Author: Joe Nalven

Joe Nalven is a Lecturer of Anthropology and Research Associate at the University of San Diego.

A Wicked Inquiry into the National Conversation on Race: Why You Should Read My Book

Race is not a tame problem like those of mathematics or popular games. Tame problems thrive in systems with defined internal logic and operational clarity. Race is a wicked problem. There’s the easy label of the human race; and then, the more difficult divisions into tribe, clan, sect, class, nation, and other forms that can […]

Read More

Truth in Children’s Literature: A Response to Dr. Siu’s American Ogres

From a bird’s eye view, most children stories can be understood as a process that guides the child into becoming a member of society──a member of a particular culture, a particular place, and a particular time. We tell them about dangers, morals, customs, and cultural beliefs, and how to perform the rituals of daily life. […]

Read More

When Ethnic Studies Education Violates the Law: California’s Guardrails

This is not an article about censorship. It is an article about critical thinking—framed within legislated guardrails. Boundaries are important in elementary and secondary education, more so than in higher education. We immediately think of age-appropriate materials, but there is also the more difficult issue of how we ought to frame education. At some point, […]

Read More

Teaching About Systemic Racism: An Anthropological Pedagogy

When I was ready to write up my dissertation fieldwork, I was stymied by conceptual perspectives for organizing my data. What I thought about data collection before entering the field of anthropology had been overwhelmed by the reality of fieldwork. That was in the mid-1970s, when the concept of the ‘web’ of society was giving […]

Read More

Racial Newspeak Comes to the Classroom

The airwaves have combusted. Parents confront school boards. Across the country, state and government agencies are moving in opposite directions: some release the genie of racial equity and Critical Race Theory (CRT) while others try to corral it and squeeze it back into the bottle. In California, CRT, either explicitly or implicitly through its aligned […]

Read More

Our Sex Starts in the Womb, Our Gender As We Toddle On

Richard Feynman remarked “for Nature cannot be fooled,” hearkening back to Isaac Newton—a reminder that Nature’s laws are indifferent to what humans think or wish those laws might be. The same goes for biology, which we ignore at our peril. Sex genes appeared some 180 million years ago in mammals. Not only do they make […]

Read More