A Future of Debt and Part-time Work? No Thanks.

A future of unpayable student debt and exploitative
part-time work is not the future for me.
Photo created on atom.smasher.org
by douglas reeser on October 29, 2012
Lately my days have been filled with working items off of my bottomless to-do list. A return to the U.S. after almost a year and half of field work finds me jobless and out of money. Perhaps this was poor planning on my part, but research funding never came through despite repeated and ongoing efforts that started over a year before my fieldwork and continued while I was in the field for almost a year. I thought my effort put into grant writing would pay off, and I was wrong. Still, my fieldwork needed to be done, or I would risk floundering around campus for who knows how many years. One colleague in my department wrote grants for 5 years before finally getting one that allowed her to do her research.

For me, already pushing 40, I didn't see waiting around as a real option, especially after already delaying my fieldwork for over a year. Instead I depleted my meager savings, and went further into student debt to get out into the field and get my research done. To be fair, I did receive one small research grant that basically paid for my airfare, and while this was a big help, it was really just a drop in the bucket of costs for a long-term field project. All the while, I had to pay tuition three times per year to stay continuously enrolled, a nice budget-draining touch from the university administration. 

Corporate Crime Comics

Corporate Crime Comics, 1977, front cover
by douglas reeser on October 24, 2012
"Corporate crime... Corporate crime... I could be robbed or poisoned by corporate criminals and never know it until I read about it in the papers... or maybe never know!"
And so begins Issue #1 of the 1977 publication "Corporate Crime Comics" (CCC) by the Kitchen Sink Press - the first of only two issues. From an era before personal computers, smart phones, and tablets, Corporate Crime Comics is a great example of the creative efforts of activists from the time who sought to get their message out in a way that may grab the attention of a youth-oriented readership. Issue #1 includes around 15 stories of varying length and quality that touch on controversial, unethical, and quasi-legal or illegal corporate (and government) actions, all of which have fairly dire human consequences.

The issue opens with the story of Karen Silkwood, a lab technician who worked for the Texan oil company of Kerr-McGee, which at the time was the largest producer of atomic fuel in the US. Silkwood had become active in unionizing and worker's rights, and had reportedly secured incriminating documents on the company, only to lose the documents - along with her life - in a suspicious car crash. This story was turned into the film "Silkwood" starring Meryl Streep, Kurt Russell and Cher in 1983.

Research on Botánicas in Tampa, Florida

A botanica shop, similar to many, in the city of Tampa, Florida.
Picture courtesy of google maps.
by douglas reeser on October 19, 2012
A couple of years ago I put together a small exploratory research project on botánica shops in Tampa, Florida with a colleague and friend who was also at the University of South Florida at the time. Botánicas are small shops found in many cities across the US that cater to a mostly Latin American and Caribbean immigrant population. They sell a variety of herbal and other products, and often provide services related to one of many Latin American/Caribbean medico-religious traditions like Curanderismo, Santeria, and espiritismo. Well it took a while, but I finally got a paper based on the research published. It just came out in the latest issue of vis-à-vis: Explorations in Anthropology, an open-access, peer-reviewed journal out of the University of Toronto. The abstract:
Botánicas are shops found in most major U.S. cities with a Latino population that carry products and provide services that are essential elements of alternative medico-religious systems that originated in Latin America and the Caribbean. This paper briefly examines the ways in which immigrants in the U.S. utilize traditional or alternative systems of healing, often – and even usually – as a complement to biomedicine. It then summarizes the small amount of literature on botánicas and the role they play in immigrant health in the U.S. This is followed by a discussion of an exploratory research project on botánicas in Tampa, FL, where a number of botánica shops are found in various neighborhoods in the city. A basic description of the shops and interviews with shop owners are presented, followed by a discussion on the potential significance of the geographic location of two particular groups of botánicas is explored.
Click 'continue reading" to see the full paper, or visit our Free Library for the link.

"Global Noise" Makes a Racket around the World

by douglas reeser on October 15th, 2012
The Occupy Movement has not been in the mainstream headlines all that much lately, however that does not mean it has stalled out. Just this weekend, Occupy camps from across the US too part in the "Global Noise" rallies that are attempting to link and unite protest movements active in all parts of the globe. Check out this short video from the Real News Network on the Global Noise rallies, and continue to spread the word.

