First day of school jitters: the good kind

Princeton University- Nassau Hall
I never thought I would return from my blogging hiatus refreshed. The summer began as eventful (graduation from seminary followed by our wedding and honeymoon in Spain) and turned to grueling (6 weeks running a new site for YouthWorks in Louisville which began sadly with the death of my grandmother and ended with not one but two cross-country drives {OKC to WI-WI to NJ}), and I can’t complain about the wealth of experiences in different places, but by the time I got back to NJ, Evan and I were seriously wiped out!

No doubt I could spend the next few weeks blogging the adventures of this summer (and I may), but for now I’m hooked on anthropology again and nervously, but excitedly anticipating the start of fall classes on Thursday. I already have reading assigned for one of my classes, and many of my fears about whether this is the right discipline for me have been cast off gleefully. Reading anthropology has always felt much like reading theology to me–it brings the world into focus in a way in which I am excited to live life.

That sentiment arose as I read an article entitled “Ethnographic Honesty,” in which the author, Luke Eric Lassiter, drawing on anthropologist Renato Rosaldo, affirms that we as anthropologists and ethnographers must move toward honesty and humility in our scholarship. How thankful I am to be studying in a discipline where these are the goals of scholarship (at least for some!) Lassiter asserts,

“Writing about one’s experience as ethnographer, continues Rosaldo, is not writing about Self at the expense of Other. It is about elaborating the intersubjective contexts in which co-understandings emerge. Ultimately the issue is one of honesty, of placing co-interpretation squarely in the world of coexperience, intersubjectivity, and dialogue, rather than distance, objectivity, and authority.”

Maybe this sounds like a bunch of intellectual jargon but to me it rings as true as gospel. I have long loved the discipline of anthropology, for when at its best, it is able to treat the experience of another with unparalleled reverence precisely because anthropologists are allowed to be reverent themselves. Intersubjectivity is not some lofty academic exchange, it’s just what happens between people everyday, it’s human connection, human co-collaboration and creativity, a good conversation over coffee between two people who thought they were so different yet can’t stop connecting in a way they never have before with anyone else! Okay, I’ll stop for now, but what do you think??

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