Just published

Dork of the dead

I have a thing in The Conversation on representations of anthropologists in cinema. An excerpt:

Anthropologists have a unique expertise that allows them to mediate between worlds, and this turns out to be a useful skill set in the event of a zombie apocalypse or an exorcism gone wrong.

Scholars of cultural diversity serve as convenient plot devices for explaining the unexplainable to the viewing audience and helping the hero make better decisions. Just like the ingenious nerd who knows how to repair a wrecked spaceship or delve into a government mainframe, so too fictional anthropologists are available to “hack” the behaviour of otherworldly actors.

Read it here.

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Just published

Of unicorns and winged pigs

I have a new(ish) article out in Lumina: a journal of the southern Philippines. This issue is something of a small miracle. In the course of producing it, the editors had to deal with two natural disasters: after Bohol’s earthquake their office was condemned as unsafe, then typoon Haiyan took out their electricity and servers. So everyone else can stop whingeing about the trials of academic publishing for a moment!

She went on to reveal a deep secret intimated to her by the head Eskaya teacher which she had promised to conceal under solemn oath, an oath she would now ‘have to violate for the sake of Science’. Somewhere in the mountains of Bohol was the lost City of the Sun where the world’s destiny was controlled by three judges, and goods could be obtained cheaply by all. The site of the city could not yet be disclosed since the world was about to be renewed. Far from merely reporting ethnographic details from local folklore, Abregana presented thiFig1-Tasadays information as a series of stand-alone facts for the urgent attention of the governor.

Talk of unicorns and winged pigs may not necessarily have been beyond the pale for the fantastical realm of Visayan tabloids, but some of those who knew her recall that in this period her grasp of reality was increasingly tenuous […]

 

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Just published

Multiplied by languages

An article on my intellectual hero Dr José Rizal is out now in History and Philosophy of the Language Sciences. A shorter version of it has been published in Rappler.

jose_rizal_4_1It is something of a cliché to assert that Dr José Rizal’s thought is as relevant as ever to the Philippine nation, but it can hardly be denied. His brilliant essay ‘On the indolence of the Filipino’, can be read as a devastatingly witty rebuke to every foreign tourist who complains about poor service or a lack of initiative amongst locals, unaware of the long shadow of colonialism they are projecting. But it was his unflinching critique of the friar orders and their oppressive governance of the Philippines that continues to resonate with such force, despite the freedoms won by the Rizal-inspired independence movement.

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