Draft of an (undergrad) archaeogaming thesis

As many of you know I’ll be beginning my anthropology honours thesis writing come September 10th. As such I’ve written down/sketched out a bit of an outline of what I’d like the next 8 months to look like, and before I submit my final draft of this document to my supervisors (@kbiittner and @sarahshulist) I’d love to get your feedback! What readings am I missing? Are there other projects I should spend my time on? Other comments or concerns? Let me know @mxmoireabh or through the comments!


Archaeogaming (September – mid October)
Readings:

Assignments:

  • Summary of intent: “Why study linguistic archaeogaming?”/self orientation (20%)
  • Ethics statement: (5%)
  • Book review: Archaeogaming (10%)

Video Games as Linguistic Artefacts (Material Paratexts) (mid October – mid November)

Readings:

  • smth on Chaine Operatoire
  • A Geology of Media (Jussi Parikka)

Assignments:

  • Case study: Eternal Dagger (10%)

Video Games as Linguistic Artefacts (Digital Narratives) (mid November – mid December)

Reading:

  • The Phenomenology of Real and Virtual Places (Erik Malcolm Champion)

Assignments:

  • Book or article review (10%)

Conlangs in Games (January)

Readings:

  • Conlanging

Assignments:

  • Presentation: 30 minute presentation on conlangs in games (5%)

Video Game Translation (February)

Readings:

  • Game Localization: Translating for the Global Digital Entertainment Industry (Minako O’Hagan)

Assignments:

  • Case study: History of the Super Comboy (10%)

Summary (March – mid April)

Assignments:

  • Research paper: “How may or is the language of and in videogames studied archaeologically?” (20%)
  • Presentation: 1 hour presentation of research (10%)
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Colour Palettization as Archaeogaming Method

Disclaimer: This post was written as part of my ANTH 320: Archaeologies of Gender requirements in Fall 2016. It has been in publication hell since then, but I’ve finally decided just to upload it here as I begin my archaeogaming thesis next month and will be needing to reference this essay as part of that. So. Here goes:


The academic study of video games is yet an emergent field, and the interdisciplinary field of archaeogaming ever more emergent still. As scholars become more convinced as to the validity of video games as an expressive medium, so to do they become convinced that video games exist as an expression of a society’s ideological mechanisms (Dill & Thill, 2007). In considering video games as a cultural artefact the question, “What can we use to come to a greater understanding of gender and/or the construction of gender in and from video games?” is something which requires refinement. Andrew Reinhardt, blogger at archaeogaming.com, has specifically isolated the construction of methodologies and tools as one of “archaeogaming’s grand challenges” (Reinhardt, 2015), and in considering this I have constructed a possible methodology which has applications for the archaeogaming of gender. It is my contention that with regard to gender the analysis of colour palettes has a great amount of potential to influence archaeogaming methodology when such graphical output is considered to be a component of the video game as artefact.

Current methods for discerning gender as an end-product, or object, of ideological mechanism in video games tend to focus on whether or not women are identifiable as characters within a game and subsequently whether or not their depiction may be perceived as positive in some capacity (ex. Dill & Thill, 2007; Reinhardt, 2016). While such “looking for women” approaches are effective in their own right (Conkey & Gero, 1997, p. 415), there does not appear to be as much work done thus far by game theorists with regard to how characters are “coded” as women—or any gender for that matter—in order to be identified.

Proposal

In constructing an analysis of a video game one may use one or more colour palettization tools to create a data set by which an analysis of gender through colour theory may be undertaken. In considering the video game as artefact this is to be done with consideration to the full operational context of the video game. Additionally a consideration of some of the concerns which may arise with the use of such a method must be undertaken.

