Dry, Cracked Mud
Anthropology, Musings

A Cracked Fragment

Last year I was teaching a course on American Communities when discussion turned to hierarchy and power.  For purposes of the class, I had given a very broad definition of community as an association of people with some element of shared identity. We were discussing ways that uneven power relations between individuals become visible, and I used the example of our own university class as an example: I am in the role of instructor, and I am in charge of developing the syllabus, grading procedures, etc.. In the process, I …

The author, holding a bokken (wooden sword).
Musings

The Weapon as Mere Object

  This is an edited version of an article that I wrote for the Aikido World Alliance newsletter in the Fall of 2013. As far as I know, Malala Yousafzai has never studied Aikido. Ms. Yousafzai is the Pakistani teenager who, while advocating for the education of girls in the Swat valley, was shot in an attempted assassination. After being shot in the head and recovering, she has gone on to become a global advocate for the rights of women and girls. In doing so, she is directly challenging the …

Online Education
Anthropology, Musings

Online Education

Starting this summer I have been developing some online classes for both International Studies and Anthropology at the University of Memphis. I’m excited by the prospect, and at the same time I am facing what I hope will become a productive tension between the technology of learning and the technology of the Internet. In this blog post I want to unravel that tension and jot down some fragments of ideas for the future. For any students who might be reading this, when I use the term “technology” here I am talking …

Knitting, Materialism, and Spirituality
Musings

Knitting, Materialism, and Spirituality

The hardest part is maintaining just the right amount of tension. Too little and the yarn doesn’t maintain its shape. Too much and you can’t fit the needle through on your next pass. I don’t normally knit during meeting: I worry that the clicking of the needles will be a distraction to others. But, one day in the spring I brought my knitting in with me to work on a project. As I sat in the meeting house I started to reflect on spirituality and materiality. My key point in …

A Light in the Dark
Climate

A Light in the Dark

At dusk, I was walking with friends on the farm. As we moved into the shadows behind the barn, the ground shifted. Our eyes adjusted, and we were walking in a field of stars—tiny lights in the grass. A closer look showed us firefly larvae, incapable of flight just yet, but already filled with glowing luciferin, the molecule that leads to bioluminescence. Without the darkness, they were invisible. This three-part essay is about the Dark, particularly about dark ecology—an ecology that rejects the category of “nature” and holds that we …

FYI: My Erdős-Bacon Number: 9
Musings

FYI: My Erdős-Bacon Number: 9

For those who enjoy such things, a quick calculation of my Erdős-Bacon number.  One’s Erdős number is the number of links, via co-authorships in scholarly publications, it takes to reach mathmetician Paul Erdős. Similarly, the Bacon Number is the number of links to reach actor Kevin Bacon via screen appearances. The Erdős-Bacon number is the sum of those two, for people who have finite numbers for each. Carl Sagan has an Erdős-Bacon number of no more than 6, and Steven Hawking has an Erdős-Bacon number of no more than 7. We use the …

Late to the Party of Things
Anthropology

Late to the Party of Things

I’m coming late to the party. Sorry everyone–I brought more beer. I was in the audience for Bruno Latour’s talk on ontological pluralism at the AAA meetings in Chicago last year. I overheard several people talking about how sparks were going to fly, or how this was nothing new, or how this was an important moment in Anthropology. I’ve been slow to respond, and I want to throw out just a few thoughts. Jeremy Trombley over at Struggle Forever wrote a short post on The Value of a Turn that, …

The Anthronaut, The Golem, and Other Tales of the Dark
Uncategorized

The Anthronaut, The Golem, and Other Tales of the Dark

DRAFT; As presented at the 2013 AAA Conference in Chicago, November 21, 2013. The Anthronaut, The Golem, and Other Tales of the Dark Edward M. Maclin Abstract In this paper I use examples from my ongoing work in academic anthropology and on my small family farm to explore the relationship between anthropology, agriculture, and Dark Ecology. Along the way, I engage two contrasting metaphors for anthropological work, the anthronaut and the golem. The fragmentation associated with market-based labor creation in both the Academy and large-scale agriculture also fuses together disparate …

The Anthronaut Farmer
Uncategorized

The Anthronaut Farmer

CALL FOR ABSTRACTS  I am working to organize an Invited Session (Culture and Agriculture Section) for the AAA meeting in Chicago (November 20-24) The Anthronaut Farmer An increasing number of anthropologists are turning to agriculture as a means of subsistence, a way of living in their communities, and a form of embodied research. Beyond a practice of study, this is a lived anthropology outside of academia: not a research venture bounded by funding cycles, but a journey of engagement with the world. Through their hands-on work, these “anthronaut” farmers are transforming themselves, their communities and landscapes, and their …

Ecological Anthropology (in which I try to explain what I do.)
Uncategorized

Ecological Anthropology (in which I try to explain what I do.)

Over the past few weeks several people including friends and family members have asked me about my research, or about what it is that I do, exactly. I’ve given the usual elevator speech, but after reflecting a bit I think it may be worth me writing here in more detail. Partly this is because I’m working on writing my dissertation. Writing is a sort of emptying process for me, and so occasionally in order to write what I want I need to get other things out of my system. At the …