Human Organization 1993
Bletzer, Keith V. Perceived Severity: Do They Experience Illness Severity As We Conceive It? Human Organization, Spring, 1993 Vol. 52 (1): 68-73.
This article explores the utility of focusing on local conceptions of illness severity in the study of medical knowledge. According to the author, cross-cultural research previously done on particular dimensions of illness, such as perceived illness severity, has been deficient in terms of cultural suitability. In this article, the author’s research explored alternative understandings of illness severity.
Bletzer conducted ethnographic research during a period of 18 months among the Ngawbere, a bilingual horticultural community living in western Panama. This project was undertaken with the intention of investigating heath care-seeking behavior among the Ngawbere. Bletzer’s model designated two variables that were thought to influence the seeking of health care: perceived severity of illness, identified as a subjective assessment, and accessibility, evaluated in terms of travel distance. These two variables were to be tested against the dependent variable – use of health care services – using Galileo methods (that were based on hypothetical number scales) in order to augment the methodological rigor of the study. Additionally, Bletzer developed a visual indicator with which to measure illness severity. This 75-centimeter stick, which he refers to as an “Index of Severity,” where one end was considered an indication of “not ill” and the opposite end considered an indication of “near death ill.” Data was collected by measuring the interval between the end of the stick to the location indicated by the individual, which was situated along the continuum of illness severity.
The results of Bletzer’s research do not indicate any significant correlations between the aforementioned variables. He speculates that this lack of statistical significance might be due to unknown factors that influence decisions about seeking health care, or to an (possibly) insufficient sample size. However, the research yielded a different conclusion – the indication of alternative understandings of illness severity within the community that differ from the linear conception represented by Bletzer’s Index of Severity. Alternatives suggested by informants include a hyperbolic loop that allows for the “return to health” phase of illness, which would account for Ngawbere conception of life being a continuous oscillation between illness and health. Additionally, a “contracting/ expanding” portrayal of illness severity was suggested, indicating the importance of “size” in understandings of severity amongst the Ngawbere. Through the research process, it became clear that members of the community were reluctant to participate in a study in which the central research concept – the linear progression of illness severity – was culturally inappropriate.
Bletzer emphasizes that only when the particular manner of conceptualizing illness severity is determined for a particular community could it become a reasonable focus for a study. Furthermore, he asserts that more consideration should be paid to the social aspects of illness – but only if the data has been adjusted for cultural specifics – and that studies on particular dimensions of illness (such as this one) serve to aid in this endeavor. Bletzer also maintains that the quantitative results of such studies could be used in cross-cultural comparisons. Additionally, the author asserts the significance of such conceptions in illness discourse.
LAURA MOENCH Macalester College (Karen Nakamura)
Clark, Margaret. Malinowski Award Lecture Medical Anthropology and the Redefining of Human Nature. Human Organization Fall, 1993 vol.52(3):233-239
Margaret Clark spends the first few pages of this article introducing herself and explaining her frustration with medicine and how she became interested in medical anthropology instead.
Clark argues that as medicine has developed, the conception of human life has become redefined and the ambiguities that have resulted from this new conception poses concern for medical anthropologists. While she concentrates on our society because, “Ambiguity is a problem for us” (pg. 234), she uses examples from other societies as well.
She gives four examples of ambiguity, the nature of personhood that she illustrates by introducing the idea that with the help of new technology fetus born moths early can now live independently of their mothers. Her second example of ambiguity refers to life span and the fact that modern technology blurs the line between life and death. Machines can put oxygen in the body and draw our carbon dioxide. Other machines can shock the heart so it appears to be beating at a normal rhythm, while still others cause the body’s blood to circulate, even though the mind may be completely free of any discernable waves. Her third and fourth definitions of ambiguity are body alterations, which bring up the issues of plastic surgery and lastly risk and freedom where she discusses the effect of AIDS. Clark states that there are two major factors that influence the definitions of risk. The fist one, she believes, is the degree of vulnerability people feel and the second relates to the nature and interpretation of provided information.
While the author emphasizes the need for anthropologists to continue exposing oppression to preserve what is humane, the article still ends on a depressing note with the idea that there is no end in site and we will all continue living in an ambiguous society.
AMAYA WEBSTER Macalester College (Karen Nakamura)
Davis, Anthony, and Jentoft, Svein. Self and Sacrifice: An Investigation of Small Boat Fisher Individualism and Its Implication of Producer Cooperatives. Human Organization, 1993 Vol. 52 No. 4: 356-367.
Svein Jentoft and Anthony Davis focus their study on small boat fishers and producer cooperatives. Explaining the fact that previous producer cooperatives have been fairly unsuccessful, they examine the social structure and practices of small boat fishers in order to better understand those dynamics and further what may be inhibiting these groups from forming lasting collectives. Jentoft and Davis conducted their research in a community in the Gulf of the St. Lawrence coast of eastern Nova Scotia, Canada, in a cooperative of small fishing boat captains. They conducted interviews with cooperative members, using questions designed to elicit information about work and identity, in order to ascertain the distinctions between factions in the cooperative. They also use a few charts and diagrams within the paper to illustrate the distinctions between the two groups. They acknowledge the inevitability of arbitrariness in a study and point out their awareness of that fact in their own research.
They come to the conclusion that small boat fishers are a “heterogeneous group expressive of divergent and often conflicting ideologies and behaviors,” and that those conflicts and differences have direct correspondence to the success of the cooperatives. Further, they describe the social structure of small boat fishers as a deceptive one: while many observers will take this society to be heterogeneous, it really consists of two groups: Those described as “rugged individualists,” and those described as “utilitarian individualists.” They argue that this binary is perhaps the root of unrest in past cooperative efforts.
In the body of the paper, the authors explain and contrast the two individualisms. “Rugged Individualism,” they explain, is “rooted in and expressive of fisher control of the labor process” in that the material and labor processes are “articulated within a web of personal social relationships.” They further explain that “Utilitarian Individualism” consists of “a more explicit, instrumental relation to their labor process, … self-interested goals and the strategies necessary to achieve them.” Jentoft and Davis expound on this contrast and its application to past, present, and future fishing cooperatives. Other issues touched upon include the need for “organizational slack” in the functioning of a good cooperative, and the issues of management. They also point out that the manager must act as a “broker,” but cannot count on the support of all members. They conclude that the insights of this study have strong implications for understanding the reasons for the low success rate of previous cooperatives and that the study should be helpful in the organization of new, more efficient cooperatives.
KJERSTIN GURDA Macalester College (Karen Nakamura)
Durrenberger, E. Paul. The Skipper Effect and Folk Models of the Skipper Effect among Mississippi Shrimpers. Human Organization Summer, 1993 Vol.52(2):194-202.
Durrenberger examines the role of the “skipper effect:” “the effect of the captain on catch exclusive of all other determinants” (194), and its role in the Mississippi Shrimping Industry. More broadly, he is interested in the authenticity and reproduction of folk models and their relationship to reality. He discusses the skipper effect ideology or folk model of the skipper effect, and their possible relations to fishing. He uses both Iceland, briefly, and Mississippi, in depth, as examples of these relationships. He traces the presence, or lack thereof, of a skipper effect ideology or skipper effect to the relationship between the fishers and the processors.
In Iceland, the expansion of capitalist fishing lead to extreme competition in which the measure of success was one’s catch. The idea that the skipper had some sort of unique capabilities arose due to the fact that there was a “greater capacity to catch fish than to process it or service the boats” (201). The competition between skippers created the idea that there was some quality in a skipper that effected his catch independent of all other factors, thus rendering the skipper a commodity.
Durrenberger argues that in Mississippi, because there is more capacity for processing shrimp than for catching it, the market is largely run by the processors. Processors encourage increased shrimping efforts and encourage new shrimpers to enter the industry. Durrenberger notes that “differences in the place of the fisheries in the local, state, and national economies and the relationship between processors and captains are related to significantly different ideologies of success and folk models of captains” (201).