Methodological framework


How are ideological functions/effects in games expressed? With regard to colour as representative of categorization of something such as gender “[c]lassification is achieved because colour functions as a marker of social identity” (Koller, 2008, p. 397). “Colour codes” may thus be considered to function as a method by which social groups may demonstrate themselves (Koller, 2008, p. 397). With a near-infinite range of visible colours presently capable of display with contemporary computers and screen technologies the isolation of colour as an area of intentional effect within video games is ideal. Colour choices are rarely now considered with relation to the graphic capabilities of hardware, and more within our current video game moment than ever are colour theories capable of being applied to the discerning of ideological effects (ex. gender, emotion, etc) (Geslin, Jégou & Beaudoin, 2016). Within a Western context, for example, the colour pink is now often associated with women and feminity (Koller, 2008). Princess Peach exists as one of perhaps the pinkest characters in video games, and has done so for a number of years. In analyzing the character’s first (and presently only) solo game “Super Princess Peach” (see fig. 1) the colour pink is obviously predominant, however as is the colour blue. The shade and tone of blue chosen is what provides the “social communication” of the colour palette (Geslin, Jégou & Beaudoin, 2016, pp. 8), and the use of such a blue in relation to pink may still communicate femininity via association (Koller, 2008, pp. 399).

 

Super-princess-peach
Figure 1. Cover of “Super Princess Peach” for the Nintendo DS. Cover image added to the Mario Wikia by user Conker’s Bad Fur Day, 2011, Retrieved from http://mario.wikia.com/wiki/Super_Princess_Peach. Copyright Nintendo. Reprinted under fair use.

With regard to the above a full consideration of colour must include a consideration of hardware capability if one is to conduct an analysis of games through time. For an example of the importance of hardware in an analysis of colour consideration may be given to the Magnavox Odyssey. The Odyssey was one of the first platforms to require screen overlays for a number of games, including the game “Simon Says” (see fig. 2). While the computer hardware of the Odyssey itself displays only white blocks on a black background, the use of overlays expands the colours displayed to the player significantly. If one were to ignore the overlays as a necessary component of the game-hardware experience an accurate analysis of colour could not be undertaken.

DSCN0331
Figure 2. Image showing overlays for the Magnavox Odyssey game “Simon Says.” Image Retrieved from http://www.magnavox-odyssey.com/Simon%20says.htm. Reprinted under fair use.

In considering the graphical output of the game to be a component of a video game as artefact the lithic construction model of chain opératoire (herein: operational chain) may be turned to for insight (see fig. 3). The operational chain is defined by O. Bar-Yosef, et al. in “The Excavations in Kebara Cave, Mt. Carmel” as “the different stages of tool production from the acquisition of raw material to the final abandonment of the desired and/or useful objects” (p. 511, 1992). While a complete explanation of the applications of the operational chain within archaeogaming is worthy of an essay in itself, for the purposes of this paper its use lies in being able to discreetly define the technological tradition of a video game in relation to both raw material procurement (or materiality) and use as a method of providing context for further colour analysis.

chain
Figure 3. A diagram demonstrating the operational sequence of a lithic tool. Diagram from Grace, Roger, 2014, Retrieved from http://rogergrace.macmate.me/SARC/study/chaineoperatoire.html. Copyright 2014 by Roger Grace. Reprinted under fair use.

In this scenario the technological tradition of graphical output of a video game may be considered as graphical output capability in relation to genre, which exists as a product of platform (ie. materiality) of the game (ie. play as use). Considering Final Fantasy X-2, for example: the technical tradition is 128bit, or 6th generation graphics; it is of the Japanese Role-Playing Game (JRPG) genre; and saw original material release for the Sony Playstation 2. While this is all information game theorists already tend to include in their analysis as background data (ex. Consalvo & Dutton, 2006), by placing it within the model of an operational chain one is able to privilege analysis of a single specific component (ex. graphics) without losing the context of related components. This is especially important for the analysis of colour theory as not only are colour interpretations individualized based on culturally-bound ideological frames, but also based on genre-bound ideological frames.

