THURSDAY, April 4 (1:15-3:00 PM)
Session 1. Positive Psychology: Anthropological Engagements (Nicholas J. Long Organizer), SPA. BAYVIEW I
Participants: Rich, Halloy & Servais, Shoshana, Long, Bayly, Fiers, Kaufman
Recently, growing numbers of researchers have embraced the challenge of developing a ‘positive psychology’. This wide-ranging enterprise can be summarized as an attempt to understand how and why people find happiness and fulfillment in their lives, and to develop interventions that can build ‘thriving’ and ‘resilient’ individuals, families and communities, make normal life more fulfilling, and nurture genius and talent. Although such efforts could be viewed as one of many forms of governmentality to characterize the age of autonomous individualism and neoliberalism, the underlying question of what allows people to ‘thrive’ is not a redundant one. Indeed, it could be seen as an enquiry into one of the most fundamental aspect of what it means to be human. Moreover, if one of the weaknesses of much ‘positive psychology’ to date has been its embeddedness in certain normative ideologies of the individual and what constitutes ‘well-being’, then it stands to be enriched by anthropological research that is attentive to a variety of forms of human flourishing, and the often fractious psychological and social realities generated when ideologies of the good life are enacted on the ground. This panel thus seeks to develop a dialogue with ‘positive psychology’ in a spirit of constructive engagement. Papers explore the possible value of core ideas from positive psychology for understanding ethnographic materials, develop ethnographically-grounded and/or anthropologically inflected theories of ‘positive psychology’, and/or seek to refine existing theories of ‘positive psychology’ based on ethnographic observation of what happens when such ideas are put into practice.
Grant J. Rich (Independent Scholar) Finding flow: Anthropological perspectives on a core positive psychology concept
Since its inception a decade ago, positive psychology has offered a corrective to a psychology focused primarily on the examination of human suffering by aiming to better understand human strengths. Arguably, anthropology also has focused historically on negative aspects of cultures; for instance, on maladaptive, troubled (Johnston 2012), sick societies (Edgerton 1992), rather than on societies/cultures that enable flourishing. This presentation focuses upon one core positive psychology concept- the peak experience flow – as a test case for examining issues involved when approaching positive psychology from anthropological perspective. Developed by Csikszentmihalyi (1990), this theory of optimal motivation/engagement argues, in part, that enjoyment/enhanced performance result if certain conditions- the nine flow components- are met. These elements include: having clear goals; receiving immediate feedback; maintaining balance between challenges of activities and skills one brings to them; feeling in control; increased concentration; experiencing altered time sense; sensing merging of action/awareness; lack of self-consciousness; and the sense that the activity is autotelic, an end in itself. In particular, methodological/conceptual issues will be discussed, with evidence from sample flow research from around the globe, raising questions concerning the positive psychology enterprise, including the value of psychological assessment tools and the debate over cross-cultural universals/comparisons (Brown 1991). One qualitative study of jazz pianists, one quantitative survey questionnaire of Canadian ice hockey players, and one mixed methods study of Asian students (interviews/experience sampling method) serve as touchstones for such discussion. Rather than viewing anthropology and psychology as rival factions, this project concludes by appealing for constructive engagement.
Arnaud Halloy (Université Nice Sophia-Antipolis) and Véronique Servais (Université de Liège)
Gods and Dolphins: A Cross-Cultural Analysis of Enchanting Encounters
Positive psychologists often see their work as fostering an emotional learning process that will prompt people to live a better, happier life. Positive psychology is supposed to feel gratifying, motivating, and inspiring. This paper will investigate two ethnographic situations where similar processes of gratification and transformation are in evidence, but without the presence of a formal psychological intervention. By comparing religious possession in an Afro-Brazilian cult and encounters with dolphins at sea, we suggest that both phenomena are “revelation-like” encounters built through the same kind of “enchanting device” (dispositifs d’enchantement). Drawing on first hand ethnographic accounts, we compare both settings in an attempt to identify common features in people’s experience, but also in how such experience is organized through imaginative and bodily commitment in “enchanting devices”. By “enchanting device”, we mean social and material environments that support spiritual encounters with real or imagined intentional entities. A deep involvement, a very focused attention (absorption), uncanny perceptions and emotions and trance-like states are found in each case. Phantasmagorical and/or religious imagination would play a central role in connecting such uncanny body states and perceptions with a set of cultural expectations and beliefs. In order to sustain this theoretical framework, our analysis will focus on a pragmatic analysis of the environmental features leading to an experience of enchantment. Our account of enchantment aims to broaden our understanding of psychologies of the positive and promises to enrich our understanding of well-being in relation to (deemed) religious and/or spiritual practices and experiences.
