Tuesday, August 21, 2007

we're in amsterdam!

we've all been in amsterdam for over three weeks now. everyone is in the final stages of their projects, we have our practice conference tomorrow and everyone seems pretty stressed out. but so far it's been really fun.

mark and my research has gone really well, we came in with an open project topic and the collection of the data went pretty well. I think staying open to new information and allowing ourselves to focus on areas that we found the most interesting let us stay positive and not caught up and resentful of the structure of our research.

the trip has been great! i've gotten to know some really great people, and we've all had fun going out and on excursions all over. the program will be over on saturday which is pretty sad, but hopefully it'll continue next year and other people will be able to come back and study in the freakin amazing city of amsterdam

-love sathi

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Just making sure I did all the assignments

It seemed sometimes when I read other people's blogs over the quarter that there were random assignments that somehow slipped by me, so I figured I would go back and make sure to do them.

Reaction to Buruma:
I as many of the people in the class finished reading Buruma early in the term, so I had to go back and skim before writing this reaction.
My main reaction to the Buruma book simply has to do with the intersection between cultures, and the issue that hit the Netherlands hard and likely will other Western countries as well. We pride ourselves on our multiculturalism, it's politically correct to accept people of all cultures, backgrounds, and ethnicities. But what happens when the cultures you want to accept seem to be ones that fight directly with values you hold and consider extremely important freedoms. Should it be regulated? How can it be without marginalizing a group of people of which the majority is actually made up of good law abiding citizens. If the Koran says women are lower than men when a fundamental feature of our society is that the sexes are equal should we stop it, can we stop it? These are pretty complicated issues. What do you do when multiculturalism just seems to have bit you in the ass essentially? Can we say it's a bad thing? Or that it needs to be regulated? How so? Who gets to decide what's right and what's wrong? It's a pretty complicated issue, and I certainly don't have any answers....

Zeisel reflection:

Zeisel has actually ended up being one of the most useful readings Mark and I have integrated into our projects. His methods and use of 'traces' as a means for studying people is almost exactly what we would like to do in our project. I've learned a lot about different methodologies, and what works/doesn't work when it comes to them from this paper. As far as learning about observing physical traces as well as enviornmental behavior this has become one of the most important readings of all of them for me personally. It would have been useful to have read this before embarking on our 'reading the city' assignment because we simply just blindly went into the assignment without really knowing what we were looking for. Now we know to pay closer attention to traces people have left as well as the subtleties in their behavior.

Sunday, May 20, 2007


Interview, my field notes:

Conducted 5.20.07 approx. 4pm
Subject: M.B., Female, Age 21, Undergrad at University of Puget Sound, economics major, Resides in Tacoma, Wa, has been a student for 3 years.

Interview took place in downtown Seattle, at the Pike Place Market while attending the annual cheese festival. Subject was a friend of a friend.

Chronological description of events:

First I explained the nature of our study, and told her about the assignment and why I wanted to interview her, she agreed to do it. She said she wouldn’t mind having her name recorded but since it doesn’t seem essential to our study to identify her in anyway I simply recorded her initials for identification.

Q:What kinds of transportation do you use on a regular basis?
A: I drive my own car, sometimes get rides from other friends, sometimes the bus when we’re in Seattle and I’m visiting friends there. Recently started riding my bike around because “I can’t drive drunk to the bars”…(this then led into a conversation about how it was in fact quite possible to ride a bike drunk because riding a bike is programmed into your memory..and how it was pretty much as easy as walking, but faster)

Q:What kinds have you used in the past?
A: Used to drive back home, before I got my drivers license my parents drove me

Q: Are there certain kinds you prefer? Public vs. Private?
A: Well since we usually drive I never really need to ride the bus, so I guess private, it’s much easier in Tacoma.

Q:What are your opinions of transportation in the Puget Sound area? Including anything from the metro system to how roads and road signs are set up?
A: There really aren’t enough buses in the South Sound, and they’re not accommodating to younger people – they stop running really early. The street lights in Tacoma are really inefficient, they’re set on timers…I did a project on it for my enviro-sci class. We went down 6th, from union to mildred street a few times a week for a month, the time added on when you get stuck with a red light is really significant, time, as well as fuel costs. We have the most inefficient street light region in Tacoma…like you can go down an entire street and hit every red light.
And I hate Seattle, I like Tacoma a lot better because it’s on a grid system. I don’t really understand Seattle, and the one-ways make traveling really inefficient I think.

Q: What do you notice about your environment when you’re driving in your car?
A: uhmm, not sure
Q: Does it differ according to situation?
A: Well, I’m more cautious of the outside when it’s a difficult driving condition. I notice a lot less while driving than walking, of the environment… I always forget how I got places when I drive or don’t notice things.
Q: Do you think it’s different like when you’re in Tacoma vs driving in some unfamiliar place?
A: yeah, I’m more focused on driving when it’s somewhere unfamiliar, and although I try to notice my surroundings, I usually don’t. I notice a lot more now that I’m more comfortable with driving in Tacoma, but I’m still kind of programmed to getting where I need to go..and it’s so fast, its hard to notice what’s outside.