Legacy Under Fire: The Work of Reichel-Dolmatoff and His Nazi Past

Do the Reichel-Dolmatoff revelations mean more
troubled waters for anthropology?
Photo by douglas reeser.
"Views from the ANThill" 
by Federico Cintrón Moscoso on October 10, 2012*
At the beginning of August, a video was uploaded onto YouTube in which Colombian archaeologist Augusto Oyuela-Caycedo (University of Florida) presented conclusive evidence of the relationship between Gerardo (“Erasmus”) Reichel-Dolmatoff, the founder of Colombian archaeology and anthropology, and the Nazi regime (read the transcript of the video). The video was recorded in Vienna (July 17, 2012) at the 54th International Congress of Americanists. Oyuela-Caycedo, student and follower of the work of Reichel-Dolmatoff could not contain his tears as he revealed one of the confessions made by the latter in a 1937 document entitled Confessions of a Gestapo Assassin, which described a series of murders that he perpetrated while a member of Hitler’s elite force—the Schutzstaffel or SS as it is commonly known. As it was pointed out in the video, this document appeared to have been written after Gerardo Reichel-Dolmatoff was expelled from the Gestapo due to “mental incapacity.” After being dismissed, the Austrian ex-officer spent a season studying in Paris before migrating to Colombia in 1939. The investigation that Oyuela-Caycedo presented at the Congress concluded that Reichel-Dolmatoff had been involved with the Hitler Youth since the age of fourteen, and his active participation continued within the SS until he was approximately twenty-five years-old. Other close paternal relatives were also Nazi officials, including his uncle, a professor of medicine and eugenics practitioner, and his cousin, who continued a prosperous career inside the SS, ultimately achieving the rank of Major.

First Friday Picture Show: Drawing Fantastic by Jedi Wright

Gauche (2000) by Jedi Wright
Jedi Wright returns with a set of drawings for our October 2012 Picture Show. Jedi is an Internet entrepreneur, Information Architect and a student at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, where he is studying Interaction Design. He has been working professionally in the information technology, multimedia, event production, and environmental fields since 1993. He currently resides in Los Angeles, CA where he works as an information architect and interaction designer at Disney, and is fully immersed in the Information Architecture (IA), User Interface (U/I), User Experience (U/X) disciplines and how they intersect with social values and sustainable practices. In his spare time, he is very actively involved with raising his son. Visit jediwright.com to learn more.

Old Man Winter (1999) by Jedi Wright
A note about the show from Jedi: 
For this month's picture show, I opted for an eclectic mix of my artworks produced between the ages of 6 and roughly 26. As I am now a student at Art Center, I felt inspired to return to my creative roots with this collection, which I felt was an interesting look at my progression of skill and style over those years. Note that very little visual art (work) was done after about 2001-2, as I had made a pretty large shift from analog to digital creative processes at that point. Now that I'm back in school, I am picking a lot back up within the analog realm, particularly drawing. I hope to return next year for another show with an even greater leap forward in (drawing) skills!

As usual, view this show in full screen mode for optimal enjoyment....

Happy World Animal Day!

My, what a smart cat you are! Today marks the 81st World Animal Day, a day first
set aside in 1931 at an ecologist convention to coincide with the feast day of
Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals, to honor and celebrate animal life.
photo by Lana Lynne
by Lana Lynne on October 4, 2012

Most animal lovers, at some point or another, have probably come up against the anti-anthropomorphism argument, most likely when they are sharing some tedious detail from their pet's daily lives with a hyper-rational-minded friend, who refuses to believe that your cat cries for anything other than base survival needs. But, as any animal lover will tell you, not attributing human characteristics to animals is virtually impossible, seems sort of pointless, and makes for a rather empty emotional world.

Thankfully, there have been some changes in animal behavior research that sets aside the taboo on anthropomorphism and looks at animals through a human lens. Take a look at this New Inquiry interview with Laurel Braitman, a science historian doing just that in her work on animal personality and taste. On the subject of the taboo, Braitman says, "Anthropomorism – the ascription of human characteristics to other animals – has been problematized for a long time, certainly within the behavioral sciences. I think it’s high time we do away with the taboo. Some of the people doing the most interesting work about other animal minds have already done this, because it’s limiting. It’s impossible to look at them without using a human mind. If we’re trying to understand the behavior of another animal who is in some ways very similar to us and we refuse to use our own experience as a place to come from, I think that’s actually poor science. If we’re looking at a gorilla and that gorilla is acting sad in some of the same ways that we know ourselves to act sad, then refusing to acknowledge that link makes us less apt to understand the gorilla at hand."

The Growth and Breadth of Campus Activism

In the Neoliberal Society, students get pepper-sprayed in the name of
debt and greed. Image courtesy of Lucas Kretch.
by douglas reeser on October 2, 2012
I recently wrote about the lack of activism and protests in southern Belize, while people elsewhere around the globe have been mobilizing against what could be characterized as the Neoliberal Society. Many may remember the original George Bush espousing the benefits of a "New World Order" (NWO), and such has come to pass. The form of this NWO has been shaped by neoliberal policies enacted the world over, and generally accepted to have been started during the Reagan and Thatcher years (during which GW the First served as Vice President). 

Briefly, in the years since the 1980, huge sums of money have been loaned to governments around the world (both developing and developed nations), on terms that required the creation and maintenance of a favorable business environment, while severely limiting government-provided social services. Such terms allowed for the rapid expansion of global manufacturing and commerce at the expense of the health and livelihood of literally billions of people. 

Having been in a rural and fairly isolated part of the globe for the better part of the last year and a half, I  didn't always catch everything that was happening in the movement to counter this new Neoliberal Society. When I have the chance, I do some online searching for updates and news to try to keep abreast of actions in an attempt to develop my understanding of what's actually going on out there. In my most recent perusal, I found an informative article by Edna Brophy in Briarpatch Magazine titled The Combustible Campus: From Montreal to Mexico City, something is stirring the University.