Tuesday, March 27, 2012


A few months ago I lost a journal of mine.  This is a journal I carry around with me, almost like an anthropologist might carry around a notebook to take notes in; that is what I used this book for.  See, most people think if you use the word 'journal' you are writing down what you've been doing throughout the day, or how you feel throughout the day.  Some of those things were included in my journal, but more often this book contained things I saw, things I learned, things I thought about that I wanted to remember.

I've been telling myself I'll find this journal of mine because there are some things in it that I sorely miss and regret losing.  One thing I miss that was in this notebook were 5-10 pages (small pages, given) of notes I took on a tour my family and I took of Downtown LA's movie theatres.  It’s a tour put on by volunteers, organized by USC on different parts of Downtown LA.  My family and I had been on one of these tours before, but when a friend was visiting LA with me, I asked if we could go on another tour, and my father decided on the theatres tour.

I fell in love.  To the extent that I just wanted to study Los Angeles history, film history, and historical theatres around the Los Angeles area.  I love movies; I love the theatres; I love going to the theatres to watch movies, and I love history.  It seemed perfect.  We walked around Los Angeles for over two hours learning about the different theatres, some abandoned, some altered into storefronts for electronics stores, or jewelry stores, others altered into churches, and some used for special occasions but no longer used on a day-to-day basis.  I thought it was all fascinating.  I took so many notes.  I drew pictures of the things I saw, and drew maps of the streets I turned onto.  I wrote about what these places were, I wrote about what they are now, and I wrote about the stories told about these places.  Los Angeles.  Movies.  Gosh, I miss those notes and I pray that when God resurrects me, he will return all lost items to me.

Have you seen Psyche?  Remember that episode where they know a man who can find any lost object?  I need him.  I hope this book turns up.

But I think these notes I took, and this tour I took of downtown Los Angeles helped me realize how much I love cities.  See, I've always known I loved cities, but I always thought that because we as Latter-day Saints are such "Romantics" (notice the capital R) we attach this romantic notion to nature.  I think I like nature, but I don't share the feeling that without nature I'd die.  I don't need wide open spaces in the literal sense, because I get it in the figurative sense when you're in the middle of a city crowded with people and yet alone.  Its a wonderful feeling.  And I don't mind being anonymous.  I also don't mind being around so many people because we share a camaraderie that I love.

It is the love I have for Los Angeles, and every major city I've been in--San Francisco, Seattle, Boston, London, Paris--that led me to this decision to go the route of Urban Studies within my field study.  I love African American history and I want to learn about it, and jazz, and I want to read about the African American expatriates, but I realized that I want to know about their experience in the city, and I want to know about the culture of the city.  The people are important to me, but in the city the culture isn't held by the people--it's held by the city itself.  It's carried in every brick or cobblestone, every layer of paint, and every broken tile.  The place holds something different.

The people in Los Angeles have changed considerably in the last fifty years, but the place still has a power to it that you can feel when you wander the streets, and it's been there longer than the people who inhabit the streets now.  I think that's important, that people bring culture, but sometimes place is embedded with culture and it's okay to study that too.  I want to take that approach with Paris as I discover Paris and the culture of Paris.  It is this idea that the place itself has embedded within it a culture that allows me and mandates that I go to the city to truly understand what these African American expatriate musicians felt and went through upon moving to Paris and working in Paris and making a home for themselves in a city with a culture that predated them, or anyone around them.

This makes going to Paris necessary.  This makes the location integral and I've been struggling with expressing that or explaining or justifying those ideas even to myself.  But I also think it's an important shift in my field study and realizing why I'm going.  It's not about these African American expatriates necessarily, but the city and learning how to think about the city, read about the city, and talk about the city in a way that expresses this theory that the city is a living organism that contains more than just the people living within it.  But the city is a big place, and one way to study the city is to study peoples' interactions with the city and that's where the American expatriates come in.  To know where they worked gives me a place to start.  To know who they were and their experiences gives me a comparison.  To listen and read their creations gives me tangible evidence of their experience which I couldn't have just by walking through the city alone.

I love these ideas, and I also love that this applies not only to my field study and to Paris but to the city I came from which started this whole thing.  It gives a lot more interest to all the places I'll be going and things I'll be doing.  I need to rewrite my proposal now.  Excuse me.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Symbols of France

Le Republique Francaise: Liberté – Égalité – Fraternité
These are three values not to be ignored in France: Liberty - Equality - Brotherhood.  I think these are probably the values France has ideally held onto most since the French Revolution.

