18 March 2013

Final thoughts on "Modern India"

This class was ridiculous. I continue to find that these geographically focused Anthro courses are miles away in terms of rigor compared to anything else I’m taking. I found myself thinking the same things as this quarter came to an end as I felt near the end of Anthro 164P (Eastern Europe and Central Asia):

Oh god, I don’t know anything about this region. I’m a fraud. How can I expect to pass this class? I don’t know anything about this place!

… and then proceeding to hyperventilate. But I’m beginning to get savvy to this feeling of not knowing. I know that a big first step in learning about a region or a group of people is the simple fact of knowing that you know so little about a group with so many little nuances, quirks, and exceptions to the rule. At least I know that much now.

This class pleasantly surprised me as well, though. I hadn’t anticipated a discussion on the ethics of sharing information via Aaron Swartz in the context of this class. I might have expected, to some degree, a conversation about binarism, technology, and the IT industry in India, but I definitely didn’t think I would be invested in a conversation about it at the meta level I took it to. And I want to emphasize that I took it to that meta level. If you know me, you know that I hate getting dragged into that, but this time I dragged you there over the course of a series of blog posts. You’re very welcome. Or thank you. I’m not sure.

I hardly expected to find myself talking about the race relations of Whites and Blacks in America, but I found over the past ~10 weeks that India and its relationship with Britain paralleled cultures, conflicts, and relationships all over the world in fascinating ways. It’s one thing to notice those connections, and I would be happy if I came away with that, but the entirely new way of seeing how cultural relations between the West and the “other” can share some common ground with other cultures. Machines and the Measure of Man got me thinking about the way India and Africa were in the same boat when it came to their relationship with the West: that of marginalization, oversimplification, and misunderstanding.

I hope I can take this new approach and insight with me to other subjects. I feel like I’ve gained a foothold in a whole area of Anthropology about which I was never really cognizant before. These approaches have certainly made the takeaway from this class that much better, and I can only imagine the same effect on other subjects and regions.

If you have something to say about this, contact me