Irfan Ahmad: Beyond Trump’s Notion of the “Pathetic Critic”

Today we welcome a guest post from Irfan Ahmad, author of Religion as Critique:  Islamic Critical Thinking from Mecca to the Marketplace.  Professor Ahmad is an anthropologist and senior research fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Studies in Göttingen, Germany. In Religion as Critique, Irfan Ahmad makes the far-reaching… Continue Reading Irfan Ahmad: Beyond Trump’s Notion of the “Pathetic Critic”

John Hayes: “Those People”

Today we welcome a guest post from John Hayes, author of Hard, Hard Religion:  Interracial Faith in the Poor South, on the history of class and race in the American South. In Hard, Hard Religion, his captivating study of faith and class, John Hayes examines the ways folk religion in the early twentieth century allowed… Continue Reading John Hayes: “Those People”

Anthony Chaney: The Royal Scam

Today, we welcome a guest post from Anthony Chaney, author of Runaway:  Gregory Bateson, the Double Bind, and the Rise of Ecological Consciousness, on Steely Dan, Columbia House and the negative-option record club. The anthropologist Gregory Bateson has been called a lost giant of twentieth-century thought. In the years following World War II, Bateson was… Continue Reading Anthony Chaney: The Royal Scam

Douglas Hunter: Dighton Rock, Leif Eriksson, and the Origins of Scientific Racism

Today we welcome a guest post from Douglas Hunter, author of The Place of Stone:  Dighton Rock and the Erasure of America’s Indigenous Past, on the contested history of Dighton Rock and it’s petroglyphs. Claimed by many to be the most frequently documented artifact in American archeology, Dighton Rock is a forty-ton boulder covered in… Continue Reading Douglas Hunter: Dighton Rock, Leif Eriksson, and the Origins of Scientific Racism

Anthony Chaney: Movie Monsters That Disturb Our Sleep

Today, we welcome a guest post from Anthony Chaney, author of Runaway:  Gregory Bateson, the Double Bind, and the Rise of Ecological Consciousness, who ruminates on nature, evolution, and the mind of movie sharks and dinosaurs. The anthropologist Gregory Bateson has been called a lost giant of twentieth-century thought. In the years following World War… Continue Reading Anthony Chaney: Movie Monsters That Disturb Our Sleep

Kristina M. Jacobsen: The Gallup Flea Market and Navajo Cultural Sovereignty

What struck me this time after many months away overseas is the subtle ways that Diné cultural sovereignty is practiced in this informal economy, where unemployment on the Navajo Nation currently hovers above 50%, and where tribal citizens are incredibly creative about ways to make ends meet in order to live on or close to their ancestral homeland (a statement about sovereignty and connection to homeland in its own right). Although not an explicitly “political” space, Diné citizens express their attachments to being Diné through what they choose—or refuse—to sell in this public space. Continue Reading Kristina M. Jacobsen: The Gallup Flea Market and Navajo Cultural Sovereignty

Shabana Mir: The Headscarf/Hijab Debate

Recently, a blogosphere debate erupted on headscarves/hijab among various Muslim women. The debate was preceded by physical harassment against visibly Muslim women. The worsened climate of Islamophobia was greeted with shock and disgust by a number of Americans. A number of non-Muslim women—Dr. Larycia Hawkins of Wheaton College, for instance—put on the headscarf as a gesture of solidarity with Muslims. While some Muslims critiqued hijab solidarity as a form of appropriation, many welcomed it as a well-intentioned and courageous gesture in difficult times. Continue Reading Shabana Mir: The Headscarf/Hijab Debate

Excerpt: Muslim American Women on Campus, by Shabana Mir

Fatima was an adventurous designer of third space identities, a non-hijabi who was at the same time religiously devout, socially liberal, sexually conservative, and politically aware. When Fatima entered the gates of Georgetown, having newly graduated from a strictly Islamic school, she was horrified to find that some of her Muslim friends drank alcohol. Continue Reading Excerpt: Muslim American Women on Campus, by Shabana Mir

Excerpt: Island Queens and Mission Wives, by Jennifer Thigpen

Thigpen describes the voyage of New England missionaries to Hawai’i and the political shifts occurring on the island that signaled the powerful role women would play in the cultural interactions that lay ahead. Continue Reading Excerpt: Island Queens and Mission Wives, by Jennifer Thigpen

Interview: Shabana Mir on College Experiences of Muslim American Women

Recently, I took (and passed) my citizenship test, and the interviewer asked me if I had a middle name. When I said no, she asked if I wanted to change my name. Hmm, I thought, am I supposed to, to become an American? For many Americans, including those born and raised here, there’s an assumption that they must prove just how American they are. My research participants felt that way much of the time, but those who practiced certain kinds of behaviors—drinking, dating, dressing in mainstream Western fashion—felt the pressure less. Diya was relatively indistinguishable from her White American friends in terms of lifestyle, but then she came under question for just how Muslim she was. If she didn’t wear hijab, was she a nominal Muslim? Amber, a hijabi, was on the other hand perpetually being required to speak up for Muslims in classroom discussions on Islam and terrorism, or Islam and gender. Almost all of my research participants felt that because of the pervasive nature of Muslim stereotypes, they were always or often having to prove that they were really American, normal, empowered, peaceful Muslims. Continue Reading Interview: Shabana Mir on College Experiences of Muslim American Women

