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Scholars Day 2008, Wednesday, April 9

"Reaching Across the Divide: Relationships between U.S. Army Soldiers and Iraqi National Guardsmen in Iraq, 2004-2005"

Cross-cultural encounters in daily life can take on the qualities of ethnographic experience, as we come to see through the eyes of the “cultural Other”, whether in multicultural societies like the US, or in time of war. Such “everyday ethnographies” reveal complex human negotiations, reflections upon the significance of sameness and difference, and the importance of humanity, sincerity and tolerance. This panel reveals non-Muslims’ encounters with Muslims in socially problematic circumstances, suggesting the transformative value of the “ethnographic stance” in negotiating tolerance and accommodating, even embracing, cultural difference. Michael Fickess discusses emergent “bridges of trust and friendship” between US National Guardsmen and Iraqi soldiers. Initially hostile due to cross-cultural divisions, some of these soldiers develop new insights into one another’s worlds through training and working together, “reaching across the divide” produced by ongoing political tensions.

Presenter: Michael Fickess (Undergraduate Student)
Topic: Anthropology
Location: 218 Hartwell
Time: 10:10 am (Session I)