April 16, 2008

people - lenses - people

I worked in darkroom when I was in college. It was always a magical place to me staring at the timer and waiting for the images to reveal themselves in the tubs. Then I had little knowledge about different lenses. I thought Nikon and Canon made the best lenses and therefore pictures. Not until we moved to Davis, CA, starting over my graduate work, I began to play with Rolleiflex, Mamiya, Leica, Horseman. There're lenses that can make my heart sing for the life I have and for the life of others. I often find the subjectivity of the social sciences loves to slice up a culture for analyses. As a trained anthropologist of religion, I feel torn between the professional indoctrination and my own sense of how I connect with peoples who do not speak my languages. We are taught to mark boundaries with others, but on the individual level I rather see the opposite of what we are taught - we desire to be connecting and connected, we long for wholeness rather than partiality and divisiveness. Anthropologists love to relativize everything and anything universal is questionable to them(us). I'm a marginal anthropologist as I told my doctoral committee members when I was having the oral defense session. I read everything and am only willing to conform to those ideas that best articulate my research results...
I have to pack for my trip to Yunnan tomorrow. I'll be leading my students for a field research trip in Lijiang and Tengchong. Our research project is "Tourism: Modern consumption of ethnic landscapes." So, we'll speak to local peoples, hike on the mountains and listen to what the landscapes there are going to tell us:)!

1 comment:

Bluebell said...

Hello, hello! I'm so thrilled to read both Dan and Wendy's postings. Yay! As always, Dan, your photography is incredible, and I'm interested to read about your experiences in China. When I received your family letter with the photos (thanks, Wendy!) I told my mom that if I ever get to do any real traveling the first place I'd want to go is Tibet with Dan as tour guide. Wendy, when are you and the girls leaving Davis? I'll email for more details...but HOORAY for blogging! It helps people like me who have neither the time nor inclination for phone calls to keep up with people I love.