Durrenberger’s data comes from his own research in Mississippi including interviews and statistic generating, as well as the data supplied by the National Marine Fisheries Service and The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council. He provides a thorough critique of the methodology used to generate each type of data and acknowledges the weaknesses of each type. Yet, he maintains that the data can provide interesting indicators, if not concrete facts. He does a statistical analysis of the factors involved in differential success, such as correlations between catch, boat size, effort, etc. From these statistics he notes that effort is indicated as a significant factor in catch in addition to boat size, a hypothesis suggested by the shrimping captains he interviewed. He notes that the shrimping captains have a fairly accurate representation of their means of production or, more simply, they have an fairly accurate view of the reality of the important factors in the shrimping industry. Finally, he states that although the shrimpers’ folk model is sound, is has worked against them in allowing the processors to remain in control and has “further weakened [the shrimpers] politically and economically” in relation to the processors (201).
KITTY HARDING Macalester College (Karen Nakamura)
Finlinson, H. Ann, Rafaela R. Robles, Héctor M. Colón, and J. Bryan Page. Recruiting and Retaining Out-of-Treatment Injecting Drug Users in the Puerto Rico AIDS Prevention Project. Human Organization Summer, 1993 Vol.52(2):169-175.
This paper addresses problems and solutions relating to injecting drug users and AIDS prevention projects. The study focuses on the Puerto Rico AIDS Prevention Project (PRAPP), which may serve as a model for programs interested in helping needy, marginalized populations in other urban areas. It examines the critical role of former injecting drug users (IDUs) as outreach workers in resolving recruitment and retention problems of out-of-treatment IDUs. The article also shows the importance of anthropological research in studying urban programs and working directly with urban populations to help solve problems.
The authors begin the article with background information to their study. They discuss the problems associated with the recruitment and retention of current IDUs faced by personnel working for AIDS prevention projects. The authors then review the literature on AIDS research and mention the reasons for the creation of PRAPP.
The authors discuss the methods of the study, the results of PRAPP recruitment and the methods of recruitment and retention of IDUs. Statistics relating to sociodemography and drug use are given to describe the recruited IDUs. The authors stress that methods used by outreach workers reflect their own experiences as former IDUs. Outreach workers help resolve recruitment and retention problems with IDUs by using a recruitment network. These networks are made up of people involved with drug dealing, those connected to IDUs in other ways, and IDUs themselves. Each component of the recruitment network is described, with specific examples of discussions with people during the study. A visual diagram accompanies the discussion to illustrate the relationship between the outreacher and the participants in the network.
The authors conclude the article by noting the relatively successful recruitment and retention of IDUs by outreach workers in the PRAPP. Although outreach workers found methods to improve recruitment and retention, the authors strongly acknowledge the lack of adequate medical and social services available to those with HIV or drug addictions. Finally, the authors discuss the need for more studies to understand the most effective outreacher, which would benefit AIDS prevention projects and health care providers.
LAUREN GREENBERG Macalester College (Karen Nakamura)
Freeman, Milton M. R. The International Whaling Commission, Small-type Whaling, and Coming to Terms with Subsistence. Human Organization. Fall, 1993 Vol. 52(3):243-251.
Milton M. R. Freeman examines shortcomings in the International Whaling Commission’s (IWC) requirements for exemption from the worldwide whaling moratorium originally implemented in 1982. Officially, this moratorium applies to all forms of commercial whaling. However, aboriginal-subsistence whale fisheries worldwide are not subject to the moratorium. Freeman addresses the challenging task of providing a similar exemption to populations classified as non-aboriginal but who nevertheless ‘subsist’ on whaling. In doing so, he challenges the prevailing, incorrect definition of subsistence that equates it to bare existence.
In opposition to the definition of “subsistence” employed in everyday speech, Freeman uses Wendell’s definition (1991:60) of subsistence as, “[A] set of culturally established responsibilities, rights, and obligations that affect every man, woman and child each day.” “Subsistence activities are those actions that contribute to the continued functioning of various essentially non-material aspects of everyday life.” Subsistence serves social and cultural ends while functioning in ways that are “consistent with traditional patterns maintained by kinship-based social structures.” Thus, regardless of its position in a cash economy, subsistence is principally determined by social relations. In fact, at times subsistence whaling exists when it is economically detrimental. Freeman stresses that there is actually a positive correlation between the dependence on purchased goods and the need for subsistence activities. Cash is only one form of exchange; the presence of wages or a local store does not necessarily negate the subsistence nature of the transaction. Subsistence activities do occur in market economies that include both market and non-market transactions.
Furthermore, the IWC should be cautious not to assume a necessary linkage between “subsistence” and “aboriginal” when deciding who should be exempt from the IWC whaling moratorium. Freeman stresses that the prevailing concepts of aboriginal as primitive combine with “subsistence” to enforce a faulty definition of subsistence whaling as traditional, non-commercial, etc. This incorrect classification hinders the IWC’s goal of identifying and controlling the true commercial whalers. The principal difference between subsistence and commercial whaling should be decided based on the extent to which the whaling is an attempt to sustain intergenerational social and economic activities. In contrast, commercial whaling, the type of whaling that the moratorium intends to target, maintains a purely economic goal: to maximize profits.
MEGAN GOSTOLA Macalester College (Karen Nakamura)
Fry, Douglas P. The Intergenerational Transmission of Disciplinary Practices and Approaches to Conflict. Human Organization. Summer, 1993 Vol.52(2):176-185.
In this article Douglas P. Fry provides an examination of disciplinary practices and the intergenerational transfer of approaches to conflict of the Zapotec in Oaxaca, Mexico. Fry’s goal was to explore the transmission of intergenerational conflict by focusing on patterns of child discipline and general community attitudes to conflict resolution. He conducted a comparisonal study between two separate Zapotec communities, San Andres and La Paz (both are pseudonyms).
Three complementary methodologies were employed to investigate disciplinary styles and conflict behavior: structured interviews, general ethnographic observations, and ethological behavior observations conducted via focal-child sampling. Fry employed two field assistants to ask 18 questions of fathers in La Paz and San Andrés. He chose comparable cross-sections of fathers from the two locations. Fry then transcribed the interviews and used a set of categories for the scoring of responses. During the research, he resided in both communities for a total of 18 months, regularly switching between locations, and kept field notes of aggressive behavior and parent-child interaction. For his ethological observations, Fry watched 48 children three to eight years old for a total of 150 hours, categorizing the type of physical punishment the children received (i.e. slapping, pushing, etc.).
From the three methods of research Fry discovered significant differences in conflict resolution in the two locations. From interviewing, Fry learned that fathers from San Andrés favored the use of physical punishment much more often than did the La Paz fathers; the La Paz fathers favored the use of positive non-physical responses significantly more often than did their San Andrés counterparts. Furthermore, in San Andrés, Fry observed 11 child beatings but none in La Paz, although both communities employed minor forms of physical punishment like slaps. Fry noted that while La Paz is relatively peaceful and often chooses to resolve conflicts without violence, San Andrés maintains a higher level of fights, homicide, and jealousy. In both cases, Fry found that the majority of punishments were not severe or long lasting. Fry concludes that immediate physical punishment in both communities is mild, but San Andrés parents are more likely to use corporal punishment, whereas La Paz parents prefer to educate their children through discussion.
Fry suggests that in place of heavy reliance on corporal punishment, La Paz parents raise non-aggressive children through a combination of several methods: conveying expectations of non-aggressiveness and obedience, modeling and rewarding non-aggressive behaviors, and focusing on discussions as a way to prevent misbehavior. The higher level of violence in San Andrés leads to children modeling behaviors to which they are accustomed. Therefore, trends of relative violence are passed-down in San Andrés but are generally absent in La Paz. Fry concludes his research by offering policy recommendations for the United States. He suggests that corporal punishment be abandoned in favor of discussion and explanation, and that training programs in conflict resolution be offered.
MEGAN GOSTOLA Macalester College (Karen Nakamura)
Godoy, Ricardo. Beyond Chayanov: Investment Decisions in the Rural Third World – the Viewpoint of Farmers, Bankers, and the Central Government. Human Organization, Spring 1993, Vol. 52(1):25-30
In this article, Godoy suggests guidelines for looking at investment decisions based on profits in rural Third World situations. He opens with and example using Chayanov’s definition of profit. Chayanov found that subsistence farmers did not place value on alternative uses of their land, labor, or capital. When this definition was used, farmers in Costa Rica showed profit, whereas with others, they showed a loss. He attributes this difference to the idea that people with different viewpoints may show different results for profit in considering the same situation. Having different viewpoints means they consider different variables.
