Learning: Anthropology of Current World Issues

Screenshot_20170203-121647.jpgA personal note on Anthropology

About a week ago, I decided to hit edx.org and enroll in one of their courses. Initially I was looking for a course on ideology and politics, but I stumbled upon “Anthropology of Current World Issues” by The University of Queensland Australia taught by Gerhard Hoffstaedter with Amelia Radke and Fern Thompsett as moderator.

Why am I taking this course?

In my teenage years, I first discover the word “Anthropology” and also the prominent Anthropologist, Margaret Mead. I read her biography and learned that Mead along with her partner, Bateson, did field work in Bali after their marriage in Singapore. Her work was pioneering in visual anthropology, they used a variety of methods to explore the role of culture in personality formation. In my college years, I read not so much about Anthropology as Visual Arts. My last encounter was when I read and eventually posted a screenshot of this article in brainpickings.

Screen Shot 2018-01-15 at 1.05.49 PM.png

Besides Margaret Mead, the legendary anthropologist, Clifford Geertz, through fragmented studies of his essays, challenges my perspective on the dominant culture of Balinese. As a Balinese, for me, it is important to understand the culture I am given, with its context from an alternative point of view and how it shapes my personal identity.

Do read: Person, Time, and Conduct in Bali: The Social Nature of Thought by Clifford Geertz

To summarize, why am I taking this course? To learn and therefore understand more of the world around me. To learn about ways in which anthropology as a discipline can shed new perspectives on current world issues and/or issues in my own country, ranging from marginalized groups, material culture, indigeneity. 


-Develop critical thinking ability

-Able to see the world from a wide range of perspectives

-Understand key anthropological concepts and methods

Screen Shot 2018-01-14 at 3.13.10 PM.png


Defining Anthropology

After the first meeting, we were asked to define our own interpretation of Anthropology. From my understanding, social or cultural anthropology is all about people: their environment, traditions, beliefs. It is a restless field, constantly exploring the paradox of human plurality. How we are all the same species, with millions of years of evolution, yet the period of our cultural evolution is relatively small by contrast. The period in which we have become different culturally, ethnically in appearance is only a small part of our evolutionary history. We are both, as it were, the same, as with all other human beings, and every individual is absolutely different genetically and in character. ‘I think anthropology is possibly the most alluring and edifying way of exploring plurality’,stated Professor Michael Jackson (Harvard Divinity School).

I also personally think that the obligation of Anthropologist in 21st century is not to produce academic knowledge and treat communities as laboratories, but to engage and do activist work, help people in the margins of society, often poor, vulnerable, right-less, indigenous, or in various ways oppressed or subordinated within larger social structures. It should be, in some way, positively impact the conditions that it is studying.

“Open your being to experience—as challenging and frightful as that may be—and let that experience guide you in a direction that makes you feel comfortable in your skin. In that state you are much more likely to communicate stories that will remain open to the world, stories, lessons and themes that your successors will dote upon and use in a way that fits their time. As my teacher Adamu Jenitngo liked to remind me: remember the past, live well in the present and think about the future…” –Paul Stroller (West Chester University)




Shadows of Three A.M.





Fragments of dreams intertwined with reality. Sensation distorts perception.

There was a man, shadow or flesh, I was unsure, charcoal dark, he might as well was made from dark matter.

Standing on the left side of the window pane, he was staring blankly to the direction of nowhere. The window was open, cool Ubud air strips the warmth hug of the thick blanket over me. There was a fishing pole attached to some kind of hook. Outside my room is a half circle shaped fishpond. Dozens of tilapias, several sly catfishes, and one hungry lizard reside in the one metre deep pond. In the middle of the pond is a statue of Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge, with all her attributes. But there is no moon tonight. Everything is pitch dark. Like the man made from dark matter now standing by the window in my room. I was watching him. He too, was aware of my presence.


I knew he wasn’t fishing fishes, his goal instead is to fish me out of my deep sleep. He did caught me. I was wide awake by that time. Thick air in between. Dimensional distance. Eager to watch, hesistant to move or even ask questions.