Current programs

While current free-use palettizing tools are ideal for outputting colour palettes based on a percentage of colours used, their goal is to provide an aesthetically pleasing outcome (Color Palette Generator). This causes for there to be “highlight” colours often included in their output, which while aesthetically pleasing are not necessarily useful for analysis. Additionally, such tools limit the number of colours output in order to save on processing power. In considering figure 4 concerns surrounding the use of current free-use palettization tools are evident. Although the palette generated is aesthetically pleasing and obviously draws information from the image it does not provide an accurate sampling of the colours present in Yuna’s costume, either in number or range of colours output.

yuna 2
Figure 4. A concept image of the character Yuna in her gunner outfit from Final Fantasy X-2, originally released on the Sony Playstation 2. Next to Yuna is the colour palette output from http://www.degraeve.com/color-palette/. Image of Yuna added to the Final Fantasy Wikia by user Monterossa, 2014, Retrieved from http://finalfantasy.wikia.com/wiki/File:FFX-2_Artwork_Yuna.png. Copyright Square Enix or employee. Adapted under fair use.

Considering the concerns defined above: using current free-use palettization tools for archaeogaming is still likely possible. In such a case the images for palettization should be trimmed so as to remove as much superfluous data (ex. background, whitespace, etc) as possible, and cropped for areas of interest (ex. “highlight” areas; items which are in contrast, bright metallics, etc). While this will result in several disjointed images being analyzed, this will still allow for some colour analysis to be undertaken (see fig. 5). While this process should account for areas of interest in the image, they cannot account for any transparency. As such it is my recommendation that image formats which allow for alpha-channels not be included for such an analysis.

FFX-2_Artwork_Yuna
Figure 5. A cropped concept image of the character Yuna in her gunner outfit from Final Fantasy X-2, originally released on the Sony Playstation 2. Next to the cropped image is the colour palette output from http://www.degraeve.com/color-palette/. Original image of Yuna added to the Final Fantasy Wikia by user Monterossa, 2014, Retrieved from http://finalfantasy.wikia.com/wiki/File:FFX-2_Artwork_Yuna.png. Copyright Square Enix or employee. Adapted under fair use.

Future programs

Drawing from current palettization tools, a specific tool for archaeogaming research should still output a dataset based on the percentage of a colour used. However the key difference lies in the specificity which may be wanted or required for quantitative research. In my opinion such a tool would be best designed as a program which a researcher may pick colours which they wish to focus on, input an image, and the program then outputs a dataset showing how often that colour range appears in said image. This being said, in considering how a palettizer can or “should” be designed for archaeogaming further research as of yet needs to be done within the archaeogaming community.

A more social concern surrounds the relationships between members of some game development communities, academics, gamers, and those who are a combination therein. Historically game studies have focused on “lists” of games (ex. Nooney, 2013), and the narratological aspects of games or the ludological aspects of games (Malliet, 2007). Specifically, the considerations of narratological concepts or otherwise expressive outputs (ex. whether or not a game expresses a certain theme, etc) of games has popularly been the realm of video game journalists (ex. De Rochefort, 2016). While not a universal tension, since 2014 the “#Gamergate” movement has exposed distrust within video game communities (VanDerWerff, 2014). Much of this distrust stems from a fear of secrecy on the part of writers (and, honestly, much also stems from straight-up misogyny), but a solution may be found in some flavours of feminist archaeology which recommend complete transparency on the part of the archaeologist (ex. open-source publishing, publishing field notes, etc) (Conkey & Gero, 1997, pp. 429-431). While palettization may be a useful tool for many aspects of archaeogaming, and it is my personal belief that open-source publishing is an important aspect of future academia, if palettization is to be used to specifically discern gender expression in games it becomes especially important for results to be freely accessible in order to attempt at easing tensions between and within video game communities. While this does open authors up to vitriol, it also offers a greater opportunity for learning and is more in-line with “standard” contemporary anthropological and archaeological community-based practices.

Conclusion

As an interdisciplinary field archaeogaming has the potential to accumulate methodologies from a number of fields both within (ex. lithic analysis) and outside (ex. colour theory) of archaeology “proper.” As explained in this paper: colour theory specifically has great potential for application as archaeogaming method, specifically with regard to discerning gendered appearance. Although questions for analysis with regard to colour theory are wide-reaching, specifically with regard to gender these palettes may be used specifically to determine such things as: “Was colour used by designers to engender characters?”, “Do these colour choices have implications cross-culturally?”, “Have any colour choices been localized in order to ‘read better’ or ‘read differently’ cross-culturally?”, “Are characters allowed multiple costumes? What are the implications of each/certain costume palette with regard to how the character expresses gender?”, etc. Thus as a part of a larger analysis video game as artefact one may look to colour theory to inform their analysis on the construction of gender/gendered presentation of such things as characters or space.

