Usually a group of young men would decide that they needed a late afternoon or early evening snack. They would then surreptitiously grab a dog (black preferred) and sneak it out of the village into some wooded area, kill it, roast it, and eat it along with some alcoholic beverage (made from rice or sugarcane). This event was usually done with a strong sense of camaraderie. After several months in a Middle Pasil, I had the honor of being invited to one of these events. Of course, between bites of dog meat and sweetbreads I asked them what they called this event. They replied (much to my anthropological satisfaction) that it had no name. Then they asked me (much to my disconcertedness) what it was called in my culture when a group of guys grabbed a dog and went off to roast and eat it. Trying to think fast, since I knew that I already had a growing reputation for being stupid about things in my culture [you are all invited to read an article on this issue by me published in Anthropology Vol. 10, No. 1 (May 1986), pp. 55-74, and titled "Ethnoethnographers and the Anthropologist"], I replied that we called it "picnic" (using the English word).A few months later I was in another village quite a distance from the aforementioned one when after several weeks a group of young guys that I had been establishing rapport with came to me and whispered in my ear (in Kalinga), "Would you like to come with us on a piknik," using a word that clearly sounded like the English work picnic. I responded (in Kalinga), "Sure, but what's a piknik?" They said, "You know, that's where we grab a dog, take it out in the woods, roast it, and eat it." "Where did you get the word 'piknik'?" "Oh, that an old Kalinga word for this event." "But have you always used that word." "I guess so." "Did you know that word last season?" "Oh, no, just a few weeks ago, some guy from the village over the mountain came here, we took him out for a dog feast, and he told us that 'piknik' was the ancient Kalinga word for what we were doing."RIP, Robert. You will be missed by many.
Friday, February 3, 2012
As an assistant in that course, I learned most of what I needed to know to pass the masters-level comprehensive exams. I also learned two really important concepts for the study of culture that I have continued to use and teach for over 30 years now: the distinction between folk and analytic models, and the concept of cynical knowledge. More about these in a later post. Right now, a story Robert posted on the Anthro-L listserve from field-notes of his research among the Kalinga, former headhunters of Luzon, The Philippines.