A Fieldpoem for World Poetry Day

The difference between a poem and an ethnographic poem is fieldwork. My ethnographic poems are written based on my field data, and sometimes as part of my field methods: they are attentive to the qualia of social life and the complexities of human experience as encountered in fieldwork.

Virtual Cattle and Actual Friends

As any pastoralist knows, managing livestock is challenging, particularly in an environment where droughts are common, diseases spread rapidly, and theft is always a possibility. We recently observed four herders as they passed the years together. In the first year, things began well enough, with three of them gaining livestock and only one suffering a loss.

Silicon Satire

History repeats itself, “the first time as tragedy, the second as farce”—especially in Silicon Valley. In April 2018, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress for 10 hours over 2 days, following revelations that a political consulting firm had received access to user data without consent.

Anthropomorphizing Wine in Our Current Climate

My coworkers at the wine bar knew I had an interest in the Basques, so when our new inventory included a bottle of Txakolina, they were eager for me to try it. The language on the label immediately signaled this was a Basque wine with a “tx” front and center. As I put the glass to my nose, an effervescent salinity took me by surprise.

What Is This Lahu Thing Called Love?

As the music video begins, we see a young man waiting anxiously, peering through a gate. A young woman appears at the top of a set of outdoor stairs, opens a gate, and joins the young man as the first lyric, Aw vi pa o naw hta ha ja (elder brother [common reference for a boyfriend or spouse] I love you very much) appears on the screen.

Japan’s Emerging Emotional Tech

There is a moment in Spike Jonze’s film Her (2013) when the main character Theodore, who is in a romantic relationship with an operating system named Samantha, learns that she is simultaneously conversing with 8,316 others and has fallen in love with 641 of them.

Love and the Pursuit of Home after War

There is a tendency to think about love as something private—an intimate matter between two people. But as a friend once told me, “You cannot understand Acholi love if you think that it is between two people.” If she is right, and I think she is, then our understanding of the phenomenon of love should consider the wider societal backdrop as well as the particular web of social relations in which lovers find themselves.

Looking for Mr. Right Now

I have never been good at dating. I simply refused to acknowledge the subtleties and rituals of courtship, to dance the dance that potential lovers perform when declaring their affection for each other.

Love-Politics and the Carceral Encounter

We were in the middle of one of Voice of the Experienced’s (VOTE) monthly membership meetings. Bruce, the deputy director, was making an announcement about an upcoming campaign when three students began stirring in the back of the atrium before abruptly—and not so quietly—moving toward the exit, muttering and clanging chairs as they went. Dolfinette, a new lead organizer, stood from her table and interrupted to ask them where they were going.