[xmca] RE: Abraham Lincoln Brigades

From: Davies, Larry (ldavies@STU.EDU)
Date: Wed Nov 01 2006 - 04:13:33 PST

Today seems to be one of those days where a lot of things come together.

I have a presentation tonight in my doctoral class (I'm the student, not the teacher) where I need to explain concepts of "deep description" in qualitative research methods, and here is the passing of Geertz.

Then Mike asks who knows about the Lincoln Brigades. Coincidentally, or not, the most interesting class I ever had as an undergrad (LONG AGO, don't ask!) was a history of the Spanish Civil War class. Our instructor introduced himself on the first day..."My name is Jon Vigoda, and I'm a carpenter." We all looked at each other wondering who this old man was and what made him qualified to teach the course. "I was a member of a group called the Abraham Lincoln Brigades and I fought against Franco and the Fascists in Spain. That got me labeled as a 'pre-mature anti-fascist' by the US government and, as a result, I wasn't allowed to enlist to fight the Nazis."

Well, of course, I can't ever forget the class, or the activities we did, like try to hold a cabinet meeting with all the different factions in Spain represented.

So, Mike, your comment now gets me to thinking...was that the place and time where I first became interested in what is now called "Activity Theory"?

Finally, as I work with faculty here and try to describe effective teaching, I use the following example: one effective way to build in an online world like Secondlife.com would be to have students recreate, for example, a street in Republican Spain in 1936. You could have students working in groups to design a shop owned by people from across the political spectrum. You would have a Republican shop, a monarchist shop, a communist shop, a fascist shop, an anarchist shop, a papist shop...etc. The shops could be decorated with posters or other artifacts of the time, and you might select music that might play in each shop. You could conceivably design an interactive robot who would spout the political platitudes of that particular shop owner. The final activity would be to go around and visit all the shops and do some comparing/contrasting.

I always thought this was the best way to understand "thick description" and similar concepts.

At any rate, RIP Professor Geertz.

Larry Davies
Faculty Instructional Technician
St. Thomas University
Miami Gardens, FL 33054

-----Original Message-----
From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu on behalf of Mike Cole
Sent: Tue 10/31/2006 10:15 PM
To: Paul Dillon
Cc: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: Re: [xmca] :-(( The Passing of Clifford Geertz
It seems a time of loss on many many fronts, Paul.
How many members of xmca understand what it means to have been a member of
the Abraham Lincoln Brigade in
Spain? How many have read about Balanese cockfights? Tell use more about
Murra, and perhaps point us at a work on
ethnohistory. After all, this is a group who at least have an interest in
the role of cultural history in ontogeny and we are
all, for the time being, developing!!
PS-- thanks for the interview, phil

On 10/31/06, Paul Dillon <phd_crit_think@yahoo.com> wrote:
> mike,
> more of those uncanny coincidences: on Saturday night I saw my first cock
> fight and was thinking about Geertz after many, many years. Although they
> are perfectly legal here, unlike Bali, they still provide the kind of
> cultural thickness Geertz described and flower networks of meaning. It is
> sad to read how he passed since nowadays 80 seems young (at least for those
> with good health insurance).
> Not too long ago (10/6 I think) another significant figure in
> anthropology died as well; although more famous as an ethnohistorian,
> Andeanist, and French-Russian translator for the Abraham Lincoln brigade
> during the Spanish Civil War: John V. Murra who was instrumental
> in creating the field of ethnohistory.
> Changing of the guard
> Paul Dilllon
> *Mike Cole <lchcmike@gmail.com>* wrote:
> Damn!
> http://ias.edu/Newsroom/announcements/Uploads/view.php?cmd=view&id=354
> mike
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