Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Love I.E.D.: Teachable News You Can Use

Truth be told, for all that gets published on a daily basis, there isn't that much of use in the press for your basic anthropology class. One seems to be perpetually stuck with that view of culture that is both eternal and exotic. You know, the one that I think we can safely say the vast majority of students come with: "those people have a fully formed culture which sprang like Athena from Zeus's head and, man, its weird shit." To counter-act that view its always nice to find a story which presents "culture" in the process of becoming. Then, the anthropology professor can assert: "see, here we have common and shared human emotions, something we all recognize, being expressed in the terms given by the life experiences of the people--this, right here, is the heart and soul of our discipline, reality and meaning being constructed anew through the lived experiences of people--with all the shit attached." I always like to take away some shit but give some shit back because, generally, students are correct, there is always some shit when it comes to people.

Here in the New York Times is one such story, teachable news you can use: Lovelorn Iraqi Men Call on a Wartime Skill.

Here is the beginning of the story to get you started but click on through to read it all:
It goes like this: Boy meets girl. They exchange glances and text messages, the limit of respectable courting here. Then boy asks girl’s father for her hand. Dad turns him down. Boy goes to girl’s house and plants a bomb out front.

The authorities call it a “love I.E.D.,” or improvised explosive device, and it is not just an isolated case. Capt. Nabil Abdul Hussein of the Iraqi national police said that six had exploded in the Dora neighborhood of Baghdad alone in the past year.

“These guys, they face any problem with their girlfriends, family, anyone, and they’re making this kind of I.E.D.,” Captain Hussein said.

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