Poems by Famous Anthropologists They Were Unaware They Wrote

Bronislav Malinowski, I Watched Them

I watched them a long time
through binoculars
and waved my handkerchief–
I felt
I was taking leave of civilization.
I was fairly depressed, afraid
I might not feel equal to the task before me.
After lunch
I went out on deck.

 

Franz Boas, If I Undertake

If I undertake
to describe
some of my arctic experiences,
I cannot entertain you
with exciting adventures,
such as shipwrecks and narrow escapes,
for such were not my share.

 

Clifford Geertz. He decides

He decides,
For reasons I have never been quite able to fathom,
That you are real,
And then he becomes a warm,
Gay, sensitive, sympathetic,
Though, being Balinese,
Always precisely controlled
Person.
You have crossed,
Somehow,
Some moral or metaphysical
Shadow
Line.

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