Le drapeau tricolore sous l'arc de triomphe; I have yet to find out why exactly this is done, but it is most certainly a sign of nationalism and it can be seen from so many places within the city.

Fleur-de-lis on the coat of arms of France from ancient times.  Harks back to ancient France, that history and the "legacy" involved.

Lady Liberty - Marianne is an important symbol of France, here she leads men into one of the Revolutions France underwent during the 16th-19th centuries.

Notre Dame, made famous by Victor Hugo after being more or less abandoned after the French Revolution.  A sign of Catholicism in France, but also a National symbol of Gothic architecture.

Blue Virgin Window at Chatres Cathedral - survived from the Romanesque Cathedral after Chartes burned down several times; the Cathedral was not looted during the French Revolution, neither was it destroyed during either of the World Wars.  Once contained the shroud of Mary, given to Charlemagne as a gift from Jerusalem.

Reims Cathedral where the Kings of France--starting with Clovis--were coronated.  This is the third Cathedral on the site, from the 13th century; the cathedral was made bigger for the crowds that would come to coronations.

Joan d'Arc has been a consistent symbol in France, her story being used by everyone from Liberals to conservatives, to the Vichy Regime to French Resistance fighters.
Her signature - 'Jehanne' or 'Johanne'  (I just thought this was awesome.)

In all honesty, when we visited the 'Beauty and Belief' exhibit, and we were asked about symbols from our Field Study sites, I had no idea what to say about France.  It didn't take me long when I really started thinking about it, but it did take me a little time to find out why France used some of these symbols to represent their values, ideals, or history.

There's a lot of nationalism in France, a lot of pride for being French and a LOT of history that gets them to those ideals, values and pride.  This doesn't really surprise me.  There are a lot of things not to be proud of in any country's history, but there's so much more to recognize in France as 'legacy.'  Marianne, France's equivalent to our 'Columbia' or Britain's 'Britannia' is the female personification of France, she is valiant and courageous, she is loyal and she is fiercely behind France and its ideals.  She, like Athena, is a warrior, ready to fight if necessary.

French history is also very important, and because of a rocky past, I think the French are big on ideals.  I think Americans are, too, so maybe that's something we can understand about each other.  The difference is the way we interpret or show those ideals, which is something I don't think we always understand about each other.  But in general, the French choose to remember about their history, the things that make them proud of that history, and I think that's par for the course for any country's national memory.  For France, this includes the Cathedrals, even though so much of France are no longer practicing Catholics; this includes Joan d'Arc, even though the French handed her over to the English to be executed.  This includes the values of the French Revolution: Liberté – Égalité – Fraternité, even though those ideals came at such a high cost.  It is interesting that sometimes a culture's most valued ideals are born out of their darkest moments, perhaps when they realize they need them most.

Charles de Gaulle - Regarded as the leader of the Resistance and 'savior' of France after WWII; in reality the history isn't that simple.
Terrein - see my post on Terrein, and the value of 'mon pays.'
The French Resistance during WWII was regarded as being widespread and entirely influential of the eventual dispelling of Germans from France, in reality, most French were not part of the Resistance throughout the occupation.
La rue - Community, and small shops; "small town life" is still important in France, even in big cities.  There is a lot of value put on what we would call 'Mom and Pop shops' or bakeries, and having places you frequent.
Conversation.  Need I say more?  The French will make reservations at a restaurant, and once the restaurant fills there is not 'wait' because guests are expected to stay until the close of the restaurant--doing what?  Talking.  I was born for this place.

Not all values are based off of history, though they are usually based in history.  One such value is the value of mon pays--where someone is from.  I think this comes from a long line of defining oneself as not 'French' necessarily but a Parisien or a Poitevin or a -- no, I'm not going to play this game.  Take a gander at this website which is awesome: (  My point is, ultimately, that there's something to defining yourself against the land you've lived in, rather than the nation constructed around that land.

Furthermore, where did the French get their love for their language?

Acadamie francaise - it's main reason for being is to preserve the French language.  I like to think that this is why direct translations of the French language into English sound like old English--or how we USED to speak, and don't anymore.  Without Academie Francaise, I wonder what French would sound like.

The French are profoundly attached to and proud of their language, I think the existence of the Academie Francaise more or less proves that.  We don't have an English Academy making sure we Americans don't ruin the good language of English--though, I'm fairly certain the English DO think we've ruined their language.  The point is, we don't have one.  We might learn about old English, but that's just the point--it's old.  I'm not sure if the love of talking and conversing about anything and everything is where this pride of language came from, but maybe that's something I'll have to ask.

