The Little DIY Photographer Guide: The Making Of Cambodia 80’s Images

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Digging and sampling Saeth Umar's photographic collection.

Digging and sampling Saeth Umar’s photographic collection.

“Because I am too old now, that’s why. This is exhausting. All that travel, all that work. So I am done, that’s it”. A pout face on me. That of a disappointed spoiled child. The partner in crime of photo swaps and techniques on a straw is retiring. Who am I going to nerd around from now on??? Filters shining through, exposures blurring people in precising ghosts out, Cecil B DeMille grand schemes for the next wedding set… The conversation has barely started, I turned around for a minute and this is it: Saeth Umar, quite the DYI uncle of all images has run his course, and leaves his photographer job to potential younglings. “I’ll miss it that’s for sure” concludes his little impulsive laugh. The laugh of a boy of 60+ year old who never stopped being amazed and amused by what started as quite a challenging job: making images in a no-more-images land. Continue reading

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(Visual) Anthropology goes to the movies | Take II : The Keyser Söze Effect

the-usual-suspects-5261e6a94d1ceThe Keyser Söze Effect relies all on this paradox: the delight of being deceived, the magic of a manipulation. The pleasure found right there, in that revelation: the rules of the game have all along been yours truly, yours only, you’ve played, you’ve lost. Hit the repeat button. Play it again Sam. And you probably have. I know I have. My collector VHS even breaking down on me: dooming to addiction those very last minutes of the epic finale of Bryan Singer’ 1995 ”The Usual Suspects”. The how to leave it all to your viewer. The want-more, because you gave me less (or so it seems). The want-a-Keyser-Söze-effect-for-ethnographic-movies. Continue reading

(Visual) Anthropology goes to the movies | Take I : Woody Allen ”Zelig”

Zelig Poster - 1983Weeks of proposals with no end, living with anthropology day and night, dreaming and nightmaring of research… The grants season… I had it, enough already. A break. Needless to say I went to my pile of DVDs to find refuge. And out of nowhere it seemed, picked up Woody Allen’s 1983 ”Zelig”. I had seen it as a teenager, in a moldy subterranean Parisian cinema re-re-re-screening ”classics”. I had no recollection whatsoever of the movie. Barely that – as usual – there were about 3-4 viewers in the theater, that Woody was his usual self, and that it had the flavor of a documentary of the 30’s. And here I am: years later, just as I am looking forward to get as far as possible from anthropology, I certainly didn’t remember the potential of ‘’Zelig’’ to reflect on just exactly that. (Visual) Anthropology goes to the movies, first take!

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Old Cambodian Mosques: Potentials for Another Architecture of the Future?

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To line up this new year with some visual enthusiasm and inspiration, I have decided to dig into my ”To digitalize” box. It’s a big fluffy one (for dust does fluff after a while of not forcing it to get out, take a stroll outside). Just as I opened the box, some good ol’ shots of good ol’ mosques came up. Mosques from Cambodia, often left on the side of the prayers, left to fluffy dust and collapsing sands. Continue reading

Mei Bi & Me: Re-writing Ethnography, Bringing the Ethnographer Back In

Recently I had to bring a little bit more of my very own self into the ethnography, through a seminar on Writing Ethnography and its genres, and the auto-ethnography model of Zora Hurston ‘’Mules and Men’’. I took up the challenge by revisiting an old piece from the Clichés Chams column that I was, back then, writing for the online news media Kaset. The article was all about Mei Bi, a character completely real, gone complete legend over Cham-landia. At the time, and within the journalistic frame, it would have been irrelevant and out of place to bring my own experience in the foreground of the story. But as the tale unfolds, as I was following up all through the years – all through the roads – all through the legends – the life of Mei Bi, it became more and more personal. Until the end revealed to be nothing else but a close up on this entirely personal quest, without me even knowing about it… Continue reading

The Notebooks’ Diaries Day 4: Closing notes

An intro first? Here. | Also: Day 1 & Day 2 & Day3.