Interview: Walt Wolfram and Jeffrey Reaser on the Dialects of North Carolina

Language and dialects are culture, but like other aspects of our heritage, they have sometimes existed under the cultural radar. In part, this is due to the historical and political subordination of the South. Southern speech has become increasingly different from Northern speech since the Civil War, but it was interpreted as inferior due to the stereotypes of the South by outsiders. The effects of linguistic prejudice are just as harmful as other types of prejudicial attitudes, perhaps more so because their workings are often invisible. It takes time to raise linguistic awareness by countering myths and stereotypes with formal and informal education about the legacy of dialects. North Carolinians deserve to know and understand the truth about its distinct dialect and language legacy. Continue Reading Interview: Walt Wolfram and Jeffrey Reaser on the Dialects of North Carolina

Video and Event Celebrate Paul Kwilecki’s “One Place”

Kwilecki developed his visual ideas in series of photographs of high school proms, prison hog killings, shade-tree tobacco farming, factory work, church life, the courthouse. Continue Reading Video and Event Celebrate Paul Kwilecki’s “One Place”

Nicole Fabricant: Santa Cruz Civic Leaders and New Strategic Alliances with Indigenous Protestors in Bolivia

I was back in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, the lowland agro-industrial capital of Bolivia for the months of July and August 2012 in order to understand a new political conflict that had exploded between the government of Evo Morales and lowland Indigenous groups in 2011. Continue Reading Nicole Fabricant: Santa Cruz Civic Leaders and New Strategic Alliances with Indigenous Protestors in Bolivia

Interview, Part 2: Nicole Fabricant on “Mobilizing Bolivia’s Displaced”

In this second of two interviews, Fabricant discusses the ways in which indigeneity has been mobilized as well as some of the causes of the widespread disillusionment with the nation’s first Indigenous president, Evo Morales. Continue Reading Interview, Part 2: Nicole Fabricant on “Mobilizing Bolivia’s Displaced”

Excerpt: Decolonizing Museums, by Amy Lonetree

One of the most vivid memories of my experience in the museum world—and one that has shaped both my understanding of collaboration and the significance of objects to Indigenous communities—took place in 1995 at the Minnesota Historical Society (MHS). As an exhibit researcher working on Families, an exhibition funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities focusing on Minnesota families that opened at MHS in 1995, one of my responsibilities was to locate a Native American family to be featured in the exhibition. Continue Reading Excerpt: Decolonizing Museums, by Amy Lonetree

Interview: Nicole Fabricant on Mobilizing Bolivia’s Displaced

Mobility is a central trope in the book because it informed my thinking about indigeneity and movement building in Bolivia. I realized that in order to effectively capture the Landless Peasant Movement’s ( Movimiento Sin Tierra/MST) organizational strategies, I would have to be in constant motion. I traveled with MST activists on the back of agricultural trucks for nearly 20 hours from the city to their communities, lived in two MST agro-ecological communities, traversed regional spaces, as well as national and international spaces of organizing. The life of an organizer is in constant motion and, as an ethnographer, I too had to be constantly traveling. Continue Reading Interview: Nicole Fabricant on Mobilizing Bolivia’s Displaced

Jean Dennison: Osage Nation Reform: From Colonial Entanglement to Citizen Engagement

Vann Bighorse, the director of the Osage Cultural Center, expressed the opinion that Congress could take a lesson from the Osage In-lon-shka dances. He had explained that during the dances, everything (especially political fighting) was put aside for those three weeks in June and everyone from the drum keeper to the cooks focused on making the whole thing run smoothly. Continue Reading Jean Dennison: Osage Nation Reform: From Colonial Entanglement to Citizen Engagement

Notes from the Field: Miguel La Serna Returns to Ayacucho

Miguel La Serna, author of The Corner of the Living, recently returned to his research communities in Peru to donate a copy of his published work to local archives. Here, he shares his field notes from that experience, including some sobering updates on his community collaborators. Continue Reading Notes from the Field: Miguel La Serna Returns to Ayacucho

Video: Walt Wolfram on American dialects

“Studying dialect in North Carolina is like dying and coming to dialect heaven. It’s incredible. There is no state that has a richer tradition,” says Walt Wolfram. Continue Reading Video: Walt Wolfram on American dialects

Video: William Ferris on the music of survival

Great video interview with William Ferris, including excerpts from video included in Give My Poor Heart Ease: Voices of the Mississippi Blues. Continue Reading Video: William Ferris on the music of survival