So how will knowing these symbols help me on my Field Study?  Well, there's something to knowing these values exist, and that they're different from our own.  I think there's something else to knowing the basics so that when you get to your chosen country of study you're not always asking the 'What is that?' question, but asking the 'Why is that?' question.  We waste a lot of time asking, 'What is that?' when the really interesting part is finding out "Why is that?" because that is where, in my opinion, the culture is found.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Proposal: Schedule

*working schedule

Winter 2012
IAS 360, Meet with Professor Rowan to create Field Study Courses
Sp/Su 2012
Email Professor Rowan once a week to update him on status of assignments and drafts
Apr 21, 2012
Leave for London
May 1, 2012
Leave for Paris

Find a place to live
May 11, 2012
Complete African American Paris Walks to become acquainted with African American Pairs; Writing Paris: Unit 1 Paper
May 25, 2012
Writing Paris: Unit 2 Paper
June 8, 2012
Writing Paris: Unit 3 Paper
June 22, 2012
Writing Paris: Unit 4 Paper
July 6, 2012
Writing Paris: Unit 5 Paper
July 20, 2012
Writing Paris: Unit 6 Paper
July 30, 2012
Return home from the Field
August 10, 2012
Complete assignments for Cultural Immersion Class
August 22, 2012
Complete final paper for Urban Studies in Paris
August 31, 2012
Complete assignments for Writing Paris; Turn in final “paper” to Field Studies

Cultural Immersion
Urban Studies in Paris
Writing Paris

Gain Entry
Unit 1
Unit 1
April 30 - May 4
Find a place to live, Current Events 1, 2

May 7-11
Spradley’s Social Situations, Kinship Mapping, Current Events 1, 2

Unit 2
Unit 2
May 14-18
Attire and Adornment, Current Events 1, 2

May 21-25
Consumption and Waste, Current Events 1, 2

Building Rapport
Unit 3
Unit 3
May 28 - June 1
Social Space Mapping, Current Events 1, 2

June 4-8
Participation and Involvement, Current Events 1, 2

Unit 4
Unit 4
Domain Analysis, Participation and Involvement, Current Events 1, 2

June 18-22
Education, Current Events 1, 2

Unit 5
Unit 5
June 25-29
Domain and Analysis, Oral Traditions and Storytelling, Current Events 1, 2

July 2-6
Diagraming Local Governance, Current Events 1, 2

Unit 6
Unit 6
July 9-13
Domain Analysis, Education, Current Events 1, 2

July 16-20
Education, Current Events 1, 2

July 23-27
Current Events 1, 2

Proposal: Faculty Mentors & Coursework

Primary Faculty Mentor
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Jamin Rowan
Dr. Rowan received his PhD from the Department of English at Boston College in 2008. After teaching at Wake Forest University from 2008-10, he joined the faculty at BYU in 2010. He specializes in U.S. literature since 1865, with a particular focus on urban literature and culture. He teaches courses in both the Department of English and the American Studies Program. His scholarship has been supported by a grant from the Rockefeller Archive Center, and has appeared in a variety of disciplinary diverse venues. His book manuscript, Urban Sympathy: The Death and Life of an American Intellectual Tradition, is under contract with the University of Pennsylvania Press for publication in “The Arts and Intellectual Life in Modern America” series. Urban Sympathy examines the ways in which late-nineteenth- and twentieth-century urban intellectuals redevelop the narrative and affective patterns that lay at the heart of an antebellum culture of sympathy in order to capture the emotions and obligations that arise in the city’s public contact zones.
Dr. Rowan also taught AmSt395, a course focused on American Studies Methodologies and Procedures.  Mastering the type of writing and thinking facilitated by this methodology is one of the cores aspects of the courses I am taking while in the field, and of my research.

Course Contracts
Eng 480R: Urban Studies in Paris
            This course will help me better understand a facet of American Studies that I have not thus far been able to cover, that of Urban Studies.  But, it will be altered to fit my studies in Paris, going about studying Urban space in Paris, including readings on how to study the city, urban theories, and the development of urbanity.  This course will be fairly rigorous, as it will require I read a couple of books and several articles, as well as write a medium-length paper at the conclusion of the class.  This course will also facilitate participation within the city as it will require me to go to places within the city—particularly places that are connected to my field research—and study them carefully.

Eng 490R: Writing Paris
            This course will help me hone my academic writing in a creative way.  One of its primary goals is to facilitate my learning to write intelligent pieces about the city or artifacts within the city using the four methodology elements for American Studies: textual interpretation, archive building, institutional contextualization and social theory.  The goal is to write 5-6 pieces that would enter or fit into an American Studies conversation, while still being pieces anyone—not just academics—could read.  This course I hope to be of particular long-term value because I plan to apply to graduate school for an American Studies program and hope that being aware of how to write accessible American Studies literature will be a great benefit to my studies.  This course too will facilitate cultural immersion and interaction, as I find ‘artifacts’ throughout the city to write about.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Watching a Field Study: Part 1 - Making a Dent

There are so many different ways of being good with people, or bad with people, we often get stuck in thinking one way is right, or that someone else's way is wrong.  I'm not sure why we do that.  It occurred to me how right I am for a Field Study, and how wrong I feel for a Field Study.

I am good with people, but perhaps in a different way than Field Studies tries to teach.  Asking questions, being so procedural, sincere people asking insincere questions to get sincere results.  It works, but was never the way I imagined doing it.  I know that once people get out into the field that's not necessarily the way they do it, either.  I was just thinking that the moment someone begins asking questions of someone else to get a particular answer, the question stops being sincere.  I do this everyday, don't I?

"How are you?"

But what I've been learning is perhaps how wrong I feel for a Field Study and yet how Field Studies is the only right program for the way I want to go about learning.  What other program would let me go to Paris to study African American expatriates?  What other program?  And what other program would let me go to France to live there, to study there, without being tied to someone else's agenda?  I could study in France doing some kind of Direct Enrollment, but I wouldn't be taking classes about things I want to study because the point would be studying in France, not WHAT I'm studying in France.  I could go on a Study Abroad, but again, the point wouldn't be to go to France for any particular purpose, but I'd be paying through the nose to go to places that have nothing to do with what interests me (or more likely, because everything interests me) have nothing to do with my focus of study, which is American Studies, American culture.

I keep harping on about American this and American that. Mostly because I don't believe in anything American; and I also believe in everything American.  I always liked the sentiment of Plato's: "I am from the world."  And I believe we can have world citizens, rather than American citizens or French citizens.  But, I don't know.  I'm still fiercely patriotic and I don't think anyone has the right to truly criticize this country unless it also loves it.  I am not this way because my country deserves it, or because my country is superior; maybe I am this way for the opposite reason.  Because it is home; because it's got so far to go in my approximation.  Because there's so far it could go.  And maybe I've got a little bit of that mon pays pride.

I teach the Family History class every week at church.  I think family history work is very important, but why the hell are we doing family history work for strangers?  I don't mean, why do we go to the temple and get baptized for strangers, one could consider that service for others.  I mean, why are we searching for names of people we are related to, birth dates, and then ask these people to be baptized and sealed to our families when we've done nothing else to find out who they are?  I mean--why would you want to be attached forever to someone you don't know?  For this reason, I find it so important to find out as much as you can about someone, not necessarily BEFORE you do temple work for them, but during and after as well.

A friend offered me tea  yesterday.  I tried it for the second time in my life.  The last time I tried it was probably about two and a half years ago.  I still don't like it, though this cup of tea had sugar in it, at least.  I still have a box of tea bags that Jake gave me my senior year of high school with a mug.  The mug I use every day, the Earl Grey tea I've never touched.  But I've also never been able to throw it away.  Because Jake was certain that someday I'd try tea.  I always said I didn't drink tea, it was a religious thing.  Now I don't care so much, and I'd drink tea if I liked it.  Two and a half years ago I finally broke down and told Jake I'd try some of his tea.  It was green tea.  He didn't put sugar or honey in it.  Grossest thing I've ever tasted.  But I remember when there was a time tea was just something I wouldn't do.  I thought I'd always feel that way.  Now I don't think I see any point.  Do you think I'll ever get to that point with alcohol?...Just kidding.  I think about Jake often, especially when I think about Family History work.  Because he's made such a big impression in my life and yet I'm not sure if anyone really knows it the way I do.  If someone were to ask my sisters about me, I'm not sure they'd have a clue who I was to anyone other than them.

Why does this matter?  Well, I just think about Field Studies, and how we have these experiences that take a fraction of a second that change who we are.  Or we meet these people that just leave these impressions we'll never iron out.  And who will know?  But worse, who will have those experiences if they aren't taught to appreciate them?  For I fear that every day I have experiences that could change me, if I'd let them, but so often I don't.  Field Studies is about teaching people HOW to have those experiences, and how to let other people make dents in you so that you'll never be the same.  Because what's the point of living life the other way?