Godoy draws three conclusions from readings on profits in the rural Third World. 1) Most scholars agree that certain concepts cannot be applied to the Third World. 2) Farmers must be considered in more contexts than just the rural Third World. 3)These farmers only consider out-of-pocket expenses to be cost. He then points out the gaps in these studies that need to be filled.
Next, he presents a model for thinking about profits to make results comparable from different viewpoints. He uses the viewpoints of a farmer, banker, and a national representative to calculate profits differently. Each of these people looks at different factors when calculating profit. In addition, he uses a table to distinguish between financial and economic analysis in each of these situations and constructs a table for items that affect the measurement of benefits and costs, dependent upon each of the actors. Each item is presented in detail and followed by an example that shows how one activity is more profitable to the nation and bank, while it is less profitable to a budget office and farmer.
Godoy goes on to discuss the policy implications of his model and its limitations. He notes that neither the native or outsider viewpoint of development is more correct than another, they are simply different due to distinct notions of profit. He concludes that it is necessary to find a way to look at different rationalities together and put them in the context of each other. He hopes that this article helps to achieve that goal.
CAROLYN WATERS Macalester College (Karen Nakamura)
Halmo, David B., Richard W. Stoffle, and Michael J. Evans. Paitu Nanasuagaindu Pahonupi (Three Sacred Valleys): Cultural Significance of Gosiute, Paiute, and Ute Plants. Human Organization, 1993 Vol.52(2):142-150.
This article discusses a quantitative assessment tool for calculating the cultural significance of American Indian plants and engages in the conversation on how to calculate the cultural importance of plants to American Indian peoples, specifically as they are effected by development projects. The research for this paper is based on the ethnobotanical portion of a Native American cultural impact assessment conducted in west-central Utah in 1989, with new research supplementing the Yucca Mountain ethnobotany data base, adding two ethnic groups, and demonstrating the usefulness of Nancy Turner’s formula for calculating the cultural significance of plants.
The paper combines an abstract discussion on the cultural significance of plants to Native American peoples and the findings of a specific survey designed to minimize the potential impacts of a proposed US Air Force training range. The majority if the theoretical discussion is an explanation of why it is important to asses the cultural significance of specific plants to Native American peoples. Plants are ethnic identity symbols and their cultural importance does not hinge on their availability. The ethnobotany study focuses on an area inhabited by the Gosiute, the Pahvant-Southern Paiute, and the Ute and examines the cultural significance of plant life in three valleys, Whirlwind, Tule, and Snake, with numerous possible sites for the US Air Force combat range. The authors developed a methodology for conducting Native American impact assessment studies and established consultation relationships with the Confederated Tribes of the Goshute Reservation, the Skull Valley Goshute Indian Tribe, The Uintah and Ouray Ute Indian Tribe, and the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah. Tribal representatives were selected from each community to work with the researchers. The representatives accompanied the ethnographers to the study area and were interviewed about the plant resources found in the valleys. Nineteen plants were identified by the three tribes as having traditional uses. The Gosiute identified the most because the study area was in their traditional territory.
The authors used two methods of calculating the value of each individual valley based on the plant life in each. Egalitarian triage calculated by tallying the number of plants identified by members of each ethnic group to determine the significance of an area. Weighted triage adds the scores of each plant identified to produce a numeric value for all the plant resources in a location. In the case of the study area, egalitarian triage and weighted triage produced the same ranking of the valleys: Whirlwind Valley ranked highest, Tule Valley second, and Snake Valley third.
The authors conclude that the calculation of the cultural significance of plants for Native American peoples has important scientific and policy implications. They argue for the inclusion of Native peoples in studies for accurately representation of their concerns. They believe that scientific and ethnic perceptions of significance can be addressed within a single model for calculating the importance of various cultural resources, even beyond plants.
KITTY HARDING Macalester College (Karen Nakamura)
Handwerker, W. Penn. Empowerment and Fertility Transition on Antigua, WI: Education, Employment, and the Moral Economy of Childbearing. Homan Organization, 1993 Vol. 52, No. 1: 41-52.
W. Penn Handwerker investigates the fertility transition in Antiqua, West Indies as it is effected by changes in education, employment, and the moral economy. Handwerker argues that women’s birth trajectories and fertility rates are directly effected by the moral economy of childbearing. The author further states that the moral economy of childbearing id directly influenced by the interaction between improved employment opportunities and increased attainment of education. Through these arguments, the author aims to describe the reasons why fertility rates have declined since the late 1960’s to a rate of below replacement-level. In the author’s investigations of each of the variables, it is asserted additionally that education itself has virtually no impact on the declining fertility rates, but that it is rather the “conjunction” of employment opportunities and educational levels which effect the fertility rate. These elements were set into motion by a structural transformation of the national economy, resulting in changed, more independent roles for women, and setting the scene for a “revolution in gender relations” (41).
This study is written in addition to a number of other studies which focus on the biological, social, and resource availability, and the ability of women to pursue independent goal variables in fertility conducted in Saint Lucia and Barbados as well as Antigua. The article discusses other factors, including marriage dynamics, gender relations, and access to resources (and explains resource access theory in relation to these issues), and the effects of male dominance and abuse, female subservience and oppression, and the subsequent change in the economy to an emphasis on tourism which has made more negotiation within that system possible for women. Further, the study differentiates between women who regarded childbearing as a way to insure their own future welfare as those who regard it as an investment activity and those who do not have this constraint and look at it as a consumption activity.
The article argues that with the change in the economy and relations, more jobs became available, which motivated more women to attain greater levels of education, the conjunction of which negatively effected fertility rates because more women regarded childbearing as a consumption activity, leading them to have fewer children. While the author points out the lack of conclusive evidence that education alone effects fertility rates, it is asserted that these linked factors does in fact effect fertility rates. Finally, Handwerker discusses the determinants of both women’s attainment of education and their view of the moral economy of childbearing. The author concludes with a discussion of the methodology, the usage of different kinds of data, and the need to study fertility in its larger context, acknowledging the multiple variables which are simultaneously effecting childbearing and the effects of those variables on each other.
KJERSTIN GURDA Macalester College (Karen Nakamura)
Hessler, Peter. Sikeston: An Ethnographic Study of a Town and its Youth. Human Organization Fall 1993 Vol. 52 (3): 316-324
This article is an ethnographic study of the town Sikeston, Missouri that focuses on its young people. The town has a history of poverty that causes many social problems. These problems have their worst effects among youth. Hessler’s goal in writing this article was to discover the attitudes that shape the town, putting an emphasis on young people’s roles over time.
Hessler’s methods included historical analysis, a newspaper review, and interviews. His historical analysis began with the book A History of Sikeston, which describes the town’s development until 1960. He also examined the 1938 U.S. Department of Agriculture report entitled “Rich Land, Poor People” that details the early development of the southeast region of Missouri. This report stated that solutions to the town’s problems were distant; that only state and national agencies could solve them. Hessler, on the other hand, opines that focusing on area youth is most efficient tactic for solving the town’s problems.
Hessler’s newspaper review consisted of examining all issues in five-year intervals from 1970 to 1990 of the Sikeston Standard-Democrat. This helped him to formulate a sense of the changes and trends in community views over the twenty-year period. He noted that throughout this span of time, the paper’s articles dealt with similar youth issues: poverty, drugs, pregnancy, and racial conflict. Over time, he noted more focus within the community on finding the roots of problems and planning their prevention.
The interviews Hessler conducted were divided into three main groups: community leaders, parents from a range of social classes, and youth. The youth were subdivided into a group from the town’s black community, the Sunset Addition, and a group of high school students. His general findings were that most respondents thought of Sikeston as a small town that was not too small and not too big. They explained that the main force in fragmenting the community was its wide range of income. This division was even more apparent for young people. They also saw race as a barrier. The geographic location of the Sunset Addition ensures the town’s segregation. The outside community doesn’t want to deal with Sunset’s problems.