 

Bibliography

Bar-Yosef, O., et al. (1992, January 12). The Excavations in Kebara Cave, Mt. Carmel [and Comments and Replies]. Current Anthropology, 33(5), 497-550. Retrieved October 19, 2016, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/2743915

Color Palette Generator. (n.d.). Retrieved October 19, 2016, from
http://www.degraeve.com/color-palette/

Conkey, M. W., & Gero, J. M. (1997). Programme to Practice: Gender and Feminism in Archaeology. Annual Review of Anthropology, 26(1), 411-437. Retrieved November 15, 2016, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/2952529

Consalvo, M., & Dutton, N. (2006, December). Game analysis: Developing a methodological toolkit for the qualitative study of games. Game Studies: The International Journal of Computer Game Research, 6(1). Retrieved November 2, 2016, from http://gamestudies.org/0601/articles/consalvo_dutton

De Rochefort, S. (2016, November 4). Rimworld’s system for sexuality is both a work in progress, and fair game for discussion. Retrieved November 4, 2016, from http://www.polygon.com/2016/11/4/13529134/sexuality-in-rimworld

Dill, K., & Thill, K. (2007, December). Video Game Characters and the Socialization of Gender Roles: Young People’s Perceptions Mirror Sexist Media Depictions. Sex Roles, 57(11-12), 851-864. doi:10.1007/s11199-007-9278-1

Geslin, E., Jégou, L., & Beaudoin, D. (2016). How Color Properties Can Be Used to Elicit Emotions in Video Games. International Journal of Computer Games Technology, 1-9. Retrieved November 13, 2016, from http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2016/5182768

Koller, V. (2008, November). ‘Not just a colour’: Pink as a gender and sexuality marker in visual communication. Visual Communication, 7(4), 395-423. doi:10.1177/1470357208096209

Malliet, S. (2007, August). Adapting the Principles of Ludology to the Method of Video Game Content Analysis. Game Studies: The International Journal of Computer Game Research, 7(1). Retrieved November 13, 2016, from http://gamestudies.org/0701/articles/malliet

Nooney, L. (2013, December). A Pedestal, A Table, A Love Letter: Archaeologies of Gender in video game History. Game Studies: The International Journal of Computer Game Research, 13(2). Retrieved November 2, 2016, from http://gamestudies.org/1302/articles/nooney

Reinhard, A. (2016, January 25). Archaeogaming’s Grand Challenges. Retrieved October 12, 2016, from https://archaeogaming.com/2016/01/25/archaeogamings-grand-challenges/

Reinhard, A. (2015, October 25). Archaeology in Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition. Retrieved October 12, 2016, from https://archaeogaming.com/2015/10/25/archaeology-in-tomb-raider-definitive-edition/

VanDerWerff, T. (2014, October 13). #Gamergate: Here’s why everybody in the video game world is fighting. Retrieved October 30, 2016, from
http://www.vox.com/2014/9/6/6111065/gamergate-explained-everybody-fighting

 

 

 

 

Book Review: “Bringing Our Languages Home: Language Revitalization for Families”

Disclaimer: This post was written as part of my ANTH 321: Language Revitalization requirements in Winter 2017.


