Anthrodoodles Update #5: Pies, proposals, and prophecies

The doodle we deserve, but not the doodle we need right now . . .
(Recent illustrations I did for my partner’s Linguistics project, no further context necessary)


IMG_0869Hey friend, happy December from Noel Chomsky here.

I took a break from Anthrodoodles this past month to focus more on my grad school plans. I figured from the start that finding a program would not be a linear process, but already I feel I may have my finger in too many pies—a rather unpleasant image for an idiom, now that I see it written out like that; what kind of a monster would violate a pastry in such a way? Let’s start over.

Picture a hummingbird gleaming under the morning sun, burying its beak into the brimming vessels of nectar we know as foxgloves. Its position midair, just like all of life, is fleeting; the feathered body floats in a frenzy, eager to appease them all, and all at once. One teaspoon of sugar here, another teaspoon there.  And so on.

I suspect we have all been the hummingbird at some point in our lives. I have friends who have been hummingbirds for as long as I have known them. For the past several weeks, I, too, have been flickering in such a manner between all of the steps that lie before me in the interim before I even reach the application portal.

Right now I’m in the process of brainstorming ideas for potential projects I may want to carry out for my PhD.  And let me tell you, “brainstorming” is one of the most thrilling and indulgent activities I have come to know in my post-graduation life, alongside propagating my succulents and buying a new set of stamps at the post office. I find the work empowering; you conjure up your dream research project and treat it as if you are the one person in this galaxy who can do it the way you plan to because it’s tied to who you are. Nothing is beyond the realm of possibilities, that is, within the limitations of funding and foreign national exchange visas and the approximately seven years you will be in the program and all that stuff.  This, coupled with gathering relevant literature that will set the frameworks for those projects and trio’d (?) with looking into specific programs that will support those projects, has all kept me rather occupied. For this reason, I had to set aside the video project completely and be comfortable with not making progress on it for a little while.

I don’t have much more to share with regards to my grad plans. Much is to remain unknown and beyond the grasp of my control, but I suppose that is simply the modus vivendi of the COVID era as a whole, and nothing particular about my situation.
But Backstreet’s back and so am I. Perhaps the short pause was good for me and for the fetus of a dream that is Anthrodoodles. I’m coming back to the script with fresh eyes and the healthy zen mindset of dear-god-please-just-get-this-damn-project-up-and-running-already. Plus, over the past few weeks I’ve randomly woken up in the middle of the night visualizing certain scenes from my script, and I think once you start getting prophetic visits from your project in your sleep, it means you’re on the verge of something big.

But I always like to leave you with a little something at the end of each post.  One of these days it will be the link to my completed video.  Seeing as that day has yet to arrive, here’s a frame I was recently working on—maybe you’ll recognize them by their facial hair.  Hint: a 17th-century philosopher and a 19th-century anthropologist, somehow connected to the Nature-Culture Divide . . . 

My Illustrated Ethnography

Here is a short animation about my research, in which I share one example from my honors thesis as well as some of the cool theories and concepts that guided my analysis.

My research is called, “Ecuadorian Women and Pachamama: Understanding Everyday Life in Cangahua through Narratives,” and it’s all about how women in a rural Andean community construct their identities through their feminized roles in kitchens and on farms to take care of their community, with a specific focus on narratives and conversations that illustrate their relationships with sentient nonhuman beings, storied landscapes, and their ancestral roots with which their lives are intimately intertwined.

Presented at the UCLA Lemelson Anthropological Undergraduate Honors Conference on June 8, 2020.

Subtitles included.

Quarantine Doodle #1 : Nattō 納豆

Even in the apocalypse, my love affair with fermented foods remains imperishable.

JP: 外出制限でもう逃げられない納豆苦手の兄が毎回こんな顔になってる。ちょっと可愛そうだけどやっぱり美味しくてやめられない!

ES: Nattō (frijoles de soya fermentados) es un platillo popular en Japón con un olor penetrante y, para algunos, desagradable. Es uno de mis favoritos para el desayuno, pero mi hermano no puede soportarlo. Pues, no tiene adónde escapar debido a la cuarentena…


Recipe for yui's favorite breakfast, mentioned above:
- 1 pack of nattō
- 1 raw egg (recommend getting at a japanese grocery store)
- chopped green onions
- steamed rice
- soy sauce
- (optional) kimchi, for that extra microorganism kick!

Field Note #5 — Lost in Translation (Sketchbook)

Some Linguistics humor to wrap up my day…


(Puta means “whore” in Spanish.  While in English the /b/ sound is more firmly voiced and held longer, in Japanese it’s a softer, more “staccato” consonantal sound that’s very close to the Spanish bilabial stop /p/ —so the two come out sounding dangerously similar.)

Field Note #2 — Packing for Fieldwork (Sketchbook)

My flight to Quito is less than a week away what the f

… And I have not yet figured out what to bring to the field.  As per usual it looks like I am leaving my packing to the eleventh hour.  I’m convinced I don’t know how to do it any other way.

But this time, I can’t get away with just stuffing a couple of (hopefully clean) shirts and shorts into a backpack a few hours before take-off.  I need to be prepared.  I gotta anticipate for stuff.  I have to plan in advance. 

But planning in advance?  Not really my style.

In fact, over the past seven months of writing my proposal and drafting a “data collection timeline,” I have been contradicting myself with a voice in my head preaching that nothing is going to go according to plan.  After hearing it from my advisors so many times, I’ve come to understand that that’s pretty much the mantra of anthropological research: things just won’t go the way you think they will. 

You have no idea how much comfort this brings me.  I’ve talked to members of my cohort about this and the lack of control over how our projects will play out seems to make them anxious—but for me, it’s relieving to not have the pressure of having it all figured out and instead have freedom over where our projects will take us. I’m a total sucker for this romantic idea of stumbling upon data serendipitously, much like bumping into a potential love interest at the grocery store and dropping an apple and having them pick it up for you and say, “I believe this is for you.” 

But this is a risky game to play in research.  Maybe this approach works for finding a partner (unconfirmed) but the IRB needs a little more structure than that, and sometimes you have to play by the rules.  So I guess that means it’s time to get packing even though it’s super early—four whole days before departure!

But not today.  Today, I am avoiding the crippling sense of panic creeping up on me about how unprepared I am for the field—for all of this—and decided to just doodle about it instead.

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