I’m just a poor wayfaring anthropologist.

I alluded to money being a roadblock to amateur research in my post about Songkran and I would like to expand on that topic. I will be using the current pop cultural scene I inhabit.

This past week was probably one of the worst to be an amateur anthropologist. I remember reading in the Tama Bay Times way back in 2013 that the International Indian Film Festival a.k.a. the Bollywood Oscars would be hosted by city of Tampa near the end of April, 2014. ‘What a wonderful opportunity to witness some serious cross cultural interaction,’ my inner anthropologist thought. Of course, I knew that attending the official awards show would be as likely as attending the Hollywood Oscars. But I knew that Indian pop culture would descend on my city for a few glorious days and I would have the chance to soak it in.

Then, I started going to school  as a non degree student at the University of South Florida and to accommodate this schedule I began working the 2:30 PM to 11:00 PM shift at work. Unfortunately, it turns out that this is the time frame during which much of the “pre-gaming” goes on. This has lead to my ironic circumstance of having to miss out on the festivities that the IIFF awards, the opportunity to observe and participate for an extremely intense period in order to further my career as someone who observes and participates. The true crux of the situation is that, had I opted not to take classes as an out of state and non degree student, I would have the funds to buy a ticket to this event.

In fact, funding is one of the key disadvantages of being an amateur anthropologist. Organizations do not generally give research grants to inexperienced anthropologists who have only a B.A. in the field.  Lacking a legitimately official connection to the Huaorani gets in the way of government grants and giving up the right of first refusal to National Geographic has hints of unethical behavior considering the Huaorani’s history of visual exploitation. So I’m left with crowdfunding. I don’t really like asking people for money and I remember when that pedophile tried to use Kickstarter to self publish his guide on how to initiate sexually abusive relationships with children. Even more controversial was Kickstarter’s decision to take it down from the site. But credit cards aren’t going to be enough pay for 3-4 plane tickets, 7-11 days in Ecuador, filming equipment, and other supplies.

Of course, at the end of the day I am going to make this work. As Theodor Herzl once said, “If you will it, then it is no dream.”

Question of the day: What non-official channels might there be for amateur research endeavors?


Next time on The Amateur Anthropologist you will learn what the International Indian Festival looks like from the outside.


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