The book which I am writing on is “Bringing Our Languages Home: Language Revitalization for Families.” This is an anthology edited “with a How-to Guide for Parents” by Leanne Hinton. Chapters are grouped by topic headings (ex. Part II: Learning from the Elders, Part V: Family Language-Learning Programs, etc), with each chapter is written by a different author. In choosing this topic for this book review I found myself reflecting on my own experience of dealing with the absolute slew of paperwork involved in language revitalization work (I was an office admin). When people are reduced to paper figures it becomes difficult to imagine the lived effects of something like language schooling. It is one thing to see how something exists through forms and paper—and as anthropologists looking into the recent past this is a skill I believe is necessary for us to acquire and hone—and entirely another to see how people take those experience which are reduced to boxes on paper and implement them into their lived experiences. As per the cover and introduction the intended audience for this book is parents interested in language revitalization. While this is an “academic book review” I thus would be remiss in not commenting as to whether or not “Bringing our Languages Home” has the possibility of being accessible and engaging for such communities of people in addition to academics (and the intersections of the two). In the introduction Hinton explains that the format of this anthology began with a thought: “’And who am I,’ [Hinton] thought, ‘who never braved raising a child to speak an endangered language, to write for people who might want to do this?’ […] [T]he simple answer […] dawned on me: why should I write this book at all? It was the families who had done it themselves who should write it” (Hinton 2013, ix). This allows the book to remain primarily within the first-person, giving spotlight to specific insights into the challenges and celebrations of “raising a child to speak an endangered language.”

The first of the three chapters which I will be focusing on is “Mohawk: Our Kanien’kéha Language,” written by Margaret and Theodore Peters. This chapter is arranged as a series of vignettes written by Margaret and Theodore Peters respectively. They parent their children together and have similar difficulties in getting their daughters to speak the language with not only one another and their brother but also themselves, in addition to having similar relationships to Kanien’kéha and cultural traditions (61-63). The split narration of this chapter supports a clarity of concept: while parents may work congruently to raise children, and may have uniform goals, how they come to those positions of labour and goals may differ greatly. In using the split narration Margaret and Theodore are not only able to express their difficulties and celebrations with regard to their children, but also with regard to one another. While it would be easy to say that language endangerment and revitalization are addressed in this chapter solely by virtue of the authors speaking to their personal experiences of language there are several spheres of influence which need to be addressed: the personal, the filial, and the educational. While other spheres of influence are hinted at in this chapter, it is these three which are most predominant in their call for attention. Margaret and Theodore both obviously have personal relationships to their language. This extends to their home life with their children, where their first two children (their daughters) were raised speaking English and it is only with their third child (their son) that they decide to speak the language in the home (62-65, 71-74). As the chapter progresses this moves into the realm of the educational, in that not only is Margaret a teacher in a language program, but she feels guilt over not being egalitarian in her treatment of her language teachings towards her daughters compared to her son: “I felt very ashamed. The parents at the Ahkwesáhsne Freedom School were paying me to teach their children to learn their inherent language, and here I had it and wasn’t teaching it to my own, except for our little experiment Nihahsennà:a” (66). While originally she and her husband excluded their daughters due to their seeming disinterest combined with the cost, as she is a language teacher herself she cannot reconcile her role as an educator of the language with her role as an English-speaking mother. As the maxim goes: “It’s always more complicated than that.”

The second chapter I will be focusing on is “Māori: My Language Story,” written by Hana O’Regan. This chapter is written as a single-person monologue by the author. O’Regan begins by detailing her journey in defining her Māori identity (through self-image) comparatively to how her children define their own Māori identities (through language): “I didn’t stop, back then, to consider that what I heard, as opposed to what I saw, might define my Māoriness in time” (82). O’Regan continues by speaking to her struggles in implementing language policy when parents are seemingly unwilling to speak Māori in the home, then in having children of her own discovering the difficulties herself—while it is one thing to speak the language with regard to social or academic interactions, it is wholly another to speak it with regard to children (ex songs, baby speak, etc) (88-89). O’Regan details her struggles with getting other parents to incorporate language protocols into their homes with the inclusion of commentary of her work with the “Kāi Tahu language strategic vision, Kotahi Mano Kāika—Kotahi Mani Wawata: A Thousand Homes—A Thousand Dreams. The goal was to have at least one thousand home-speaking te reo by the year 2025, and that would then be the realization of one thousand aspirations” (88). O’Regan comes to an understanding for the parents she once struggled to inspire for this program, as she herself struggles with implementing a consistent language protocol into her home. In implementing the “OPOL (one-parent, one-language) practice of bilingualism” (91) O’regan speaks to her challenges in maintaining a good record of single-language immersion. This said, she expresses anxiety and frustration in hearing her children grow up speak English due to their attendance at a bilingual English-Māori school (93). Although she notes that much of her anxiety is not wholly founded as her children speak to one another in Māori when they are alone, she comments to the personal effect such an anxiety has upon not only her as a mother but also as a language activist (96). The format of this chapter is very accessible and easy to understand. While O’Regan comments to systemic causes and outcomes of language endangerment and revitalization efforts, she is consistent in retaining a connection to how such systems effect her home life.

