15 October 2006

An introduction to my studies

Theory in Anthropology and SEA Ethnography are taught by Kostas Retsikas who has a quaint Greek accent which will make the structural method of Lévi-Strauss an entirely new adventure. Luckily though, he has sense of humour: "Do you underrrstand my ahhhccent? - You will durrring the yearrr."
In Ethno of SEA I came across a highly interesting book, "SEA and the Age of Commerce" by Anthony Reid (Yale University Press 1990). What I realised reading that book is how much neglected SEA as a region REALLY is. I was like, "Wow! I never heard of THAT at school!" It's like an entire new history to discover; a parallel universe that you have been totally unaware of. Amazing!
Back to Theory in Anthro: In the tutorial I found out that kinship doesn't seem to be covered as much as in Austria ("To understand Lévi-Strauss's alliance theory [...]. In English, we use the term cousins to refer to [...], however, in kinship theory it is distinguished between cross cousins and parallel cousins." - really basic for the laypersons among you) which annoys me, considering how difficult it was to learn the vocabulary of kinship terms in Vienna.

The course convenor of the team taught lecture Theory and Evidence in Contemporary Development is Jonathan Di John. In the tutorials two groups will be formed that will stay the same throughout the year. In the discussions, one group will represent the World Bank's / IMF's point of view, the other the critics' ("Although many criticise the World Bank, a lot of people have no idea what it actually does. We should not forget that the World Bank is the largest research centre in the world concerning development.").
Since online registration for the tutorials failed, lots of students just came to the one immediately after the lecture. What happened was that there were around 20 people in that room. The tutor said, "Some of you will have to move to another tutorial because a tutorial with 20 people obviously doesn't work." I smiled and thought back to the tutorials I had in Vienna with 35-80 participants and was really glad that I came here. I've heard that the highest number of students per tutor here must not exceed 12!

I chose SEA Government and Politics instead of Indonesian and am happy about it. Jason Abbott provides an interesting "framework for the understanding of modern politics in SEA".
Am excited about the presentation I will do on "The Philippines: Colonial and Cacique Democracy" in January!

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