Anthropologing

By Borbála (Borcsi) Jáger


Author's note: Since I am studying anthropology, I dare to play more with the connection of art and science - therefore I chose the poem format to express my ideas. Anthropological lenses have a unique way to explore the world – and once I am wearing them, I cannot put these lenses down. I caught myself talking about anthropology and its issues in the most everyday situations, which gave me the inspiration to write. Besides that, all my questions and uncertainties motivated - and while 10 years later it could be that I question what I wrote now, this poem is like one step in an ongoing practice and exploration of what anthropology means to me. And anyhow, Life is a constant exploration.


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‘Hey!’

‘Hi!’

‘How are you doing?’

‘Fine.’

‘And what would you like to have?’

‘Answers for my questions and something else…’

‘What do you mean?’

‘I just… I am revealing questions, unpacking details, trying to find out more about the clichés, showing the multiple ways of understanding, to state and share how complex the world is… I try to understand meanings and give meaning to what I am doing…’

‘What are you doing?’

‘I’m anthropologing.’

‘Oh, wow, great…!’

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‘Do you know what I mean?’

‘Not really. But you’ve talked about it interestingly! Is it something sci-fi?’

‘Well, there could be some people who would connect it with the academic lifestyle.’

‘Is it something artsy then?’

‘Art has truly a great influence on and interconnection with the topics I present.’

‘So… what does life look like to you? Tell me one day.’

‘Based on theory, I collect empirical data which I analyze and present it in a coherent way.’

‘Oh, wow…’

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‘I talk to people.’

‘Oh wow, that’s great! I talk to people too!’

‘And I write about them.’

‘I don’t do that. But hey, that sounds cool. I always thought people are interestingly crazy souls…’

‘And I also consider the non-human.’

‘What’s a non-human?’

‘Everything beyond people.’

‘Oh, cool… like a beaver?’

‘Yeah, that could be… A beaver, or a tree… Interestingly, most people think about animals and plants – but the water, the wind, the soil, the sun – non-humans all of them! And built elements, cars, infrastructure, pipes…! They all have a huge effect on us. But this term, non-human… still implies the division like “us” and “them”. It’s still human centric… While in reality it’s all interconnected!’

‘And how do you talk to a tree?’

‘I don’t talk to a tree. I unpack its role on people’s lives to see…’

‘How do you do that?’

‘I observe and immerse. I spend a long time with humans and non-humans, and see what is happening, what connects everything…’

‘Oh… so do you look at them for a very long time?’

‘And I participate in their lives, do my best to understand how perspectives are so different.’

‘So… is it a small group then? Why is it relevant for all humans?’

‘I see… I understand why some fields start with research that is called representative. But the approach I follow is more like exploring… and searching and finding what is true for some… For some people, and if it’s true for them… it’s trueness in the world, therefore, should be considered in the discussions about what is going on with people, with everyone from all around the world.’

‘And the non-human, don’t forget the non-human!’

‘Yes, you’re right… It is a constant, ongoing practice in Life…’

‘Sounds like pretty much everything interests you.’

‘Well, yeah, that’s true.’

‘That must be tiring!’

‘But also… interesting…’

‘That’s good. You need something that gives you fuel.’

‘Yeah, true…’

‘Why are you doing this?’

‘I don’t know… I felt I knew. And… to be honest I still know, deep inside me. This is a way of living that allows me… to combine everything. Here I never hear that something is out of scope. If that’s important for some, go with the flow…! Be an explorer, find adventures, be open and honest with people…’

‘…and…’

‘…and the non-human, I know. But also, be critical, and that gives a beautiful balance, you know. I am committed to understand and question everything. Constantly. All the time. It is a way I aim to live my life. Even with the criticism I receive… It is not science, or it is obvious what I try to reveal. Why should I spend years to observe and go with the flow…? I translate, you know… But oh, those questions around where and who can go… What is acceptable, what is offensive… I admit, sometimes I am full of uncertainty. But deep inside, I know… Even if some say there is no happy ending, or the world is just a dark place for suffering… I acknowledge this view. I see the suffering. I hear it, I smell it, I taste it… and I think I feel it – but I feel bad to say this with my privileged life – but suffering is all around. I know. But also, that’s… that’s the point, no? Life always finds a way to shine. Through the suffering, there’s light. Sounds naïve? I don’t care. I cannot go on the dark road that’s sure in deep death… Neither on the ever shining ‘there are no problems’ road. I can go on the middle one… The middle one… I see the suffering, but I do believe in shine. I see the possible harming outcomes… but I do try… Try my best to be honest and relax when I say: I did my best. To question and understand everything I can.

And you know, talking about this… Also shows how complex Life is. But this is why it is beautiful, isn’t it? I don’t want to live without any sparks. Otherwise, what’s the meaning of…?

Actually… Actually, I think this gives meaning to what I’m doing. The constant exploring. And the beliefs. In shine… Or something. I don’t know. But I think I can go and explore, though.’

‘Oh wow… That was intense but sounded very inspiring! Now… since the queue is waiting… I hope you explore more and don’t forget what counts. But buying the special offer today gives you extra points on the discount card! Would you like to have a medium or a large size menu then?’


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