Proceedings, Volume 2, 2008

Borders, Boundaries and Transitions: Framing the Past, Imagining the Future

Museum Anthropology

A Shattered Looking Glass: The Americana Indian Exhibit as Ethnographic Mirror and Text [pp. 3–10]
Terri A. Castaneda

Abstract: In Fall 2007, the Anthropology Museum at California State University, Sacramento, hosted an exhibit entitled “The Americana Indian: American Indians in the American Imagination.” Curated by Native American Studies professor Brian Baker (Bad River Chippewa), this show highlighted racist and stereotypical representations of American Indians as embodied in historical and contemporary games and toys, advertising tag-lines and graphics, Hollywood “Injun-speak,” and a wide cross-section of consumer products, from Calumet baking powder to Indian Motorcycles. The exhibit concept and viewer responses to it offer a unique opportunity to examine recent critiques of ethnographic theory and practices and to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of new representational strategies that developed in direct response to these critiques.

Keywords: ethnography, museums, representation

Rock Cafés as Public Museum Spaces: The Hard Rock and the Slidebar [pp. 11–16]
Maureen Salsitz

Abstract: This paper examines the commodification of museum-like spaces that have been created at the Hard Rock Café and at the Slidebar Café in Fullerton, California. While the hard Rock operates on an international and global level, the Slidebar operates at a local and regional level as a public museum space. I juxtapose these against the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum to demonstrate how similar mission statements and philosophies promote engagement with rock and roll music and artifacts. In my analysis, I draw upon Walter Benjamin’s discussion of aura and authenticity and on DuGay’s notion of cycle of consumption in order to show how processes of production and consumption are involved in the representation and commodification of these spaces.

Keywords: museums, commodification, rock and roll

Cultural Anthropology

The Permeable Self: Ego Boundary Setting, Boundary Maintenance, and Agency in Possession [pp. 17–21]
Sydney Story

Abstract: This paper investigates what I perceive to be a puzzling contradiction in the data and interpretation of possession trance. Considerable evidence exists that some people (mainly but not exclusively women-and about 5 percent of the latter) in cultures where their choices and chances have firmly delineated boundaries between self and other, and use an altered state of consciousness to inscribe that self on a public canvas. Thus a self which appears to be particularly well-bounded actually employs for its survival a technique which requires maximum permeability. I bring to bear on this issue three theoretical approaches: (1) The distinction between ego-centric and socio-centric selves; (2) The concept of boundary formation and maintenance as a way to characterize women who, having acquired an ego-centric sense of self, rebel against a narrow, over-determining role; and (3) Possession trance, considered in its neurological and contentual aspects, here interpreted as a set of techniques for achieving agency by shedding ego boundaries. Data are drawn from my field notes and from the literature.

Keywords: shamanism, boundaries, trance

Three Gringos: Race, Class and Gender in a Globalizing Nicaragua [pp. 22–27]
Eric Canin

Abstract: This paper explores the shifting boundaries of “gringo-ness” in Nicaragua. The term traces to the country’s occupation during the 1930s by U.S. Marines to subdue the Sandino rebellion. Thus “gringo” has come to denote a social construction of race, class and gender built around asymmetrical relations of power, namely an intervention by powerful white males. The narrative centers on 3 individuals who are white, male and rich, by Nicaraguan standards, and who traveled to Nicaragua on a mission. Eugene Hasenfus was a CIA arms runner captured after his plane was shot down. Ben Linder was a unicycling clown and engineer who was killed by U.S. supported contras. These men arrived in 1986 during the Sandinista revolutionary period, whereas Eric Volz arrived 20 years later. Volz was a real estate entrepreneur who was arrested for the murder of his Nicaraguan ex-girlfriend. These disparate cases each unleashed social tensions in Nicaraguan courts, media, and streets. Yet whereas Hasenfus’ and Linder’s gringo-ness is framed against the ideological struggle of the Cold War in which gringos were experienced in Nicaragua either as imperialist Yankees or “sandalista” comrades, Volz represents the globalizing gringo: idealistic and entrepreneurial, but not manifestly ideological. This new gringo occupies an ambiguous position: is he here to help or hurt Nicaragua? Did the power dynamic underlying his relationship with a Nicaraguan woman lead to murder? And thus, is globalization a threat or an opportunity for Nicaragua and its sovereignty? The globalizing gringo, as a shifting intersection of race, class and gender, becomes a powerful signifier to those who feel marginalized by globalization.

