One of the requisites of modern anthropology is that more than informed consent, any study involving people should be a partnership between the researcher and the subjects. In fact, so strong is this theme that massive books and millions of papers have been devoted to analysis of the correct relationship between the studied and the studees. So much work on this has been done, in fact, that for decades, no anthropology was done while everybody worked out whether those involved in research should be participants, actors, partners, co-eval associates or comrades, and whether researh should be constructionist, textual, mnemonic, bionic, trepidatious or excoriating. By the time everyone had decided that no-one had it right, everyone had forgotten what the point was although because post-modernists can drone on the longest it was generally accepted that they had won.
THe point is though, that studying people should not be a matter of laughing at, judging or otherwise holding others up as curious specimens. And in that spirit, I present the first video of this post. On a recent trip to London, I was describing to my co-worker some several situations that had occured in Canada, where, despite apparently speaking the same language, purchases in a small store close to where I worked became a twenty-five minute pantomime whereby I had to act out the processes involved in dairy manufature, including mooing loudly, in order to purchase some butter. As we drove aimlessly around London, my co-worker, Chris, wondered what Canadians would make of his accent, which is moderately broad Yorkshire. We decided to find out. So in the following video Chris addresses a short sentence to you, Canadians, for translation. We could'nt decide who was being studied - Canadians, Yorkshire people or Scooby Scousers, but if you are a Canadian reading this, the requirement is for a literal translation, not the sense of what Chris is saying, as that is blindingly obvious:
The next video is slightly easier, featuring me and Chris driving through London trying to find the Natural History museum. This video is not ethnographic, just a review (I'm sure most are very familiar with this already) of London traffic, but does feature some of my own tones (cringe!) and Chris' as a comparison for how deeply different we sound:
THe final video is of a the famous anomatronic t.rex at the natural history nuseum. I'm sure many of you have seen this, but on my visit I was reminded that I very nearly got the job to project manage the production of these creatures. As things have turned out, I am happy not to have won that position, as the project (which was to involve a huge park full of these creations in Dubai) ran into numerous difficulties - not least of which was, I believe, some dispute over authenticity as Dubai was never home to Brontosaurii, T. Rex or Albertasaurus.