Watch This: Tomorrow We Disappear

This documentary looks amazing, very excited to watch Tomorrow We Disappear when it’s released.

“Hidden away in the alleyways of New Delhi is the Kathputli Colony, India’s last home to magicians, acrobats, and puppeteers. This emotional documentary premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and was named by IndieWire one of the “20 Best Documentaries” of the year. It will be released on iTunes and digital VOD on August 25.”

Watch This: Dance of the Maize God

This looks like a very interesting new documentary about looting and the destruction of cultural heritage happening in the Maya region.

“If you don’t know the history of your culture, you don’t know anything.”

The scene of the temple being bulldozed and the human remains being pushed around like trash made me positively sick to my stomach. I wouldn’t exactly compare looting to rape as they do here, and I wish there were more Maya voices represented in the trailer, but the Nightfire Films website says “The story is told by villagers, looters, archaeologists, scholars, dealers and curators. For each, these vases have a radically different value and meaning,” which definitely makes me excited to watch this when I can!

Maya Revival indegogo

“Today’s Maya regaining their history and culture by learning the glyphs and calendars of their ancestors and spreading the knowledge in their own communities.”

That’s the goal of this new indegogo being run by a fellow UCLA anthropologist, Bruce Love. I’ve heard of the organization “Mayas for ancient Mayan” before, but this is the first time I’ve seen their actual work in action. And I’m THRILLED that this is happening, especially that it is driven, not by Dr. Love, but by Maya communities themselves in their desire to revive ancient knowledge.

One of my biggest issues with modern archaeology and anthropology is that it is usually driven by outsiders, usually American or European scholars that set the research agenda in indigenous communities. I am always very excited to see internally driven projects that address issues and questions being asked by the people being “studied.”

Also, not incidentally, this is exactly the issue the novel I just finished addressed – the power inherent in having access to and knowledge about you own history. Though, of course, in my fantasy book access to ancient knowledge allows people to perform magic…

That Belongs in a Museum…oh wait, no it doesn’t

This is a Katsinam — a sacred mask of the Hopi people. The Hopi believe that these are living beings, sacred spirits embodied.

Over the years, “artifacts” like these have been stolen from indigenous peoples around the world and then sold to collectors and even museums. I’m an archaeologist, I get it. These are amazing,beautiful, and meaningful. We WANT to see them. Learn about them. Honor them with places on pretty glass shelves, lit by spot lights. But no. No no no no no.

I’m not religious, but I strongly believe that people’s religious beliefs and traditions are genuinely important. I might not always agree with religious traditions, and am willing to enforce laws that protect the rights of individuals against religiously based abuses (al la genital mutilation, human and civil rights violations, etc). However, in cases like these auctions selling objects held sacred by others, just no.

It is immoral.

Which is why I love this story so much. Intrigue, spying, late night phone calls, by the amazing Annenberg Foundation to purchase a whole lot of Hopi objects being sold by an unethical auction house. The Annenberg Foundation managed to buy almost all of the sacred objects to be returned to their rightful home.

So, rock on Annengerg people, rock on.

Bye Bye DOMA!!

Aaaaand Defense Of Marriage Act is dead!!!! Good riddance and I hope this is the beginning of the end of legalized homophobia.

I worked at the national office of PFLAG in DC when DOMA was before congress and I spent a year fighting that fucking nightmare piece of crap. The passage of DOMA is actually one of the reasons I left DC entirely – I couldn’t stand to work in a system that could pass something that I knew many of those assholes didn’t even believe, but they voted for it because they wanted to get reelected. I knew that if I stayed in DC my soul would be crushed into little splinters and I would lose my ability to have any faith in the world. I am embarrassed that I wasn’t strong enough to stay and I am awed by the people who kept fighting because they are the ones that made this day finally happen. I give mad props to all the people who have been in the trenches year after year. You are truly my heroes and you are the ones making the world a better place for everyone.