This photograph represents teen trends on various levels. These two young women are learning to take pictures with a digital camera at the famous Mayan ruins of Chichén Itzá, in the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico. This was the first time they had ever visited the site even though they are from an Indigenous village only about an hour away. While you can see the obvious Westernization in the girls’ clothing choice and use of modern technology, these teens were very excited to explore their traditional, cultural heritage. Later this year, however, they will continue another trend - leaving their Indigenous village to continue studying and eventually find employment far from their village, in Cancun. These young men are celebrating their pilgrimage to the Mosque of Touba in Senegal, West Africa. They are visiting their Marabu, the spiritual guide, and they'll witness the merging of Muslim religion and the animistic tradition. Senegal¹s most important Marabu were the prophet Bamba and his pupil, the Baye Fall. The Baye Fall dedicated his life to the prophet Bamba and dressed from fabric given by charity. His followers wear that same patchwork cloth (as shown above). Typical street fashion consists of American blue jeans, a football jersey (as shown above) and Nike shoes imported from Asia. Soccer is popular amongst young Senegalese - particularly since the Senegal national team reached the semi-finals in the last World Cup. Every day outside of Dakar there are hundreds of players training to become a famous soccer player. When one does succeed and move into the western world, he achieves a good reputation at home for his loyalty to the community and his closeness with his Marabu. These teenagers in school uniform are leaving the Ajip English medium school in Jimma, Ethiopia. They want to get a better education by learning English at an English medium school to compete on the same level with other children in the world. They also want to take advantage of the free education and are found studying as much as possible. The young girl on the left in the photo with the black top, red skirt and bag hanging over her shoulder hopes to attend Jimma Universtiy and become a doctor for her community in the future.
Study Insight: TEENS ADAPTING. These three images show teens in the position of blending traditional and modern ways of life to enhance their experiences and advance within their own communities. Modern technology, American clothing, and English education play an interesting role in their lives as these symbols complement their more traditional rituals and behaviors. The two young girls from Mexico are using digital cameras to learn about their cultural heritage. They will take that experience and history with them when they leave their village in search of education and employment in Cancun. The group of Senegalese teens is dressed both in traditional patchwork cloth and football jerseys as they celebrate a merging of Islam and animistic traditions. They will then return to their aspirations to play American football. In the final image from Ethiopia, the young student uses English language to advance her education within Ethiopia and eventually use her skills as a doctor to be an asset to her local community.

Ethnography Insight: Culture. How a culture is constructed is a driving framework for ethnographic investigations and resulting anthropological interpretations. Culture can be defined, structured and shifted in many different ways. Ethnographers need to situate the defining characteristics of culture that they will use in their study to help build a platform for comparative analysis.


Margaret's Walking Stick is a perpetual anthropology/ethnography education project. Each issue contains an insight via a few pictures and words from around the world and a short lesson on some aspect of anthropology and/or ethnography. This year we're exploring Teen Trends. And at year-end, Context will summarize the insights and issue a report.

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