shit hits the fan

9 Feb


so it’s that time in the graduate school cycle where they push you to the wall. you have to produce (grant apps in massive volume), read (more books in one sitting than you’ve ever done in your life), and sleep (as randomly and as unsatisfactorily as you can remember).

a lot of this is also just whining over a situation that could have been made less painful with more organization, better prep, and more consistent work in the previous semesters. alas, it is NOW and you can’t revisit the past. besides, “there is no perfect bus,” so just deal with the one that’s arrived. stop the self-loathing, the doubt, and the inner “how did we end up here, i told you sos” and just freaking read/study/write like the maniac that chose to apply (and accept) to this kind of life 4 years ago that you are.

thought i’d return to this blog  after a semester of non-writing. found an interesting blog entry on racialicious–a site i read time to time.

apparently it’s about some korean american dude(?) is in korea exploring his roots and complaining about the korea-blogosphere being dominated by wannabe anthropologists. funny, i thought. i’m actually one of those “anthropologists”–legitimate–now. well, minus the ABD status for now. but however way you slice it, i’m being groomed to enter the ranks of officialness.

so what separates me or all those other once-traveled/taught in korea or some other 2nd world country to find myself/make money/”explore” and exploit my global privilege (or realize how little i actually had for you korean american women out there) FROM the same “anthro hacks” this “dude” talks about their blog? i don’t know for sure. but certainly it has to do something with “training?” being challenged to no end by the books i read, the profs i fear, the colleagues i both respect and sometimes dislike. is the real defining factor between “amateur” social analysts and so-called professional ones (in training) like me all about being put to the fire, being grilled, having to pay our dues? the ones writing for the marmots hole certainly seem indifferent to this point.

i’m mostly talking about the privileged amateur anthropologists out there loving the sound of their online voices as they wax lyrically about some theory about korea-this or that. and then reading the comments that declare their “amateur” insights so INSIGHTFUL! (of course, i can’t see how the “trained” professional anthropologist oftentimes isn’t guilty of the same–particularly if they aren’t up front about their privilege (i.e., they’re white, native english speaking, male, blah blah. indeed, they’re often much worse–although certainly less prevalent than the annoying non-academic online blog-types).

this begs the question: what of the less privileged amateur anthropologist–the everyday person–usually of poorer socio-economic background, probably working some historically demeaning job, probably a “migrant” of some kind… but also like the rich english teaching amateur anthropologist in seoul or tokyo, or rio possessing equally valid opinions about the world around them–one they’re arguably tied closer to, their faces forced to the concrete by the demands of a global economic capitalistic system that continues to shit nonchalantly on their “kind.” they work and clean after us rich “theorists” (professional academic and amateur anthropologists alike) and no doubt possess theories as valid as ours–although sadly still deemed less “sophisticated.”

i don’t want to romanticize this group either though. how many hardworking, “exploited” poor amateur theorists (e.g., migrants) are still the worst racists, sexists, xenophobes out there? many, no doubt. then again, the same could be said of the privileged theorist (professional and amateur alike) with the same self-righteous prejudices. at the end of the day, though, whose theorizations about the world make print? whose get heard and followed? is it too much to ask for a blog about korea written by those most marginalized, migrants, non-korean women, the like? where are the marmot’s holes of the “oppressed”?

then again, there probably are and i’m probably unaware of them. so there, i might be part of the problem as well, yet another self-righteous heterosexual korean american hegemonic dude thinking he’s the only one to point out this shit, to say i have to be the savior to free the blogosphere from the neo-colonial wrath of other “less enlightened” anthropologists ignorantly defining a place and people they don’t “truly know.” healthy (and routinely performed) self-loathing should be a pre-requisite of anbody who claims to be a “social theorist” – silly blog-type or uppity academic type alike.

this rambling piece is probably about the politics of knowledge production, in retrospect. who writes what. who gets it published. whose word is taken more seriously than that of others. i’m just one voice in all of that–even as i sit here in a library after hour 5 or 6 (lost count) trying to ask myself what i’m doing all of this for ultimately.

and the realization–again–that things certain people write about online, particularly about korea, still annoy me. 😉


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