Sunday, October 02, 2011

turning off the inner anthropologist


i'm finding that i'm developing a work-related injury as i work on this piece on the danish welfare state. it's an injury more mental than physical - i simply can't turn off my inner anthropologist. everywhere i go, i'm observing and analyzing (i suppose regular readers of this blog know that this is actually nothing new), but it feels somehow different. it's become more systematic, perhaps, than my usual musings.

last evening, i attended a large party and had occasion to do a lot of anthropological observation of the natives in their natural habitat (if indeed their natural habitat can be said to be a rather large exhibition hall transformed into dinner seating for 7700 people and the swedish 90s band roxette). and in my observation (and mental application of various theories), i realized that playing the role of anthropologist tends to make me hold back from participating fully in the moment myself. i end up sidelining myself as mere observer (at least i restrained from scribbling notes in my little notebook, tho' it was in my tiny little purse and i was sorely tempted). so while i gain a great deal from the experience in one sense, i come away from it feeling that i wasn't truly there, except in some abstract theoretical sense (filtered heavily through bourdieu).

and while these clinical anthropological skills are all well and good for the purposes of the book, i do hope i can achieve some degree of being able to turn it off again - because it's making me effectively miss the party.



4 comments:

Elizabeth said...

If you find a way, please let me know.

Karen said...

I'd like the answer to that as well...

Magpie said...

i'm having a hard time visualizing a sit-down dinner for 7700!

Pia K said...

for as long as i can remember one of my favourite things in life have been to watch and analyze human behaviour, sadly it's mostly a bleak experience but nevertheless fascinating. i love how you call it being an anthropologist! as you know i don't do the group thing, in general, and i to be honest of all the people i meet (in different situations) there are very few i truly feel i connect with. i'm such a strong individualist and being an observer is probably a way of interacting, being there, but still being what i enjoy, an outsider. the same goes with photography, come to think of it. wow, there's no end of my self-analyzing here...;)

wf = rumps = rumpa being sing för bum in swedish, i prefer numsies:)