Monday, April 12, 2010

The pregnant anthropologist

So, the reluctant anthropologist has officially morphed into the pregnant anthropologist. I am swelling with baby, dreaming of baby, conflicted about safety decisions (is it safe to downhill ski, try the wine, climb the ladder, drink the water?), and eating chocolate malts daily. The first steps, I think, to motherhood.

I have also had to come to grips with a central thesis of my profession. Namely: that the world is a socially and culturally constructed place. Allow me to digress:

Anthropology says: 'The world is full of stuff, events, people, spaces. Our social and cultural backgrounds turn this stuff, events, people, and spaces into meaningful keepsakes, moments, families, friends, and homelands.' Nothing in this schema has meaning without this social and cultural backdrop through which we filter experience. And meaning, at the end of the day, seems to be the point. I think this is overwhelmingly true.

The thing is, I have just started to feel warm fuzzies with every single other pregnant lady or mother in the world.... it is as though the physicality of pregnancy is its own experience that is common without a cultural backdrop.. or at least without exclusively a cultural backdrop mitigating the situation.

Rationally I can say that my particular cultural make up, stemming from the enlightenment, likely predisposes me to believe in the 'humanistic' experience over a multitude of cultural experiences.
But some basic instinct says, when it comes to carrying a baby,: phooey.
Women around the world... I get it.

Where do the universal, the social, and the individual collide? In birth, in death, in disaster, in sexual orientation, in sickness, in anything at all?

For now I am trying to write, trying to get my head together, happy to be going to Alaska soon to fly on small planes, eat seal meat, hug friends, ask questions. I wonder how snow machine travel is with (what feels like) a 2 ton belly. 

Hopefully there will be nothing but good news to report from Shishmaref.