I think this is one reason I'm sad to see Field Studies go.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

How do they do it?

There is nothing to say there is nothing to say there is nothing to say there is nothing to say there is nothing to say there is nothing to say there is nothing to say there is nothing to say there is nothing to say there is nothing to say there is nothing to say there is nothing to say.

Someone told me once that if you just start typing whatever you're thinking or feeling that eventually you'll think of something to write.  I don't KNOW that that's true, but then again, I only typed 'there is nothing to say' a dozen times (I'm not counting to make sure) before becoming bored, so maybe that's the cure for writing.  Boredom.

I've been reading a couple of IRB Applications for class tomorrow and have acquired  a few ideas from see how others dealt with the application for my own application, particularly in the Methods and Procedures section, Michael's IRB gave me some ideas of how to explain my methods a little more completely.  I've always been rather cautious so making plans I know will change seems like a waste of time to me.  This is why I have a hard time 'proposing' a project that I don't know for sure will work, and I have a hard time 'proposing' how I will do things, when in reality I have no idea if that's how they'll get done.  It's debilitating for me in this class, since so much of the class is merely 'proposing.'  I just have to get used to the idea that everyone else, not just me, knows that the project will change, and they don't expect me to stick to the proposal once/if I find a better way of doing things.


I read today about "The Unforgotten War," that is WWII and its application in France.  Did you know that in France, on paper, citizens do not have a religion, a skin color or an ethnicity?  This was a policy put in place after the second World War to keep the Holocaust from happening again.  If anyone asked the French to round up all their Jews again they could simply say, 'We have no idea who is Jewish.'  If someone asked them to round up all their Arab immigrants they could say, 'Once someone receives their French citizenship, they are French.  We do not know who is Arab.'  And if that someone said to take everyone in with dark skin, they could simply respond, 'But they are French, too.'  I love that.  I love that on paper there is no distinction between any French citizen.  I think this, also, that this is a significant governmental and cultural shift because of history, and there's a lot of that in France, but this is more recent.  A 20th century upgrade, as it were.

I also learned that while the largest number of Jews were rounded up and killed in France than any other Western European country, more than two-thirds of France's Jews survived World War II, meaning many of the French never turned in their neighbors, hid away children, or smuggled Jews out of the country.  This is in comparison to the less than 25% of Jews in Holland or Belgium surviving the war.  I think this is heartening given the anti-Semite reputation the French have.  That's another thing about learning about people and culture: stereotypes may exist for a reason, but they're so much more complex than that, and one must never assume a stereotype for any individual because its assumed of the group.  I would add, that stereotypes ought to be discarded all together, though caution should always be taken with everyone you come into contact with.

War is kind of a bizarre thing, and I think every culture is significantly altered by their history of war, the way they wage war, whether they've been beat or whether they've been victorious, whether they're proud or ashamed of said victories or defeats, the money they've received, the men they've lost, the way in which a war was ended whether by marriage, treaty, or stalemate.  I think this is why we organize our study of history often times around, during and between major wars.  In France, we study the Gallic Wars, the Hundred Years War, the Wars of Religion, the Thirty Years War, the French Revolution, the Napoleonic Wars, the Franco-Prussian War, World Wars I and II, the Wars in Indochina, the War in Algeria.  And Honestly, most wars that France has been involved in, they've lost. They've LOST most of their wars.  But they're France, how is this possible?  What I find so fascinating about the French is that most countries, heck, most CULTURES would be decimated and destroyed and scattered and lost by such staggering wars.  Not the French.  They're still one of our leading "cultures" one of the Western European countries we still find synonymous with the word "culture."  What makes France so fascinating is that despite all their loss, the elements of their culture have always pulled them out ahead, have always dug them out of the rubble so to speak, have always persevered.  That isn't easy, and what's more they make it LOOK easy.

What is it about their culture that does it?  I guess what's what I want to find out.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Reciprocity, etc.

I'm not counting the days until Paris, I'm counting down the days until London where I get to spend a week and a half with my two best friends before my Field Study.  But if you tack on 9 days (which is 48 days), that's how many days until I'll be in Paris.  And, as it stands, with no place to live.  I'm nervous, but not nervous enough.

