20 Questions: A sketch of Centre anthropology professor Gareth Barkin

RELEASED: March 30, 2006

DANVILLE, KY—1. Position/title: Assistant Professor of Anthropology
2. Hometown: (The People’s Republic of) Berkeley, California
3. Career highlight: Being flown out to Leiden, The Netherlands for an invited talk on Indonesian television. I wouldn’t recommend weekend trips to Europe, however—with the time difference, I think I actually returned before I’d left.
4. Signature class: Media Anthropology, but I try to put my signature on every class I teach ;-)
5. Recent publication/exhibition/performance: I have an article coming out in Visual Anthropology on the use of media by Tibetan pro-natalists to encourage large family sizes and discourage sex with Westerners. Apparently, it hasn’t been working.
6. Family details: My family is all over the map. Father in California, mother in New Hampshire and sometimes England, and brother in Berlin. His wife and my nieces are French, so I never miss a chance to remind them that we saved their bacon in WWII.
7. Hobbies: I enjoy playing tennis, camping, going to shows, listening to loud music, social/political activism, correcting friends’ grammar, and certainly traveling all over the world at every opportunity. But, let’s face it, my main hobby is screwing around on the Internet. I’m a geek.
8. Pets: Alas, no pets at the moment. One of these days I’ll get myself a nice, fat dog. As a pet, I mean — don’t believe these ‘My Centre Life’ students who slanderously accuse me of eating them! I haven’t done that in weeks.
9. Prized possession: My turn-of-the-century, leather-bound, hand-written Qur’an from Borneo. Also, my enormous, undignified-for-an-academic, high-definition television. Yes, I’m a man of many contradictions. …Or am I?
10. Last book read: A pop-sociology book called The Wisdom of Crowds, which argues that the masses are collectively better at decision-making than ‘elites.’ Ironically, it was written by a New Yorker columnist.
11. Memorable trip/vacation: What happens in Bangkok stays in Bangkok.
12. Favorite movie: How could I choose just one?! Lost in Translation is a recent favorite; also American Psycho, Being John Malkovich, Trainspotting, Rushmore, Syriana, Closer and Moulin Rouge, though many hated it (I thought it was brilliant). Annie Hall might be an all-time fav, but I also have a childhood obsession with Star Wars that I've never fully transcended (although, mercifully, it did not extend to the recent prequels).
13. Favorite album: Again, I can’t be this reductionistic. Some favorite artists and bands instead: Elvis Costello, Syd Barrett, The Cure, The Pixies, Roxy Music, Violent Femmes, Iggy Pop, The Cramps, The Velvet Underground, The Sex Pistols, ABBA, Radiohead, Dead Kennedys, John Cale, The Grateful Dead, Prince, The Pogues, N.W.A., Coldplay, Kanye West, New Pornographers, Liz Phair, The Shins, Death Cab for Cutie, The Arctic Monkeys, etc.
14. Favorite food: Probably ‘chicken tikka masala’—it’s one of those Indian dishes that, I’m told, you only see in the West, but it’s so delicious that I’m compelled to forgive it its inauthenticity.
15. Favorite smell: Puppies (uncooked!)
16. Person you most admire: Tough question, but it has to be Italian socio-political theorist Antonio Gramsci; without the concept of ideological hegemony, the world wouldn’t make any sense to me. Moreover, he wrote his most brilliant work while stuck in a fascist prison. I’m a big fan of people who stand up for rationality and egalitarianism in the face of entrenched power.
17. Living figure you'd most like to meet: Jon Stewart
18. Historical figure you'd most like to meet: Charles Darwin
19. What would you be doing if you weren't teaching at Centre: Walking the Earth, like Caine in Kung Fu.
20. Describe yourself in three words: Too Much Information


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