Friday, February 10, 2012

a few more annotated sources

-Agar, Michael. Language Shock: Understanding the Culture of Conversation. New York: William Morrow, 1994. Print.

This book contains the chapter "Culture Blends" which was assigned reading for IAS 360 a few weeks ago. I liked Agar's writing style and his insights so much that I decided to take a look at the rest of the book and picked it up from the library soon after we talked about it in class. This source was written for a more general audience than most academic articles and has a light, casual tone (which is a nice break for me right now) but also contains lots of ideas about the interaction between language and culture. Agar discusses many previous linguists and anthropologists in order to build the argument that he is working towards, and draws especially from the idea of "linguaculture" (which he calls languaculture instead) developed by Friedrich. His purpose is to teach strategies for understanding and successfully interacting with other cultures. He proposes that we can do this by building frames, focusing on "rich points" where we can tell that another culture is different from our own, and through anthropology's ever useful tools of a holistic, comparative perspective combined with lots of fieldwork. I'm not finished reading this yet but it has already helped me gain a better understanding of the history of the development of my field(s) of interest, and has sparked several ideas that I would like to explore in learning journals in the future.

-Conoway, Mary Ellen. "The Pretense of the Neutral Researcher." Self, Sex, and Gender in Cross-cultural Fieldwork. Ed. Tony Larry. Whitehead and Mary Ellen Conaway. Urbana: University of Illinois, 1986. 52-63. Print.

In this article, Conoway argues that the ideal objective researcher does not exist, and therefore it is much more useful to become aware of the biases and perspectives that we have as researchers than to pretend that they don't exist. It has been difficult to admit these biases in the past within the field of anthropological research because it would seem to undermine the credibility of the research being performed, but Conoway describes how awareness and a thorough study of how the "self" of the researcher interacts with the research is a much better way to deal with the situation.

-Jackson, Jean. "On Trying to Be an Amazon." Self, Sex, and Gender in Cross-cultural Fieldwork. Ed. Tony Larry. Whitehead and Mary Ellen. Conaway. Urbana: University of Illinois, 1986. 263-73. Print.

In this article, Jean Jackson looks at her experience doing field work in the Amazon among the Tukanoan people. She relates how she initially tried to ignore her gender as a factor that would influence her research, and eventually came to understand gender roles better in her own culture as well as the one she studied by becoming more aware of this element. I think this article is important to my attempt to study in the field because I will need to be aware of my background and point of view in order to better be able to understand the perspectives of others while conducting research in the field. I also like that Jackson talks about her self-perception and the perception that her companions back in the states had of her while she was in the field because of the way she portrayed herself. This made me think of my own self-image in regards to studying an indigenous language in the Amazon and the way that I present myself both to the people I am with there and those who are here.

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