Monday, 21 October 2013

Patriotism on Twitter

I recently ended up in a protracted twitter exchange with Sarah Kendzior and a guy named Peter Niswander (@BaronPeterN) about patriotism.  Niswander has since deleted the whole of his side of the exchange apart from the first tweet he posted.

Kendzior initially tweeted about patriotism, saying:
Patriotism is not blind adoration of a nation, nor is it averting your gaze from its problems. Patriotism is addressing them, eyes wide open
I replied:
 Patriotism is arbitrary pride in where you come from, not something else. It isn't noble in any way.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

A Comparison of Two Comparative Ethnological Books

I've recently been reading Ancient Religions of the Austronesian World by Julian Baldick (in fact, I finished it a while ago, but I've been very busy since).  It's an attempt at an overview of religious beliefs traditionally found in Austronesian-speaking societies.  Nowadays, the religions with the greatest number of adherents among Austronesian speakers are Islam and Catholicism, so Baldick concerns himself solely with 'ancient' religions, i.e., those religious beliefs formerly found in Austronesian-speaking societies that may reflect shared heritage and common connections.  As I mentioned in a previous post, Baldick is now sadly deceased; this was his last book.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Non-State Social Structure Is Important

I posted recently about the types of descent that can be found in human societies.  Descent is often very important in societies without states, as it forms one of several ways in which humans can group together, achieve shared aims, respond to threats, acquire land and possessions, fight battles, organize agriculture, engage in ritual, and much else.  It's a really important principle.  Alliance, usually based on marriage (but sometimes based on other things, like blood brotherhood) is also important.  This is how non-state societies work, or can work: through kin bonds, through so-called 'fictive' kinship, through marriage, blood brotherhood, and so on.  All of these things have formal properties that can and should be studied, and which are different enough from state, industrial, and post-industrial social structure to require a separate discipline that specialises in them.