(Further notes after my first â€œMy Teachersâ€ post.)
Lessons from My Teachers:
Observe, observe, try to see in every moment, context, persons, relationshipsâ€¦I now call myself an â€œAnthropologist of the Ordinary.â€ (My sense is that many Anthropologists are more anthropologists of the â€¦Exotic!)
Go to the field â€“ live there for extended periods of time â€“ take a â€œvacationâ€ and return to the field, and not what (more) I see than I had before.
Went to U. Chicago for PhD â€“ studied with linguist, N. McQuown who was supervisor in Mayan studies.
U. of C. became a kind of experiential fieldwork for my own experience examining the University (â€œtheâ€ University). Daughter born in Chicago. Then to Mexico.
Return home (big fieldwork to Mexico was for 2 years â€“ with J. and 5-month-old Amy). Life is a â€œstudyâ€ of society, politics, homes, money: rich and poor, andâ€¦andâ€¦
Return home after 2 years was amazing â€“ arrived just before Bay of Pigs, with no sense that all this was about to occur (living in Chiapas-Mayan Highlands â€“ no newspapers, no TV, hardly any radio,Â not much knowing of the world.
Whew! Life is a â€œwhewâ€ â€“ mainly from Birdwhistell.
Attend to language(s) â€“ interactions, conversations, body movements â€“ forms of linguistic articulation (summer in Taos paralanguage â€“ how do we use/hear paralanguage in our own languages â€“ tone of voice. Very interesting, complex â€“ how do kids learn all this: how affects/shapes conversations, emotionsâ€¦relationshipsâ€¦politics.
Study oneself; language, body â€“ an ongoing study; contexts (how are we/I in this present moment) â€“ from Erving Goffman (Birdwhistellâ€™s student: â€œPresentation of Self in Everyday Lifeâ€) â€“ so what senses of â€œselfâ€ are kept private/hidden in different â€œpublicâ€ settings?
Everything about interactions: gender (not much simpler after all these years â€“ actually more â€œcomplicatedâ€¦â€ â€“ having a child, we were invited into (the depths ofâ€¦) peopleâ€™s houses. How we were seen: this large guy, a new mother/person, a baby with pink cheeks (very rare where we were) â€“ of great interest to everyone. Alwaysâ€¦politics.
Brought up in Buffalo â€“ a multi-ethnic community at a time when anti-Semitism and anti-Catholicism were generally declining: two years in a community mix of â€œLadinosâ€ and Native-American Mayans who had been living together/split for some 4 centuries. History, history. Coming back home to see ethnicity and everyone anew: (living in a â€œmixedâ€ marriageâ€¦) So much about â€œculture,â€ different cultures in Chiapas (and at home). Cultures of Professors and Graduate Students in the field with us: from Chicago, Harvard, and Stanford â€“ hints of academic politics. And moreâ€¦
Maybe most informing/educational: living at home with a child who was learning both English and Spanish (and a bit of Tzotzil-Mayan). Medical issues: not much trained to note our own health: dysentery (very â€captivatingâ€), other issues, some ongoing after 50 years. Health, eating, food: no refrigeration, no baby-food for sale (we had to cook it all â€œfreshâ€ â€“ Mexican â€œmaidsâ€ â€“ more sickness â€“ charity in an essentially Catholic world (very different from Protestant America). Very few physicians, dentists. (I â€œlostâ€ three teeth.)
Observe, note: keep track of all of this. Observe daughter growing, moving, talking â€“ get to see many other kids/infants everywhere â€“ lots of people outside in the tropics, with kids, feeding. Always quite receptive to us with Amy.
The levels of poverty in S. Mexico were unimaginable to us â€“ hidden at home, they are aspects of our thinking always. How does money â€œwork?â€ Differences between Ladinos and Indians in interactions, cultures: appearance, child-raisingâ€¦culture, powerâ€¦housing, villages, townsâ€¦
Lessons: observe (and observe oneself observing) â€“ but not just in experimental or exotic situations: everywhere, everyone â€“ always expanding, rethinking more broadly and exclusively (discovering oneâ€™s error, biases, assumptionsâ€¦)
Observe in â€œordinary,â€ exotic, tough times to help discover oneâ€™s thinking and experience-so-farâ€¦to update, broaden, deepen.
Returned home: to work at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic â€“ examining patient-doctor interactions in clinical settings: linguistics, body-movements â€“ how to note, record, analyse. What is psychosis? â€“ what isâ€¦not? Healthy. Psychoanalysis.
Birdwhistell actually visited WPIC in Pittsburgh about once a month: got to watch him in interaction with Psychiatrists, patients, many others: the worldâ€™s best observer, he was. Still in my thinking: frequentlyâ€¦always.
Offered a Professorship by Trager at Buffalo â€“ but I didnâ€™t want to return â€œhomeâ€ at that time. Heâ€™s still in my thinking: encapsulating Hallâ€™s â€œThe Silent Language.â€
Life is/as kinds of fieldwork: how to see, in increasing depth â€“ but finding ways to see more accurately, clearer, – rethink oneself-seeingâ€¦