The respondents viewed youth activities to be very limited. Teenagers feel unwelcome in the town because of it. Schools provide most activities for youth. Most adults seemed satisfied with the school system, excepting the black community. Many youth saw racism as a problem in school. Hessler believes that the school system has the potential to combat the racism mirrored in greater community. Respondents also discussed drugs and alcohol. This, like teen pregnancy and dropout rates reflected bad parenting. Community involvement was limited to churches and civic organizations, which provided limited activities, based on age and money.
Hessler concludes that these problems can be faced internally. He says that Sikeston has potential for change if efforts are focused on young people.
CAROLYN WATERS Macalester College (Karen Nakamura)
Keen, Ian. Aboriginal Beliefs vs. Mining at Coronation Hill: The Containing Force of Traditionalism. Human Organization, 1993 Vol.52(4): 344-355
In the early 1990s, a land dispute arose in the Northern Territory of Australia between miners and the local Jawoyn people of Guratba. In his article, Ian Keen argues the importance of understanding local beliefs when dealing with such issues.
Guratba is a hill area which has been officially registered as a ‘sacred site,’ and was being explored for mining. The possibility of incorporating the area into Kakadu National Park was being considered, which would prevent any more mining. During discussion on the issue, the Jawoyn were largely ignored, and as a consequence, their religious views on the issue were not taken into account. Keen’s article explores the ways in which Jawoyn religion and culture was disregarded by the officials in this matter.
The Jawoyn believe that their country was created by a deity known as Bula (or Bulardemo), who can bring sickness and other problems to those who displease him. Bula, who can be both singular and plural, is believed to be physically manifested in the land of his country. Guratba is said to be the burial place of Bula and his wives. Because of this, many Jawoyn feared the negative consequences of disturbing or mutilating Bula through mining, especially in the Guratba area.
When Aboriginal groups went into conversation with government officials regarding the future of the area, several problems arose. First, there was no consensus among the Jawoyn as to where Bula was; some Jawoyn stated that Guratba was Bula, while others said that there was no significance to the area. In addition, Jawoyn spokespersons sometimes changed their minds, giving contradictory statements. Non-Aboriginal miners argued that beliefs that the land was a creator deity were ridiculous, and should not affect economic decisions. The author offers several explanations for these issues. Keen explains that language and translation problems prevented Jawoyn from expressing themselves fully, and that they often felt intimidated, and consequently gave answers that would please white government officials.
Keen also offers reasons why white Australians failed to understand the intentions of the Jawoyn. The miners and officials, he says, expected the Jawoyn to live in a timeless, homogenous world; they were unable to accept a belief system that differed slightly from person to person, or had changed over time. As a result, they sought to label the living, evolving religion of the Jawoyn as invalid.
Keen’s article illuminates the danger inherent in expecting any group of people to live a timeless existence. He rejects defining ‘tradition’ as ‘unrelated to interaction with outside issues and agents,’ opting instead for an understanding of the living, changing qualities of a rational people.
REBECCA DRISCOLL OLSON Macalester College (Karen Nakamura)
McMillan, Della. Diversification and Successful Settlement in the River Blindness Control Zone of West Africa. Human Organization, Fall, 1993 Vol. 52 (3): 269-279.
Onchorcerciasis, or river blindness, has been a significant health concern in sub-Saharan Africa for centuries. Because the flies that transmit this disease to humans can only breed near fast-moving water, there is often a markedly high incidence of river blindness in fertile river valleys, which has resulted in under-population in these regions of West Africa. However, river blindness control was launched in 1974, and proved to be one of the most successful health programs ever undertaken in sub-Saharan Africa. Consequently, river valleys have been undergoing resettlement after the disease was deemed under control.
One of agencies responsible for sponsoring settlement clusters is the Volta Valley Authority (also called the AVV) of Burkina Faso. From 1974 to 1984, the agency established 12 clusters in Burkina Faso, each of which was made up of six or seven planned villages. At various periods between 1977 and 1989, Della McMillan conducted research on three groups of nearby settlements in Burkina Faso: Linoghin (six villages), Mogtedo (six villages), and Mogtedo-Bombore (seven villages).
In this article, McMillan argues that the planners’ objectives – focused mainly upon increased food and cash crop production in development planning – have been too narrow in scope for the varied opportunities and problems that many settlers confront. Generally, successful crop development leads accomplished farmers to become even more ambitious, seeking higher yielding crop technologies or outside employment if it is available, a trend that was not anticipated by the AVV. Additionally, particular problems have also been overlooked in development planning, such as lack of potable water, disease, and limited infrastructure. Consequently, McMillan contends that it is impossible for planners to anticipate all problems and opportunities that the settlers will be confronted with. It is thus necessary in development planning to take a diversified production system that includes development of irrigated dry season farming, animal husbandry, forestry, and trade, which would supplement the preferred method of concentrating on one or two commercial crops through rainfed agriculture.
In all three locations, the author reports, settler income was increased. However, the success of the three clusters varied markedly as the settlers of Mogtedo and Mogtedo-Bombore experienced higher rates of settler dropout, and spent significantly less on education, than their counterparts in Linoghin. McMillan accounts for this discrepancy by explaining that Mogtedo and Mogtedo-Bombore are both more isolated and less diversified than Linoghin, where success was stimulated by additional off-farm employment in 80% of households interviewed, as well as the creation of a dynamic market.
According to McMillan, the initial success AVV planning served to empower the settlers and fueled their desire to create even more economic opportunities. While this sense of enthusiasm was wasted in Mogtedo and Mogtedo-Bombore due to isolation and lack of diversity in economic opportunities, the success of settlers in Linoghin is an indication of the types of potential assistance that should be pursued.
McMillan asserts that although isolated planned settlements appear to be successful in the short-term, as the project often initially appears to increase settler living standards, the long-term potential for sustainability appears dubious. She advocates for settlements in less isolated areas, where settlers will have increased opportunity for economic diversification. Additionally, she suggests that development projects need to be phased over a longer period of time in order to deal with issues that arise in the second generation. Finally, McMillan asserts that development projects should be regarded on a wider scale. Follow-up development plans for undertakings such as river-blindness control should be anticipated due to the probability of far-reaching and unexpected consequences.
LAURA MOENCH Macalester College (Karen Nakamura)
Moreno-Black, Geraldine and Lisa Leimar Price The Marketing of Gathered Food As an Economic Strategy of Women in Northeastern Thailand. Human Organization 1993 Vol.52(4):398-404.
This article examines the changing role of women in rural Northeast Thailand. Moreno-Black and Leimar Price argue that rural women have a well-established niche in the local market economy. Other researchers have examined reasons why men are not prevalent in the market scene however, the authors state that these studies fail to examine why women are. They contend that women collecting and selling non-domesticated or non-cultivated food in the marketplace extend traditional household subsistence patterns into a money-driven economy.
While other researchers in the region may view this activity as simply reinforcing gender roles, Moreno-Black and Leimar Price state that these practices allow women to have more control over family finances as it provides a significant amount of rural families incomes. Women can increase social status and merit for themselves and their families by publicly giving gifts to Buddhist monks or temples. This empowering economic strategy involves fewer risks and more money than other types of farming strategies, as the women, themselves go to the market to sell their food and no special equipment, seeds or fertilizer is needed.
Moreno-Black and Leimar Price support their argument through field-work research conducted in the Kalasin Province from January through March 1988. They describe the research area, highlighting important aspects like; location and geography, major crops and local industries and explain in-depth about the marketplaces in the city of Kalasin, focusing on the early-morning market. The authors briefly provide background information on women’s roles in marketing and the matrilocal and matrilineal family structure in Thailand.
Through a market survey of 103 women in the area, Moreno-Black and Leimar Price examined five aspects of marketing including demographic information, gathering and selling habits and marketplace dynamics. The authors also conducted in-depth interviews, compiling more detailed information about the role of women in the market economy, as well as general information about the women themselves. The interviews took place with 14 village women who refrained from selling gathered food in the market and 31 female market vendors.
The most relevant information in support of Moreno-Black and Leimar Price’s argument is presented in the data collected from interviews with women on gathering habits and income. Women gathering food to sell spent more time gathering than non-sellers and gathered for market-price rather than taste. More sellers than non-sellers thought gathered food was healthier. In families where women sold gathered food, they contributed to over half of the family’s income. Women gave detailed accounts of where they spent the money they earned at the market, listing other food, household expenses and religious contributions. The interview data are presented in five tables.