Lastly I will be focusing on “Irish: Belfast’s Neo-Gaeltacht,” written by Aodán Mac Póilin. To begin with a definition: “The word Gaeltacht, which originally meant something like ‘Gael-dom,’ has now become what could be described as a geo-linguistic term. It usually refers to those scattered areas—mainly in the west of Ireland—where the thread of linguistic continuity has never been broken, where the language has been passed on from one generation to the next for thousands of years” (143). Mac Póilin clearly situates himself outside of the original construction context of the Gaeltacht and neo-Gaeltacht, and instead posits a historicizing view. While providing information and context for these types of communities, Mac Póilin is careful to point out that little data is available for this type of revitalization effort, and that such community building efforts should rather be considered experiments as opposed to guides for other communities to follow (142-143). Mac Póilin keeps a consistent voice in describing the events which have led to the construction and maintenance of several neo-Gaeltacht. In providing personal anecdotes Mac Póilin also centers the use of such communities in actual practice. Describing his own summary as “a rather sketchy overview of a complex subject,” (162) it can be very easy to lose sight of the human agents Mac Póilin describes even as he is describing them. That being said in speaking to the contributions of specific families and family members there is a returning to form. In this chapter the most obvious innovation which is brought to the scholarship on language endangerment and revitalization is the historicization of the Gaeltacht. In providing a historical context for these language communities and contextualizing the labour/s involved in their creation and maintenance Mac Póilin is effective in providing reference for those with questions as to whether or not such efforts are valid (author’s note: They Are Valid).

In situating “Bringing our Languages Home” within our course discussions I find myself returning to a Thomas Hardy quote I hold pretty dear: “The art of observation (during travel, etc.) consists in this: the seeing of great things in little things, the whole in the part — even the infinitesimal part” (Sherman 1976, 346). Dr. Shulist has spoken before about how we may ask questions of people, and their answers may be unexpected. In fact, their answers may be long-winding stories on topics we cannot seem to connect back to our original question at all. Chapters speak to specific language interactions between parents and children, siblings, etc, and in “little” moments we, as readers, must remain vigilant to observe the “great” moments—the systemic implications of familial interactions. Thus while the chapters in “Bringing our Languages Home” hold the thread of language revitalization methods in home-based contexts, they are also personal narratives of family, community, and social life. I specifically chose “Part 3: Families and communities working together” as a set of chapters to focus on as I found that it touched most on the difficulty in finding the crux of filial relationships and otherwise-social relationships surrounding language endangerment. While this is obviously a thread which runs through the book as a whole, in these chapters specifically I found there to be more a focus on “soft” interactions between family members, or otherwise interactions which may (at first glance) to not be predicated by language endangerment or revitalization. These interactions are important to note in my estimation because they mark the basest levels of interaction people have in a language–it’s easy (author’s note: I’m being sarcastic) to create laws and systemic frameworks by which language revitalization may occur, but if no one is actually speaking the language then those efforts are for naught. While “talking about it” is often derided as a non-solution to a problem, the frustrations expressed by parents in these chapters and their subsequent methods for overcoming said frustrations is Action in that it shows other parents—in readers of this book—that their problems are shared amongst a larger community of language activists.

A day in the PTSD life…

I wrote this on my Facebook a few days ago, but figured it would be appropriate here!

[cw explanation of PTSD symptoms]

Hey friends as many of you know I was diagnosed with PTSD in January. Because June is National PTSD month and June 27th is National PTSD day (in the States, but we can recognize it up North here too) I wanted to give y’all a bit of an idea of what my day-to-day is like living with PTSD. Right now I have some other health issues going on (that I’m hoping to gain some more insight to with an all-day-test-day this Friday!), and that definitely informs how my PTSD symptoms present. A lot of the time people want mental and physical health to be separate beasts, but unfortunately that’s not always the case. Because of that I’m not going to specify which symptoms inform which, as I don’t see that as a useful way to metric things.

