Week 5: Muffled Voices in Quantitative Data

One of the things that bothered me this week was the creation of our research proposal. This document is a culmination of out work as a group and presents what we expect or wish to see. I was responsible for the literature review for our group and it was almost unnerving. There is so much data in preventative medicine, planning, and transportation, so the data is highly quantified. Surveys are compiled among the many different disciplines, but it is heavily quantified. The best way I can explain it is that there are thousands of voices, but they are muffled. There are hugely important qualitative points that are shown in the data, yet there is no proof or expansion. Their opinions and voices are muffled by the limiting structure of the survey.

That is why mixed methods are so important to contribute to research. The integration of both quantitative and qualitative approaches are immensely important in capturing the whole picture of the community. Quantitative data is incredibly useful when it comes to the development of policy at a governmental scale, but often muffles the voice of the community whereas qualitative data makes their voices flourish.


War and Human Rights: Inertia and the Holocaust

This idea of inertia was particularly fitting for this week’s prompt because this week seems to be intended as a feeling of inertia. I think it is a proper way to address the violations of human rights by anthropologists in the 3rd Reich, but also the lack of a response of the United States for years in both Rwanda and Bosnia. I have added in the prompt below from which I will be responding to. Since I looked at Rwanda last week, I thought it would be better for me to look at some of the Holocaust material.

The first thing I want to address is a poem written by Primo Levi. Levi was an Italian Jewish chemist, writer, and Auschwitz survivor. He wrote some incredible poetry in response to his time in the Age of Fascism that is both endearing and chilling. His piece, If this is a man follows:

You who live safely
In your warm houses,
You who, when you come home in the evening,
Find hot food and friendly faces:
Ask yourselves if this is a man
who works in the mud
who knows no peace
who struggles for half a loaf of bread
who dies for the flimsiest motive.
Ask yourselves if this is a woman,
hairless and nameless
powerless to remember
Empty eyes and cold womb
Like a frog in winter.
Ponder that this has taken place:
I entrust you with these words.
Chisel them in your heart
at home and abroad,
lying down and getting up;
repeat them to your children.
Or may your house crumble down,
may illness paralyze you,
may your children turn away from you

Levi challenges us a readers to listen to his message. He writes this as a response to his arrest and internment at Auschwitz. The poem asks us to look at what happened to individuals in these camps. The man who dies from the flimsiest motive is a reflection on the worthlessness of the Nazi attacks on individuals and using the manufactured attacks against the various groups to cause their suffering. He follows this with the woman, “empty eyes and cold womb/like a frog in winter.” His specific use of the idea of cold and empty is the opposite of what women are often described as. Women are often described as warm and full, but this has stripped her of any part of her identity.

However, the most crucial part that Levi addresses is the damnation if these people are forgotten. “Chisel them in your heart/ at home and abroad… Or may your house crumble down,/ may illness paralyze you./may your children turn away from you” Levi fears the people would forget the Holocaust. I mean, Nazis have become the rhetoric for absolute evil in the United States. Yet, the people who died in the Holocaust are forgotten because of time moving further and further away from the events. How many people remember the Homosexuals, Gypsies, Disabled, or even the Jews? I remember, and I know, and I talk about these situations to remember the destruction and support Levi’s request.

Secondly I want to address the actions of the 3rd Reich concerning their archaeological support for the Aryan superiority. The immense workarounds of the Aryan archaeologists specifically constructed the narrative for the pureness of German people , following the works of Tacticus. Yet, I find it ironic of the dismissal of Charlemagne.  Charlemagne ruled the 1st Reich, but as a Frankish King who took his seat in Aachen. The great uniter, but enemy of the ethnically German tribes in Saxony. It almost seems foolish. This entire discussion was built on the ideas of poorly conducted research looking to create a narrative to fit the nationalistic intentions of the Nazi Party and Social Darwinism. It is truly a dark stain on anthropology, yet it shows why the collaborative process is so important in academic works.

The inertia in this situation is that when learning this information, you stop in your tracks and have to wait for inertia to bring you back. This information is so brutal that it requires a inertia response in the mind. This is incredibly important information to look at, and it should never be forgotten.

I would like to end this post again with the inclusion of a wonderful piece of music. This piece was written by Hungarian band Omega and the piece is Gyöngyhajú Lány / Pearls in her hair. While the English translation is hotly contested on YouTube it has a wonderful sound, despite not knowing a word of Hungarian.


