Archive for language

Episode 22 Converting Belief at a Creationist Theme Park with Dr. James Bielo

Dr. James Bielo (Photo courtesy of Dr. Bielo)

The Ark Encounter creationist theme park in Kentucky was developed with one purpose in mind, to convince visitors of the truth of Creationism, the evangelical Christian history of the origins of life on earth. To do that, anthropologist Dr. James Bielo explains, Ark Encounter deploys strategies to entertain and evoke emotional reactions in order to legitimate and give authority to its message. Dr. Bielo researched the backstage creative labor of the design team who led the conceptualization and choreographing of the theme park, which is designed not simply to entertain but to transform the minds of attendees.

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Episode 17 The Folklore of International Adoption with Dr. Patricia Sawin

Anthropologist, folklorist, and professor of American Studies, Dr. Patricia Sawin pays close attention to the stories we tell. Focusing on international adoption, Dr. Sawin examines how these stories weave together new families while sometimes over-simplifying difficult issues of race, privilege, and the power and limits of love.

Adoption is a culturally and historically complicated process that we like to envision as purely altruistic, yet usually involves moving children from less- to more-advantaged communities. Dr. Sawin discusses how international adoptive parents, who are usually white and financially secure, navigate the complicated emotional and social terrain of integrating children into their families who have been given by less powerful communities of color. Language plays a critical role in refashioning ideas about family, downplaying guilt about possible exploitation and others’ losses, strengthening bonds in the new families, and increasing comfort in a sense of larger purpose and design.

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