Pensaments of an Anthropological Patzer


Hairnet.I’ve been putting this off for some time, but it’s kind of getting necessary…

My name is Bob Offer-Westort, but I’m also known in some circles as Akwasi Bob, Pathawi (ปฐวี), or just plain ‘B’ (justifying the otherwise absurd title of this blog). I graduated from the Friends World Program in May of 2003 with a bachelor’s degree in cultural anthropology. (Sort of.) If I can work out the funding, I’ll attend the School of Oriental and African Studies‘ Social Anthropology MA program in the Fall of 2006. Otherwise, I’ll have to become a rogue anthropologist: Anthropology is the one useful thing that I know I can do well.

If you raised your eyebrow when I said ‘useful’, back there, I don’t blame you a-tall. When I was doing the research, fieldwork, and writing that led to my bachelor’s thesis, I thought again and again about how important the issues of representation, understanding, and relativism constantly discussed in academic anthropology were to the daily intercultural interactions of this world: We would all benefit greatly from a greater popular engagement in these discussions. Anthropology has not, however, made the crossover that the hard sciences (especially physics) and history have achieved. What I’m hoping to help create is a popular anthropology: engaging ethnographies that humanise their subjects and discussions of our own culture that help people realise that so much of what we consider to be human nature is actually learned, rather than innate. If I achieve anything in my life, it will be small, and local, but maybe I’ll find ways to help others do the same things better.

This blog represents my first fumbling steps in that direction. I’m still very rough around the intellectual edges, and I need a lot of polish. If you read something that you disagree with or that makes you think, please, let me know: post a comment or send me an e-mail.

As for my personal life: I live in San Francisco, California, USA, though I originally hail from New England. I’ve also lived for a year or longer in Bangkok and Kancanaburi, Thailand; Bangalore, Karnataka, India; and Kumase and Adwafo, Ashanti Region, Ghana. I speak English pretty well, and I’m conversationally fluent in Thai and Asante Twi. Once upon a time, I was competent in Kannada, as well — in fact, I taught a class using the language — but I’ve lost it. I’m trying to learn Arabic and French, but I’ve been getting distracted far too easily. My Urdu used to be middling. Now it is bottoming. I can read and write Spanish. I’m learning to read Chinese.

Professionally, I am a scrapper and a hustler… the Paul Newman kind of hustler.

I believe that all times are revolutionary times, and that it is only our hubris, our obsession with grand-scale battles of Good versus Evil, and our fear of engagement with the world that prevents many of us from seeing this. I believe that good revolutions must be local and compassionate.

I make excellent vegan red curry and cranberry scones, I shave with a straight razor, I’ve been told I look ‘abstract’, and I try to avoid scare quotes, but I overuse parentheses, ellipses, and em-dashes.

I also write an irregular poetry blog — ชาดำ (Chā Dam), and have been keeping track of my study of the Asante Twi translation of the Bible at the creatively-named Twi Bible Blog.

(last updated 3 February 2005)