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Human Organization 1943/44

Brew, John O. Reviews of the Literature: Applied Anthropology in the Southwest.Human Organization, October-December 1943 Vol.3: 35-40.

In John Brew’s article, Applied Anthropology of the Southwest, he states that anthropologic work has been extensively done in the southwest, but instead of studying these issues, work needs to be done to solve the many problems facing the people of that area. Because of the land deterioration, which leads to crop failure, the economic situation is causing many minority groups to either leave the area or face issues such as malnutrition, high infant mortality rates and the like.

Brew says that there have been developments in the years surrounding his article by reforming the Indian Service and by creating federal agencies in the Departments of Agriculture and the Interior, but these were delayed in coming. He states that applied anthropology would work well in this area because there are three main ethnic groups in the small area of study. The North American White, known as the “Anglo,” the Spanish-American and the Indian populations of the southwest are diverse in their own groups as well as in the area in which they all live together.

Although the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the federal conservation agencies were already applying techniques to solve the problems in the Southwest, Brew discusses in the rest of his article the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque and its School of Inter-American Affairs. This school was founded to “encourage and direct research in cultural relations in the Southwest and to publish the results of such research.” And in doing so, the School of Inter-American Affairs published the Inter-Americana Series in which Brew analyses in his article.

The first Inter-American Study described dealt with the racial situation in the Rio Grande region between two closely related Indian groups. This book was not written to solve the problem, but to present obtained information and data from historical, ethnographical and archaeological literature, which was integrated with field-studies by each of the authors. The second study deals with “the physiographic, economic, and social problems” in the area extending for 270 miles from the Colorado-New Mexico border to the northern area of the Elephant Butte Reservoir. The main solutions suggested by the second study are “to increase farm acreage, introduce large-scale farming, encourage ‘family-type’ farms and induce sufficient industrialization to provide the necessary labor income.”

All in all, Brew’s article doesn’t so much as show ways in which anthropology can be applied in the southwest as it does describe ways in which others have discussed this issue. One can use his article to show that the economic and social issues of the southwest have been identified and that solutions are in the works, but it does not give his own ideas in which this problem can be solved.

STEPHANIE ROBERTS University of Wisconsin-Madison (Larry Nesper)

Humphrey, Norman Daymond. Some Marriage Problems of Detroit Mexicans Human Organization, October-December 1943,Vol. 3:13-15

In this brief article, Norman Daymond Humphrey, Research Director for the Council of Social Agencies in Detroit, Michigan, presents some of the marriage problems experienced in relationships involving Mexicans in Detroit. Focusing on unions between Mexican men and American women, he presents several examples of common conflicts resulting from such relationships.

Humphrey uses census records showing a larger number of Mexican males than females living in Detroit as a contributing factor to the make-up of such “international” relationships. He attributes the proliferation of conflict in these marriages to the fact that non-Mexican women do not conform to Mexican norms and Mexican men do not behave as American men are expected to behave.

He describes how these unions often begin, with Mexican men meeting American women in factories and neighborhood beer gardens, and how the women are smitten with their stereotypical proficiency in dance and love-making. One of the most striking aspects of these relationships is that they are often informal, lacking any legal marriage contract. Mexican men tend to marry outside of their ethnic group more often than women, again based on Mexican cultural norms.

Humphrey continues, describing the abundance of infidelity in such relationships, often the result of the woman’s desertion by her mate. These cases are so common, that bigamy or adultery charges are rarely filed, and the lack of legal marriage renders divorce unnecessary. If any action is taken, it is usually through the intervention of a social worker. More common charges filed on the behalf of women against Mexican males are desertion, cruelty, and non-support, citing the conflicting norms and expectations between the sexes and ethnicities as a major factor, especially the images of the “lazy Mexican male” and the unfaithful American female.

Humphrey then describes the actions to be taken by the prototypical social worker involved in these situations, stressing the importance of an understanding of the relevant cultural norms of both parties to developing a mutually acceptable settlement. Women are familiar with the informal unions in Mexico, and their need to fill the role of a home-maker and child rearer, encouraging them to find any man to replace their deserter.