Avi Shoshana (Bar-Ilan University) Ethnographies of Happiness: Self Consciousness, Disciplined Happiness, and Carnal Happiness
This paper is based on ethnographies in four different happiness groups (all of which attained the title “the way to happiness”) in Tel Aviv and in Boston. The ethnographies show three happiness scenarios (also including the various practices for obtaining and maintaining happiness and positive psychological orientation), all connected by the variable of self-consciousness: 1) “Place a Mirror in your Head”: Increasing self-consciousness; 2) “Get Lost” and the Flow Concept: Rejecting self-consciousness; 3) “Be Grotesque!” (or “The Art of Not Being Yourself”). An analysis of the ethnographies enables us to identify a fundamental distinction between two types of happiness: disciplined happiness and carnal happiness. The first is described as supplying conformed happiness, temporary happiness, or even destroying “real” happiness, and the second is described as the source of “true happiness”. Following Barthes’s (1973) distinction I suggest describing this distinction via the terms pleasure (plaisir) and bliss (jouissance). Since the happiness groups involve subjects from the middle-to-upper classes, the paper explores the connection between class habitus, conformism (and non-conformism), happiness and positive psychology. Moreover, the paper offers explanations of the cultural differences between happiness groups in Tel Aviv (Israel) and Boston (the United States), which each encourage different cultural scenarios of happiness.
Nicholas J. Long (London School of Economics and Political Science)
Mindset in Indonesia
Carol Dweck’s theory of ‘mindset’ suggests that individuals have either an ‘entity’ or an ‘incremental’ mindset as a result of the everyday language to which they are exposed. Those with ‘entity’ mindsets see their talents as fixed and demonstrate panic, shame, and avoidant or self-handicapping behaviours when confronted with challenging situations. Those with an ‘incremental’ mindset, by contrast, see the brain as being like a muscle that can be strengthened through hard work. This theory has made Dweck one of the most influential positive psychologists of contemporary times. Dweck’s research has much to offer anthropology, by drawing attention to the cognitive, developmental and affective implications of everyday language use, and by illuminating the complex psychodynamics that are often overlooked in discussions of self-formation in contexts of ‘neoliberalism’, ‘globalisation’, and state strategies of ‘governmentality’. Yet anthropology can also nuance positive psychology in important ways. In Indonesia’s Riau Archipelago, educators and parents work hard to inculcate an incremental mindset so that local youth can be ‘globally competitive’. Despite this, young people often exhibit the helplessness that an incremental mindset should guard against. Local discourses of a ‘human resources crisis’ have fostered an ‘environmental mindset’ in which capacities to grow are tied to the limits associated with the regionality of personhood. Moreover, they have led to scepticism regarding the sincerity and efficacy of positive psychology interventions. This suggests some important qualifications should be made to Dweck’s central theory, whilst highlighting factors that should be taken into consideration when attempting to apply her findings.