Keywords: identity, globalization, Nicaragua

Americans Studying Americans: Foggy Boundaries Between the “Self” and the “Other” [pp. 28–32]
Cortney Freeman

Abstract: The American “Other” is an intriguing and difficult group for anthropologists to get a handle on. On the surface, doing fieldwork within the United States seems like it would be easier than doing fieldwork overseas—one does not need to learn another language, strange customs, or worry about violating any taboos. On the other hand, native anthropology invites its own set of problems. From the perspective of the anthropologist, she or he may overlook small but important details because they are too familiar. From the perspective of the subject-other, the American anthropologist brings a set of baggage as well, such as political ties, prejudices, and what many may see suspiciously as a ploy much like identity theft. All of these issues center around the “us v. them” or “Self v. Other” mentality. Using insights gained through doing preliminary fieldwork in northwest Washington State in the city of Port Angeles, this paper seeks to show how both American anthropologists and their American subjects define each other through the boundaries of “Self” and “Other,” and how that relationship can both complicate and facilitate research. For American anthropologists studying other Americans, these issues of “otherness” will affect the way the researcher must represent himself or herself and carry out the research. Additionally, these issues will be different for this group than for American anthropologists studying elsewhere.

Keywords: ethnography, self and other, participant observation

Who’s Your Mama? Indigenous Women Writers and the Shaping of Race [pp. 33–41]
Renae Bredin

Abstract: The trope of mothers, mothering, and motherhood appears frequently in the works of early feminist ethnographer Elsie Clews Parsons, as well as Laguna writers Leslie Marmon Silko and Paula Gunn Allen. These three writers, having either lived in or worked around Laguna Pueblo in New Mexico, take up the stories and cultural materials of Laguna in their writing. This paper examines how these Laguna writers critically view the practice of “motherhood” and its ethics of care in relation to the construction of white culture of the United States.

Keywords: Laguna Pueblo, mothers, race

Cultural Loss among Immigrants in the Los Angeles Garment District [pp. 42–49]
Julie David

Abstract: The use of immigrant sweatshop labor in America, specifically in Los Angeles, has resulted in the transformation of individuals through practices that encourage cultural loss. This problem is often not recognized by corporations because companies seek to capitalize on the low-cost output and high-yield returns made possible by from sweatshop labor. Anthropological study can offer research and potential solutions to help preserve the unique cultural qualities of individuals which may be lost through the acculturation process in sweatshop labor conditions. Using interviews with Los Angeles garment workers as well as contemporary anthropology literature in immigrant studies, this paper shows that many immigrant workers are losing their cultural ties to their native traditions. Conceptualizing the institution as the provider of cultural identity for immigrants, I have drawn upon the work of Emile Durkheim and Mary Douglas to outline how these identities are attained and maintained. I have found that immigrant workers experience cultural loss and identity transformation as a result of their work in the Los Angeles Garment District.

Keywords: transnational, immigration, culture

Revitalization of Karuk Tradition and Natural Resource Management: Passport in Time’s “Following the Smoke” Program [pp. 50–54]
Holly Lamb

Abstract: Passport in Time (PIT) is a volunteer program of the USDA Forest Service which focuses on archaeology and historic preservation in national forests throughout the United States. PIT volunteers work with professional Forest Service archaeologists, anthropologists and historians on diverse projects such as archaeological survey and excavation, rock art restoration, archival research, historic structure restoration, oral history gathering and analysis and curation of artifacts. One of the longest running Passport in Time projects, going on twelve years, is “Following the Smoke,” a joint venture between several federal agencies and the Karuk Indigenous Basketweavers. Selected volunteers spend a week camping with Indigenous Basketweaver group members, learning how to collect, process, and weave raw materials. Volunteers not only participate in a cultural exchange; they also help to prepare forested areas for controlled burns conducted by the Forest Service by thinning heavy fire fuel areas and constructing fire breaks. This paper will focus on the “basket camp” experience, the benefits of the program, and what the future holds for “Following the Smoke.”

