Proceedings, Volume 1, 2007

Mining Material Culture

Cultural Construction of Menopause in Two Botánicas in Northern California [pp. 1–11]
Richard Alvarado

Abstract: This project examines the cultural constructions of menopause in two botánicas in Northern California. The goals of the project are threefold. First, it seeks to understand how, and if, menopause differs in its cross-cultural definition. Second, what remedies are women using in a botánica setting? Third, how are women who visit the botánica incorporating biomedicine? Research methods used for the project were review of the literature on existing information regarding menopause, its symptoms, and remedies, as it pertain to the American medical model. Ethnographic methods such as participant-observation and open-ended semi-structured interviews were also used to collect data on cultural alternatives for dealing with menopause among botánica customers. One of the key findings was that women defined menopause as being a distinctly individual experience that is not representative in all women. The project focuses on these research questions: How do botánica women define menopause? Do all women experience menopause? If so, how? What menopausal symptoms do women experience? Furthermore, the project will help me form the foundation for more in-depth research in the future.

Keywords: menopause, gender, health, alternative

Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe: Exploring the Role of a Mexican National Symbol at an American, Immigrant Church [pp. 13–29]
Nicole Brand-Cousy

Abstract: In my research at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, a Catholic parish in San Jose, California, I will examine the figure of Guadalupe in the context of her place as the dominant symbol at an immigrant church in the United States. As this Mexican national symbol is transplanted to the U.S., devotion to her provides a vehicle for socialization and solace with people of a shared immigration experience, while also contributing to a Catholicism that is distinctly Mexican-American. I use a combination of participant observation and in-depth interviews, with key observation completed during the five days of celebrations leading up to and including the Festival of Our Lady of Guadalupe in December of 2006 in San Jose, California. My findings show how a foreign national symbol can be transplanted to the United States and still play an intricate role in church life, sustaining tradition while also creating new meanings in the current context of American and San Jose culture. These findings may prove relevant to theoretical thought concerning transnational migration, globalization of religions, and the significance across cultures of ritual and symbolic practice.

Keywords: immigrant, religion, ritual, symbology, Guadalupe

Counting Coconuts: Patrol Reports, R.L. Bellamy and a Penchant for Numbers in the Colonial Trobriand Islands [pp. 31–46]
Andrew Connelly

Abstract: The Trobriand Islands were governed by Australia from 1905 to 1975 as part of the Territory of Papua. Throughout this time patrol reports and station journals were the main form of documentation of government activity. These daily reports offer a view of colonialism on the smallest scale. R.L. Bellamy, the founder of the government station at Losuia, instituted many projects that had a lasting effect on political and economic life in the islands, one of which was a vast coconut planting campaign. Bellamy’s exhaustive tally of over 100,000 coconuts planted raises interesting questions regarding not only his personal motivations, but the nature of the colonial experience throughout Papua as well.

Keywords: colonialism, historical anthropology, R.L. Bellamy, Trobriand Islands

“Why Are We So Fat?” Mexican Immigrant Perceptions of Obesity in California’s Central Valley [pp. 47–59]
Gilberto Lopez

Abstract: Obesity and overweight are issues that have received special attention by governments and health related institutions in the last decade. Obesity rates in the United States have increased dramatically in the last fifteen years with five of the ten leading causes of death in the US being illnesses related to overweight and obesity. This problem is very prevalent in California’s Central San Joaquin Valley with no less than 40% and 25% of the total population being overweight and obese respectively. Within ethnic minority groups, Mexican-Americans have had the highest increase in overweight and obesity since 1991. Research has been divided as to why this specific group has had the highest increase in obesity. Among the four prominent theories, one claims that socioeconomic status is the primary factor influencing health status while another camp claims cultural differences are to blame. This paper examines views towards overweight and obesity by Mexican immigrant females residing in California’s Central Valley. By better understanding this critical intersection between culture and health we are better prepared to implement effective programs addressing the health needs of California’s Central Valley. Research methods include participant observation and interviewing with twenty Mexican-immigrant females in Fresno, CA. Findings indicate that socioeconomic status is a greater determiner of the prevalence of overweight and obesity than is cultural ideals or beliefs. An understanding of how Mexican immigrants perceive overweight and obesity permits government agencies to better address the issue, thus allowing for a more efficient allocation of resources.

Eat Local, Plant Global: Natural Farming Tourism in Japan [pp. 61–71]
Miriam Lueck

Abstract: This paper emerged from participant observation in the summer of 2005 among hosts and travelers of Willing Workers on Organic Farms (WWOOF) in Chiba-ken, Japan. WWOOF is an organization with a presence in over 70 countries coordinating homestays in exchange for the daily labor of both international and domestic travelers. This paper examines the ways in which this form of tourism creates relationships and spaces of possibility in the lives of hosts and travelers, and provides opportunities to learn about, practice and embody intertwined social movements around the “natural.” Among my hosts and their friends these included natural and organic farming, natural medicine, and natural child rearing, all conceptualized as non-invasive and yes, “natural” alternatives to “modern” invasive and violent practices in these areas. I also discuss the implications of WWOOF as a form of alternative rural tourism in Japan.

Keywords: Japan, natural farming, social movements, alternative tourism

Screw You, We’re from Texas: The Politics of Place and the Power to Resist in Texas Country Music [pp. 73–86]
Nathan Turner

Abstract: Texas country, or Texas music as it is oftentimes called, is a new musical genre being performed in dancehalls and bars across the Lone Star State. It defines itself, in part, by criticizing mainstream country, or “Nashville” country music. In interviews and live shows, Texas country artists challenge the emphasis on profit and marketing within the Nashville based country music industry. In contrast, Texas artists offer a “Texas country authenticity” centered on rebellion, independence, hedonism, and a rugged, male, outlaw mentality. While scorning mainstream music and its commercialization, Texas Music still serves a variety of financial interests that exploit Texas authenticity commercially to market clothing, alcohol, and other commodities, which may complicate Texas music’s rebellious position. In this paper I explore these contradictions and Texas music artists Kevin Fowler, Ray Wylie Hubbard, and Cross Canadian Ragweed as bearers of the genre. My analysis is based on eleven months of participant observation as a live music sound engineer in central Texas and over two years of experience of country music in Texas. I have also used informal interviews, hours of listening to records, exploration of published and online materials, and attended over one hundred performances. Texas country ultimately helps to tell the tale of how capitalism impacts modern music and how Adorno’s concept of the culture industry may continue to inform cultural products today.

Keywords: resistance, commercialization, capitalism, public performances

Call for Papers, 78th Annual Meeting [pp. 87–88]
Participants, 78th Annual Meeting [p. 89]
SWAA Newsletter Editors (1958–2008) [p. 90]
SWAA Presidents (1928–2008) [p. 91]