Saturday, September 08, 2007

Barefoot Anthropology: a manifesto

When I began thinking about barefoot anthropology as a way of living, I wondered how I would do anthropology from inside academia. But now I seriously doubt I will ever scale those walls. I am having too much fun.

Barefoot anthropology is whatever we make it, but for me, right now, at this moment:

It is anarchism

It is a not-so-colonial way of relating to the earth and to my brothers and sisters

It is activism, it is Swaraj

It is anti-war, but not necessarily anti-violence-e.g. I would never fight for a nation-state, but I would fight to defend my family from the pollution of our water supply, yes even with violence

It is farms, forests, and workshops

It is my watershed, the June Sucker, and the White Fir

It is Democracy in all things: Earth Democracy for all of earth’s creatures!

It is folklore, cherry tomatoes, sunshine and muddy fingernails, knowing the seasons, the plants, and most importantly eating black berries

It’s the smell of burning wood and cooking food

It is laughter

It is loving to understand people, smiling, caring, talking and laughing

It is Jesus Christ and Pol Pot, embracing the best and the worst of which humans are capable

It is knowing there is a God but letting her be everywhere or nowhere

It is research that is self-funded, autonomous of corporations, research that empowers,
improves, critiques and praises

It is traveling light, on the ground, in buses, cars, bikes, horses, boats, with the people

It is subverting every discipline until it’s worth its salt, and its scholars can grow their own food!

It is the middle finger to the entire discipline of Development, the World Bank, IMF, and WTO, development is for embryos!

It is to labor for my own support, not studying poor people, making money and then telling rich kids about it

Field work is everyday

Hierarchy is for ladders and insects

It is telling myself I am brilliant even if I still can’t read Bookchin without a dictionary

It is People before research

It is being ethical in everything I do

It is universal health care as a human right

Barefoot anthropology is a more humane, engaged, poetic, symbolic less scientific way of interpreting the human experience

Participant observation is just another way of saying life, writing, and relationships

Observation in all situations not just ones that will make me respected by peers

Talk is cheap, let’s get to work!

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