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Field Notes from Olympia: Moeties, closed-door caucus meetings and our open government ideal

The Legislature's two political parties -- with their rituals and totemic animals, donkey and elephant -- act in ways that anthropologists recognize from their study…

Field Notes from Olympia: What if lawmakers were more like the people they serve?

Observing the state legislature, I am struck by how different most lawmakers are from the constituents they represent. Washington’s senators and representatives are largely white,…

Field Notes from Olympia: Legislating virtual worlds

On February 6th I watched the House Finance Committee consider two bills that would reshape the state tax code governing digital transactions and the delivery…

Field Notes from Olympia: The power of language and the “fear grimace”

One of anthropology’s traditional four subfields is linguistic anthropology. (The others are cultural anthropology, archaeology and biological anthropology.) Linguistic anthropology encompasses a broad range of…

Field Notes from Olympia: An anthropologist in the state capital

In 2013, Crosscut editor in chief, Mary Bruno approached me about doing some anthropological fieldwork in Olympia. I was intrigued by the prospect of studying…