I've been spending some time looking at two blogs.  One of them is The Spirit of Black Paris which is not only fascinating but extremely helpful, and the other is Invisible Paris which has little to do with Black Paris, but has to do with places in Paris one isn't typically allowed to enter.  Invisible Paris gets me excited just to be in the city but The Spirit of Black Paris gets me excited to actually begin studying the people who I want to study.  I feel like I need to get started now, and I'm sure I could, but I just don't have the time.  Other classes and work and even attending classes seem very unimportant right now, as my mind begins shifting to a new perspective--that is, new for me--as I take into account a lot of the changes in my life that will be taking place in a little over a month.  And I have the most pounding headache.

The thing is, I'm not terribly excited, though people keep telling me I should be.

I've got two contracts set up, one called "Urban Studies in Paris" and the other "Writing Paris" and both are focusing on an American Studies methodology.  Urban Studies, in general is going to have an American Studies emphasis as I read about the Urban Studies theories, and then focus it a little into application of Paris.  The other class is going to help me hone my writing skills with an American Studies methodology for readers of any discipline.  This means treating places, art, music, food, etc. as 'artifacts' that are studied and written about from all four viewpoints of the methodology: its archive, the institution in which it was created or formed, textual analysis--the analysis of the piece itself sans all other influence, and the social theories surrounding it.

Been thinking about reciprocity since yesterday's lecture.  The lecture didn't become very interesting to me until the very end when the three types of reciprocity: balanced, negative, and generalized.  I couldn't help but think of this idea in terms of friendships, because that's what I think of most things in terms of.  Our culture is not one that practices generalized reciprocity in terms of "things," but we do practice it in terms of speech.  If someone continually compliments us, we tend to compliment back, and when we don't you can expect to have some rather offended or hurt people walking about.

For example, I remember my first year in college, when I'd come from a culture of generalized verbal reciprocity (also balanced verbal reciprocity) where compliments on dress, hair, makeup, general good-looking-ness etc. was always paid, particularly to those who paid it to you.  It was balanced in the sense that you did for others what they did for you, but it was generalized in the sense that you didn't worry about being nice to someone as many times as they had been nice to you, you just assumed that between the two of you the complements would even out over time. But I suppose that "services" were included in this, too: help with homework, giving of school notes, listening about boyfriend troubles, back rubs, etc.  No one only gave back rubs if the other had given them a back rub lately.  All these things were given easily, with the realization that it would be paid back eventually.  My first year of college was not like this.  Here I was, complementing people up the wazoo, because it was what I was used to.  Giving them service in one way or another, because it was what I was used to.  Hours of listening to issues, time spent making dinners or baking desserts, giving of notes, etc.  But after months I realized how tired I was.  And years later I realized that if one assumes in generalized reciprocity that you will be repaid and then at some point you realize that you aren't being repaid at all, you feel taken advantage of.  I think this occurs when you are operating in cultural norms that no one else is operating in.  Realizing that I was in a new, much more selfish, culture, I had to switch to 'balanced' reciprocity so I would be used up, taken advantage of, or simply tired out with no benefit to me.  You can only give so long before you've got nothing left, as it goes.

However, I think I most often experience the consequences of negative reciprocity, both because I often give too much, and because sometimes I am overwhelmed by others giving too much.  These friendships strain me.  Sometimes I give too much in a friendship, not realizing that that level of friendship cannot be repaid at the same rate as I am able to give.  I expect too much of my friends sometimes, and then I feel misused because I'm not being "treated right," whatever that means.  But the opposite happens, too, where someone is willing to give too much to me too soon for my comfort, and I don't feel I know them well enough to pay back the friendship in meaningful ways, therefore overwhelming me into feeling 'smothered' by them, or simply bothered by them because they're moving too quickly for me.  This is not specific to romantic relationships--this happens to me on all sorts of levels.

But this isn't to say that I think balanced reciprocity is necessarily the best of the three, for especially in friendships no one would be keeping tally.  All our best friendships should probably be some form of generalized reciprocity or a mix of generalized and balanced.  I am good with casual relationships that progress slowly and naturally.  This is one reason I'm not too worried about being the cause of negative reciprocity.  In 3 months I don't feel anyone will expect of me a life-altering friendship, and I also don't believe I will expect that of others.

Also, going to France, which is "western" in its mindsets, and living in Paris which is hardly a place where I might be expected to give more because I'm an American, or possibly give too much because I'm an American is less likely to happen.  I know that in some areas, bringing too much money in might make a family dependent on that money.  Though I don't yet know my living arrangement, I'm fairly certain this won't be the case.  If anything, people will see me as the poor student, much like is the culture in the states.  However, I realize this, too, can lead to some being overly generous, which is something not to take advantage of.