In general some stuff I learned from this assignment:
Clifford wanted us to post something about how we found the person we were interviewing, so I'm adding that here:
Since I wanted to just ask an average person rather than an 'expert' it seemed good to just find a random person, but I'll admit it, I can be pretty shy and just going up to some random person at a bus stop and asking them questions was kind of freaky, so instead I was going to go out with some people who are friends with one of my friends and asked one of them if they would let me interview them. I feel like this is probably the easiest way to find someone. A friend of a friend, or a contact of a contact rather than just going up to someone on the street.

It can be really hard to stay on topic with someone, especially when it seems just really conversational instead of a formal interview. And to know when to just let them keep on talking or move on to the next question. I had a hard time coming up with good questions that seemed relevant to our topic and didn’t stray too far into ‘what would you change about the seattle public transportation system’ or something like that. And while talking to other college students it can also be kind of hard to keep things serious I found, but I don’t want formality to stop people from really telling the truth…so some sort of happy medium will have to be found. I’m not sure exactly what kind of information Mark and I can hope to get out of an interview…it’ll probably be easy to find complaints about transportation, but quite a bit harder to find anything about how people interact with their environment in terms of transportation just by asking people about it…so I’m not sure. We are definitely going to have to work on some good questions if we attempt to use interviews in our research.

Monday, May 14, 2007

a few questions relating to ethnography and our research

1. Since many people have suggested we add some type of interview or at least contact some of the people running transportation blogs (blog from Portland, buschick in Seattle, etc) How would we go about doing this? What questions would we ask? What information exactly are we trying to learn from them? Should we only interview these types of people, or also include random people actually using transportation? and again, what do we ask?

2. We originally wanted to focus our research on just observation and taking various photographs of places in both Seattle and Amsterdam. How are we going to analyze them exactly? If we add video how again will that be analyzed? Are we trying to study people's perceptions of public transport? How and why they use certain types of transport? Or just use transportation as a means of studying the way people interact with their environment?

3. What kind of conclusions are we really going to be able to make from our observations? It seems as though it may be difficult to find and take pictures of similar areas in both cities when we are first going to be in Seattle and then in Amsterdam without being able to go back to Seattle to take more photos/videos before presenting our work in Switzerland, how are we going to account for this? Are we simply going to have pictures stand alone and make conclusions about them?...

I feel like although we seem to know what we want to do, we haven't fully discussed how we're going to do it. Where are we going to take pictures/videos (are we going to do video?) are we going to go back to the same few places over and over again? or try to go to a number of places? Once we've taken photos, what kind of field notes will accompany them? If so what questions are we going to ask people? About what they are doing? What they are thinking about in terms of the space they are in?....What will we do with all of our notes in the end? I'm feeling a little bit unsure about what conclusions we can really make about people or about a culture from our simple observations...

Wednesday, May 2, 2007


As far as I understand e-research is either the use of the internet or other web applications as a means to do research or find information. So it would be the use of online sources like e-journals and e-publications or the use of search engines. Or it is the actual study of the use of these kinds of processes. From what I'll admit is a pretty confused understanding of what VKS is and does I think they are more about the latter. It is the study of the internet and how it is used, etc that they consider to be e-research. Not even sure if I'm on the right track....

For instantiating it into our project we've already talked about looking into online communities like flickr and youtube to find examples of visual manifestations of our topic, to take it further we could do a deeper analysis of how people have used these websites to post their photos/videos.

Monday, April 30, 2007


The topic of irony seems particularly relevant to both Buruma’s book and to the society of the Netherlands in general. The first quote is particularly true of Theo van Gogh. He seemed to use irony as an escape from any blame in his work; everything was a joke, not meant to be taken seriously. But clearly was meant to be taken seriously. His death itself was ironic; van Gogh was one who ‘supported anyone…who defied conventions, who rebelled against social and religious constraints.” (108) while his killer may not have deviated from religious constraints his actions most definitely defied social ones. Yet these actions that van Gogh so previously would have supported in fact ended up killing him.

For the religious attire, I think that this use of religious clothing/jewelry/etc as an assertion of difference as much of a sign of devotion is something that occurs in all countries where people find their culture or religion to be in the minority. I’m not sure how ironic it is, but there is often a strong desire in people to stand out from the crowd but at the same time belong to a community. By wearing a headscarf women in Holland or in America can say that they are proud to be Muslim, proud to be different from the norm, but at the same time conform to the social norms of other Muslims. With either choice, choosing to wear it or not to wear it, they are conforming to one norm and defying another. So how important is the choice really?

I find the quote about rappers to be interesting. The Dutch are supposed to be both tolerant, yet also are pro free speech. Rappers are allowed to use words to say things that they would never actually do in real life. Their words are like weapons in a sense. Is music or art, like irony or use of irony in these medias simply another way to escape blame for our actions?

I’m having a harder time tying Wouters and Beaulieu’s article with this idea of irony…but perhaps after reading it over again I will come up with something and add more here….