Based on the interviews, the authors contend women sellers are playing key roles in providing for their families. They emphasize that further research should be done to examine these changing roles of rural women as they use traditional subsistence strategies to provide for their families in a different way and move into the cash economy.
RIKKI MURRAY Macalester College (Karen Nakamura)
Moss, Nancy, Michael C. Stone, and Jason B. Smith. Fertility among Central American Refugees and Immigrants in Belize. Human Organization Summer, 1993 Vol.52(2):186-193.
In this article, Moss et al. examine fertility and knowledge of family planning among Guatemalan and Salvadoran women refugees in Belize. The authors carried out their research in 1989 by interviewing 133 women in three communities near the capital of Belmopan. Moss et al. use their results to argue for more equitable resource distribution and more comprehensive family planning education.
Moss et al. begin by providing a brief historical overview and explain that Belize’s popularity as a destination for Central American refugees may be largely attributed to the country’s political stability, relative economic prosperity, and isolated location on the Caribbean coast. The authors attribute the flow of migration to the civil conflict, and resultant economic and social collapse, that erupted in El Salvador and Guatemala in the late 1980s. In 1990, there were approximately 5,100 registered refugees and an estimated 25,000 to 30,000 migrants without legal residency living in Belize, comprising one-sixth of the country’s population.
Moss et al. did not use age as a factor in deciding which women to interview and, in total, studied a sample of 133 women in the three communities. The authors characterized the migrant women in their study on the basis of nationality, residency status, and amount of time living in Belize. The researchers selected women with children under the age of six, who had an average age of 28 years, averaged 4.5 live births, and desired 1.5 more children. Moss et al. worked in consultation with the Belizean Refugee Office to design a survey of maternal and child health and began interviews with a personal birth history of each woman, followed by queries regarding desired family size, the importance the woman and her partner assigned to issues of family planning, and the specific family planning methods she was familiar with. Moss et al. then utilized chi-square statistics and one-way analysis of variance to build models and examine the effect of migration on fertility.
Moss et al. determined that, while migration does not affect fertility per se, refugees had twice as many children than did permanent and illegal residents when a mother’s age, education, and acreage were controlled for. The authors attribute this fact to the discrepancy in resources available to the populations as well as to largely immeasurable factors related to where one is born. Additionally, Moss et al. mention the possibility that the close correlation between forced and economic migration places stresses on spousal relationships. The researchers’ data indicates that “those who are best off or worst off socioeconomically have greatest interest in constraining family growth” (190). Cumulative fertility was high among the women studied and acreage was positively related with the want for additional children. The authors briefly examine the possibility that this fact may be closely related to the easy access to arable land and, subsequently, the significant labor demands of subsistence farming. Additionally, the researchers were able to glean rich data from the interviews conducted and highlight the fact that more than half of the women were interested in methods of family planning, and two-thirds had discussed the topic with their partners. Within the group of women interested in family planning, 62% were able to refer to a means of contraception. Moss et al. also discuss differences in family planning interest and fertility among Salvadoran and Guatemalan women.
While abortion is illegal in Belize, contraception is, in most of the larger cities, easily accessible. Though the government has not discouraged family growth, it has backed contraception as a means of improving maternal and child health. Moss et al. recommend that family planning information and assistance be provided to the women in these populations, as soon as possible upon their arrival in Belize. Moss et al. argue that “culturally and linguistically appropriate outreach and education for all reproductive age women, irrespective of residency status” is a necessity and also advocate for the promotion of condoms as protection against sexually transmitted diseases, and not solely as a means of contraception (192). The researchers also highlight the need to provide outreach to men and, in this vein, express their hope that future studies will take the male perspective into account when examining issues of contraception and child spacing.
EMILY SAUER Macalester College (Karen Nakamura).
Nichter, Mark. Social Science Lessons from Diarrhea Research and Their Application to ARI. Human Organization Spring, 1993 Vol.52(1):53-64.
Acute respiratory infection (ARI) is one of the leading causes of death in the Third World. ARI has only recently been considered by international health organizations as important to combat. Much more research has been conducted by social scientists and health care professionals on treating diarrhea than on treating ARI. Most of the ethnographic research done by medical anthropologists on ARI started after 1990 when the WHO began to focuses on ethnographic studies. In this article, Nichter cites the importance of lessons already learned from previous ethnographic research on diarrhea. He urges future researchers to apply those lessons to research and implementation of the treatment of ARI.
In the beginning of this article, Nichter reviews the similarities and differences between diarrhea and ARI. He notes that the two illnesses are similar in that both are caused by a variety of viral, bacterial and parasitic agents and are difficult to diagnosis by their signs and symptoms. He also notes that the initial stages may be mistaken for bodily responses to environmental or dietary change and laypeople may use ineffective and expensive and possible harmful over-the-counter medications for treatment of both diseases. Differences Nichter cites are that it is more difficult to interrupt the airborne transmission of ARI as opposed to diarrhea in which fecal-oral contact can be reduced, it is more difficult to monitor ARI than diarrhea, and signs of acute ARI may be mistaken for conditions causing wheezing. Nichter follows this section by citing questions that are of relevance to international health organizations in regards to implementing treatment plans for ARI.
Nichter continues the article by listing the response of the international health community to ARI, noting that the recognition of the importance of the research has been slow in coming. Reponses that have been implemented include ARI being recognized as a priority area for program funding, recent biomedical advances that have made affordable antibiotics more available and the need to consider the further implementation of community-based ARI programs.
In the following section Nichter highlights the importance of anthropological research towards the implementation of effective treatment measures of ARI. He notes that anthropologists must look at both the micro and macro levels of health care in countries to get a full understanding of the response to ARI. Nichter emphasizes that much can be learned from the previous research on diarrhea treatment. Some of these lessons include assessing what is “abnormal and what is “routine,” taking into consideration caretaker’s previous knowledge and the ambiguity of illness labels, recognizing how new symptoms are perceived and what ones prompt care seeking, looking at restraints on mothers, not just taking mothers or caretakers into consideration but also practitioners and pharmacists, keeping in mind types of medication and the possibility prescription sharing, being aware of the needs of the community and not just the international health priorities and having an interdisciplinary health research team. Nichter concludes by stating that this list of suggestions from previous research on implementing diarrhea treatment programs should also be useful for researchers to take into consideration when implementing treatment programs ARI as well as future implementation of international health projects for disease reduction.
HELEN BAKER Macalester College (Karen Nakamura)
Palinkas, Lawrence A., Michael A. Downs, John S. Petterson, and John Russell. Social, Cultural, and Psychosocial Impacts of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill. Human Organization, Vol.52 No.1, 1993.
This article details the results of a study conducted by the authors assessing the social, cultural, and psychosocial impacts of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill in March 1989. It focuses specifically on the changes in patterns of social relations, traditional subsistence activities, and prevalence of physical and mental disorders since the oil spill in 13 communities in Southeast Alaska regions. They find that the changes in the sociocultural functions of the members of the 13 communities were directly influenced by the degree of exposure to the spill.
The authors begin their article by giving a general background of the oil spill and the affected areas. They state that the areas affected by the spill are populated by “Native” and “Non-Natives” groups, classifying the native ethnic groups as part of the larger category of Aleut. The authors then give a brief history of contact between these Aleut groups and the “Euro-American” social system. They explain that commercial fishing constitutes the dominant sector of the economy in many of these communities affected by the spill. They stress that the lifestyle and subsistence of many of the communities affected by the spill. They stress that the lifestyle and subsistence of many of these “Native” groups is closely related to marine resources, and though they have varying degrees of significance, the social processes of distributing these resources is the basis of social networks among families and within and among communities.
The authors find that one-forth of individuals interviewed actually worked with cleanup efforts, and another forty percent of the interviewees had multiple direct links with cleanup activities. The authors state that one consequence of the community-wide preoccupation with the spill was conflict over participation and found that money was the source of much of the friction. The authors also find that the spill and cleanup efforts disrupted social visits among family members and friends, as well as disrupting the participation in religious activities and community events. The authors conclude that the oil spill had a dramatic effect on subsistence activities and attribute this to the fact that many areas were closed to subsistence activities, many residents abstained from subsistence activities for health concerns related to contamination and residents had less time as a result of the cleanup efforts to devote to “traditional” subsistence activities. The authors also found the prevalence of generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and depression. They note that exposure to the spill was associated with increases in alcohol consumption, drug use, and domestic violence.
