1.Here are list of questions to possibly discuss as taken from the Nice Girls Don’t Talk to Rastas” by George Gmelch, Conformity and Conflict, (pp. 31 — 36.). In addition, it would be great to see discussion of “Nice Girls Don’t Talk to Rastas”
What did you like and dislike about the piece?
What did you learn from reading this?
Do you think you could engage in similar fieldwork?
What do you think makes Claire Sterk want to do this kind of work?
What are the challenges?
Compare and contrast with Ian Condry’s fieldwork in the nightclubs of Tokyo.
You are free to come up with your own questions to answer, but you can use the above list as a guide.
2.Has anyone read the optional reading by James Clifford?
The reading is taken from “Introduction: The Pure Products Go Crazy” of Clifford’s book The Predicament of Culture: Twentieth-Century Ethnography, Literature, and Art. I read this book when I was in college studying anthropology at the University of Michigan under Prof. Kottak in the mid 90s. The book was published in 1988, which makes it a bit dated in the academic world. (These days anything published before the events of 9/11/01 are considered ‘ancient history’- and even that was almost 10 years ago!)
But I believe that Clifford’s work has a certain timeless quality and it has still always been interesting to discuss, especially as he is ultimately interested in the same questions we are- the location of culture, and the links between ethnography and artistic production among others.
Here I am interested in Clifford’s ideas regarding how we (as humans) experience ‘modernity’, in particular the feeling of ‘loss of authenticity.’ On page 4 he says that the ethnographic modernist (which may as well be you or I or any other artist) “searches for the universal in the local, the whole in the part.” This struck me as particularly relevant, because that sort of shows how the ethnographer and the artist really arn’t that much different. But think about the larger sense. Who is ‘Elsie’ and what does she represent? What does Clifford mean when he says that the ‘pure products go crazy?’ What are the ‘flecks’ that he is referring to?
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