One Does Not Simply…Write About Anthropology

My Time as a Graduate Student

Working Thesis

on January 13, 2013

As I finished LOTR The Fellowship of the Ring, I began to draw similarities between the Harry Potter and LOTR. It got me thinking even more on what I want to study as far as thesis research. I have always enjoyed reading and I have been enjoying breaking down these fictional fantasies structurally and teasing out the culture within the storylines as well as the what each of these literatures have in common.  As a cultural anthropologist I do need some ethnography work to go along side with my research, and it got me thinking. If ethnohistorians can look through documents throughout history and piece together past cultures such as French and Spanish documents that account Native American cultures that do not exist, why can’t the same be done within fictional fantasies? For instance, Tolkin created the land of Middle-Earth with various races of creatures each with its own cultural characteristics that distinguish one group from another. Same can be seen in Harry Potter, the Wizarding World. Both of these examples hold true to what most ethnohistorians must take in account to tease out and piece together cultures that no longer exist. The authors of these fictions have not only created cultures, but they all have similar characteristics of Western thought that are common with each other and allows readers to connect with the characters and makes it popular. We see this in many world religions. Although there are many Christian religions once you break down and get to the core of the belief they are all the same, founded on the same building blocks. The stories are the same from Creation, the birth and death of  Jesus, and his Resurrection. What makes each religion different is the perspective and interpretations of the stories, the Bible, etc. That is why there are so many different ‘types’ or sects of Christianity because there are different interpretations of the writings within the Bible, etc. But I am not trying to make this a religious battle of defining Christianity, but I simply draw an example or comparison if you will.

And that is what I want to focus my research on. There are so many fantasy fictions in the reading world that are popular and they are popular for a reason. I want to interpret and structurally break down the cultures that have been created by authors and compare them to one another, and find a similar meaning to all of them, because there is.

I am not really interested in how the people, the readers, interpret in their own way of the stories such as Harry Potter renactments or larping, because that turns into establishing social identities. I have done research on LARPing ground as well as renactors, and it comes down to social identity, and social consciousness of a group. Its all well and interesting on its own, but its not my main focus.

Its still a work in process, but the more I read about myth and the fictions that I have on my list. The more I enjoy breaking them down and discovering their cultures.


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