The author state in their discussion of the study that the measures used to assess exposure to the spill were crude and incomplete approximations, and note that the degree of exposure of an individual is dependent on the activities of other residents to which that individual is tied to by social relationships. They note that the younger age groups, women, and Alaskan Native residents were more vulnerable to the negative impacts of the spill as evidence by the higher rates of psychiatric disorders among these groups. They suggest that the Alaskan Natives in their study have higher rates of psychiatric disorders. They continue that the disruption of subsistence activities among Alaskan Native groups was particularly significant because these activities are central to their social organizations. They continue, however, by pointing out that the psychosocial impacts of a disaster are influenced by the nature of event, particularly if that event is expected or unexpected. They stress that changes in the sociocultural functions of a community and the mental and physical health of the residents are influenced by degree of exposure. The authors conclude by advocating further research with the communities affected by the Exxon Valdez spill to assess the long-term impacts of the disaster.
EMILY RACKOW (Macalester College) Karen Nakamura
Reeves-Ellington, Richard H. Using Cultural Skills for Cooperative Advantage in Japan. Human Organization Summer, 1993 Vol.53(2):203-215.
Businesses that work regularly with other cultures must teach their employees skills to effectively communicate with their foreign counterparts. Richard H. Reeves-Ellington examines a program created in order to assist American employees of Pharmco, a pharmaceutical subsidiary of a major US multinational, in their dealings with their Japanese counterparts from Diversity KK, a major Japanese company. The Pharmco senior manager responsible for Japanese operations (a trained anthropologist) proposed a program offering US-based managers and scientists assistance in learning about Japanese culture. The main goal of the program was to offer assistance in getting through a Japanese business day while at the same time providing the tools and processes to enable employees to gain cultural understanding and apply their learning to other cultural contexts.
The program’s focus was primarily on understanding and predicting culture, developing a cross-cultural understanding process, providing participant observation methodology, and explaining cultural concepts in a way that could be integrated by the employees in a manner that allowed them to understand the culture intellectually. A PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act) cycle was incorporated and was integrated with a three level data base system focusing on artifacts (what can be seen or heard), social knowledge/values (“why and how” people act as they do), and cultural logic (facts that answer the “why” about most fundamental relationships people have to that which surrounds them). For instance, a person can start with a particular issue, review the artifact database, look into the underlying values and cultural logic as explanations, formulate a plan, carry out said plan, check back to confirm what was learned, add new information into the database, and finally modify the plan until one is satisfied and acts on it. The employees, throughout the educational process, worked closely with the manager-anthropologist both to ensure that they were effectively following the program, as well as to instill confidence in their abilities.
Reeves-Ellington blends comprehensive information about basic Japanese customs in regards to business with anecdotes that explain how things can go wrong. The examination of Japanese business customs is very complete, beginning with introductions involving meishi, Japanese business cards, and ending with the concept of going out for drinks with guests as a means to relax and say what is truly on one’s mind. The information provided in this article is extensive, examining the levels of respect necessary for each transaction, and how to achieve success in business meetings of any kind. The program met Pharmco’s criteria of success of effective working relationships with Japanese executives, shortened project times, and improved financial returns. While created for interaction between Japanese and American employees, this program was intended to be a model for adaptation to other foreign situations as well.
CHELSEA ADAMS Macalester College (Karen Nakamura).
Safran, Elizabeth B. and Richard A. Godoy Effect of Government Policies on Smallholder Palm Cultivation: An Example from Borneo. Human Organization 1993 Vol.52(3):294-298.
Safran and Godoy argue that the management of non-timber forest resources by smallholder farmers benefits both the economy and the environment. They examine three obstacles associated with the exploitation of non-timber goods in a global market: 1) poorly developed markets, 2) avoiding over-exploitation and 3) government policies. The authors focus on the latter of the three, exploring how national economic policies in Borneo have affected the community at the level of the individual smallholder farmer.
The authors’ support their argument using field research conducted by Safran in two areas of Borneo known for rattan cultivation, Sampit and Ketapang. Rattan is a non-timber forest product naturally prevalent in this area and has been collected or cultivated by smallholder farmers for over a century. Safran interviewed 35 smallholder farmers, 25 in Sampit and 10 in Ketapang, comparing the employment of farmers, income of farmers and the price of rattan before and after the ban, presenting the results in three separate tables. Highly profitable, rattan cultivation provided substantial secondary income to smallholder farmers.
In an effort to boost the economy and in response to global and internal market pressures, the Indonesian government banned the export of unprocessed rattan in 1988. Indonesia’s policy change followed a growing trend in the region. Many other governments in Southeast Asia had already banned the export of raw rattan in order to promote the export of finished goods, considered more economically stimulating and profitable.
Safran and Godoy assert that the government and Indonesian furniture manufacturers wanted to “cash in” on these profits. They argue that the ban resulted in decreased domestic demand and prices. In addition to this, rural cultivation and income decreased, leading to increased unemployment. They suggest this forced smallholder farmers to turn to other, less eco-friendly, forest exploitation or forced them to sell their land. As Indonesia was the leading export of rattan, prices of the product have increased worldwide.
The authors contend that banning the export of raw, unfinished or semi-processed rattan and increasing the export tax has had detrimental effects on the village economies and will result in increased deforestation. Safran and Godoy further contend that decreased production of rattan in Indonesia caused an increase in its production elsewhere in the region and a move to replace rattan with other materials.
RIKKI MURRAY Macalester College (Karen Nakamura)
Sheehan, Elizabeth A. The Academic as Informant: Methodological and Theoretical Issues in the Ethnography of Intellectuals. Human Organization, 1993 Vol.52(3):252-259.
This article examines the implications and complications of using an academic as an informant. Sheehan draws on her fieldwork with Irish academic intellectuals to support her thesis that using an academic as an informant has unique repercussions on the process of ethnography. Additionally she argues that the political, social, and historical contexts in which a study is located need to be understood, acknowledged, and actively navigated by the anthropologist.
Sheehan explored Irish academics’ involvement in the public spheres of politics, social reform, and cultural debate. Sheehan undertook her fieldwork with Irish academics as a gradate student and was thus junior to her informants. Moreover, due to Ireland’s long history of political and intellectual subjugation, primarily to Great Britain, her informants were hesitant to share information with a foreign anthropologist. A history of unfavorable scholarship by American and British anthropologists and sociologists caused Sheehan to encounter many instances of mistrust.
Sheehan’s informants presented her with the unique challenge of “studying up” to her academic superiors and “studying across” to members of her own social class. In studying her superiors Sheehan had to gain a sort of permission to study people with much greater prestige and scholarly standing. The usual complicated power dynamics played out between the informant and anthropologist are further convoluted when, during or after an interview, the informant gives the interviewer tips on or a critique of her methodology. Additionally, studying academics requires the negotiation of the bureaucratic structures of academic institutions. Casual contact is limited and potential informants have to be actively sought out. Sheehan found that once she did manage to arrange an interview with someone, she was expected to be highly versed in their intellectual backgrounds in order to be deemed sufficiently well-informed to interview them. She found that in studying native academics, it was important to distinguish between respecting native research concerns and protecting the interests of local authorities, including intellectuals.
Sheehan concludes her article with a discussion of what the implications of studying academics and intellectuals are for ethnographers. She argues that the same ethical cautions one takes with a powerful informant should also be taken with an informant who may never have the chance to read or critique one’s work. She cautions of the danger of self-censorship for the wrong reasons and the risk of getting caught up in a special interest groups particular goals. She notes that in the study of intellectuals and academics it is necessary for the anthropologist to be more keenly aware of his or her own particular biases for and possible investment in the “mystique of interpretive authority and the illusion of scholarly objectivity” (258).
KITTY HARDING Macalester College (Karen Nakamura)
Sterk-Elifson, Clare. Outreach among Drug Users: Combining the Role of Ethnographic Field Assistant and Health Educator. Human Organization Summer, 1993 Vol.52(2):162-167.
