robert m. young

All of a sudden the boat was swept into a long drain pipe. There it was as dark as it had been in his box.

“I wonder where I’m headed,” the tin soldier thought. “If only I had the little lady in the boat with me, it might be twice as dark and I shouldn’t mind it a bit!”

-The Steadfast Tin Soldier by Hans Christian Andersen

Woodcuts by Robert M. Quackenbush

Translated by Carl Mamlberg

epperanalchemist  asked:

I've been doing some reading about writing POC, and I noticed a trend to call anthropology a poor source for cultural data. Now, I understand that anthropology has had a poor history at times (the article Nacerima deliberately mocks this), but this worries me since I intend to one day teach anthropology. Is there another reason anthropology is often maligned among POC writers?


I think this is mostly due to most anthropologists being white people who don’t check their privilege and subject all their studies to their white gaze. It is why most of the world’s cultures are so misunderstood and most history classes teach us lies. 

~ Mod Alice

Hi, epperanalchemist! Thanks for writing in~

First, just as a bit of background, my BA was in anthropology (specifically cultural/social), and I also considered going for my PhD. I ultimately decided not to, but I have seen (and experienced) the racism in the field of anthropology firsthand. I honestly haven’t seen anthropology maligned too often among POC writers, but I can see why it would be.

Just as mod Alice pointed out, anthropology has a problematic history. It was absolutely a field that grew out of colonialism, and some of the ideology behind anthropology is inherently white-centered, racist, and Othering. Many texts/research work treated people like they were animals in a zoo. Archaeology is also a problematic field, one that often acts as if white men have rights and access to cultural/historical artifacts that don’t belong to them. The fact is that many anthropologists/archaeologists made money (and prestige) off of literally stealing from, Othering/exotifying other cultures and nations. Don’t even get me started on the racist roots of biological anthropology because we’d be here all day. 

But, it isn’t only anthropology that’s been tainted. As Robert M. Young points out, a racist society will give you a racist science. In fact, racism in medicine has been well-documented, and it continues today with horrific effects. It’s an institutional problem, period.

It isn’t just that anthropology is a field with a problematic past. The greater problem with using anthropology as a source for cultural data is this idea that anthropologists are more “objective” than the people they are studying and therefore are better suited to reporting about it. Anthropological texts (particularly older ones) aren’t great for cultural data because they come with an inherent bias. They’re almost always white-male-centered and seek to “explain” a culture through a white-male lens.

This privilege (and entitlement) is also seen in people who think that it’s a good idea to pretend to be an oppressed person for a day to experience what it feels like, while ignoring first-hand accounts from people who are actually oppressed. Or people who think that spending a few months in a foreign country gives them the right to speak over those who live there. 

If you’ve ever taken a history class, then you know that primary sources are always preferred. They’ve still got a bias, but they’re where good research starts. In the same way, when writing about cultures, primary sources are preferred. A primary source in this sense is one where someone who is a part of a cultural group writes/speaks about their own experiences. 

People should be allowed to speak for themselves. Oppressed/marginalized people groups should be allowed their own voices. People in non-Western nations shouldn’t have their experiences and voices reduced to only existing in an anthropological text. That’s why anthropological texts aren’t preferred - they often end up silencing rather than amplifying the voices of the culture being studied.

Primary sources are also best because it will force you to remember that this individual who is experiencing their own culture is one person with one perspective, just like your character. When using secondary sources with a bias, you risk exotifying/Othering a culture, as well as homogenizing groups of people. 

The good news is that there are a lot of anthropologists who are aware of the problematic parts of anthropology. There are also far more anthropologists who have intersecting identities. Like Bianca Williams, a self-described Black feminist anthropologist, who just wrote a fantastic post at Savage Minds about the reality of racism. She shares that she “became an anthropologist because this discipline always felt like the best place to use life experiences and personal narratives to provide contextualization and shed light on a variety of truths.” There’s definitely a greater emphasis on sound science, recognizing personal biases and an inclusive methodology in anthropology.

And, we don’t mean to say that you can never use an anthropology text for research!~ If you’re simply trying to gain a general idea of a country or a culture’s traditions, anthropology texts and even tourists guides can be a place to start. But, whenever possible, I would absolutely advocate using primary sources for writing purposes. 

~mod Stella



Año: 1977

Director: Robert M. Young

Alambrista, es una denominación local que se le da a los inmigrantes ilegales mexicanos que están en "la cuerda floja” en la frontera de México con Estados Unidos. Está escrita por el mismo director quien conoció a Domingo Ambriz, quien interpreta a Roberto, el protagonista de la película. La película está basada en la propia historia de Domingo junto con la de varios inmigrantes mexicanos que le relataron sus vidas como ilegales. 

El filme comienza con un canal de agua abriéndose paso por la tierra donde Roberto está recolectando fruta en Michoacán, México. Deja de trabajar para irse a ver a su mujer dar a luz. Después de hablar con su madre, quien le dice que su padre se fue de “mojado” a Estados Unidos hace muchos años atrás. Roberto ignora la petición de su madre y en busca del “sueño americano”, pretende irse, ganar dinero y regresar para cuidar mejor de su familia. Su esposa y madre no parecen muy contentas con el hecho, pero no les queda de otra. Después de cruzar la frontera con un grupo de mexicanos que encontró en el camino, logra escapar de la “migra” y trabaja en un huerto donde se hace amigo de otro ilegal, quien le enseña a pedir un desayuno en inglés, entre otras cosas. 

Rápidamente se convierte en el único amigo tiene, sin embargo lo pierde en una de las ocasiones que están escapando de la policía, debajo de un tren en movimiento. Roberto consigue otro trabajo y con esto, entabla una posible relación afectuosa con la mesera del restaurante donde come después de trabajar, se muda a vivir con ella después de quedase dormido en la barra del lugar. Ésta tiene un hijo y vive con su hermano, ella parece muy enamorada de él, sin embargo los problemas de comunicación por la nulidad del inglés que Roberto posee, sólo se entera que Roberto tiene esposa hasta que lo acompaña a enviar dinero por correo. 

Poco después Roberto y Sharon (la mesera) salen a bailar. La policía migratoria irrumpe en el lugar y  aprehende a Roberto y a otros mexicanos. Es deportado a México, sin embargo regresa una vez más a buscar suerte. Termina por trabajar en un lote de autos donde se da cuenta que su padre trabajó ahí por mucho tiempo. Se harta de su situación y decide ofrecerse a la migra para regresar a México y nunca volver. 

El filme fue rodado en 16mm y después se hizo la conversión a 35mm. La forma de filmar le valió la Cámara de Oro en Cannes. Existe una gran gama de significados intrínsecos en la película, desde que una mujer deportada en la frontera da a luz frente a todos, para conseguir la “green card”, (VISA), y su hijo, nacido en territorio norteamericano, inmediatamente obtiene la nacionalidad; hasta la relación con sus amigos, que poco a poco van desapareciendo, hasta que Roberto reconoce que está solo en el mundo, solo vino y solo estará. 


1977 | ¡ALAMBRISTA! | Robert M. Young