But without any further preample: A Day In The Life! (this is actually taken from a few days, but none more than a week ago because my memory is shot lol)

0000 Been in bed for 2 hours, still awake. Had a rough convo with a friend and I can’t stop thinking about a single phrase they used, because it’s a phrase my abuser used to use.
0100 Having bouts of dissociation that roll into a panic attack that roll into dissociation and back again. I feel unsafe at night to begin with, but it’s especially bad when I’ve experienced a trigger.
0200 Still not asleep. I might try playing an app game, watching a YouTube video, or petting Sushi but they’re only temporary distractions.
0300 I honestly begin wondering how expensive it would be to replace my door with something that locks. In fact, I wonder HOW MANY locks I could possibly fit on the same door. I’m handy! I can install a bunch!
0400 FINALLY I fall asleep. Unfortunately I experience nightmares every night, and night terrors more often than not, so falling asleep is more bittersweet than anything else.
1600 I wake up! I’m still absolutely exhausted!
1700 I need to go pick up prescriptions (because I’m totally that person who anti-med people warn you about, and I take a fuck tonne) and lo there’s one of my major triggers at every pharmacy. Because of that I’m going to make sure I spend some quality time with Sushi before I leave the house (he’s a relaxing guy!), and this is usually when I decide to do his brushing/walking/etc.
1800 Shocking to no one the pharmacy trigger is still there, but despite my best prep I’m still caught having a panic attack in public. Because I could anticipate this would happen I’ve already mapped out where the closest bathrooms are in case I start crying in public.
1900 If I have the money I’ll grab myself a Starbucks or something for the way home to distract myself from the fear of having a panic attack in public. If I’m broke (like I am right now because I can’t work lol) I’ll flip through Sushi pics.
2000 Maybe I eat, maybe I don’t. Because I’m nauseated pretty much always my appetite is shot, so sometimes I forget.
2100 This is usually when my limbs get too heavy to move, so I’ll go lay down with an audiobook. If it’s been a trigger-heavy day I’ll re-listen to something I’ve heard a few times before so I can anticipate my reactions.

And then it repeats the next day!

I tried to pick situations that are fairly standard/average, so even though I’ve based this mostly off of yesterday/today for those in-the-know you’ll see that I’ve actually made this hypothetical day a lot easier than the last few days have actually been lol I hope this gives a bit of an idea of what PTSD can mean though (for me, anyways).

Wanna help me save up for my service dog? https://www.youcaring.com/briealmoireabhtetlock-1120298

Remember: not all disabilities are visible. Be kind.

The Ethics of Interpretation and Academic Practice: Article Review of “A Sexist View of Prehistory”

Disclaimer: This post was written as part of my ANTH 320: Archaeology of Gender requirements in Fall 2016.


“A Sexist View of Prehistory,” written by Brian Fagan, is a well organized article in a compare-and-contrast format, with two secondary sources. While both sources are archaeologies of gender, they apply radically different approaches, and in this way they may be considered to be diverse if not in direct opposition. This being said, Fagan’s arguments as to the in/validity of each source could have been enhanced by additional sources. Fagan does make good use of descriptive analysis for the limited use of sources, however, and provides clear and detailed descriptions of each source as well as perceived boons and faults. A single image is provided by the author (in addition to a number of very delightful, and frankly huge, advertisements), however it is quite small, and is only of the cover of Marija Gimbutas’ Civilization of the Goddess as opposed to a figure or example from within the book. While technically appropriate, the article is not in any way enhanced by the image.

goddess
Source

Fagan presents Gimbuta’s Civilization—and concept of a Goddess cult in general—as a popular trend of thought as opposed to an interpretation supported by archaeological evidence. Gimbutas, Fagan claims, uses only a vague interpretation of motif to generate grand inferences about neolithic and Bronze Age figurines and pots from Central Europe. Although these inferences are based in very little actual evidence they have been latched on to by the general public and academics alike, though Fagan doubts if many of them are archaeologists themselves. By way of contrast Fagan offers Christine Hastorf’s “Gender, Space, and Food in Prehistory” as an example of research rooted in contemporary archaeological practice. Fagan summarizes Hastorf’s research as being a study of the Sausa (Andean maize and potato farmers), having taken into account human remains, ecofacts (ex plant remains, seeds, etc), space distribution (ex compounds; kitchens, patios, etc), and ethnographic accounts. Fagan explains that Hastorf specifically examined the changes in diet, communal space, and gendered space post-Inkan conquer, as Sausa population groups changed after the Inka took control (A.D. 1460).

