Nothing easy about this one

Nothing easy about this one

I’m sitting in a semi-dark room, the electricity has just cut out, and there’s a slight chill in the air. I love being in MohenjoDaro (Sindh, Pakistan) in December. It’s cold at night and it’s hot during the day, unlike the summer, where there is nowhere to hide from the heat. The winter is more playful with the weather. However, living on the site isn’t play. Without being romantic about it, there’s little electricity, hardly any internet, no consistent mobile service, often no gas to cook with, and limited water. And yet, I find myself looking forward to my time there. I have spent many years sitting, visiting, and wondering about this archaeological site. It is not a place that allows everyone in – reticent and introverted, this city only lets you in once the bricks, the birds, the dogs, and the spirits are ready.

I cannot think of a better place to write out my farewell to this community. Writing for anthro{dendum}/Savage Minds has been one of the highlights of my writing career – mostly because it always felt like it was a place I could come, sit, visit, and wonder about the world together with everyone. I started writing for Savage Minds in 2014, and continued with some regularity for quite a bit – until I was diagnosed with cancer in 2019, and then right on its heels, the world shut down as the pandemic took over in 2020. It was not just my world that was unwell, the whole world has not been well, and it has been difficult to wonder about the world together when so much was going wrong. So much more than usual. As I type this, I know that Gaza continues to be bombed: a genocide happening right in front of our eyes.

Sunset at the Stupa Mound at MohenjoDaro, Sindh, Pakistan. Photograph by Author, December 2023.

I sit to have tea with some elders from the village just southwest of MohenjoDaro, we can see some of their homes from the Stupa mound. They tell me about the news, about how many children are dying in Gaza, and they say they have never seen the world so sick and so consumed with money and power to allow children to die at such a scale. I agree with them. They don’t stop talking about it, and I don’t really want them to because it is important to witness the enormity of the atrocities happening in Gaza. The oldest gentleman sitting next to me turns to me and says, when we are asked if we knew, we must say, yes, we all knew. His tears make my throat constrict, and I am unsure of how to respond, except with tears and a nod.

And so we witness, hold, recount, cry, and promise to remember.

Over the past few years, our collective had been talking about whether or not to let go of this space: what feels to me like a comfortable, privileged space of articulation. This blog has created multiple communities, and many of us have been able to engage across our subdisciplines through this mode of writing, certainly in more ways than any academic journal might engender. I had been holding on to this space because I always knew there was a place for me to speak comfortably, where I had a community of writers and readers who understood an anthropological framing. However, a month ago, when the question of sunsetting the blog came up again, I felt like it was important to think more about why it might be the time to do just that. I think about our community of writers, and I think of what the world needs now … and I suspect it isn’t about writing in comfortable anthropological spaces, but rather, it is time for us to move into spaces that make us deeply uncomfortable, where it is difficult, but where it is very necessary for our voices to be heard, for justice to be centered, and where we might elicit change through our words. I’m not sure where that space is, or how I am going to transition into such difficult spaces; wherever it is though, I hope to see some of you there.

One Reply to “Nothing easy about this one”

  1. Thanks for the reflective thoughts, but as usual, I have missed most of the action on this site. I found Anthro(dendum ) when it started but got avalanched by all the other stuff on the Net. Now it is declaring its demise as I discover its delights. Yes, there are far too many wars waging in the world and they expose our powerlessness. They benefit the big powers and sectors of the corporate world, not you and I and masses of women and kids and elders. Does our species want to exterminate itself? We have to keep talking. As for field experience, I had materially an easy time in the Great Lakes and Northwest Canada, but recall fondly a short stint in Madhjya Pradesh where it was perilous to go out to the latrine without a lantern, due to a plethora of lethal snakes, who, like Kipling’s cobra, enjoyed the cool of evening..