Humphrey hypothesizes that due to the relative lack of assimilation and acculturation among the parties involved, Mexican marital norms could be transferred to the surrounding American population, but acknowledges that there is little evidence of this beginning to occur as American norms become more widely adhered to in such relationships.

TRAVIS REINKE University of Wisconsin-Madison (Larry Nesper)

Mekeel, Scudder. Comparative Notes on the “Social Role of the Settlement House” as Contrasted with that of the United States Indian Service. Human Organization October-December, 1943 Vol.3:5-8.

Scudder Mekeel, in his article, “Comparative Notes on the ‘Social Role of the Settlement House’ as Contrasted with that of the United States Indian Service,” calls upon Dr. William Foote Whyte’s observations and conclusions regarding the role of settlement homes within communities, and correlates them to the social role of the United States Indian Service’s contribution to people living on reservations.

To illustrate his associations, Mekeel begins by describing the relationship between the Sioux living on the reservations and the Indian Service agents employed by the Office of Indian Affairs. Mekeel describes the Indian Service workers as, “largely middle-class people of non-Indian stock” and who were uninvolved with the community in which, and for whom, they were supposed to assist (Mekeel 6). Many of the Indian Service workers showed little interest in learning the Sioux language or the local social structure, and some held prejudices directed towards the Sioux community. Most of those who utilized the services provided by the Office of Indian Affairs, were individuals that did not fit into the social organization on the reservation. Mekeel contends that the United States Indian Service attempted to force middle class American ideals upon individuals, and in doing so, created a rift among individuals in the community.

Mekeel concludes that the U. S. Indian Service coddles the individual far too much, rather than fostering independence within the individual. Further, Mekeel observes that to offer meaningful assistance within a society, one must participate in and amend his/herself according to the social organization of the community.

SARAH PETERSON University of Wisconsin-Madison (Larry Nesper)

Provinse, John. Anthropology in Program Planning. Human Organization, 1943 Vol.3: 1-5.

Provinse effectively points to the most important reasons for the continued study of Applied Anthropology by drawing on examples of cases where anthropological work involved the studying of relationships of literate societies. He avoids denouncing the value of studying contemporary peoples, but exemplifies the study of our own culture and cultures that we deal with on a daily basis. As the title suggests, anthropology can be used in modern problems like program planning.

Psychology and other social sciences cast a shadow on anthropology in the analytical approach to war, economics and social organization. Fields like sociology have become more and more independent of concepts and empirical data developed by anthropologists and should not have done so. As the rest of the social sciences move forward with their research and application, anthropology seems to lag behind and postulate on preliterate societies. The author feels that it is necessary for anthropologists to join other social scientists in addressing current issues and social problems.

Provinse points out that it is necessary for us as anthropologists to not discount the notion of studying our own culture or cultures that are similar to ours. He claims that using generalizations on a nation-wide scale short-changes observations of certain cultures within the nation. Most notably, there is a wide range of cultures within the rural communities across the United States that can be investigated and drawn upon for development of theories of social structure. This would push applied anthropology to the forefront of social studies and the like.

ISAAC PERKINS University of Wisconsin-Madison (Larry Nesper)

Read, Margaret. Notes on the Work of the Colonial Department, University of London Institute of Education. Human Organization October-December, 1943 Vol.3:8-9.

In this short article, Margaret Read looks at how social anthropology can function under the Colonial Department of the University of London Institute of Education, which trains men and women to teach in British dependencies. She points out how modern education poses a paradoxical problem for these dependencies in that, on one hand, it promotes the preservation of the community’s natural needs, while one the other, education prompts social and economic change.

Read suggests that social anthropologists in this institute should train teachers to teach more effectively in their overseas assignments by providing them with some knowledge of the area and its major problems as well as some language skills when possible.

She is also concerned about the effects of modern education in tribal society as it relates to not only children’s development, but also the establishment of new social units, such as schools, local governments, churches, and so on. She questions if these units will detribalize native communities.