In the U.S., intravenous drug users are the second most at risk group for developing the HIV infection. In this article Sterk-Elifson outlines the importance of informing drug users about reducing their risk for infection through needle sharing and sexual practices. This is a difficult task because many of the drug users are not receiving the messages about prevention practices through the usual mediums (e.g. newspaper or television advertisements). Social scientists and outreach workers (people who are from the communities they work with-in this case the workers are mostly former drug users, but some have never used while others may still be using) must work together to help disseminate information into these communities. Sterk-Elifson bases this paper on research she conducted working with outreach workers in six US cities from 1990-1991.
The paper gives a broad overview of research related to HIV prevention and drug users. This is followed by specific examples of Sterk-Elifson’s work with drug users and the role of the outreach workers, pointing out possible conflicts that may occur between the outreach workers and the researcher and/or the outreach workers and the drug users. Some of these conflicts include the outreach workers not being comfortable interacting with some drug users (ex. A former cocaine smoker not wanting to interact with a heroin user) or the outreach workers reporting from personal perceptions of behaviors instead of from objective information.
In this article, Sterk-Elifson stresses the importance of collaboration between social scientists and outreach workers. She points out that, unlike epidemiologists who concentrate on the relationship between HIV infection and behavior, social scientists mainly focus on the socio-cultural framework in which the behaviors occur. Sterk-Elifson emphasizes the difference between qualitative and quantitative research in regards to drug use and sexual practices, saying that qualitative research is more useful when doing research on sexual behavior because the researcher is able to connect more with the informants. Sterk-Elifson argues that the outreach worker plays an important role in conducting ethnographic research. Furthermore, outreach workers more easily connect with the drug users as well as uses more appropriate vocabulary because of their familiarity with drug use because they used drugs in the past or they are still using them. There is not agreement between researchers whether or not an outreach worker should be drug free. A major issue that comes up is stopping outreach workers from relapsing by not putting them in situations that may cause them to relapse as well as having an open relationship with the outreach workers in order to talk about the possibility of relapse with peers and their supervisor.
Sterk-Elifson concludes by restating the importance of the outreach worker as a link between the qualitatively oriented social scientist and drug users. Outreach workers play a similar role to the social scientists in that they must identify target communities, gain access to the communities and develop trusting relationships with the members of the communities. The success of all outreach workers depend on their facility in being both an ethnographic field assistant and a health educator.
HELEN BAKER Macalester College (Karen Nakamura)
Vincke, John, Rudolf Mak, Ralph Bolton, and Paul Jurica. Factors Affecting AIDS-related Sexual Behavior Change among Flemish Gay Men. Human Organization Summer, 1993 Vol.52(2):260-267.
In this article, Vincke, Mak, Bolton and Jurica begin by stating that most research on AIDS prevention has not found a correlation between sexual behavior change and education about AIDS. From this point, the authors continue with background information about AIDS research already completed and information on Flanders, the Flemish speaking area of Belgium. The final section gives the results of the 1989 computer survey given by the authors to Flemish gay men in Ghent, Belgium.
In background information section, the authors point out three theoretical models that can be used to describe possible methods of creating behavioral change: the “health belief model,” the “fear reduction model,” and the “social support model.” The health belief model states that if there is a high degree of perceived susceptibility along with a high perceived severity of threat that the belief that the proposed preventive behavior will be effective in changing a person’s behavior. The fear reduction model theorizes that by accepting the health behavioral change suggestions, the anxiety produced by the health warnings will diminish, therefore reducing overall anxiety that may lead a person into a state of denial about the risk of their behavior. The social support model suggests that social support is necessary for the adaptation of less risky behaviors. In addition to the background information about previous AIDS research, the authors give details about the Flemish gay population, stating that there are not only few organizations for homosexuals in Flanders but there is also low approval of homosexuality by the Flemish population.
From this point of reference, the researchers located 379 men to take the survey. The participants were found through advertising and by volunteer recruitment. The authors decided that finding a diverse group of respondents was important to get more accurate results. This was partially due to the fact that previous surveys about gay men had fairly homogenous groups of respondents since the surveys were only given to men who were active in gay communities or patrons of bathhouses or gay bars. The focus of the survey was more on the culture of gay men in Flanders rather then specifically on behavioral change in response to AIDS education. The authors made Flemish gay culture the topic of the survey because many men would have refused to take the survey if they thought it was specifically about AIDS.
The results of the survey found that, unlike pervious research, the level of AIDS knowledge did impact the behavioral change. The authors conclude that none of the models of behavioral change, if applied individually, represented the situation in Flanders. The researchers did find that the belief in the efficacy of safe-sex recommendations was the most important determinant of behavioral change. Men who had a higher degree of social isolation changed their behavior more. The authors suggest that this may be because the men who do not practice risky behavior feel excluded from the Flemish gay culture because it is the norm to have unsafe sex. Another hypothesis for the reasons behind the correlation between behavior change and social isolation is because withdrawal or celibacy may lead to the feeling of social isolation. Finally, the study showed that men with low self-acceptance of their homosexuality have an increased risk of depression, both of which lead to the lower likelihood of behavioral change.
The authors conclude that programs to enact behavioral change must take into consideration the individuals social situation and the many variables that could influence behavioral change. It is especially important to take into account living conditions of the subgroup studied. The authors further discuss the need for future longitudinal research to examine the relationship between isolation and AIDS-related sexual behavior change.
HELEN BAKER Macalester College (Karen Nakamura)
Wali, Alaka. The Transformation of a Frontier: State and Regional Relationships in Panama, 1972-1990. Human Organization, Summer, 1993 Vol.52(2):115-129.
This article examines how political and social relationships at multiple levels affect sustainable development of land. Wali’s main argument is that focusing on conflicting “spheres of influence” helps clarify the constraints on sustainable development strategies. The author illustrates the complexities surrounding land issues through a discussion of the implementation of the Bayano Hydroelectric Dam in Panama and its subsequent development strategies.
The author frames his argument with a discussion of the consequences of the construction of the dam along with a highway and its affects on the surrounding frontier from 1972 to 1990. The author gives an introductory discussion of the regional transformation and economic development surrounding the construction of the Bayano Hydroelectric Complex during 1972 and 1976. The Bayano region, the frontier surrounding the dam, was inhabited by indigenous Indians and colonist groups during the construction of the dam. As the previous methods of subsistence changed from subsistence horticulture to cash-based production, the government, the Indians, and the colonists all struggled over the exploitation of the natural resources in the frontier.
Wali describes the actions and relationships between these three groups by dividing the events into the immediate impact phase, the post resettlement phase, and the consolidation period. He supports his discussion of the changing relationships and their effects on the environmental degradation of the area with a clear discussion of the political events and changes in Panama during this time period. Although the initial attempts to conserve the resources in the Bayano region were successful for the first few years, factors such as modernization, debt, military control of the region, and increased logging of development agencies caused the deterioration of conservation policies. Wali uses examples such as personal discussions with influential actors and visual maps to support his argument.
Wali ends his paper by discussing the previous state of the Bayano region and criticizing current efforts to institute a reserve area. He notes that “virtually” no efforts have been made to stop logging in the region. Wali offers suggestions to policy makers and anthropologists at both the international and national level such as supporting institutional independence and technical assistance.
LAUREN GREENBERG Macalester College (Karen Nakamura)
Westlake Van Winkle, Nancy, and May, Philip A. An Update On American Indian Suicide in New Mexico, 1980-1987. Human Organization,1993 Vol.52:304-315.
Westlake Van Winkle and May’s article addresses the issue of American Indian suicide in New Mexico through statistical and demographic analysis. This study is done as an update of a project previously conducted during the years 1957-1979 in order to provide an even broader timeframe of analysis and more thorough understanding of the issue. The authors are precise in their methodology to adhere to the form of the previous study to provide a cohesive sample from 1957-1987. While they make the point that previous studies done have failed to take into account contributing factors, and have also failed to extend the research over a period of time to increase the range of the data and decrease the margin of error, this update article strives to do both, taking a comprehensive look at the statistics and causes of American Indian Suicide in an extended timeframe.
