Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Inquiry Conference

I've been helping at Inquiry Conference--being a Field Study employee and all--and though it's only been one day, attending Inquiry Conference has been a good experience.  It's helped me think about what kind of knowledge I could come away from my Field Study with, and what kind of things I might be able to present to people about the study I do.  A lot of people have field studies that require they ask questions of others.  So far, I haven't gotten around this aspect of my field study.  I honestly want to experience French culture for the purpose of finding out what kind of influence it would have on African American expatriates, but also just expatriates in general.  I'd love to interview people about music, and about their heritage and their history--especially if they're African-American.  But I don't know that I can count on finding expatriates who are interested in the music scene.  I'll be very curious to see if I kind find any french musicians who play jazz to know what they think about the history of the music they play.  But I just don't want to count on finding anyone, and honestly I'm more interested in the history anyway.  I'm interested in Paris, the culture of the city and the French culture in general, and really seeing where it all fits in to my understanding of the expatriate experience.  I feel like a lot of the reading I've been doing lately is giving me a really good idea of what it would have been like.  But I guess what I've been coming to lately is an understanding that no culture operates in a vacuum.  Of course I knew this before, but putting words to it makes it a lot easier to contextualize: we can't teach U.S. History the way we do, because it's ridiculous to think we became what we did all on our own.  We also can't keep teaching a white-washed U.S. History because it's simply not a true history.  I know that if I was really interested in studying black creative history I'd be in New Orleans, or Harlem or something.  I've honestly asked myself why I chose Paris.  But then I have to remember that I'm a multi-dimensional person, too.  And I have interests outside of black creative history.  French, France, writing especially.  And these are things I want to work on while I'm there studying what I'll be studying.

Which is where I'm coming to.  I want to write something.  I didn't want to admit it, because that puts a lot of expectations on me.  But I want to write something while I'm there--something creative, but true.  And why not Paris, honestly?  Why not go to the creative capitol of the world?  Why not listen to the best music ever made? Why not?  Why not?

When I think about writing, I really start to get excited about France.  Honestly, going out and interviewing people is going to keep me locked up inside, afraid.  But going out to experience things for the sake of writing will oddly enough get me talking.  So I need to stop feeling bullied by these anthropologist ethnographers and just be myself.

I love you anthropologists, by the way.  I'm just not one.

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