Read also questions the curriculum of education in these societies. Should subjects on modern English life be taught? She points out that many of the members of these tribal communities who have been educated end up resenting the European idea that their culture is primitive, and as a result, have little interest in studying English culture.

Read suggests new directions in which social anthropology can positively affect educational problems in English dependencies. “Untouched” areas, or areas where European contact is low, should be explored in order to advance educational and medical work. The second line of study is to look at the long-term effects of schools in a tribal society. Thirdly, plan how to best execute adult literacy campaigns in these areas. And lastly, the staff of the Colonial Department should be able to carry out research on their own that relates to their experience from training others and from working in the field.

BRITTANY REED University of Wisconsin Madison (Larry Nesper)

Tannous, Afif. Extension Work Among the Arab Fellahin. Human Organization, Vol.3:1-11

In this article, Tannous addresses the provision of western aid to Arab agricultural workers (fellahin). This aid, referred to as extension work, includes building schools, providing medical assistance, and improving water access among people whose traditional socioeconomic structures are no longer seen as sufficient in light of war- and globalization-induced cultural juxtaposition.

Tannous argues that extension work is currently inadequate with regard to the training of field workers and the methods they employ to enact change among the fellahin. These shortcomings result in hostility on the part of the Arab villagers, frustration on the part of the field workers, and inefficiency in the progression of community improvement projects. Tannous proposes that field workers address the following before beginning extension work in an Arab village: where and with whom to commence a project; the cultural patterns and current socioeconomic system of the individual community; which projects would be an appropriate starting point; and which techniques are most appropriate for carrying out a project effectively.

Tannous presents the general characteristics of Arab villages with regard to physical structure, cultural practices, and values. He then discusses the extent to which current extension work does not take these factors into account, and describes methods by which field workers can operate within these existing patterns. These methods include using quotations from the Koran to enlist community support, encouraging competition with other communities who have already accomplished the project in question, and avoiding projects that have significant emotional content. He also discusses the importance of beginning with small-scale projects so that the villagers experience tangible results in a short period of time before embarking on elaborate endeavors. Tannous provides specific examples of failed extension work projects; he also provides contrasting stories in which the aforementioned techniques on the part of the field worker result in community support, empowerment, and success.

PARTHY SCHACHTER University of Wisconsin – Madison (Larry Nesper)

Von Thurn, Elizabeth. Organization—Evolution or Revolution. Human Organization October-December, 1943 Vol. 3: 10-12.

In this brief and succinct article, Von Thurn, an anthropologist working for the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, makes the point that strategic planning plays the central role in human organization and that this often gets overlooked. She claims that this is the case because those who are committed to relief aid, rural development projects, and other endeavors which seek to better human living standards get so preoccupied with the ultimate goal and so bogged down with the immediate and numerous problems that present themselves at the outset, that they overlook the importance of pre-planning research. Once the preliminary preparations are completed, she argues, human organizations can then overcome problems and make a difference in the world.

To make her point she gives the example of one such organization which suffered the ill effects of poor planning, learned its lesson, and then went on to be successful in accomplishing its goals. The Division of Latin American Agriculture of the Office of Foreign Agricultural Relations (O.F.A.R) sought to work with the governments of various South American countries to create agricultural experiment stations to, as Von Thurn puts it, “secure strategic wartime materials and complementary peacetime crops” (von Thurn, 1943). In the beginning, members of this particular organization had difficulty understanding why it was nearly impossible to accomplish successful fieldwork and communicate effectively with government agencies. In short, they were failing before they actually began.

They soon discovered that the problem had to do with lack of planning. There was no clear-cut chain of command. People were unclear about which officers were responsible for what and for whom, and there was no training program for workers out in the field. These issues were soon addressed. Surveys were conducted, job descriptions were created, and training programs were devised and implemented.

Von Thurn uses this particular case to emphasize that without prior meticulous planning, human organizations are destined to fall short of realizing their goals.

CONSTANTINE REGAS University of Wisconsin-Madison (Larry Nesper)