Keywords: Native American, basketweaving, cultural resource management

ZZZ: An Anthropologist Sleeps [pp. 55–61]
Richard Alvarado

Abstract: Sleep is a behavior practiced by all humans; however, how long a person should sleep remains uncertain. Biomedicine lists certain guidelines people can follow to ensure a healthy sleeping cycle. These guidelines include a variety of sleeping practices that incorporate aspects of time, medical equipment, and a person’s position while sleeping. Biomedicine influences how cultural behavior is shaped, thus it impacts the way in which people maintain a restful sleep. Work is a key temporal rival of sleep, just as sleep is considered a prime prerequisite of productivity. In Silicon Valley, a bastion for high-tech work and its dominant work culture, sleep is a contested competitor for time. Based on fieldwork done with a student practicum in San Jose State’s Silicon Valley Cultures Project and ethnographic research done with the Institute for the Future, this paper explores the medicalization of sleep, sleeping patterns in Silicon Valley, and their relation to biomedicine’s guidelines of sleep. The data used in this project are drawn from review of the literature, eighteen semi-structured interviews, and photograph tours of participants’ homes.

Keywords: sleep, health, medicalization, biomedicine

Archaeology and Bioarchaeology

Human Impacts on the Mojave River Valley in the California Desert [pp. 62–68]
Teresa Terry

Abstract: While the great majority of environmental change in the California deserts over the past few thousand years is the direct result of geological processes involving continental uplift and rain shadow from the surrounding mountains, the desert that we see today has changed vastly from what it was only a few hundred years ago. Therefore, a multi-discipline literature search was conducted in order to compare environmental impacts from the viewpoints of several different areas of study. The first human impacts in the Mojave Desert may have coincided with the Pleistocene megafauna extinctions, but there is no definitive proof that people were residing in the Mojave Desert during the time period that camels, horses, and bison disappeared from the area. Undisputed human occupation of the high desert only goes back a few thousand years, well after Lake Manix drained and the desert dried out. Native Americans may have manipulated the environment resulting in small changes, such as influencing fish populations, but the Euro-Americans caused the most environmental change by bringing in cattle and overgrazing, causing extinctions of local flora and fauna.

Keywords: environment, Mojave River Valley, archaeology

Transition of Wolves into the Human Niche: The Origin of Dogs [pp. 69–73]
Bonnie Shirley

Abstract: The domestication of dogs is often hypothesized as an intentional human act, associated with known human habits of pet keeping. This is the cute puppy hypothesis. The aim of the paper is to direct attention to the non-intentional processes that I contend resulted in the transition of wolves into the first domesticated animal, the dog: (1) biological and social processes acting upon wolves; and (2) non-intentional anthropogenic processes that may have that may have forced some wolves to move into the human niche. I posit that biological processes and human behavior worked synergistically to result in the transition of some wolves to dogs. The transition from wolf to dog very likely began around 15,000 years ago, and may have occurred in several regions of the globe. The wolf is generally a Northern Hemisphere mammal, and not found in Central America, South America, Australia or sub-Saharan Africa. This paper is based on published literature research. The cultural, and social relationships between dogs and humans over the last 15,000 or more years is such a vast subject, that I cannot even begin to address it in this paper. Thus it is my intention to limit this paper to the origins of the dog and human relationship.

Keywords: domestication, Paleolithic, archaeology

A Comparison of Weaning Ages Across Cultural and Ecological Contexts [pp. 74–77]
Jordan Serin

Abstract: This paper reviews the methods of stable isotope analysis for reconstructing the infant-feeding and weaning practices of archaeological populations. The transitional nature of the dietary shift known as weaning is discussed along with a summary of the basic principles of stable isotope analysis. The purpose of this review is to investigate whether or not weaning patterns correlate with certain demographic measures, subsistence practices, and/or ecological features. Some evidence suggests a correlation between weaning age and mode of subsistence. The use of appropriate weaning foods, which is strongly influenced by cultural factors such as technology, food preferences and belief systems, may be a predictor of weaning age. Evidence of nutritional constraints and cultural variation that emerges from bioarchaeological studies of infant-feeding practices is brought into focus with concluding remarks about weaning and childhood development from the perspective of human evolution.

