Having recently acquired tenure at my position, I’ve gone ahead and begun to move my archive of articles and c.v., including links to downloads for the same, to my institutionally-hosted BePress page, which you can get here.
I’ll leave my old publications page up, but won’t be updating it anymore. It will eventually disappear or turn into something else.
My latest published article, “Kinship Beyond Death: Ambiguous Relations and Autonomous Children in Contemporary Cambodia,” published in the journal of Contemporary Buddhism, already has been downloaded 50 times (I get fifty free downloads to share), which is encouraging. But it you want to read about why most Cambodian parents consider past-birth memory in the children a disaster and didn’t get to the link, you can read the pre-print version of the article on my bepress page.
No real reviews here, but a short list on what I’ve been reading this Summer, and how I generally feel about the books or articles. What have you been reading? Anything I should know about? Let me know in the comments.
I’m in the throes of a stereotypical pre-tenure academic summer, writing very productively, but never productively enough, happy with my work, but worried it’s not good enough, watching my children grow up, and wishing I had more time to spend with them rather than writing, excited about the imminent beginning of classes, and dreading the end of my ‘free time’ for writing.
So, instead of thoughtful commentary, here are some of the things that have caught my eyes and ears on Cambodia today:
More laudatory stories about the new documentary Enemies of the People. Very excited to see it.
This story, from the Moth (a storytelling website), is by Andrew Solomon, and tells the story of a Khmer woman who created her own, apparently largely successful, path out of the crippling depression that was destroying the lives of the women around her after 1979 (end of Democratic Kampuchea, the state of the so-called Khmer Rouge). Step one: Forget. Step two: Work. Step three: perform manicures and pedicures. Seriously. I was prepared to scoff, but found this deeply powerful. Go ahead and give yourself 15 minutes to listen to the whole story. It came to my attention via Alison, of AlisoninCambodia, an excellent archaeological blog.
Andrew Solomon – Moth Podcast
Now, back to work.
Some things that have crossed my wires (in all senses) recently, that I’m keeping track of:
- Theory is a force that gives us meaning. A very good post which makes a point similar to that of the revered J.Z. Smith: in order for theory to be truly useful, it must be at least temporarily granted the opportunity to direct and determine portions of our reasoning. Or else it’s largely just academic window dressing. My students will be reading this next Spring.
- “But Don’t We All Just Feature In Our Own Stories?” No. Against Narrativity.
- The flexibility of memory. An awesome Slate Magazine project in mass manipulation, demonstrating media’s awesome capacity for mind-control, even in the supposedly democratic anti-ideological age of the !n†3rw3Bz. Also, remember Satanic Ritual Abuse? It never happened either.
- Another great post by Economic Anthropologist Keith Hart on Marcel Mauss: Mauss on gifts, markets, and money.
- A nice intro to Whorfian-style language-constraint theory on BoingBoing, of all places.
- Highlight the connections between people! A call for doing anthropology differently, along the lines of what I think as the Deleuzian dictum: “Relativism is not the the relativity of truth, but the truth of relation.”
- OOOOOOH! Anthropology Timelines!
- Some thoughts on whether folktales, the sort of which I have spent a fair bit of time studying, translating, and interpreting, were involved in Khmer revolts of the Middle Period.
Richard Rechtman, Part 1 of an interview with whom is published in today’s Ka-Set, seems like a fascinating guy, one with whom I could endless discussions and productive disagreements. Foreigners often say that the “dead haunt Cambodians,” but they then often take this far too literally, as if it necessarily means that Cambodians experience their trauma as hauntings by the dead. Rechtman implies that his perspective on the matter is significantly different from this (thank god!) without dismissing the idea that Cambodians continue to experience real, ongoing trauma from the Khmer Rouge era. Note that his one concrete examples deals with a sort of refusal of (or to socialize) memory rather than its incorporation or experience. He also has an interesting sounding book coming out this year which claims to critique the discourse of trauma, something which desperately needs to be done, and which I have attempted to do several times in the past few years. Can’t wait for part two…
Richard Rechtman © John Vink / Magnum
Phnom Penh (Cambodia) February 5th 2009: Richard Rechtman, psychiatrist, and Soko Phay Vakalis at the Bophana Center workshop for visual artists.
Richard Rechtman never imagined he would be spending so much time working with Cambodian refugees living in France. The psychiatrist, who also happens to be an anthropologist, is medical director of the Institut Marcel Rivière, a researcher Continue reading
A fantastic interview with the great Achille Mbembe in Eurozine. The interview is (contrary to almost any interview you’d get in a similar magazine in the States) lengthy, in-depth, and unafraid of appearing…’intellectual.’ Similarly, Mbembe is unafraid of making clear what so many American appropriators of continental thought are always unwilling to acknowledge, that whatever the successes or failures of most modern continental philosophy, the most important movements have been “chiefly concerned with the issue of self-creation and self-government.” He then goes on to quote my man Castoriadis, who deserves far, far greater recognition and discussion in the anglophone world than he has yet received….
Indeed, colonization never ceased telling lies about itself and others. As Frantz Fanon explains so clearly in Black Skin, White Masks, the procedures for racializing the colonized were the driving force behind this economy of duplicity and falsehood. In postcolonial thinking, race is the wild region, the beast, of European humanism. To borrow Castoriadis’s terms on racism, I’d say that the beast puts it more or less this way: “I alone possess value. But I can only be of value, as myself, if others, as themselves, are without value”.
Postcolonial thinking aims to take the beast’s skeleton apart, to flush out its favourite places of habitation. More radically, it seeks to know what it is to live under the beast’s regime, what kind of life it offers, and what sort of death people die from. It shows that there is, in European colonial humanism, something that has to be called unconscious self-hatred. Racism in general, and colonial racism in particular, represents the transference of this self-hatred to the Other.
via Eurozine – What is postcolonial thinking? – Achille Mbembe An interview with Achille Mbembe. Check out the rest of the interview, which includes, among many other topics, important discussions on ‘memory’ and on Fanon and Marx’s reception by the ‘non-West.’