Culture Category

The myth of closure – The Boston Globe

Sociologist, Nancy Berns, has written sociological analysis of the concept of  “closure.” She was interviewed in the Boston Globe regarding her work (“The myth of closure – The Boston Globe.) where she discusses how “closure” as a form of accounting for grief or catastrophe can come to impact people’s lives in ways that are not […]

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Life on the FOB – Day 32 in Afghanistan: “They jus’ turn rounds into cassings.”

Its 0730 when the infantry advisers start tossing their gear into their vehicles and making the 1k drive to the ANA base. The FOB requires that every vehicle be “ground guided”, i.e. someone has to walk in front of the vehicle until exiting the FOB. The general rule of thumb is that members of a […]

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Life on the FOB – Afghanistan Day 26, “…the best intentions”

Standing in the hot sun of the dry training area, just bellow a local burial ground,  I turn to a couple of combat advisers about something I heard at chow at lunch the other day but forgot about. “What happened to the dog? Someone said they [meaning the Brits] shot a dog.”  “SGT S. says, […]

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Life on the FOB – Afghanistan Days 23/24 “Objet inconnu touche a ton coeur!”

Dee Dee, the nick name of a French sniper instructor, grins as he puffs on a his cigarette, says, “Object inconnu touche a ton coeur!” “Que? Qu’est-ce que cela signifie?” I ask in very broken and awful french. Dee Dee says, “Its a French saying, that  means that sometimes a mysterious object touches your heart. […]

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Life on the FOB – Afghanistan Day 18 -“Better to let ’em do it tolerably than perfectly”

Morning – Contact Drills Standing on the ruins of a Soviet FOB from the 1980s, Simon, a Kiwi adviser, shakes his head at the conclusion of a group of ANA students conducting a contact drill. “Well, as T.E. Lawrence said, better to let’em do it tolerably than perfectly. That guy was a ahead of his […]

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Life on the FOB – Exiting the “Red Mist” – Afghanistan Day 17

“Cheeky, gabbie, bastards,”  C.SGT R. said and not knowing if I misheard the color sergeant because of his Scottish accent or unsure whether or not he was just making something up to mess with me, I said,  “What the fuck are are you talking about?” “Cheeky, gabbie, bastards, that’s what they are!” C.SGT R. reiterated, […]

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Life on the FOB – Afghanistan Days 14 and 15

Life on a FOB is, in many ways, like life in a cloister, jail, or military basic training in that it is totalizing. While the discipline may not be as strict, the fact of being attached to a FOB is inescapable. As one of the USMC LTs put it during our daily work out at […]

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How we get along even when we don’t understand one-another

The emphasis on social cognition or cultural knowledge as a kind of cognition creates all kinds of epistemlogical obstcles to understanding the empirical world. As I have often argued, if it were the case that intersubjectivity or shared understandings were primarily about sharing the same propositional belief states about the world, we would have an […]

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Life on the FOB – Afghanistan Day 9: Viva La France

Yesterday was spent doing ambush training with Taff and Smudge, two IBS sergeants. Not much action as the ANA were only able to get through one ambush scenario before they and the IBS gave up. As much as the cultural differences between the ANA and the UK soldiers impede training, the conflicts between ANA officers […]

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Life on the FOB – Afghanistan Day 7 (end of week roundup)

I have spent the majority of the past week with the combat advisers of the Infantry Branch School. For the purposes of my trip, to study intercultural interactions in a military setting, the IBS has been a perfect laboratory. Not only do the advisers interact, daily, with the various peoples that make up the ANA […]

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