Humidity creeps particles of vapor into my pores. Coldness that suck your bones out.


The man walked slowly to the door across the room, opened it, then walked out…

Silence. Mere silence that multiply seconds into minutes. Several faraway dogs barking and the birds on the coconut tree outside were actually squeaking loudly. As if signaling something suspicious is happening.

He didn’t come back.

The sudden emptiness I felt was strikingly haunting. My sensations was revolving around the man until he walked away, after fishing me from reality to dream.

(or is it the other way around?)


I drowned it again by sleeping.

It was just only 3am.

Tree ay am.

The cross-section in between everything beyond reality.

Fears, hopes, desires, dreams…

Tree ay am.

The time where human frequency is lowest and closest to ‘softer’ beings in this planet.

Where souls collide with spirits, dancing in the rythm of life’s paradoxes.


I woke up.

This time, inside that dream.

I woke up, looked out the window, found my body floating.


Somehow, I manage to pick myself up from the pond, dragging my body on my desk. It was full of bruises from slaps and cuts, still fresh…Faced down, all I can see is a brute hole on my back.  It even cuts off the titanium steel I had from scoliosis surgery. The hole was so wide. Three quarters of my back. It was deep, inside was like potions boiling. The ingredients: blood, flesh and organs.

Whirpool bubbling, swirling…imagine looking inside a running washing machine.

My essence evaporates from the cauldron.


It was weird not scary. Two steps back.

Still, I don’t want to get sucked in that thing. Another step back.

Then I was suddenly falling, rocket fast, the sensation you get like riding a roller-coaster, where your body pushes forward but your heart, still pounding, feels left behind.

I tried to close my eyes, and continued sleeping.



wake up in the right state of mind

where your footprints used to be

stroll along

through the path or not through the path

(it is yours to decide)

just don’t follow

where your shadow lands

the cross-section (come what may)


  • standing barefoot in the cross-section
    left foot swollen purplish blue skin
    it was seven days after the motorbike accident
    right foot soaking wet skin wrinkling
    nine minutes ago tears rain down heavy
    from the heart to the eyes
    pouring down kissing dirt on the hot asphalt
  • i am
    at the cross-section
    the in betweens
    the what maybes
    colliding through this fragile physical body
    meeting in the center
    of this hardcore heart
    filling up the void
  • bahala-na
    come what may

constant reminder to the cautious lover

Walk on my dear, hold his hands tightly

Love as if there’s no tomorrow

Do not take time for granted (if you take it for granted, there will be no moments)

For when the wind blows, it just flows 

(Hard, flock of birds flapping flight on the ripples of your breath

Soft, tickling the bamboo leaves, giggling)

Just be, my dear.

The cause and effects, all is taken care of.



Sometimes fear creeps in, what is this does not work out?

“Who cares.”, Bear said bluntly.

“I care! I will be hurt, drowned, buried in the deepest trenches, broken to pieces and…”

“You have fought, you have loved, you have lived.” Bear whispers to my ears.



A dream inside a dream

giant stone
••I lived inside the trunk of the old-wise Seqouia, I hugged giant stones for comfort.

The animals are friends and changing of seasons taught me that continuous cycle is a law of life.

Every move in time, every growth, there is this chain, continously latching me to everything else.

I was never free anyway••

Journal Archive: Oct 8th 2016 (Putu Sridiniari, 25 years on earth)


afraid of showing up to disappoint

cultivating and never harvesting

until the seasons come to an end

when the last drop of water kisses the ground

the sun sets and

never comes back

i died inside the ground i grew me in

i died because there was nothing more

to live for

wake me up

wake me


_______hold my hands

my fingers

_____________my last breath where my hope flew to the sky

the sky, it was gone now, i should’ve done better.

what could i do?

the roots was pulling me way stronger

beneath the ground

i buried myself



___Saturday, October 8th 2016.