kpollock's blog

A glimpse of the nineteenth century in the British Caribbean

The familiar din of a trowel’s edge on hitherto buried masonry, the contours of a wall coming into focus with precise yet feverish work, the satisfaction of seeing one’s hypothesis confirmed: May 25th was a good day.  We had been working at the Betty’s Hope Plantation site in Antigua for a few short days only, following up on fieldwork I had undertaken there in 2012, and already we were hitting some significant strides towards achieving my research goals for the summer.  I was hoping to better understand how the kitchen yard associated with the plantation’s Dwelling House was transformed du

A treasure hunt, of sorts

No one can really accuse the ancient Romans of being low key or disinclined to draw attention to themselves.  On the contrary, everywhere they went, they marked the landscape with monuments, erected by officials or institutions, but also by private individuals.  The ancient lands of Armenia and Iberia (modern Georgia) were no exception to this Roman drive to declare their presence (and often their beneficence or magnanimity).  

Of Rehabilitation and Other Unicorns

“Do you know anyone who has left sex work? Someone who was rehabilitated?” I would ask again and again to my sex worker informants in Hyderabad, India.

“No, I don’t know anyone who has left,” I regularly heard in response.

“But, do women even want to be rehabilitated?”

“Yes, of course. Who wants to be a sex worker forever? The government should provide housing and jobs for sex workers.”

The Crab-man of San Cristobal

In March of 2010, I began my intensive archaeological fieldwork in the remote pueblo of San Damián in Huarochirí, Peru. San Damián is about 3200 meters above sea level, and has a beautiful branch of the famous Inka Road leading up to the hilltop site of San Cristobal, where we started mapping, surface collection, and excavations. We were grateful for the sturdy path, but it amounts to a relentless, very steep staircase that moves pedestrians from high to higher altitude and back. Early every morning the team would lug equipment up the Inka path, and work for 8-10 hours at San Cristobal.

…And Now It’s About Authenticity, Post #2

If you’re just catching up, check out my first post titled “The Hipster as a Gentrification Machine.”  In continuing my readings, constructing my literature review, and finalizing my interview guide, I’ve decided to give my research a sharper focus – looking deeper into authenticity and how it’s constructed and performed in the urban environment (in this case, Logan Square), specifically, through individuals’ modes of presentation and the milieu of the variety of social activities they parta

The Hipster as a Gentrification Machine, Post #1

Hello friends.  I’m writing to you from the space bubble attached to the wonderful Regenstein library about my MA thesis (I’m currently in MAPSS, focusing on sociology).  As somebody interested in neighborhood change in Chicago, I decided to take an in-depth look into the stories and experiences of artistic, bar-going twentysomethings living in Logan Square, a gentrifying neighborhood right next to the well-known (and super-yuppie, some would say) Wicker Park.  I want to find out how certain mechanisms within and characteristics of the hipster subculture drive gentrification from neighborho

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Part 2

As I work to finalize my thesis proposal, I am continuing my research on Bentonville and Walmart (though these elements may not play as central a role in my thesis as I had originally thought).  I am also drafting interview questions for staff members of Crystal Bridges and reading materials on museum anthropology and art collecting.  At the minute, I am reading Handler and Gable’s The New History in an Old Museum: Creating the Past at Colonial Williamsburg (1997) and Carol Duncan’s Civilizing Rituals (1995).

Misunderstandings and Cultural Differences

In my historical studies I examine how rural Japanese residents, mainly women, who have been marginalized in both society and scholarship have utilized a governmental program to rebuild and redirect their everyday life after WWII. I investigate a group of women that are known locally to be entrepreneurs of farm businesses, processing and selling farm products. The origin of their business is the life reform project that the Japanese government promoted to reform everyday life of farmers since the end of WWII.

The Rearticulation of Identity and Culture in Chicago’s Ethiopian Diasporic Community

After moving to Chicago, I was surprised to discover that the city has one of the largest and most long-standing Ethiopian diasporic communities. After researching further, I came to discover the Ethiopian Community Association of Chicago (ECAC), which offers a variety of services to thousands of Ethiopian refugees and migrants each year. These services include legal, physical, and mental assistance, as well as after-school classes for children that teach traditional Ethiopian games, crafts, and Amharic (the national language).