I spent the last week reading about my family, friends and life- but it was called Cultural Anthropology! Ok, for some of you that’s a “DUH, Kris, where you been” kind of question, but realize my academic focus for the last FOUR years(Yeah, some of us are doing the 5-year plan) has been on Parks and Recreation with an emphasis on the RECREATION part of my major. I find out…there’s a science around studying humans – as in me! Although I read in the New York Times that not everyone believes Anthropology is a science these days (Wade, N. 2010 Anthropology a Science? Statement Deepens a Rift. New York Times, Dec. 9, Online). FOCUS Kris…
Culture is what makes us different than any other species – Our culture learns, shares and adapts and has “symbols” (stands for something) that are learned, random and dictate our view of our world. We don’t always agree on symbols and sometimes the meaning needs to be negotiated – obviously the author of the book I read has lived with a sister like mine!
Language is the other thing that makes us so special! We learn language even when we don’t know the meaning of things – we figure it out – again whoa- a whole Venus/Mars kind of conversation should be added here. Again it’s amazing how we as men learn to maneuver so well in a world of female words – negotiate, negotiate, reinforce, negotiate. And then there are the non-verbals that we wont even talk about!
Jump forward to Kinship and Family…I am my history – my parents, my grandparents and great-grandparents. Danish tradition has been passed down and diluted – and I am choosing what I want to take with me and pass on someday to my children. You can bet that ebelsikvers and Aunt Margie’s Red Velvet Cake will make it and lutefisk will NOT! I also read, that our family is a bit of an anomaly in Western culture. I’ve grown up living on a compound – living among siblings, parents, grandparents and aunts and uncles – an extended family living within close proximity. AND the scarey thing – we all get along! We share and understand the same metaphors and view the world the same way. We are all Democrats, teachers or engineers and have a common identity. And …we like each other…yeah, well there IS my sister; she’s ok, but just don’t tell her I said that.
Seven days reading about my family, my friends, who I work with and it’s called Cultural Anthropology. Do me a favor though…don’t tell me sister about this…she’s majoring in anthropology and I would HATE to hear one more “I told you so!”