Anyway, these are some interesting things to give some thought to, which I'll continue doing.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Proposal: Qualifications & Limitations

Qualifications and Limitations

            My qualifications for this field study include:
Having taken French language courses (101, 102, 201, 202, 211 and 321), I have an intermediate understanding of French.  I will therefore have no trouble getting around as I can read the language and understand simple conversations.  I hope and expect that living in the country will further help me with comprehension and fluidity in the language.
Current enrollment in a Field Study Preparation Course which not only requires continuous research and reading in my chosen interest of study and a honing of that research, but continuous reflection on my chosen project and extensive writing about the preparation I am going through to enter a new culture.  I think many of the topics we have discussed in class including observation, participant observation, and interviewing probes and how to ask questions will all be very helpful, even within an academic setting as I search for answers to my understanding of French culture and how it influenced my subjects.
My completion of my major classes for American Studies which have required me to take particular American Studies courses in the methodology and ‘conversation’ of American Studies which I can apply to my research.  Other course I have taken include an emphasis on African American culture, American culture, and an extensive understanding of American history.  I have also taken a History of France class, which has helped me considerably in my understanding of French culture and the circumstances the African American expatriates I will be studying lived through.
A profound and deep interest in my research: I am not doing this research to further my degree, or doing this research because it has to be done in any way, but because I am genuinely interested in this subject matter.  I think this genuine interest, shared by many of my peers, will help me in my research.

            My limitations for this field study include:
            I haven’t taken any African American literature courses or a course in Jazz, two classes I wish I could have under my belt before embarking on this field study.  I also wish I had a better grounding in Urban Studies, though I know one of my courses while in the field will help supplement my lack of an Urban Studies background.
            I have the bases for being conversationally fluent in French, but I am NOT conversationally fluent in French, something of which would greatly benefit my study.  Whatever I acquire on this study could be largely aided by a more complete ability to converse and read in French.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Proposal: Preliminary Plans for Post-field Application

Preliminary Plans for Post-field Application
            As I graduate in August, I have no specific academic plans that apply to my Field Study, though I have the possible option of presenting my field work at BYU Inquiry Conference hosted by Field Studies in Winter 2013.  However, I do have long-term goals of continuing with graduate studies in the field of American Studies and I think this Field Study research will help me have an experience that is particular to my interests and that may stand apart in my graduate studies applications.  Furthermore, I hope that this experience will inform future decisions and interests, particularly as it applies to what I decide to study in a future graduate career.
            What I hope for most in following through with this Field Study, however, is that it will give me experience and inspiration for how to apply the skillsets needed for cross-cultural studies and immersion to everyday life.  I would like to continue to travel internationally, and I would like to continue taking into account the benefits and limitations of each culture I come in contact with, including my own, as I develop cross-cultural relationships.  I also hope this experience to enrich me creatively, and give me inspiration for those creative outlets which I crave.  I hope that the experiences I have on my Field Study, the work I do, and especially the writing I do will continue to shape and hone my publishable work. 

Proposal: Ethics and Approval

Statement of Ethical Practice
      1.      Confidentiality: All living informants will be asked to fill out a consent form which would indicate whether they wanted their knowledge or views to be kept confidential.  For the sake of not plagiarizing, the ideas my living informants share with me that did not originate with me, but in fact were their own original ideas, will be attributed to them unless they should indicate wanting otherwise on their consent form.  Regardless of this, however, their information will not be published in any raw format, if it is used it will be presented as a part of my final product and only I and possibly my mentor will have access to my field notes where I recorded their thoughts and ideas.  Because none of the information they share will be of a confidential nature, I will not be destroying the notes I take.

      2.      Obtain informed consent without coercion: I will inform my living informants about my research, and ask them if they mind speaking with me about their knowledge concerning the African American expatriates who came to France during the 1920s and 1930s.  I will also ask them about their understanding of French Jazz, and where it came from.  After informing them, and asking for verbal consent, I will obtain written consent--a form in French giving me permission to take informal notes on their ideas and knowledge.  Furthermore, if my informant seems upset, distressed, or frustrated by the interview, the information they hold, while valuable, is not more valuable to me than their comfort in speaking with me about the subject, and I will thank my informants and end the interview.

