at the before and after pictures for these surgeries and think the “after” picture is the beautiful one.
When will we finally get sick of hearing white people like the author of this article ridicule racial pathologies among people of color - pathologies which white people helped to create, or at least benefit from without question? If you really cared about Asian self-esteem, you’d worry more about what Western culture is doing to help or hurt Asians, instead of just blaming the victim.
You don’t give a shit about us. You really don’t. You pretend to feel sorry for us. And then you turn your back and casually affirm yourself as the more ~beautiful~ one, among backhanded comments about preserving our natural beauty.
You don’t really give a shit about dismantling harmful beauty structures. You don’t give a shit about our sufferings or the shit that you did to us. You don’t give a shit about our skin, our eyes, our jaw, our cheekbones, our hair and our bodies.
You just want to feel good.
Angry bird saying WTF.
So yeah if anyone was wondering where I was, that’s what I was doing.
Aside from indulging in non-academic fandom shit. Oh! and while I had the worst semester of my life taking eight college courses at one time, I did get my highest GPA ever for the semester (3.802) and managed an A in my senior seminar course for anthropology, even though I wrote the crappiest paper on Neanderthal language capacity.
In regards to people thinking anthropology is totally useless let me tell you something. I just finished my degree in anthropology. I am currently training to be a TESOL teacher, that is, Teaching English to Students of Other Languages. The vast majority of the students that I will be working with during my student teaching and during my career are from immigrant or refugee families.
The field of TESOL is not entirely that old. Before programs were implemented in US schools, support for (non-native) English Language Learners (aka ELLs) was not that great and in some respects programs still have a lot of areas it needs to improve in. That’s a long story short.
Anyways, part of the program requires that future teachers be educated in a variety of areas including psychology and linguistics. However, ELLs come from different cultural backgrounds and their status as immigrants, refugees, and/or first and second generation Americans means that they face some unique challenges. For this reason, future teachers are also required to take courses that will teach them how to recognize these additional challenges and identify unique behaviors and cultural practices these children exhibit. Why? - because things like this happen:
Teacher A notices that student A is not doing something right in class, so they reprimand the student. Student A smiles at teacher A. Thinking that the student is mocking them, teacher A begins to shout at the student. Student A is nervous but continues to smile. Teacher B who has been trained as a TESOL teacher notices this and quickly explains to teacher A that the student understands what they were doing wasn’t right, but smiling to someone who is superior to them is a sign of respect in their culture.
This is based on a real incident relayed to me by another TESOL teacher. Miscommunication due to cultural difference happens often in the classroom between uninformed teachers and students. This can have negative consequences on the student and hinder success in school.
There are a variety of other factors teachers need to understand when it comes to ELLs. One is recognizing the differences between being a student with a (learning) disability and being an ELL student. Some of the factors that contribute to differences between ELLs’ experiences in school and other students are, but not limited to the following:
All of these require interventions and accommodations that will aid students in getting through these challenges to achieve success. Ultimately, there are a lot of odds stacked against these students and these students are at high risk. This is why it requires a lot of training on the teachers’, counselors’, etc. part to provide these interventions/accommodations, which in essence means a well rounded education involving education in linguistic and cultural anthropology.
I can’t quantify the gay cos no one can, but I can say that if any discipline is gay, it’s anthro. No, I should correct myself. I’d like to think and hope that anthro is one of the queerest fields out there. In fact, I’d like to co-opt some of the many positive aspects of queerness and suggest that anthropology, when done properly shares them. Anthro is accepting, is diverse and won’t be pinned down to a single definition. Anthro is fluid, may be liminal in its practice, is defined on a spectrum and is inclusive to people of all different colours, creeds and inclinations. I can’t speak for the gay anthro community cos I’m not part of it, but I’ll ding dong the gay gong and rep for all the PFLAG people out there who’ve been waving the rainbow flag for those we love and respect since the beginning. I’d be proud to think anthro is gay. Who wouldn’t be?
***Though I acknowledge the legitimacy of your question and what it addresses, I didn’t dignify that part of anon’s query with an answer. And also cos it’s been addressed by humanisticscience.
I’m a little bit in love with your answer, Olduvai.
I’m a little bit in love with Olduvai