The final day of opening and reading. Two notebooks today, and here I am: done. The last notebook is of a different kind, a different genre, a different stock: a notebook of ‘‘déplacements’’. A notebook title that can not be translated, or if it was, it would be translated into an hybrid notion of movement, travel, and displacement. Out of place. Because the field was the place: doing fieldwork out the field was going away, going around, going out. A notebook not from the usual fieldwork, not from the home-work, but from the ‘’around’’ fields, from the travels, from the roads, from the journeys[1]. That last notebook calls for a different opening, at a different time, a separate moment, along with the lost-yet-not-so-lost notes excavated on day 2: notes that were not only displaced, but made of displacements to start with. So indeed, if that notebook is left aside for a later reunion, then that’s it: I am done. I guess this calls for a little stepping back in and out of the notebooks and see what can maybe, perhaps, eventually, be taken away from the alignment of the notebooks wide opened on a table, after years of dusty closure (yes, closure…), and from the lines coming out of that sight. Continue reading

The Notebooks’ Diaries Day 3: When all we need is Love & Memory

An intro first? Here. | Also: Day 1 & Day 2.

 In a very beautiful text entitled in all simplicity – and then again all beauty – ‘’Par coeur’’[1] (‘’by heart’’), Charles Malamoud talks about the inseparability of love and memory in the vedic concept of Smara. From poetry to classical foundational texts, from theatre to the actual learning process, ‘’what is present in Love, is the memory and the consequence of its destruction, and therefore its absence. Its own body denied, it is nothing but the very flame that consumed it’’ (299)[2]. I thought about that text today and how much I remembered loving it, back when it was assigned in my université days. Of course. I had to remember and love it. Again. The multiple references to flames, fires, combustions, burnings, made me also look back to yesterday’s reflections on Mysore Narasimhachar Srinivas’ ‘’Remembered Village’’[3], and the loss of his field notes in a fire. The ethnography was finally forged in the burning memory of Srinivas. From the ashes of his notebooks. Reading my own notebook today (the third one), with ‘’Par Coeur’’ on the side, I thought about just that: love and memory, and the love and memory that the notebooks are made of. Continue reading

The Notebooks’ Diaries Day 2: Filling / Feeling the Gaps?

An intro first? Here. | Day 1: There.

A weird thing happened this morning as I opened the second notebook (a certain ‘’Cahier Cham Vc. Juillet 2006. Les Déplacements’’). 30 pages in, the notebook goes… blank. Nothing. Pages and pages of giddy grid paper. Fears from the loss of the fetish, abyssal confrontation with the never-to-be-scientific proof – and self. Exhilarated relief from the liberation of the moment zero, and then somewhere in between, filling the gaps or not… I will go for the overused cliché: that is still the question… Continue reading

The Notebooks’ Diaries Day 1: Ordering the Disorder.

An intro first? Here.

Finally opened… The first notebook even read cover to cover… Well, what a trip… In time, in space and in my former me-self’s own expectations / hopes / interpretations of what ethnography should have been. There is so much in the 228 pages I read today, so much stuff all around, in all kinds of directions, that I am not even sure where to start. But an interesting thing though: what I see in those lines is my constant search, at the time, for order. There was a thing going around, like a virus, probably contagious: that a good ethnography would require an index, categories, color codes, key words… And sometimes, I think that it is probably right: given the amount of ‘stuffs’ that I had collected, ordering that mess in time could only have only been productive. But I didn’t. I did try to put a system together, that I don’t have the codes for it anymore. And the system doesn’t do much if it stays just that: a system. You need to apply it systematically, as in a batch, in order for it to work, to make sense. I didn’t get to that. So now I have a system and no translation. So, today, I am going to attempt one. To gather the pieces, and try deciphering it. Continue reading

The Notebooks’ Diaries: an Intro?

It has been years… Just saying it and thinking about the number, the length, the time gone by, makes me feel dizzy… Recently I have been told more and more that it is ok, that time doesn’t matter, that I gained experience on the way… Maybe. But most of the time, if I spend more than 30 seconds thinking about this long dragging on, I feel those butterflies in my stomach[1]. And that’s what those notebooks represent: not so much the time spent ‘’in the field’’ (for there are other scattered-around notes on the field and from the field, for there are other fields that I have not much notes for), but the time spent in between. The time spent out of the ‘’official’’ field (for I never actually left), out of the official ‘’village’’, out of the ‘’anthropology’’, out of the ‘’academia’’. Continue reading

Apart from Ethno-History: Cholthira Satyawadhna’s Inspired Digressions

For one of my seminars here at Cornell[1] we have been working on anthropologist Cholthira Satyawadhna’s thesis on Lawa ethno-history[2]. I really liked her opening, and thought it was worth sharing:

Cholthira Satyawadhna, The Dispossessed, 1991, p iv

Cholthira Satyawadhna, The Dispossessed, 1991, p iv

Ithaca, October 29, 2013, Emiko Stock.

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[1] Making History on the Margins: The China-Southeast Asia Borderlands with Magnus Fiskesjö.

