Today, Saudi women will defy the ban on women driving. I hope and pray that the Saudi government will lift the ban right away.
I’ve been carrying the US Citizenship test materials in my car, planning on putting the CD in my stereo just as soon as I’m done listening to ‘Brick Lane.’ Raihana saw the booklet yesterday. And completely unexpectedly, she said:
“Mama, I don’t want the Pakistani to get squashed out of you – the way the Dursleys said they’d squash the magic out of Harry Potter. – Because I want to learn more things about Pakistan everyday!”
On the one hand, I am pleased that my daughter has a protective and nurturing impulse toward Pakistani culture. I’m also happy that she is consciously aware of the processes of cultural assimilation, stigma, and acculturation.
On the other hand, I’m concerned that she possibly suspects that I am “acting [too] white.” I’d also perhaps prefer that she were not aware of the expectation that I “squash” the Pakistani out – but this awareness is inevitable. She has shown an acute awareness that not everyone knows about Urdu, Eid, and dupattas, and at times is quite put out by this.
At other times, she parades a dupatta around so that everyone will know about Pakistan. At such times, I have conflicting impulses: I want to protect her from racist bigotry yet I want her to be proud and comfortable in her skin.
Anthropology and Education Quarterly
General Call for Papers
Anthropology & Education Quarterly is a peer-reviewed journal, housed at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. It draws on anthropological theories and methods to examine educational processes in and out of schools, in US and international contexts. Articles rely primarily on ethnographic research to address immediate problems of practice as well as broad theoretical questions surrounding issues that impact research and practice in the field. We value diverse ways of knowing and weaving together theory, research, practice, and social justice to directly address issues and institutions that impact teaching and learning in the educational experiences of children, families, and communities within and beyond the classroom setting. We also see the journal as a key site for providing connection, support and feedback to emerging scholars in the field. Finally, to all of this we must reaffirm the journal’s long tradition of supporting anti-oppressive, socially equitable, and racially, socially and gender-just education.
The journal publishes two different types of scholarly work, manuscripts and reflections. (1) Manuscripts should be no more than 35 pages in length. (2) Reflections from/on the Field should be approximately 15-20 pages in length. Both should be formatted as Word documents and blinded for anonymous peer review.
We are eager to receive your manuscript submissions.
For more information visit us at:
You may also contact the Editors-in-Chief, Dr. Laura Alicia Valdiviezo and Dr. Sally Campbell Galman at email@example.com
When you are short of money, you waste resources trying to make do. You waste time cutting coupons and sorting through clearance racks when you should be researching your new journal article. You waste money acquiring crappy clothes and then you throw them away because they are crappy and you acquire more crappy clothes, and crappy dressers to keep them in. And when your car breaks down, you waste time trying to navigate the city bus system instead of getting a new ride.
I am dealing with the latter challenge right now. My trusty steed, purchased used in 2006 for $5k, is in the shop. We are told variously by mechanics and friends that the car a) is in great condition and merely needs a cash investment (equivalent to its current value) for new [insert a string of mechanical nouns and verbs here], b) is dead and we should move on.
We have friends in various income groups. Those on the upper end tell us that we should buy new. Those closer to our own tell us we should buy Japanese used cars and be happy. It is hard for this nerdy individual to know what to do. We have many choices, because we are not entirely sure what we are – comfortably middle class or really just poor. Any sudden event could throw us into the latter situation, so should we act as if we are middle class and upwardly mobile or potentially, any day now, poor?
I have difficulty trusting mechanics. It seems that whenever I visit a mechanic, I find myself returning to this mechanic a day later with 4 or 5 new problems. Also, I ask, why should a mechanic tell me that the car is finished even if it is finished, rather than that the car needs [insert nouns and verbs] that will cost $1000+? For those with no cash-flow issues, this is a no-brainer. Purchase a new car and drive off the lot smiling even as you hear the car depreciate with a loud thunk. For us, it is not so simple.