Susan Bayly (University of Cambridge) How to forge a creative student-citizen: achieving the positive in today’s Vietnam
The field known as ‘positive psychology’ seeks to unleash creative potential and achievement orientation. This paper provides ethnographic comparison by exploring comparable interventions in Vietnam, where academic high-flyers seeking admission to top universities now sit compulsory exams testing for ‘creativity’ with essay-format questions on issues of current national debate. With reliance on rote-learning from a tightly regulated traditional syllabus widely blamed for many social and moral ills, including national underachievement in global education league tables, the new exams are hailed as a major step towards encouraging young citizens to cherish their Vietnameseness, while developing their full capabilities as globally marketable ‘human resources’. This vision of the educated goal-oriented young as precious yet problematic national assets is not unlike that of the old socialist collectivity idea of the valiant yet less than perfectly target-minded youthful striver. Yet attempts to exalt today’s version of this ideal in the form of a testably creative student-citizen have themselves become a matter of vigorous debate. Of particular interest are the concerns aroused by recent questions asking candidates to define achievement itself, or to discuss what ‘idols’ today’s youth should seek to emulate in the conduct of an achieving life. Building on recent fieldwork, this paper addresses the panel’s concerns by exploring the ways young Hanoians, including students from high-profile schools for the gifted, have engaged with this campaign to boost the knowledge-economy skills potential of future graduates, focusing on their responses to the claim that the nurturing of ‘creativity’ will enhance their morality, productivity and patriotism.
Jennifer Fiers (University of Florida) Paradoxes of Youth Performance Enhancement in a Competitive Sport Culture
Competitive youth sport is often discussed in the media, scholarly journal articles, and sport participants as either “good” or “bad” for children’s personal development: “good” in the sense that it prepares children for adulthood through training and enhancement of their, otherwise, raw talent or performance; “bad” for the risk of physical injury, excessive competition, emotional imbalances, and individualistic mentality it exposes children to. However, as my two years of doctoral fieldwork and 30 years of experience in the competitive junior tennis culture shows, the picture is much more complicated than that. Through daily rituals of discipline and the constant oscillation of power and agency within the dynamics among coaches, parents, and players, children embody the values of the sport culture as well as the larger society in both empowering and disempowering ways. Positive psychology is a large part of this training process. For this paper, I will focus on the paradoxical effects of these embodiments and continuums on children’s personal development. Specifically, I will focus on the effects of parents/coaches using positive psychology to help players enhance performance. Several of the topics I will raise will be how positive psychology shapes children’s conception of morality, pain, and authority and how these aspects of individual self-formation contribute to the larger question of “what is well-being?” overall. In general, while positive psychology helps youths adapt to and overcome challenging circumstances, it can also hinder youths’ ability to recognize circumstances that are amoral, emotionally/physically debilitating or oppressive.
Mike Kaufman (University of Chicago) Transcending positive psychology’s limited account of well-being: using a person-centred ethnographic approach
This paper questions central claims and methods in the field of positive psychology and offers an alternative approach to the study of what contributes to happy lives. The paper draws on a recently completed 45-year longitudinal study of human development of socioeconomically elite Americans that includes extensive person-centered interviews as well as survey measures widely used in the field of positive psychology. A grounded theoretical analysis of over 30,000 pages of transcribed interviews beginning in 1960, while informants were in late adolescence, to the present with the same cohort in early old age, reveals a marked divergence between the foundational factors shaping their well-being over long periods of time and their theories of their well-being, reported in both interviews and surveys. Rhetoric and stated beliefs are incongruent with informant experience in three principal ways: (1) the importance of achievement to their well-being, (2) their level of well-being or ill-being (3) how much their well-being has changed during adulthood. In their attributions and misattributions, informants seem to assess the quality of their life experiences as a stranger would, informed by cultural assumptions and beliefs they presume would apply, even if they do not. Tellingly, many of these assumptions and beliefs can be seen in the findings of the field of positive psychology. This paper critiques a positive psychology approach to the study of well-being, and offers an empirically rigorous, ethnographically informed alternative, as well as fresh insight into well-being across the lifecourse.
