(Part 1 on my teachers. Part 2 touches on this line of thought, part of how it stalled, and impact on society. Part 3 is on “languaging”. Part 4 summarizes some lessons learned from my teachers.)
Who am I? A deep and developing question. But I did have several teachers who helped me to formulate my thinking and directions.
Above all, Ray Birdwhistell â€“ the originator of â€œKinesics,â€ the study of the human body-in-interaction. He was an Anthropologist who was the best observer of people Iâ€™ve ever met â€“ observer in the sense of seeing people in careful and detailed senses. He was trained as a â€œclassicalâ€ dancer, and seemed to see all others as performers in lifeâ€™s dances. And he didnâ€™t only concentrate on each individual. He also/always noted how they interacted: in groups, in lifeâ€™s varieties of social contexts from infants to older, the ordinary and the exceptional in every sense; richer and poorer, healthy and injured and â€œoddâ€ andâ€¦; ethnic, linguistic. His ways into the world were always expanding. Life is social, interactive: the individualâ€¦?
Ray was a student of the Chicago School of Symbolic Interaction â€“ heirs of the American Pragmatist, George Herbert Mead, and the anthropologists who wandered the entire world. His work wandered from American Indians to the average family dynamics, to the sick â€“ physically and, particularly, mentally. And he directed me to the U. of Chicago, Anthropology, where I continued my studies with linguist Norman McQuown â€“ under whose tutelage I (and family: J, and infant daughter Amy) studied a Mayan Language (Tzotzil) and lived in Chiapas, Mexico for two years deeply immersed in both Indian and Ladino (their term) cultures during this time.
Ray was also a student in the line of thought and active fieldwork (life is fieldwork!) of Franz Boas: Margaret Mead (especially), Gregory Bateson, influenced his thought. Read the rest of this entry »