Digging is awesome

Katie Paul writes:

Digging is awesome, it’s the reason we’re all here.  But after my first week in Israel I was able to see where the cultural side of anthropology comes into the overall “digging experience.” It’s easy to see in a class or write a paper about the four field aspect of anthropology and the fields tie together.  But more often than not you’re reading someone else’s accounts of another culture or writing from a third party perspective, but it’s a different view on the subject when you are the “subject” experiencing even the most minute cultural differences.

Due to a not so pleasant stomach issue I found myself at the hospital this past week, where I spent several hours in the waiting room in dirty dig clothes and had plenty of time to contemplate my surrounding.  Before I knew it I was unconsciously analyzing my experiences from a cultural anthropological perspective (it’s kind of sad and equally as nerdy as my previous blog admitting my Indiana Jones re-enactment- even when school’s out I’m officially conditioned to think like I’m still writing papers).  I noticed that many of the people in the waiting room were not shy about staring and it was pretty obvious they were trying to figure you out- I imagined they thought things along the lines of “Why is this English speaking girl so dirty?”, “why does she smell like she’s been working near cow manure?”, “Why does she look like she may vomit at any time?” – All perfectly logical thoughts considering my condition.  But as I was attempting to read their minds like a Jedi warrior I realized how hard I was trying not to look at them, not to make eye contact, and most of all trying not to appear rude.

Fortunately, I was not at the hospital alone, and as I spoke to Sivan- an Israeli woman who spent some time in my home state of Ohio (who is awesome by the way for staying with me the whole time)- we began discussing the differences we noticed between our experiences of what we see as personal space.  In America, everyone seems to have their “3 feet of personal space” and other respect that space and make vast attempts to avoid bumping into people or entering someone else’s personal force field – even a close encounter almost always warrants and “excuse me” or “I’m sorry.”  Sivan explained this was something she noticed during her time in Ohio.  And during my brief time thus far in Israel I noticed the same situation with the opposite result- in Israel (as well as Jordan) people are not shy about pushing, bumping staring, or asking questions that most Americans would find “rude.” I know that observing the issue of personal space seems like such a minute aspect of life to analyze the cultural differences, but you don’t realize how ridiculous and far reaching the innate American effort to avoid “rudeness” is until you’ve experienced it.  I became most aware when I bumped into (and by that I mean barely brushed against) an Israeli while I was here and said “Oh, I’m sorry” to which his reply with a very confused look was, “Why? Nothing Happened.”  Well, maybe nothing happened to him, but that small instance was a revelation for me.  And it just goes to show that archaeology isn’t just digging, and it’s not even about experiencing new cultures, but about finding differences or ridiculous standards in your ow that you have always accepted as norms.


2 Responses to “Digging is awesome”

  1. Katie,
    Dianne and I are mooching off of your parents, again. Visiting (of course I’m in search of red meet!) Your blog is great. I envy you!
    Darrell and Dianne

  2. Kate
    Your blog is great, I enjoy reading it and sharing with everyone.
    Keep writing!
    Love U

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: