Campus is particularly beautiful at the moment. The seasons have finally turned. It’s going to be twenty-six degree today. I’m going to go for a run with the dogs before riding into campus to attend a lecture on theories of the origin of languages by Ian Keen. This combination of things amounts to the production of joy.
On other things, I have been meaning to share further excerpts from Burbank’s new ethnography. Toward that end is the following from the Introduction.
‘Over the years, I have, along with many of my anthropological colleagues, come to accept that in our ethnographic efforts we do not describe sociocultural realities so much as interpret them (e.g. Geertz 1973; Marcus ann Fisher 1986). And as we have come to accept this characterisation of our activity, we have also come to accept the importance of our interpretive frameworks and of being conscious of them. It has become apparent that an understanding of anything is usually affected by prior understandings of something else, an insight derived from cognitive science, and schema theory in particular, from which the principle methods of this research are derived. (Burbank 2011, p. 2).
~ ‘It has become apparent that an understanding of anything is usually affected by prior understandings of something else’ ~ Gold.
Take that Bourdieu and your ‘structuring structure which is itself a structured structure’.
As Burbank’s work shows, once anthropologists have an understanding about how the brain works, the process through which we learn by association and the central role of emotion and motivation, it is possible to talk about things like experience, learning, dispositions and sensibilities etc. without making things up or making people and cognitive-affective processes seem unnecessarily mysterious and abstract.
Naomi Quinn and Claudia Strauss are central figures of ‘schema theory’, which Burbank mentions above.
Strauss & Quinn are way there in the pantheon of anthropological awesome in my mind. In addition and on top of everything else they are solid, strong feminist figures.