Culture By Commotion, the Blog


Anthropologist Grant McCracken, who has done much of the vital foundational work in exploring the transformation of self through markets, has a blog: This Blog Sits at the Intersection of Anthropology & Economics.

Among the recent entries is this one in honor of Canada Day (McCracken is a Canadian):" Who said that the right believes in the liberties of the marketplace but not in those of culture, while the left believes in the liberties of culture but not the marketplace? Canada, it turns out, believes in neither one. The marketplace is regarded with suspicion. Its dynamism is feared, and, when possible, controlled. Culture, especially commercial culture, is regarded with discomfort. Canadians prefer their markets regulated by governments and their culture mediated by experts (Margaret Atwood, take a bow)."

There is also a remarkable discussion of changing models of beauty, citing such figures as Jocelyne Wildenstein, who had herself transformed according to a feline model (thus becoming "the Bride of Wildenstein"), and the artist Orlan, who will eventually "possess the chin of Botticelli?s Venus, the nose of Gerome?s Psyche, the lips of Francois Boucher?s Europa, and the eyes of Diana from a sixteenth-century French School of Fontainebleau painting." And don't miss his entry on how James I received the news of Elizabeth's death via an "economic bargain with the future."

Anthropologists, writes McCracken, "need to take on the challenge of thinking about a culture that comes out of individual choices, made in markets, constrained not so much by trust as by interest, by highly individuated, highly innovative individuals…. Our reward? Making the miraculous a little more intelligible."

NEXT: Abu Ghraib USA?

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  1. I’ve always called Canada: The Other Europe.

  2. Blame Canada!

    Warren, do you include the blogger on your hate list? Somehow, despite his cultural oppression, he retains a mind independent enough to criticize his country’s values and priorities. Do you think all Canadians are complacent, insular, exclusive and hyper-patriotic?

    (Just playing devil’s advocate. I am pretty neutral about Canada/-ians, myself.)

  3. Lisa,
    I don’t hate Canadians. I do however, hold them in well-deserved contempt. As to Mr. McCracken (aka the blogger), he is obviously an exceptional Canuck. One strongly suspects that he received his education in some more temperate land. Or possibly his mother was a native Uruguan, Tuvan, or some other more advanced culture. At any rate, his thesis is amounts to a vindication of my thesis, and therefore I defer to his greater familiarity of the matter and despise him only to the extent he despises himself.

  4. Lisa: No, just 64.7% of us…

  5. Does anyone feel threatened?
    I’m pretty much indifferent to Canada; just someplace between us and Alaska.

  6. “Discretion is the ONLY part of valor”.

  7. The world?s smallest political quiz … has just got even smaller.

    And in line with my comment from the other day, absolute proof that Canadians are the evilest bastards on the planet.

  8. Canadians prefer their markets regulated by governments and their culture mediated by experts.

    Canada huh? Sounds more like Hell.

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