Session 2. Culture, Suffering, and Healing (Shir Lerman, Chair) SPA BAYVIEW II
Participants: Penickova, Bartlett, Lerman, Sastre, Sood, Van Tiem, Bakan
Daniela Penickova (Northern Arizona University) TRADITIONAL SUBSISTENCE AND APACHE CONCEPT OF SELF IN RELATION TO ADDICTION
In this paper, I apply insight derived from meaning-centered and ecological approaches in medical anthropology to the explanatory models for addiction and its treatment presented by Western Apaches and federally funded programs in the local behavioral health clinic. This analysis reveals that despite the similarity in symptom recognition the underlying frames for interpreting addiction are fundamentally different. While the majority of the DSM-IV-TR criteria are consistent with lay tribal idioms for drug and gambling addiction, most Apaches define these addictions and optimal treatment in ecological rather than biomedical terms. The clinical model reflects the Western psychiatric notion of addiction as a discrete, universally diagnosable biological disorder, best treated by individualized therapy complemented by medication. In contrast, the tribal model identifies addiction as a social illness and dependence produced by history of imposed forms of governance leading to disruption of tribal traditional subsistence of small-scale farming and sense of social obligations and belonging. This yields transformation of the self into one perceived a morally corrupt and defined by reliance on outside authorities. The traditional model defines human development as a set of physical, spiritual, and psychological powers essential for formation of one’s self-esteem and wellbeing. This set is acquired by complex education about land and attributes of natural elements, including principles of growth and healing. Addiction is then perceived as a consequence of disrupted access to such ecological knowledge and substitution of the vital powers by instant but transitory empowering behaviors such as substance abuse or seeking income via gambling.
Nicholas Bartlett (University of Southern California) ATTEMPTING TO “RETURN TO SOCIETY”: A WEDDING FOR A FUTURE
This paper explores local understandings of recovery from addiction among long-term heroin users in southern Yunnan province through the Chinese term “return to society” (huigui shehui). “Return” has emerged in recent years in China as a powerful and contested trope for understanding the work of recovery. Drawing on my three-year relationship with a couple who married after meeting in drug treatment, I explore how two different understandings of addiction hold diverging implications for the work of “return”. During their wedding and early married life, this couple embraces a Sartrean commitment to their ability to break from their recent pasts and return to the working and living patterns of their early adult lives. With time, struggles in their daily lives—including challenges to their wedding day proceedings and difficulties in adopting a child—lead the couple to articulate a different understanding of their condition. The pair comes to see recovery as a dialogical movement between persons with heroin use history and the communities within which they live. Unlike other local residents who find that their pasts “dissipate like smoke”, this couple asserts the ontological status of Chinese heroin users’ pasts are different. This second understanding of their condition sees the problem of return not as located in the intention of the person in recovery, but instead embedded within the community that surrounds them.
Shir Lerman (University of Connecticut) “UN PUEBLO TAN DULCE”: DIABETES, DEPRESSION, AND OBESITY SYNDEMICS IN PUERTO RICO
There is increasing anthropological literature showing that depression is highly and synergistically correlated with Type-2 Diabetes mellitus known as syndemics. This syndemic relationship is increasingly studied in the context of Puerto Ricans living in the mainland United States, due to Puerto Ricans’ having higher rates of both conditions than do other Hispanic subgroups. However, there has been less research discussing these conditions on the island of Puerto Rico, which is problematic given the constant flow of people between the island and the mainland and due to Puerto Rico’s struggle to redefine its political status and identity in relation to both the United States and other Hispanic nations. Despite the high prevalence rate of depression in Puerto Rico (15% of the population), successful interventions to address depression are limited in Puerto Rico, creating a strain on patients with little financial and social recourses to seek psychiatric help. This paper uses data recently collected in Puerto Rico (n=60) to look at the influence of Puerto Rican sociopolitical identity on the expression of depression on the island and how it developed alongside the indigenous ataque de nervios, the lack of mental healthcare access on the island, and how Puerto Rican conceptualizations of depression and other culturally bound mental illnesses (specifically ataque de nervios) influence the development and maintenance of successful interventions. These questions will be addressed in relation to the diabetes and depression syndemic, particularly the effect of untreated depression and ataque de nervios on the worsening diabetes prevalence rates.