Link to the Assignment/Prompt – Added with permission by Dr. Kathleen Young

Week 4: Research on How to Research Research

This week has largely been concerned with the definition of many of the terms in the sub-field of Applied Anthropology. In particular, the process by which we as Anthropologists design and define words and terms remains an important step in researching how to research research. In fact, I am going to use a term here to simplify this extended and convoluted idea int he title: meta-research. Looking into meta-research and the methods by which we create research is particularly interesting as there is a long-standing question of how best to do research. The entire basis of this class, Participatory Action Research looks to combine academic and community workforce in order to provide a proper result. Whereas Community Based Participatory Research is almost an integration of academic knowledge into the communal knowledge of the community. While it may be a little redundant, it is significant in discerning the relationship between community and researcher. Research itself is a convoluted process and in all means is cyclical and can be repeated among different variations and life-cycles. Definition is hard and is outstandingly annoying to constantly look into, but it is important in learning how to meta-research.

In terms of the research proposal for my work in Edmonds, I am in charge of my group’s Literature Review. I find this outstandingly hard to go through because of my lack of overall training in quantitative methodology. While I can understand the writing it is difficult for me to process because the people are there, but their voices are out of reach. There is no specification, nor is there a true link to their own advocacy. There seems to largely just be a compiled response of surveys. It makes me glad that we are doing this project.

War and Human Rights: A Reflection on Rwanda

One of the things I am trying to do with this blog is personalize it in such a way that I can communicate better with the public and one of the ways I can do that is by writing about how my classes are going and why they are happening the way they are. One of the classes I enjoy in particular is my War in Human Rights class I take with Professor Kathleen Young. The class is discussion on what is often left un-dicussed. This class aligns with my interests in Anthropology which will come out in greater detail at a later date. One of the most important things to remember about genocide is that is a legal term that was not used in Nuremberg following the Holocaust because it hadn’t been crafted yet, not used in Cambodia because of the political opposition, and had yet to be used in the war crimes trials of the former Yugoslavia.

Rwanda was the first time that Genocide was used in the legal sense of the term. It was the first time where someone was charged with committing genocide. It wasn’t until September of 1998 that it was first used, more than 50 years after the end of the Second War.

The Rwandan Genocide was a reflection on the United States’ inability to act on its own promises. Less than a decade earlier, the United States legally recognized genocide following the diplomatic mess that was Reagan’s visit to a concentration camp. Yet, the United States didn’t stand by while this was happening. Rather, the United States pulled every living, breathing American out of Rwanda, save a few holdouts who would be the best sources of information for the coming weeks of the genocide. Nevertheless, all they could do was hide and watch the violence unfold.

The United States stood by, refusing to accept another possibility of a Mogadishu incident which got 18 Americans killed. The United States stood by watching genocide occur. The United States watches this occur in the modern day as Syria continues to suffer as the conflict has surpassed more than half a decade of violence. I wonder what award winning movie will come out of this? Mogadishu got the outstanding Black Hawk Down and Rwanda the timeless Hotel Rwanda.

For more information on the Rwandan Genocide, I recommend the film, Ghosts of Rwanda. It provides an excellent documentary style overview of what entailed the conflict and how the rest of the world stood by and watched as genocide occurred.

I know that this reading is hard and difficult and whenever I speak about genocide I am now trying to add in a wonderful piece of music. This week will be a piece from French-Canadian artist, Cœur De Pirate’s Drapeau blanc.

Week 3: Lamphere and the meaning of Collaboration

This week’s preparation was a way for us as a class to build our understanding of how it is we do research, why we do research, and the difficulty of defining research. The application of Anthropology into the public policy as a way to advise local governments is a fascinating one because Anthropology tends to shy away from policy. However, the articles we read by Louise Lamphere this week made me think of the effects of Anthropology in a different way. While a large majority of the policy that Anthropology brings in is related to public health, there is such a large and beneficial range in which Anthropology works. Our project in particular is looking to bring in the idea of Health as a hook or a driving factor to the distinguish our research in order to gain the broader understanding of how transit or infrastructure guide or misplace how a person moves. One of the more interesting aspects to me is that from what I was described Edmonds lies on a large hill which would make most transit from west to east miserable, unless you are trying to get in your daily cardio. I am excited to begin this work on the area and have a plethora of ideas to bring to the table in terms of proper methodologies which I will likely get into in more detail with next week’s post.

Week 2: Logistics and Introductions

This week was incredible in terms of learning the situations by which we will develop and refine our research. While we are currently in a building stage, I know that we will be seeing a huge upturn in the coming weeks int he complexity and workload with this research. Edmonds is an interesting city interns of its hilly demeanor particularly coming into the downtown area. In fact, the area seems to be extremely hard to truly get a grasp of walkability and accessibility until we visit and are able to walk around. I am reminded of a video made by the Cerebral Palsy Foundation with Zach Anner, a man stuck in an electric wheelchair due to cerebral palsy. He works with a film crew to get from one part 53rd avenue to Brooklyn and it shows the true differences between walkability and accessibility. The link is below. I truly am interested in our final report for the city.


Zach Anner and the Rainbow Bagel