“Pro-Government” Is Not “Pro-Corruption” in the Aftermath of the Nepal Earthquakes

Since the April 25th earthquake in Nepal, as anthropologists, aid workers, Nepalis and outsiders, we have responded to our grief in both laudable and questionable ways. Many of us have thrown ourselves into action through the networks and organizations we are connected to in Nepal. In an environment rife with anguish and critique, we admire […]

Strength, Security, Resilience and Nepal’s Great Earthquake

Newars, one of Nepal’s many ethnic groups, have a traditional way of responding to earthquakes. When a quake comes, adult men are supposed to stand up and yell loudly, while women should place their hands on the ground and recite soothing mantras to comfort the earth in its agitation. In fact, none of my friends […]

Behind the Scenes

Ethnography in the Hong Kong Umbrella Movement On the wall are handwritten notes and posters, yellow ribbons are distributed and thousands of students from various Hong Kong universities listen to student speeches and calls for action. It is September 22, 2014, the first day of a weeklong student class boycott. The kick-off was held at […]

Buddhist and Christian Interpretations of the Hong Kong Protests

Socially Engaged Religion and the Umbrella Movement Even though the 2014 Hong Kong Umbrella Movement was mainly a political movement sparked by economic and political distress, religion played a significant factor in the event. The role of religious leaders and symbols has been discussed in different media channels throughout the duration of the protests, for […]

Earthquakes and Culture

What does culture have to do with earthquakes? Recently a major earthquake occurred in Nepal, with an epicenter in the rural area (Gorkha) where I conducted my doctoral research, and it got me thinking about the relationship between culture and earthquakes. In Nepal there are many cultural features which have led to the unpreparedness of […]

Occupational Ethnography in the Taiwan Sunflower and Hong Kong Umbrella Movements

On March 18, 2014, several hundred Taiwanese student and civil activists broke into the Legislative Yuan, the parliament of the contested island nation, launching the Sunflower Movement, a protest against the ruling Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and aligned business elites’ alleged collusion with authoritarian China to pass a highly controversial trade deal. It took 24 […]

Occupy between Surveillance and Transparency

An iPad, fixed by a pair of slippers on the second floor of the Legislative Yuan (the congress of Taiwan), was shooting down the chamber with its lens. On the screen of the iPad, a big banner reading “Occupy 500 Hours” covered the bottom of the portrait of Sun Yat-Sen, the national father of Republic […]

Deepening Fractures in Turkish Society

In November 2014, new Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu exclaimed that he would defend all religions, “even Buddhism.” He was responding to concerns that different religious groups might be misportrayed in religion classes in Turkey’s schools, but he might as well have been framing the climate of hostility that religious and ethnic minorities have lived […]

Back to the Field: Reflections on Sweet Briar College Closing

The closing of Sweet Briar College represents the end of a staunch Southern tradition. I arrived on campus in 1981 as a newly minted PhD from SUNY-Binghamton, the only Asian-American member of the small faculty (70 plus). Single-sex education seemed to be an anachronism. I was surprised and startled by women’s education at Sweet Briar […]

Suddenly Liminal: Reflections on Sweet Briar College Closing

On Tuesday, March 3, faculty and staff at Sweet Briar College were summoned by a morning email to a noon meeting with the president and the chairman of the board. We sat in stunned silence as we were told that the college would close on June 30, and that we would not know whether there […]