Keywords: stable isotope analysis], weaning, human evolution

Driven Towards Complexity: Competing Models for the Origins of Chumash Social Hierarchies [pp. 78–85]
Gary Jones

Abstract: The sources for the observed complexity of the Chumash Indians of California have been the subject of debate for many years. This paper examines four competing models which are respectively based on migration or diffusion, climate change, neo-Marxism and resource management. Because Chumash complexity is believed to stem from the appearance of the sewn-plank canoe called the tomol in their technological repertoire, each model is based on the search for the earliest evidence of this sophisticated watercraft amongst the Native mariners of the California coast.

Keywords: Chumash, social hierarchy, California archaeology

The Absence of Truth: Archaeology and the Indigenous Perspective [pp. 86–90]
Daniel Woodward

Abstract: This paper is intended to present some of the issues regarding archaeology and indigenous perspectives. The field of archaeology has often had a strained relationship with the indigenous people the archaeologist studies. Past abuses of native peoples and their material legacies by archaeologists and anthropologists have made native people wary of the archaeologist’s intentions. Primarily, this paper will be focused on the researcher’s imposed boundary on his or her own perspective, and how that can limit the sorts of questions and data the researcher can generate. This paper will also have personal implications. As an archaeologist sensitive to the indigenous perspective, but still holding true to thescientific method, how can I bridge the gap between the two? Finally, this paper will analyze the work of archeologists such as Joe Watkins, work which serves as an example of how beliefs—which might have an anti-science slant—and science—which can be anti-belief—can come together and have, at the least, a working, professional relationship.

Keywords: archaeology, post-processual, indigenous

Viking Trade and its Impact on Their Environment [pp. 91–97]
Lena Blixt-Schmid

Abstract: Political and economic reasons seem, to some extent, to have been the driving force behind the Viking decision to “raid” and “plunder,” and later, settle in new regions. A clearer understanding of Viking migration and trade activities can be reached by exploring the reasons behind these political and economic decisions. This paper uses theoretical frameworks such as Redman and Kinzig’s resilience theory and other behavioral ecological and evolutionary models to examine the relationship of Viking migration and trade to stresses on their homeland environment, and to interpret their subsequent impact on, and adaptation to, new environments.

Keywords: Vikings, evolutionary ecology, resilience theory

Language, Technology and Education

Living in “YouTubia”: Bordering on Civility [pp. 98–106]
Patricia Lange

Abstract: Despite more than a decade of research showing contrary patterns, many scholars still characterize the Internet as a “frontier” that is lawless and separate from other forms of sociality such as in-person interaction. Researchers and pundits have used the frontier metaphor descriptively to characterize perceived existing patterns of interaction, as well as prescriptively to argue for how Internet interaction should be conducted. Yet many people do not necessarily orient themselves or their behavior to the notion that the Internet is or should be a frontier. Further, the frontier metaphor obfuscates certain negotiated social realities in contemporary computer-mediated milieu. Invoking the metaphor prior to investigation risks missing other place-based metaphors of sociality that help orient online participants. Two such metaphors used on YouTube include: (1) tourism versus residency on the site; and (2) the “state” of “Youtubia.” This paper explores the concepts and mechanisms that some YouTube participants use to characterize the site and to create boundaries and limits on interaction. These mechanisms include using features that are technically integrated into YouTube’s interface as well as generating and distributing social commentary and advice in videos and discourse. The paper argues that despite the vision of boundlessness and frontierism, YouTube interactions are “architected” just as interactions in physical spaces are. It will show how such online “places” influence the perception of YouTube and its uses among participants.

Keywords: YouTube, online community, frontier metaphor

Narrating Culture for Tourists in Costa Rica [pp. 107–116]
Liese Wellmeyer

Abstract: Costa Rican culture is presented to tourists through one day tours to numerous sites around the country. Tour guides use creative narratives during the long bus rides and at the tourist destinations to help connect the tourists as a group and to teach about the Costa Rican culture. Making use of data collected during ethnographic field work in Costa Rica, this paper draws on the work of Ochs and Capps, which focuses on the tellership, embeddedness, tellability, and moral stance of narratives. I seek to build on their work by considering the dynamics of a multinational speech community, and examining how narratives are used to frame the representations of the past and current life in Costa Rica.

