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This category contains 16 posts

Banjos of Marrakech

While walking in the central market of the medina of Marrakech I was surprised to find two different groups of Berber musicans playing their music with a banjo! One was even hooked up to an amplifier. I have never seen a banjo outside of the US and when I bought mine to China many years … Continue reading

The Undying Chinese

It is an unfortunate title for a reasonably good rebuttal to the recent Jimmy Kimmel episode with the famous “kill everyone in China” comment. I’d love to know more about the person or people who produced it. No time today, however, for commentary or analysis of the clips assumptions about “Chineseness.”

God(zilla) Will Destroy L.A.

Just a few days after the New Year, while in Los Angeles, we visited Hollywood Boulevard. While I don’t imagine the beautiful people do a lot of hanging around in that particular neighborhood, it is sacred ground for the global mythology of Hollywood. Visiting the “walk of fame” is, after all, what tourists are expected to do … Continue reading

Midway Conversations: A Neighborhood Documentary

Last Wednesday night, Midway Conversations premiered at the Turf Club. The film was the final project of a collaborative neighborhood-based research project done by the Spring 2012 anthropology senior seminar at Hamline University. The premiere wasn’t without a few last-minute snafus—not least of which was a missing segment in the final copy of the film—but by about 5:45 … Continue reading

油条: The Simplicity of Oil and Dough

I have always been impressed with the charm of the Chinese youtiao (油条). I find poetry in the simplicity of taking a strip of dough, plopping it in a wok of hot oil and frying it to a golden brown. No spices, no salt, no sugar. No fuss. Just hot oil and dough doing their thing. … Continue reading

The Mona Lisa: Art in the Age of Digital Consumption

The Mona Lisa is undoubtedly one of the most recognizable images in the world. Perhaps second only to the Eiffel Tower, it is an icon of the tourist experience of Paris. So, when we arrived at the Louvre with thousands of other tourists, of course, the first thing we did was go to see it. I … Continue reading

An Afternoon Lunch at the Zhiqing Villa

Ten years ago this month I finished my PhD dissertation, “Remembering Red: Memory and Nostalgia for the Cultural Revolution in Late 1990s China,” in the anthropology department at the University of Washington in Seattle. My dissertation research examined nostalgia and memory of the Cultural Revolution among members of the generation who were most active in … Continue reading

Jinling Buddhist Publishing House (金陵刻经处)

This morning I was invited by some of the folks that have been helping me with my research to go on a trip to visit the Jinling Buddhist Publishing House (jinling kejing chu) in downtown Nanjing. I can’t really say that I am that interested in ancient Buddhist texts, but I was looking forward to … Continue reading

Making Zongzi

While walking in some of the back streets of Nanjing just days before the Duanwu Festival I came upon a woman preparing zongzi for sale. I have eaten the bamboo leaf-wrapped rice many times over the past two decades, but until then had never seen how they were made. I was fascinated by how the … Continue reading

A Single Hand-Pulled Noodle: Playing with My Food

For years I have adored hand-pulled Chinese noodles–how water and flour and a little magic in the hands of a master can become a tasty food.  Many years ago a student of mine and I even went so far as to “intern” for a few months at a noodle shop in Beijing. Last weekend in … Continue reading

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