Francisco Sastre (Florida International University) HIV’S IMPACT ON MACHISMO INFORMED ATTITUDES AND BEHAVIORS AMONG PUERTO RICAN MEN IN BOSTON
People living with HIV are seldom seen in a positive light. Negative experiences of stigmatization, discrimination, and rejection are common among people living with HIV in the United States, particularly when they belong to a minority group. This is not surprising given that an HIV diagnosis not only renders a diagnosis of illness, but also entry into a social category constructed along moral boundaries. While HIV-positive people continue to be perceived and characterized negatively, this presentation describes how an HIV diagnosis can promote culturally-informed positive responses, helping people adjust to living with HIV as a chronic illness. Based on the analysis of interviews with 31 HIV-positive Puerto Rican men in Boston, the presentation describes positive attitudes and behaviors associated with machismo, a key cultural value among Latinos, as a way of adjusting to living with HIV. These adaptations influence healthy lifestyle choices and positive life changes. The aim of exploring these narratives of illness is to increase the understanding of the impact of HIV on everyday life practices informed by cultural values as people (re)establish normalcy within the context of HIV. The findings from this research highlight the protective property of machismo and how illnesses can, counter-intuitively, promote positive and healthy lifestyles while challenging the negative notions of HIV.
Anubha Sood (Washingon University in St. Louis) EMBODIED SUFFERING AS A MODE OF PSYCHOLOGICAL HEALING: THE CASE OF THE BALAJI TEMPLE IN NORTH INDIA
How do practices that involve inflicting voluntary pain to the body become therapeutic? The notion that deliberate, self-inflicted pain can serve as a mode of psychological healing goes against the Western psychiatric understanding of such behaviors as signaling a disordered psyche. Yet, in many religious healing traditions across South Asia, pain is employed as a systematic technique for alleviating mental suffering. Based on my ethnographic research in a Hindu healing temple in North India for treating psychological ailments, I explore the logic and effects of embodied suffering for easing psychological pain. In the temple of Balaji in Rajasthan, a popular site for treating spirit afflictions that manifest as psychological disturbances and emotional difficulties, everyday healing practices involve methodical engagement with bodily suffering. I focus specifically on the core healing practice of “peshi” in the temple, which involves participation in an array of intense rhythmic and repetitive physical actions that cause considerable pain and discomfort to the practitioner. Peshi involves acts such as somersaulting, rolling on the ground, running at high speed and repeatedly hitting oneself against the wall, sometimes for hours. To understand the healing effects of peshi, I draw upon a variety of past anthropological literature on religion and healing that looks at how embodied practices can effect subjective transformations. However, I go beyond these ideas to demonstrate how embodied suffering may not merely be transformative in an abstract sense, but serve as a systematized treatment modality for the healing-seekers in the temple, believed to have concrete healing effects.
Jennifer Van Tiem (Teachers College at Columbia University) PHRASING THE SELF IS A VISCERAL PROJECT: EXPLORING THE THERAPEUTICS OF EQUINE-ASSISTED PSYCHOTHERAPY
Equine-assisted psychotherapy raises fundamental questions about the communicational dialectics that can transform human experiences by privileging environments through which emotional pain manifests and resolves in unusual ways. Beginning with Das’ (1997) encouragement to understand “pain as the beginning of a language game,” ethnographic investigations of equine-assisted psychotherapy explore how anthropological models of meaning-making and catharsis might proceed when the central interactive relationship entails the pairing of disparate species, a human and a horse. Human immersion in equine sensory worlds of sound and touch foregrounds visceral contexts of lived experience, encouraging a purposeful awareness of embodied practices through the deliberate management of local sounds, the reconfiguration of social space, and the merging of the physical worlds used by humans and horses. These deliberate extensions of verbal conversation, as a primary therapeutic method, define a rich ground for ethnographic investigation. Paying attention to the dedicated reciprocity among humans and horses will help re-orient the anthropological understanding of the therapeutics of empathy by allowing us to understand how embodied interactions across species generate connections that transform experience despite various emotional and communicational divides. This paper specifically seeks to explore the following questions: how does the horse help human clients reorder and make sense of experiences of trauma that escape spoken word manifestations; and how might we understand therapeutic efficacy where methods involve the realignment of embodied practices, which entail a more-than-linguistic determination?