[2] Cholthira Satyawadhna 1991 The dispossessed: An anthropological reconstruction of Lawa ethnohistory in the light of their relationship with the Tai, Unpublished Ph.D. diss. Canberra: Australian National University.

To the ‘multi-ethnic’ infinity and beyond: let’s start with ‘Bad Frenchmen’

How about a read today? I was thinking… Gregor Muller ‘’Colonial Cambodia’s ‘Bad Frenchmen’‘’ [*], which would very well go with a ‘let’s-talk-ethnicity-lamp’ and with the subtitle: how did those insightful lines got exactly where I wasn’t expecting them? Continue reading

Descola Episode II: On classifications & identity, memory and anthropologist’s ”objectivity”.

LCs-p439

LCs-p439

”[…] It is probably the very subjectivity of our discipline that assures its wider import”. STs-p405

A way overdue selection of quotes from Philippe Descola‘s  « Les Lances du crépuscule » (”The Spears of Twilight”). You may think I am rumbling around as I already talked about the author and the book in a previous post here, but I will of course deny that. Not on the basis that I am indeed in denial, but rather because the final pages of the piece skate over notions and ideas I find quite essential in anthropology to go back to. Continue reading

In Bed with Pascal Dibie : «Ethnologie de la chambre à coucher»

Still digging into my ‘French Anthropologists’ box, Pascal Dibie’s ‘’Ethnology of the bedroom’’ is a nice find to give this Monday a smooth start… with an air filled with the scent of linen (or if you ask me, of fresh straw-mats!) Continue reading

Par-delà the ethno-grapher: Descola in the *field*

LancesCrepuscule_41

LCs-p41

‘’We had understood nothing of what they said, nothing of what they did: it was a typical ethnographic situation’’. STs-p28

Starting a new year with a good read is a seductive idea isn’t it?

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Translating & Excavating: ‘’Muslim Communities in Cambodia : an overview’’

This week’ post emerges from the oldies department… Here comes the English translation of an article that was published in 2010, and written in 2006: « Les communautés musulmanes du Cambodge: un aperçu », (~ ‘’Muslim Communities in Cambodia : an overview’’). It was originally a chapter of an edited book (Atlas des minorités musulmanes en Asie ~ Atlas of Muslim minorities in Southern and Eastern Asia, Michel Gilquin ed., Bangkok, IRASEC / Paris CNRS) published in French, which aimed to provide the general public with an overview of the various Muslim minorities inhabiting ‘non-Muslim nations’ in Asia. Continue reading

Just another Cham trying out Malaysia

It would be nice to finally write an article on Cham migration to Malaysia one day… I thought… There is of course the ancestral ‘’Malay world’’ connection that has been buzzing around Malayan universities over the recent years. There are those statistics, showing for years an increasing number of youths leaving for better jobs, better lives, better hopes… There is this overwhelming reality from the tea-time visits, a.k.a fieldwork: ‘’Your daughter is not here today?’’ ‘’Oh no, she just left for Malaysia’’. There is indeed a nice little article to be written… Until somehow out of the blue your best friend joins the batch, and writing becomes… personal. Continue reading

Beyond Ethnonyms: writing and unwriting anthropology

My recent publication on Chams Ethnonyms for the journal Moussons is finally online (links at the bottom of this page). The front story of this article is all about how labels are socially, culturally and historically heavily constructed and can therefore – and I guess should – always be deconstructed through an ethnographic process. But the backstage story is actually very different and yet very related. It is more about the writing process which is itself so embodied in the construction – or the deconstruction – of the anthropological object. Continue reading

Exposing The Under-Exposed: family portraits on a mosque’ walls

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There are many – many – things I remember from any ceremony I attended in O’Russei village, a.k.a one of my offices, a.k.a one of my fieldwork centres. The Eid El Fitr in autumn 2007 was no exception, and I have transcribed a few – very few – notes from it here. On that particular day though there was something beside the ritual itself that I remembered: an exhibition of simple family pictures on the walls of the village mosque.  Continue reading

Abstract: Inviting Champa, Welcoming Cambodia

Click here to find the French and English abstracts of the Udaya 2009 article “Parce que Champa et Cambodge ne faisaient qu’un…Lorsque les esprits s’emmêlent pour tisser la trame d’une histoire passée sur le métier d’une ‘intégration’ présente” (~Inviting Champa, Welcoming Cambodia: Performing Ancient Spirits to Commemorate Past History and Present Integration). 

Phnom Penh, February 10, 2013, Emiko Stock.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.