“We Are Canadian, eh?”

Picture 4Have you seen this Canadian beer commercial, known as “The Rant”? Airing in 2000, it ran with what was then Molson’s slogan, and was pretty popular in Canada, airing during Saturday night hockey games. In fact, a good friend me a “I am Canadian” key chain back then and I still use–the double entendre of the pithy slogan evident to anyone who knows their brands of Canadian beer. Continue reading ““We Are Canadian, eh?””

Religious “Expression”?

kumbh melaSome scholars of religion talk as if cultural stuff—icons, myths, rituals, practices, ideologies, discourses, etc.—allows practitioners to “express” themselves, their religious beliefs, or simply their “religion.” Other scholars talk as if the use of this cultural stuff has the effect of “constituting” (perhaps by “performing”) themselves, their religious beliefs, or their identity. Continue reading “Religious “Expression”?”

Shifting Identification Strategies

Individual Identity title image (3)

 

The identifications people make are strategic and context specific, as this article by Gibler, Hutchison, and Miller suggests:

[I]nternational conflict exerts a strong influence on the likelihood and content of individual self-identification, but this effect varies with the type of conflict. Confirming nationalist theories of territorial salience, territorial conflict leads the majority of individuals in targeted countries to identify themselves as citizens of their country. However, individuals in countries that are initiating territorial disputes are more likely to self-identify as members of a particular ethnicity, which provides support for theories connecting domestic salience to ethnic politics.

Being attacked leads you to identify with the nation. But if your nation is the one doing the attacking, all of the sudden you’d rather make alternate identifications …

Forging a Fake

fakeIn honor of one of Culture on the Edge‘s members being in Greece, to do some fieldwork and visit archives, I thought it would be fitting to offer this weekend, public service announcement concerning how to make a fake McDonald’s frappé — which, of course, rivals ouzo as the national drink of Greece. (A frappé, I mean, not a McDonald‘s frappé.) Continue reading “Forging a Fake”

Seeing the Ordinary as Curious

Sometime ago, I uploaded to a Facebook album my own version of a Sociological Images post — worth reproducing here, I think: so consider this March 20, 2009, photo of a group of Cameroon’s Baka people performing for Pope Benedict XVI as he left for Angola.

A group of Pygmies from Cameroun's Baka tribe dance for Pope Benedict XVI before he left for Angola to start the second leg of his trip to AfricaSimple question: who is wearing a costume?

To rephrase, can you see an ideology to men’s neckties? Why would they have been banned in the 1979 Iranian revolution? Or are they so ordinary, so normal, as to pass unnoticed?

(Admit it: you thought I was just comparing the dancers to the Pontiff, didn’t you?)

Supermodel Blues

Some of you may have seen supermodel Cameron Russell’s recent TED talk on the topic of beauty (and, more to the point, its social construction).  In the talk, Russell enters the stage wearing a tight, revealing black dress and very high heels, but as the substance of her speech ensues, she quickly changes into a far more demure (not to mention much looser) skirt and sweater. Continue reading “Supermodel Blues”

The Race Card

Have you seen The Race Card Project online? It is a site that solicits your six words about race, such as:

racecard

Those interested in considering popular understandings of this one identity domain may find this website to be a rich resource–such as the above sample which presupposes the common notion of a deeper, stable subjectivity that transcends identifiers.

Visit the site here or listen to a National Public Radio segment on it from earlier today.

Why is a Praying Atheist Newsworthy?

This week, several media outlets (Washington Post and Huffington Post) have highlighted an atheist who advocates prayer. The man has blogged that when he started a twelve step program he began praying regularly to a being he created (without believing in the existence of a deity), which changed his life for the better. Last summer, I pondered a somewhat similar hypothetical scenario in which a self-identified atheist maintained a belief in god in order to illustrate, as my colleagues here at Culture on the Edge have been saying, that identifications are strategic, not intrinsic. That blog post received pushback from some friends asserting that atheists, by definition, cannot believe in god. Continue reading “Why is a Praying Atheist Newsworthy?”

The Evidence of Experience

scottJoan Wallach Scott, the well known historian, wrote a provocative and lengthy essay on the manner in which social historians and many area specialists have mistakenly drawn upon experience as if it was the evidence/starting point for their work (that is, material culture is seen an expression of a prior experience) rather than problematizing how public claims of having had an experience are themselves social and historical products. The essay was published in Critical Inquiry 17/4 (1991): 773-797 and is posted online as a PDF. Those wishing to rethink identity studies will benefit from this essay.

Learn more about Scott’s recent book on the politics of the issue of Muslim women and veils here.

Religion is Nothing Special

Picture 3The anthropologist, Maurice Bloch, published an important article in 2008 in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B [Biological Sciences], 363: 2055–2061; critiquing recent energy spent on developing an evolutionary, cognitive science theory of religion, it opens the way toward working not on a theory of religion but, instead, taking that which we normally call religion as but an instance of a wider, mundane, but no less interesting cognitive event that we might simply call signification–which itself ought to be the object of our studies.

Obtain a free PDF of the article at the publisher’s website here.