Keywords: narrative, tourism, Costa Rica, linguistic anthropology

Anthropology and the “New Other”: Digital Natives [pp. 116–120]
Jeff McKendricks

Abstract: The two-year and four-year college systems, along with the K-12 system, are traditions that must face change. Change is not only driven by the observations of the teaching community; it is being led by an indomitable force coming from the students themselves and their experiences in a new world. The new world has been created by, among other innovations, the forward movements in computer technology, gaming, and music media, and it is also largely a product of the internet-savvy “Millenials” themselves. Students today have different paradigms and the pedagogy of the past is no longer relevant or efficient. Not only are teaching methods facing change, but the students themselves are ensconced in the paradigm of technology. They in a sense have become the new native. These “digital natives” are available for anthropologists’ ethnographies, which will give much-needed guidance to education departments and provide a direction for anthropology in the future. This paper investigates the current states of phenomena in the power of personal publication, social networks, unimedia, 24/7 connectivity, podcasts, blogs, web pages, and personal video.

Keywords: technology, education, digital culture

Bridging the English-Spanish Language Barrier: Native Language Concordance as an Occupational Therapy Approach [pp. 121–128]
Jacqueline Thrash

Abstract: In the provision of physical rehabilitation services, the presence of a language barrier between clinician and client can greatly interfere with the expected therapeutic outcome, as well as fail to provide the client with mandated culturally and linguistically appropriate and effective treatment. The purpose of this paper is to inquire into the current methods of bridging the English-Spanish language barrier within the occupational therapy setting; to discuss the method of using native language concordance; and to introduce the clinical resource Common Phrase Translation: Spanish for English Speakers for Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Speech Therapy. Research included a literature search and presentation of several studies involved in addressing the English-Spanish language barrier across several health professions, as well as discussion of the effects of native language concordance on the therapeutic relationship between the English-speaking therapist and Spanish-speaking client, and the effects of native language concordance on the mind-body relationship. Common Phrase Translation: Spanish for English Speakers is presented as an innovative method of addressing the need for native language concordance in physical rehabilitation services. The need for future clinical resource and education development is discussed as well as the need for additional research, specifically in the field of occupational therapy.

Keywords: language barrier, native language concordance, occupational therapy

Public Anthropology

Contesting Images: Internal Conflict and Paradox in a Thrift Shop [pp. 127–131]
Alecia Barela

Abstract: The Institute of Public Anthropology (IPA) began investigating how Pixley Lane Hospice Center could retain its ethos during the expansion of its organization. Researchers collaborated to investigate the thrift stores of the hospice. During five months of ethnographic research at a Pixley Lane Hospice Center Thrift Store, it became apparent this organizational satellite was subject to corporate strife and a paradoxical identity. A thrift store’s public image is commonly derived from its relationship with the charity. However, in the case of Pixley Lane Hospice Center, the vision of the charity is very divergent from that of the supporting thrift store. The hospice itself emits a dignified, somber appear- ance, which is at odds with the unconventional, carefree atmosphere of the store. Conversely, he thrift store must reconcile these inconsistencies while remaining faithful to the vision of the hospice. Interviews, focus groups, and surveys further confirmed this paradox. These differences have spurred rivalry and a power struggle between the various management levels of the organization. Through the analysis of employee and volunteer accounts, I documented internal conflict and a competing set of identities. Data suggest the organization’s need to consider a rebranding campaign as a solution to dissociate the two public images.

Keywords: functionalism, rebranding, hospice, applied anthropology

Making Waiting Visible: Applying Anthropology to the Design of a New Restaurant Paging System [pp. 132–137]
Michael Scroggins

Abstract: This paper examines the role anthropology played in efforts to commercialize a new restaurant pager designed by engineering students at CSU Fresno. Interdisciplinary communication difficulties encountered while working alongside engineers and business people are discussed. In addition, challenges stemming from condensed timelines and methodological modifications necessitated by hard deadlines are detailed. An unexpected difficulty in conducting fieldwork was working with ethical differences across disciplinary boundaries; what passes as ethical behavior in one discipline does not always count as ethical behavior in another. Finally, theoretical concerns and findings are discussed in the context of product design.

Keywords: applied anthropology, ethnography, business anthropology

Call for Papers, 79th Annual Conference [p. 138]
Participants, 79th Annual Meeting [p. 139]
SWAA Newsletter Editors (1958–2008) [p. 140]
SWAA Presidents (1928–2008) [p. 141]