With regard to language use, in describing Civilization Fagan tends towards using more “flowery” prose-like speech in descriptions of Gimbutas’ work and adherents. Such speech is not used in describing Hastorf’s work. In isolating such language to descriptions of Gimbutas, Fagan tends to come off as biased by way of belittling Gimbutas’ work. While I am unaware of the cultural context of this article with reference to the socio-academic archaeological climate of the early-1990s, as an aged piece Fagan’s argument could have been strengthened by keeping a singular tone throughout the entire article. This being said I am not entirely sure if such a change matters in this context, considering how aggressively Fagan tears apart Gimbutas’ methods regardless.

In considering the course objective I believe this article does contribute to my ability to meet said objectives, as it provides summaries of differing interpretive methods for discerning gender in the ancient past, and forces me to consider the consequences of an archaeology of gender on anthropological and archaeological theories. Interpretive skills of some form or another are a necessary component of archaeology, and a comparative analysis of two different methods interpretation such as this is invaluable in highlighting differing standards of practice. As I appreciate the open-learning format of ANTH 320, in moving forward from reading this article I decided to the time to re-read the Archaeological Institute of America’s “Code of Ethics,” (AIA), and the 2012 American Anthropological Association “Principles of Professional Responsibility” (AAA). Although neither are specifically relevant to Gimbutas’ situation, they are both texts with which I have previous knowledge and thus seemed most appropriate for review. In doing so I cannot help but come to the conclusion that while I do not agree with Fagan’s tone in writing on Gimbutas’ Civilization I agree that at best Civilization is at best a very public interpretive misstep, and at worst an ethical misstep with far-reaching consequences. Moving forward I am interested in learning more about archaeological and anthropological ethical standards so as to better inform my position in situations such as this. Additionally, I am interested in learning more about ethical standards cross-communally (ex intercontinentally, etc). Although archaeological and anthropological ethics and standards of practice are topics which have come up in-class on occasion in my near-3 years of university I could likely count those occasions on one hand, which considering the effect ethical faults may have on people/s seems woefully inadequate in hindsight.

Politely: I believe that the purpose of this article is to describe the inadequate nature of Gimbutas’ approach to neolithic female figurines (and other artefacts), and to showcase an alternate approach by which gender may be studied through archaeological practice. Perhaps more realistically: Whenever an article addresses a single author as the source of a perceived problem in academia it can come across as “academic pummeling”—that is to say that because the author who is being addressed cannot immediately respond (and, due to the nature of publishing, they may never be given the opportunity to respond) it can seem as though Academic A is given an unfair advantage over Academic B in a “battle of words.” This is not to say that I condone Gimbutas’ position, but rather that the method in which Gimbutas’ position is being challenged marks the nature of academic publishing as a medium as being (generally) unilaterally discursive. Even if the medium as an entity is not to be considered in such a way, the genre of academic-on-academic derision is one which has existed through time and into contemporaneous publishing practice.


Bibliography

AAA. (2012, November 1). Principles of Professional Responsibility [Web log post]. Retrieved November 16, 2016, from http://ethics.americananthro.org/category/statement/

AIA. (2016, January 8). Code of Ethics (2016) [PDF]. Archaeological Institute of America. Retrieved November 16, 2016, from https://www.archaeological.org/sites/default/files/files/Code%20of%20Ethics%20(2016).pdf

Fagan, B. (1992, March/April). A Sexist View of Prehistory. Archaeology, 45(2), 14-15, 18, 66. Retrieved November 16, 2016, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/41766076