21 May 2011

The Distillation of Dr. Hiller: Choices in Editing Oral History

After completing an interview, we begin the task of organizing and editing our tapes and notes. During this process, we must continually make choices, and often these choices are interrelated and interdependent; making one choice often lead us to confronting another. This article considers such editing choices on several different levels, ranging from the mechanics of transcribing a distinct set of interview problems, to the question of making them useful in presentation, to the broader issue of editing sound as well as written documents. On this last level, we will see how new technology now gives the old issue of orality a particular vitality. Editing permutations will be presented, culminating in a demonstration and comparison of two routes to a final prose transcription - one route derives from editing a visual document; the other explores editing the aural document, before transcribing, with new tools of sound-processing designed for an aural medium such as radio.

07 May 2011

National Character Studies and the "Arab Mind"

The national character study began as a sort of wartime anthropology. During wartime, it became difficult for American anthropologists to conduct fieldwork abroad, so many sought alternatives. The initial instances of national character research were sponsored by the U.S. government, and among the anthropologists who sought to work in this way were Margaret Mead, Gregory Bateson and Ruth Benedict. These early studies were typically written about the enemies of America: Japan, Germany and Russia. The studies which appeared are often perceived today as attempts at applied anthropology, and the scholars who participated in them were convinced that they were contributing to the war effort.