Saturday, February 28, 2009

World Conversations 2008 Olympic Games: A Coach's Perspective

Colleen M. Hacker described her experience in Beijing as being amazing and remarkable. The culture was exciting and new and the people of China were very friendly and eager to help her and the team. There was so much to see but she made sure they had an important balance between experiencing the culture and focusing on the Olympics. Security was so tight there that every conversation was monitored and they made sure to hide any flaws because they didn't want it to leak out. To train the athletes she mentions using heat and humidity chambers to help them get used to high heat and humidity. As a mental skills coach she doesn't need to motivate the athletes. She helps them with action plans, using imagery, control attention and distractions, sleep, self confidence, injury, team building, self-talk and more. First these skills need to be analyzed and observed, then they self-evaluate, next they learn them and apply it in training which then is applied in competition, and finally it can become automatic. Also in her lecture she discussed some of the differences between the US and Chinese sport system. In China, children as young as 4 years old become active in sports and are measured to decide what they should get into. Sports is their primary focus, not school. In the US, people are able to decide what sport they want to get into. Also, education comes first and then sports. Overall Colleen Hacker had a wonderful experience going to Beijing and being a part of a world wide union through sportsmanship. She was very proud of her country and being able to represent it. This is definitely an unforgettable experience.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Human Rights & Anthropology

A unique challenge in doing research on prostitution was gaining entry and acceptance. Places of prostitution aren’t listed in a directory obviously so the researcher had to ask around. When she did find various places it took awhile to get anyone to talk to her. She took it slow and luckily managed to get noticed by someone. She was then put through a “Streetwalker 101 test.” Other times she had to prove that she wasn’t an undercover cop. Another unique challenge was being careful of who she associated with. Some people were nice enough to talk to her but that affiliation, like those with a negative reputation, limited her access to others. Also, being in the environment of prostitution was dangerous because she did not know anyone and so she may place trust in the wrong people. Other obviously unique challenges were researching something that was illegal as well as the ethical issues that arose- like women being physically abused. The researcher was put into difficult situations that she did not really know how to handle.

The author of MFH mentions that the code of ethics “promotes discussion and education, rather than to investigate allegations of misconduct.” In situations where anthropologists witness behavior that is not acceptable to them they should always remember that their main obligation is to the people that they are studying. It is important for the anthropologist to observe and analyze so that they get their point of view and gain an understanding of why they do what they do so they can then educate others about their culture and views. I don’t believe it’s the anthropologist’s job to reach out to the public or get involved with activism because we can’t tell them what’s right or wrong. They are researchers so their job should be to research and not try to change or judge their ways. Various cultures are going to have different ideas of what’s acceptable and what’s not and that’s what makes us all unique from each other.

Universally humans do deserve certain rights, like the basic right to life for example, but I’m not sure as to how those standards should be set because it’s very difficult to determine that especially with all the factors involved. Even if universal standards were set, it is most likely that not everyone will agree. Whatever the universal standards may be, they should not affect or interfere with a cultures' already established practice. Some cultures have existed for so long and they shouldn’t be forced to change their ways, but rather change on their own. These universal standards also should not try to make all cultures the same because diversity should be kept. People would become very upset if they had no freedom of choice and had to conform to other ways. I think cultures should be able to what they please just as long as it doesn't negatively affect the safety and well-being of other people in other cultures. Basically they should be able to practice the way they like to within their culture. These are just ideas but overall I think universal standards should be simple to where everyone can agree, considering all cultures.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


It seems very unusual that the Nacirema people continually go back to the holy-mouth-man to prevent or remove tooth decay even though it really never improves or goes away. It’s also shocking that even if no decay or holes are present, the holy-mouth-man will remove teeth to make a hole to put “magical” substances. A familiar concept is their concern for their appearance and how they seek specialists to help them with their problems. Various cultures, including ours, do different things to improve our appearance and health. To solve an issue or problem, we seek the people we think to be respected and know the most.

Within cultural context the behavior of the Nacirema makes sense because they’ve practiced their traditions for so long and it is all they know. They continue to do what they’ve done because it is what works for them. It’s hard to compare and contrast the Nacirema with Americans because they’re both quite similar. Like I mentioned earlier, we both care a lot about our appearance and health. Their concepts are clearly similar to that of Americans but the way the author describes their techniques seems awkward and somewhat painful.

This article shows how it is important to choose the right words when describing a culture. I realize now how careful anthropologists need to be when writing because this article and the authors word choice depicted the American culture in a totally different way, which is probably how the “outsider” may view it. Romanticism and exoticism are not ideal in this kind of writing because the culture needs to be portrayed exactly how it is. Cultures can be misinterpreted by this mistake.