Until we figure out the life expectancy of this car (of course we will spend money doing so), we will need to rent a car at over $250/week so that I may commute to work (and keep my job). You get the picture. When your means are tight, you spend more money trying to make them stretch. You don’t hemorrhage money so much when you can choose what to do with your resources.
When you are bourgeois and holding on tight to your middle class status, you lack the survival skills of the poor and the resources of the wealthy.
Because Svend was wasting time ferrying me around in the middle of his work day, I decided I would try to be independent despite my car-less status. I looked up the bus route in google transit, checked the locations of the bus stops vis-à-vis my destination, and made my way to the bus stop. Unfortunately I was just a minute or two late. So I walked to the main road thinking I would encounter – what, the bus? A friendly stranger who would give me a ride? I thought, perhaps, that I would walk 45 minutes to my gym? And then, what, collapse? I don’t even know what I was thinking. I am not used to being a pedestrian. I wasn’t thinking very clearly as a pedestrian. After walking for 5 minutes or so, I realized that the world of cars around me was shut to me, and I was now definitely in the world of the car-less.
I walked back. I found a bus stop – why are they located on the sunny side of the street, and with no shade whatsoever? – and called up MTD. I told them where I was, the bus numbers on the sign, and my destination. The agent told me, right on, you’re in the right place, and the bus will arrive in 3 minutes to take you to the gym.
So I waited for 15 minutes and happily stepped onto the bus, feeling terribly grown up and street smart. The bus stopped and circled and rumbled on, until it was a few blocks away from my gym. But it was supposed to stop by my gym, so I stayed put. The bus circled, stopping everywhere, and eventually, I realized it was turning left and away from my gym. So I hurried off with an embarrassed thank you.
At this point, I found myself walking 20 minutes in the hot sun to get back to my desired location. I arrived at the gym an hour and 15 minutes after setting out for my destination. (My gym is ten minutes’ drive from my house.)
Of course I was tired, embarrassed, and angry. Why didn’t the MTD agent guide me correctly? Why didn’t I understand him correctly? Why doesn’t a bloody PhD prepare you to navigate the city bus route?
At this point, my husband called to give me the ‘good news’ that my car was fixable, but that we needed a week. I imagined a week of slogging along on my feet in traffic, and I lost it. I snapped at him. Then I cried in the locker room.
I know that the American Anthropological Association annual conference is coming up. This conference will cost me around $450 in lodging, not to mention travel, meals, registration, and membership. In order to attend and present at this conference, I need to finish writing a paper – for which I need to be writing instead of studying bus schedules.
Yes, I know – first world problems. I have had to walk for the first time in years, and I weep. I have taken over an hour to get to my gym, and I am profoundly frustrated. I am frustrated because I have been studying and working my entire life and I still don’t know how to take the bus. I am guilty of no real vices but I am tired of never quite making it.
I just arrived. Today, I acquired the regalia that visibly identify me as a member of the scholarly class.
I got my PhD in 2006, but I never bought the regalia. I also never made the trip back to Indiana so I could “walk” (i.e. walk across the stage during a graduation ceremony, be “hooded” by my advisor, and be photographed so I could add that photograph to my collection of status markers). Why didn’t I get the regalia and “walk”? I didn’t have the spare cash that would fund a trip to Indiana as well as an expensive set of robes. Of course I was also a new mother at that time, and I couldn’t really spare the time either. Also, my parents are in Pakistan, so who was going to tear up as they watched me walk? No one. The ritual didn’t hold meaning for me.
For the past several years, I’ve rented robes whenever I was obligated to attend my employing institution’s graduation or convocation ceremonies. This costs me about $60 each time. After a few rentals, one realizes that this is a bloody waste of money. In other words, it’s become cheaper to buy the regalia. I confess, too, that I envy my colleagues’ colorful regalia, and feel like a poor country cousin when I show up wearing a rental gown with the colors of my *employer* and not my doctoral institution. Horrors! I always shrink a little when eyes are cast upon me with the question, “Why don’t you have regalia from a different institution? Don’t you have a PhD? Is your PhD not from a reputable institution worthy of recognition through regalia?”
