Recently, I took (and passed) my citizenship test, and the interviewer asked me if I had a middle name. When I said no, she asked if I wanted to change my name. Hmm, I thought, am I supposed to, to become an American? For many Americans, including those born and raised here, there’s an assumption that they must prove just how American they are. My research participants felt that way much of the time, but those who practiced certain kinds of behaviors—drinking, dating, dressing in mainstream Western fashion—felt the pressure less. Diya was relatively indistinguishable from her White American friends in terms of lifestyle, but then she came under question for just how Muslim she was. If she didn’t wear hijab, was she a nominal Muslim? Amber, a hijabi, was on the other hand perpetually being required to speak up for Muslims in classroom discussions on Islam and terrorism, or Islam and gender. Almost all of my research participants felt that because of the pervasive nature of Muslim stereotypes, they were always or often having to prove that they were really American, normal, empowered, peaceful Muslims.
Language and dialects are culture, but like other aspects of our heritage, they have sometimes existed under the cultural radar. In part, this is due to the historical and political subordination of the South. Southern speech has become increasingly different from Northern speech since the Civil War, but it was interpreted as inferior due to the stereotypes of the South by outsiders. The effects of linguistic prejudice are just as harmful as other types of prejudicial attitudes, perhaps more so because their workings are often invisible. It takes time to raise linguistic awareness by countering myths and stereotypes with formal and informal education about the legacy of dialects. North Carolinians deserve to know and understand the truth about its distinct dialect and language legacy.
Kwilecki developed his visual ideas in series of photographs of high school proms, prison hog killings, shade-tree tobacco farming, factory work, church life, the courthouse.
I was back in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, the lowland agro-industrial capital of Bolivia for the months of July and August 2012 in order to understand a new political conflict that had exploded between the government of Evo Morales and lowland Indigenous groups in 2011.
In this second of two interviews, Fabricant discusses the ways in which indigeneity has been mobilized as well as some of the causes of the widespread disillusionment with the nation’s first Indigenous president, Evo Morales.
One of the most vivid memories of my experience in the museum world—and one that has shaped both my understanding of collaboration and the significance of objects to Indigenous communities—took place in 1995 at the Minnesota Historical Society (MHS). As an exhibit researcher working on Families, an exhibition funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities focusing on Minnesota families that opened at MHS in 1995, one of my responsibilities was to locate a Native American family to be featured in the exhibition.
Mobility is a central trope in the book because it informed my thinking about indigeneity and movement building in Bolivia. I realized that in order to effectively capture the Landless Peasant Movement’s ( Movimiento Sin Tierra/MST) organizational strategies, I would have to be in constant motion. I traveled with MST activists on the back of agricultural trucks for nearly 20 hours from the city to their communities, lived in two MST agro-ecological communities, traversed regional spaces, as well as national and international spaces of organizing. The life of an organizer is in constant motion and, as an ethnographer, I too had to be constantly traveling.
Vann Bighorse, the director of the Osage Cultural Center, expressed the opinion that Congress could take a lesson from the Osage In-lon-shka dances. He had explained that during the dances, everything (especially political fighting) was put aside for those three weeks in June and everyone from the drum keeper to the cooks focused on making the whole thing run smoothly.
Miguel La Serna, author of The Corner of the Living, recently returned to his research communities in Peru to donate a copy of his published work to local archives. Here, he shares his field notes from that experience, including some sobering updates on his community collaborators.
“Studying dialect in North Carolina is like dying and coming to dialect heaven. It’s incredible. There is no state that has a richer tradition,” says Walt Wolfram.
Great video interview with William Ferris, including excerpts from video included in Give My Poor Heart Ease: Voices of the Mississippi Blues.
In many ways, my initial trip to Chuschi reflects the challenges of doing historical anthropology about the late twentieth century. [...] the very people about whom I had been reading—and forming opinions—in the archives were still living. Even in cases where the historical actors had passed away, their children and neighbors still lived. As such, I had to deal with something I never anticipated: the feelings of my archival subjects.
Researching this book transformed my own sense of Mesoamerican history. As I got deeper into the project, it became impossible to ignore the fundamental imprint of Mesoamerican history, culture, and relationships on the conquest period and beyond. So I had to work much harder than I anticipated to weave that preconquest history into my narrative, not just as background but as something integral to my analysis.
Any kind of research dealing with living human subjects is sensitive, even more so when it involves recent political violence. One thing I was reminded constantly was that my very presence in the field stirred up a host of issues and anxieties that villagers had either suppressed or were still dealing with.
Rose Stremlau, author of Sustaining the Cherokee Family, explains the meaning and importance of ethnohistory.