do you think fart jokes are one of the cultural universals that anthropologists are too embarrassed to talk about
did you know, the oldest joke known to anthropologists is one from ancient Sumer, where the joke is:
“such has not been heard in a log time; a young woman did not fart in the lap of her lover”
obviously some nuance is lost in translation.
I’m not sure that an anthropologist embarrassed about jokes or bodily functions could do their job effectively. Behold, the face of early 20th century science
Never heard of the Tarascans before.
There is no place from which I cannot return with more books
Went to Pike Place, ignored everything there, happened to wander into a leftist bookshop nearby. The book I picked out from between all the Kropotkin - they didn’t have Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology, disappointingly - is The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia, by James Scott, and it looks quite interesting. It’s a sort of history of a variety of peoples living in the hills of Asia, a region the author calls “Zomia”. The thesis of the book seems to be that these peoples have historically* chosen to avoid incorporation into nearby states, geographically, practically, and even culturally. Ever since learning a bit about the diversity of Papua New Guinea I’ve been curious about these sorts of small-scale societies.
I hope that it is as interesting a read as it looks.
*for the few millennia of China and pals imperializing, up to the last century when phones/etc. have made it much easier to do things long-distance. Like the author’s PhD, the time-distance encourages me to believe this isn’t just an ideological screed.
Anyone following me happen to have read him? I’ve heard that Debt is interesting, and Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology certainly seems so from the Wikipedia article. If you have read him, what did you think?
Perhaps nothing expresses the Okiek hidden transcript better than a story they told ethnographer Roderic Blackburn about an Okiot (the singular form of Okiek) and two Maasai warriors. The Okiot was returning from a trip to collect honey when he was stopped by the Maasai, who told him that they were going to kill him. He asked to be allowed to eat his honey so that he could die satisfied. As he began to eat, he asked his captors, “Do you eat honey?” They did, and while their hands were covered with the liquid the Okiot quickly washed his hands with dirt, grabbed one of the Maasai’s swords and stabbed him. The other Maasai, unaware of the beekeeper’s trick of washing hands with dirt, tried to grab his spear, but could not because his hands were too slippery with honey. The Okiot stabbed him, too, picked up his honey, and left. Thus, an Okiot and his honey can outwit even two threatening, spear-wielding Maasai.
From Mukogodo to Maasai: Ethnicity and Cultural Change in Kenya. Do not fuck with beekeepers.
Posting this just in case anyone who happens to follow me is unfortunate enough as to have not read it before.