Day: November 18, 2015

Malaysian Turtle Eggs

A few years ago, I went with my family to Pulau Tioman, a resort island off the coast of West Malaysia. It was an idyllic trip with lots of fish, coral, and pearly beaches, but there was this one incident that I still remember clearly to this day.

There was a small island where turtles frequently came to lay their eggs, and while we were exploring its beaches, we noticed our guide digging through the sand. He had found some turtle eggs, and proceeded to put them into a plastic bucket. On the boat, my sister and I confronted him and asked him what he was going to do with the eggs. “Oh, I’m just going to bring them to the hatchery,” he replied, and we having no evidence to the contrary, dropped the issue. But I always had my doubts and wondered if he had taken them for sale or his own consumption.

So when Sabahan Rural and Regional Development Minister **Ismail Sabri Yaakob** was photographed eating turtle eggs at a banquet, I was not surprised. Rather, my thoughts drifted back to that beach, and I pray that those eggs weren’t taken for someone’s dinner table.

Bourdieu is Unreadable

I’m in a culture contact anthropology seminar this quarter, and we’ve been reading a lot of Bourdieu. A lot. Thankfully, we’ve mostly been reading him through the lenses and papers of other eminent scholars in the field rather than reading his work directly. His work, in the words of our professor, “are almost unreadable.” I thought he was exaggerating until I came upon his “sentence” explaining habitus:

The structures constitutive of a particular type of environment (e.g., the material conditions of existence characteristic of a class condition) produce habitus, systems of durable, transposable dispositions, structured structures predisposed to serve as structuring structures, that is, as principles of the generation and structuring of practices and representations which can be objectively “regulated” and “regular” without in any way being the product of obedience to rules, objectively adapted to their goals without presupposing a conscious aiming at ends or an express mastery of the operations necessary to attain them and, being all this, collectively orchestrated without being the product of the orchestrating action of a conductor.

Seriously, this is all one sentence. Professor Steve Vaisey has come up with a good alternate translation that’s a lot more readable and isn’t a complete word salad.