The article examines three American Indian tribes: Apache, Navajo, and Pueblo. The sets of data from the past and updated studies are measured in a variety of ways. These statistics are analyzed and charted to demonstrate any trends and the relations of each of the native populations to each other. They are additionally compared to general United States, regional, age-adjusted, gender, and racial statistics. The authors then discuss the effects of a variety of demographic (sex, age, marital status, occupation, birth state and residence), and situational (method, place of injury, place of death, calendar and time) variables. The data is outlined clearly in a number of tables and graphs throughout the article.
There are a number of trends explained through the data. Suicide rates seem to be either decreasing or stabilizing to a certain extent with all of the groups; however, this could possibly also be the downward curve of another cycle (predicting another increase in the future). Regardless of positive change, these statistics remain alarmingly high and much more dramatic than other local or national rates. Suicide rates for all three of the tribes consistently involve single young males who commit suicide while on the reservation, using firearms or hanging. Statistics between the three tribes increase in numbers of suicides ranging from Navajo as the lowest, to Pueblo, to the high Apache rates. Age-adjusted rates also show that the average age of individuals who commit suicide in this population are younger than the US average. These general rates are also consistently higher than those of the other populations in the area as well as general US rates. The study identifies suicide cycles among the Pueblo and Apache populations, demonstrating a 5-6 year cycle for the Apache and a 7-8 year cycle for the Pueblo.
The authors end their article with a discussion of possible causes of suicide linked to tribe differences and acculturation issues. They outline and explain – throughout the whole article, but intensively at the end – information that is still lacking and further studies that will be key in the future of understanding and analyzing these issues and trends.
KJERSTIN GURDA Macalester College (Karen Nakamura)
Wood, John J. and Shirley Powell. An Ethos for Archaeological Practice. Human Organization Winter, 1993 Vol.52(4):405-412.
In this article, Wood and Powell examine American archaeology through an exploration of the interconnections between ethos, world view, and practice in the field. Specifically, the authors focus their attention on the ways in which the archaeologists’ world view and vision of archaeology may either strengthen or obscure their practice. Wood and Powell argue for an ethos and ethic of archaeology that proceeds with an eye to the context in which such work is occurring. Throughout the article, the authors refer extensively to Powell’s work with the Black Mesa Archaeological Project in northeastern Arizona.
The authors begin by exploring how archaeologists currently practice archaeology and argue that, while adequate for the most part, some important factors are being left by the wayside. Specifically, Wood and Powell point out, archaeological practice becomes problematic when archaeologists believe the environment in which they should be working is incongruent with the actual context in which the work is taking place.
According to Wood and Powell, archeological practice “breaks down” when practitioners fail to recognize the (deceptively simple) fact that their collection, analysis and interpretation of prehistoric remains occurs in- and thus affects- the present. Many are blind to- or willfully ignorant of- “the temporal disjunction between the production and analysis of archeological remains.” This reality, Wood and Powell argue, “creates a methodological imperative for what is often called middle-range or bridging theory” (407). The authors also discuss the post-processual movement within archaeology, a school of thought that acknowledges that an archaeologist’s social and political milieu shape his interpretations of remains. Wood and Powell agree with this theory and take it one step further, drawing upon the work of other scholars, in pointing out the well-documented fact that archaeology affects contemporary peoples- especially members of the community in which the fieldwork is being carried out- in significant ways.
Archaeologists’ common belief that they do archeology with and for other archaeologists- in other words, a strictly academic sense- results in an artificial and distorted context for their work, according to Wood and Powell. Furthermore, the emphasis archaeologists place on the “scientific”- predictable and fixed goals and results- cripples the field and limits their practice. The authors also problematize the various ethnical codes that have been established dictating archaeological practice, and argue that it is necessary to develop processes rather than codes through which to carry out work.
The authors argue for a new theory of practice for the field, one that is based upon their belief that relativism, subjectivism, and skepticism are not the only alternatives to objectivity. Wood and Powell point out the need for archaeologists to take place in a rational dialogue in which non-archaeologists are respected as equals. By engaging in such a dialogical encounter, the authors argue, archaeologists are better able to move away from a controlling ethnocentrism. This avoids their viewing archaeological remains are viewed as little more than “objects” that they alone may accurately represent. Wood and Powell contend that archaeological practice is both independent of and interdependent with the larger contemporary context in which such work occurs and only when archaeologists recognize this reality does the practice of archaeology become ethical.
EMILY SAUER Macalester College (Karen Nakamura).
Wright, Jerome. African-American Male Sexual Behavior and the Risk for HIV Infection. Human Organization Winter, 1993 Vol.52: 421-430
In this article, Jerome Wright deals with the issue of the lack of socio-cultural information about the African American male group when developing AIDS intervention programs, and the ineffectiveness of relying on societal constructs of homosexuality, heterosexuality and bisexuality. He argues that when sexual constructs are used, important areas of possible high-risk sexual behavior are overlooked, because they do not fit within the sexual category. Wright believes that relying solely on traditionally used sexual categories, results in very limited information concerning the prevalence of HIV/AIDS risk behavior among African American males, and probably other groups as well. While the article is light in data, Wright does include results from an analysis of the ethnographic interviews he conducted between 1972 and 1979. His results support his argument that sexual categories leave out important information. “Interviews done among the male populations I studied…revealed that of those who selected the category homosexual as bet describing their sexual orientation, two-thirds admitted that at the time of the interview they had had sexual relations with a female partner in the past three years.” To further prove his point, Wright cites researcher Stephanie Kane who argues, “ethnographic research adds a dimension of human experience to epidemiological representations of sexual categories.”
The body of the article goes into detail about categories of African-American males and information concerning them. He talks about the use of the term “gay” within the African American homosexual community and its reference to white gay life. Wright uses this information to illustrate the problems with AIDS/HIV prevention programs and their lack of impact on the Black gay community. Including partial transcriptions of his interviews with black gay males, Wright illustrates the position of black homosexuals in the “gay life” or, what might be called, the white gay life. He stresses the fact that African-American men tend to stay out of these communities and miss out on the successful HIV/AIDS prevention tactics within them. He also uses the information he provides about Black gays to stress the need for AIDS/HIV prevention and information for the Black gay community.
AMAYA WEBSTER Macalester College (Karen Nakamura)
Palmer, Craig T. Folk Management, “Soft Evolutionism,” and Fishers’ Motives: Implications for the Regulation of the Lobster Fisheries of Maine and Newfoundland. Human Organization Vol.52 No.4, 1993.
In this article, Palmer examines the appropriate and practical role of local practices in the formation of new legal regulations in the Maine lobster fishery in particular and fishery policy in general. He approaches this question by examining the indigenous and formal regulations in the lobster fishery along the northwest coast of Newfoundland. He does this because the regulations considered for the Maine lobster fishery, such as the augmentation of territorial restrictions, limited-entry licensing, and trap limits, currently govern the northwest coast of Newfoundland. He includes the analysis of the Newfoundland lobster fishery because it is generally considered successfully managed by both lawmakers and participants.
Palmer explores the notion that current assumptions about the conservative nature of folk practices are in need of revision. He argues that the current conceptions of folk practices are based on an unsound theoretical model that he refers to as “soft evolutionism”. He describes soft evolutionism as the assumption that folk models of fishing are adaptations that have evolved, but that the evolutionary mechanisms of this evolution are quite vague. Palmer argues that instead of using folk models simply as a basis for formal regulations, more attention should be focused on the intentions and motivations of the participants engaged in folk practices and the socio-economic context in which those practices occur. In order to prove this point, he organizes the paper into three main sections: Indigenous Management and Formal Regulations in Northwest Newfoundland, Indigenous Management Reconsidered, and Indigenous Practices, Socioeconomic Context, and Motivation.
Palmer concludes that the social acceptance of formal regulations depends on the concerns and motivations of fishers, and the value of indigenous practices is what they reveal about those concerns. He notes that kin-selection appears to be more important in decision making that group selection in accounting for attitudes in Maine towards limited-entry licensing. He advocates that fishers be involved in the implementation and enforcement of formal regulations, as Maine lobster fishers tend to be individualistic, though there is also a willingness on the part of fishers to sacrifice personal gains for the advancement of the fishing community. He also advocates formal regulations guided by assumptions based on natural selection rather than group selection.
EMILY RACKOW (Macalester College) Karen Nakamura