      3.      Minimize risk and maximize benefit: There are minimal risks related to the participants of this study, as I will not require any confidential information of them, ask them about any sensitive subjects, and am not targeting any particularly vulnerable populations.  Furthermore, I do not expect any emotion  or psychological distress in this study.  As one main aspect of my research is to become acquainted with Paris and its areas, however, one potential risk is my safety.  I plan to offset this risk by doing thorough and extensive research of the parts of Paris I plan to visit to determine whether I should be accompanied by another, should avoid the district altogether, or go at certain times of day.  There are certainly certain areas of Paris I plan to avoid altogether, and will always visit districts in Paris with some direction, intent or purpose to minimize risk to myself, or to others.  While there are no direct benefits to research subjects, either the deceased or the living informants, I do hope that this study will give credence to a marginalized area of study within the field of American Studies.  Though my study can make no large or significant difference within my field, I hope it will be a stepping stone to an understanding I hold of the American Experience, but particularly the American Experience abroad.

Human Subjects (IRB) approval

Saturday, March 3, 2012

on "Helping, Fixing, Serving"

I loved the ideas presented in this reading by Rachel Remen, the difference between helping, fixing, and serving.  To merely "help" someone is to see them as weak, when you try to "fix" something you see someone as broken, but when you "serve" you see them as whole, and deserving of strengthening, or I'd like to add, see yourself as deserving of strengthening, which is why you spend the time to serve at all.

But sometimes people aren't strong, and sometimes they are broken, and so what do you do then?  I'm thinking of times in my life when I was most certainly in need of healing, and usually no one came around to help me with the process.  If we're talking about a Field Study, I'm aware of the point this reading is trying to make, and I'm aware that it isn't our place to assume that we are the ones who can strengthen, or "fix" others.  I think that's a good assumption to make because to see something in need of fixing is to see something broken, and many an unbroken cultures have been "fixed" to their and the worlds' detriment.  I don't even begin to think that the relationships I will have with people in the Field will be of any great benefit to them.

But, to me, I think there is great potential.

I think every being is in great need of healing.  Nothing particularly traumatic has ever happened to me, but I live in trauma every day.  I've been profoundly hurt.  I've been left bleeding, figuratively speaking.  And I don't think it's wrong for someone to see me bleeding and come to help me along as the wound heals.  Or, in that case, when we see a wrong being done to someone, our own beliefs should  never get in the way.  How many times has someone been hurting me, and someone could have said something, stood up for me, helped, but they didn't, afraid it would offend, afraid it would be misconstrued, afraid of being hurt themselves.  That's fair.  But fear should never get in the way of doing right.  This reminds me of a scripture, Hebrews 2:15 saying that Christ would come "and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage."

This scripture, the first time I consciously read it, screamed at me "The Holocaust."  It was the 20th century when this evil happened, when this profound lack of humanity took place.  The Holocaust.  But people were so afraid of death that they were "all their lifetime subject to bondage" which really probably isn't too much better than death.  I can't say that death is better than bondage because I don't think that's necessarily true.  I think it depends on the death, it depends on the bondage, it depends on the person, and it depends on the hope at the end of the road.  But I do think that we can't let fear, no matter how small a matter, bind us to silence while others suffer, no matter how small we perceive the suffering.

For this reason, I think our presence can heal people we don't know are hurt or in need of healing.  What I mean to say, is that we can make a profound difference in the lives of individuals, like Remen mentioned about the woman to treated her as a human being, who spent time on her, rather than treating her like a patient.  I think if we operate under the assumption that no one needs to be fixed, or aided out of weakness or brokenness, but instead assume that everyone is deserving of our respect, our time, and our care, we are "serving" and maybe doing a little healing at the same time.

In tenth grade I had a close friend hurt me rather badly.  She didn't stay around to watch the hurt, and certainly didn't stick around to try to mend the hurt.  But that year I met someone who probably didn't notice I was hurting, but spent time on me, treated me as whole, and through him I became whole again.  He has always treated me that way, as a whole person, even when he himself has hurt me.  This can be damaging sometimes, for someone who cuts into you without noticing and then treats you as if you are unhurt, but the point of the matter is that because he treats me as whole, I know I will be again, someday.  And that's why I don't think that helping, fixing and serving are wholly separate.  I think they are all one thing but three ways of going about doing it and only one of them can be done with humility.

Having said all this, however, I understand the point being made, and I emphatically agree that we need the point to get through to our heart.  I like what Remen says about service, that when we "help" it is our strength that helps anothers' weakness.  But when we "serve" it is our limitations, our wounds, and our darkness' which we draw on to be of comfort and to help us understand the people around us.