As a member of the toiling scholarly masses, this month – seven years after my PhD was awarded – I was able to purchase a velveteen gown and hood with the correct colors and a six-sided tam, no less. It’s probably no accident that I felt stable enough to also frame my PhD diploma and my MPhil diploma and tack them both up in my office.
It’s just one thing I can cross off my list. I now have regalia. I have arrived. Possibly, for some, donning regalia and posing for photographs in said regalia is a moment of pride and joy. Me, I feel like I just finished a load of laundry. What’s next on the list?
What’s next on your list?
Education and its symbols are some of the most hilariously bourgeois status markers of all. How affluent are you, after all, that you have the money to study for years and years, in contrast to most people in the world who struggle daily to fill their stomachs? The affluence of scholarship is not enough, though. I must fling it in the face of the world by donning gowns and caps with gold tassels on them.
The years spent in the service of scholarship are not enough though. One must pay through the nose to obtain the markers of this scholarship.
This June, I took the 30-day Orange Rhino challenge to yelling less. I started it not because I felt like a terrible mother – I’m not, I probably veer between an A+ and a B-, with a few Cs thrown in for good measure – but because I have learned that my daughter is a deeply sensitive and reflexive soul who takes to heart any slight reminder or scolding.
So I put the If a child lives with criticism quote on my fridge and set to work. Okay, so I cheated a little by being in Pakistan while my daughter was in the U.S. for 17 out of 30 days, but I re-purposed the challenge toward being a more filial and loving offspring while with my aging parents (frankly, I sucked at this endeavor). This, coupled with the heat, jetlag, and other logistical challenges, was a trial by fire. On my return, I find that I am much more patient, mellow, and easygoing (for now). How could I not be, when weather is so temperate, airconditioning is omnipresent, and most food I encounter is unlikely to give me indigestion? How could I not be, when the presence of poverty, hunger, and want is no longer perpetually in my face, grinding down my love for life in a miserable state of helpless empathy?
I am also less generally irritable, a less competitive driver, a kinder person, less likely to find people’s behavior unbearably irritating (such as the gross and deafeningly loud open-mouthed chewing of the woman across from me here in the public library’s cafe area right now).
One of the things that makes me more jittery and less patient is coffee. Coffee renders me too high-strung, too tightly-wound to be tolerant of such things as this woman’s chewing.
So one of the things I have done to ensure I meet my challenge successfully is to reduce my coffee intake by more than half. I have, in the past year, graduated from a small cup per day to a medium cup. This may not seem like much to you coffee-guzzlers, but my body is typically extremely sensitive to small quantities of medications and caffeine. So during my trip to Pakistan, I cut down on my coffee intake – basically because all I could easily and quickly obtain before rushing out for the workshops was instant coffee, which gave me nasty heartburn.
On my return, I have been working on inserting some no-coffee-just-tea-days into my week. On days like yesterday and today, when I have a big annual assessment report to complete, I’ve been drinking a small quantity of coffee – about 1/4 of a small cup. Yes, it gives me enough of a jolt to get my workout and some work done. After that, my body winds down – as it naturally should – and I prepare to go to bed early, almost at the same time as my 7-year old. I don’t do this always, because sometimes one must catch some TV with one’s spouse, but getting a full night of a sleep is very helpful to my workday.
(Let this be fair warning that I may behave like a new convert to a cause, bashing my old propensity for coffee and stridently counseling all of you coffee drinkers to abjure your unwholesome addiction.)
There is a price to this healthy living, I realize. I will not have that powerful jolt of energy that is sometimes a precursor to extended writing stints that result in elegant and powerful work. And maybe, exceptions will have to be made when a set of 60 mind-numbing student papers must be graded (and peppy, reflective feedback provided), when that journal article that has been in the oven for a year must be written at last, and when that tenure file must (soon) be prepared.
But overall, as a 45-year old woman with a family, I am starting to feel that it is time to stop putting my health, well-being and sanity on the back burner. In this economic climate, may I, despite the expenses of keeping an marketable academic profile and the costs of raising a child, put my health and happiness first? I am not the only one faced with tough choices in this world.