As far as Buruma’s theory of the alienation of the 2nd generation, I’m not sure how much I buy it. Speaking from the viewpoint of the child of immigrants I’ve felt my fair share of alienation, of not fitting into either of the worlds I’m forced to live in, and I have not yet felt myself being forced to affiliate myself with extremist groups. Perhaps Islam is more at odds with Dutch society (I mean obviously it is) than Hinduism (my parent’s religion) is with American society, but I would think that 2nd generation Muslims in the Netherlands would be able to find communities with each other rather than being forced into something more extreme.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

i hate pants.

Part 1
Subject: Likely college student, attending class
Sex: Female
Age: Late teens, early 20s
Race: South Asian
Religion: No visible markers, but because of South Asian ancestry likely Hindu or Muslim, possibly Christian

Clothes: Subject wore a brown mini dress over black leggings and black flip-flop shoes. Had no jacket or other outer garment. Both dress and leggings seem to be made of cotton or some kind of blend. She wore no patterns, but all clothing was solid colored with the exception of her tote back containing textbooks, this had a slight floral pattern and appears to be made of a natural fiber, such as linen or hemp. Overall dress is extremely feminine and fits very close to the body. Cut of the dress shows ample cleavage, but is contrasted with the leggings which actually provide a lot of coverage of the legs. Is this because she is lazy? Didn’t feel like shaving? Is she modest? Stuck in the 80s? or really into this new trend that seems to have popped up over the last few seasons? Yet what’s with the cleavage then if the issue is modesty? Confusing. The day is nice for the spring, so lack of jacket/sweater makes sense. Clothing was clean, and relatively well kept except for the tote bag which had signs of wear and an incredibly large orange stain on one side. From what? On the feet are black flip flops. It’s Seattle, does she know where she is? It rains here. But realistically this is pretty common college student garb in Seattle.

Hair: Subject had very long black hair. Looks untreated by color, yet is curled indicating that a relatively high level of maintenance is required to keep it. There are no other hair accessories however, and hair is simply worn down slightly parted to one side.

Accessories: Include a silver right on ring finger of right hand, a silver watch with bright blue face on left hand, a simple silver ball as the nose screw sitting on her left nostril, and when hair is pushed back behind ear extremely small diamond studs are visible in ear lobes, if one looks very closely two more lobe piercings become visible yet have no jewelry in them, and there appear the scar tissue remains of some cartilage ear piercings gone wrong, both in the helix and tragus areas of the ear. Seems to show an interest in body adornment, but all jewelry is very simple and silver.

The overall look is very feminine, wearing a dress, no less a mini dress, with long hair worn down. Is she very conscious of the feminine norm?

Part 2
Let’s see. Realistically I am a pretty generic femi fem type of girl. Just did all my laundry this weekend (woah three loads) so I had pretty much the choice of everything in my entire wardrobe as to what I was going to wear that day. Pretty indicative then of what I like to wear the most. As I was recently explaining to Mark, I really hate pants (jeans, khakis, etc…anything with a zip up fly basically) they are all uncomfortable. Especially those society decided would be great for females to wear. What a bitch, wearing tight pants. Although I wouldn’t consider myself a slave to fashion, I am definitely into following trends. Exactly why I’m not sure. Perhaps a left over from having friends that were also interested when I was in junior high and high school, or the fact that there was nothing to do in the Eastern Washington town I grew up in except go to the mall and eat at Taco Bell. But in any case I like to keep up with trends. So I own many a pair of expensive designer jeans that I hate to wear because pants suck.

I must have very strong opinions about strange things about clothing. Such as with the flip flop thing, doesn’t seem that unusual because everyone in college wears those. They’re easy, you don’t have to tie anything…etc. I wear them because I think ‘real’ shoes are constricting. I must really hate being constricted, the jeans, now the shoes. Strange. I wonder what this says about my personality?

Now for the cleavage yet legging thing. I love leggings. This trend is great. I wore leggings back in the 80s and early 90s when I was five years old, and they are awesome. Comfortable, trendy (I suppose?) and slip them under a previously slutty mini dress and you’re no longer a slut. Perfect! The cleavage thing…likely because my boyfriend or I guess exboyfriend just broke up that Sunday (day right before class) and hey now I can go around attracting other men all the time, might as well start now by showing off the boobs, they are pretty good boobs. All in all this outfit is one I believe as one that physically shows off what I consider to be my best features while hiding the ones I think to be my worst and still being relatively fashion forward, comfortable, and simple. Don’t like showing off the legs…either because I actually hate my legs or as some kind of effect of growing up in a conservative Indian family where my mom said showing off legs was well…for sluts. But then why am I ok with showing off boobs? Going off with the Buruma reading…being the child of immigrants must have confused me….

This post is getting long…so I should probably stop now…I bet no one even read this far. I love potatoes. Jewelry. I don’t like to wear a lot, simply because I think a lot is physically unattractive/tacky. So I keep it simple, but interesting. Seems pretty plain from far away but if you look close the ring has a nice pattern. And I had a period in my life where I was really into piercings…cause it’s sort of deviant behavior. But not really? Like I like to push the envelope as long as it doesn’t hurt my social status? But then some infection set in a few times and I decided ‘eff piercings, infection is annoying.’ I hate constriction. So that’s that. Overall interesting assignment, insightful.