Michael B. Bakan (Florida State University) BEING APPLIED IN THE ETHNOMUSICOLOGY OF AUTISM: AGENCY, EMPOWERMENT, AND MUSICAL ETHNOGRAPHY
In their introduction to the “Rethinking Autism, Rethinking Anthropology” special issue of the journal Ethos, co-editors Olga Solomon and Nancy Bagatell (2010:1) call for a “movement away from dominant biomedical discourses that focus largely on symptoms to a more phenomenological and ethnographic stance that addresses experiences of living with autism.” This presentation proposes an ethnomusicologically grounded, disability studies-driven response to Solomon and Bagatell’s anthropological call for such epistemological redirection. My focus is the Artism Music Project, an applied ethnomusicology program based at Florida State University that is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts. Through the Artism Ensemble, an intergenerational, intercultural, inter-musical, and inter-neurophysiological music performance collective comprising children on the autism spectrum as percussionists, their co-participating parents, and professional musicians of globally diverse cultural background, Artism gives musical voice and social agency to its child members, privileging autistic ability over disability and supportively responding to the creative initiatives and impulses of children with autism rather than trying to restrain, retrain, or redirect them. Moreover, the ensemble, through its concerts and other public events, serves as a social model in its own right: a model of inclusive sociality, music making, and cultural co-production that promotes positive public perceptions of autistic personhood, disrupting what Tanya Titchkosky (2007:10) has referred to as “the seemingly natural conflation of disability with undesired vulnerability and ineptitude.” Employing video footage from Artism Ensemble concerts and the recorded words of the group’s child members—who compose all of the music and direct the ensemble as well—this presentation evokes and ethnographically explores the unique musical, cultural, and social world of Artism, engaging its activist, counter-hegemonic identity politics and performative embodiment of autistic creative and social agency, but also critically assessing its paradoxical entrenchment in the very medicalizing discourses and social institutions that it endeavors to challenge and subvert.
Session 3. Creative Research Methods in Youth and Culture (Emily Sander, Chair)
ACYIG. BAYVIEW III
Participants: Sander, Nebergall, Philipson
Emily Sander (California State University, Long Beach) MIXED METHODOLOGIES: THE “ART” OF KEEPING PRESCHOOLERS ENGAGED IN THEIR INTERNAL EMOTIONS
Studying the internal worlds of humans produces unique challenges to the researcher. Constructing narratives based on interviews, surveys, or people’s descriptions alone cannot do justice to the complexities of our minds. With young children, even talking to them about their internal experiences can be trying and inconclusive as their verbal skills are just developing. To address these challenges, art has served as a bridge for researchers seeking to investigate psychological process. This presentation explores how art, as a visual medium, can serve as a tool for an anthropologist to utilize at times where interviews, conversations, and even words may fail. The research was conducted among children in two small northern California preschools who were observed as they created art to convey their internal understanding of emotional labels. Preschoolers’ limited lexicon for feeling terms and emotional experiences leads to decreased specificity of emotional description. I discovered that through using and analyzing the drawings, I could see more clearly than their words could explain how the process of labeling and the actual experience of the emotions may have occurred.
Michelle Nebergall (Case Western Reserve University) EVALUATING THE USE OF SMS AND SOCIAL MEDIA AS RESEARCH TOOLS IN AN ETHNOGRAPHY OF SOUTH AFRICAN TOWNSHIP YOUTH
This paper will describe the author’s experience of using cell phone based SMS’ing (texting) and social media instant messaging applications as methodological tools in an ethnographic study of the daily lives of South African township youth. Instant messaging accessed via cell phones are primary mechanisms by which many South African township youth communicate and share information (Kreutzer 2008). This project therefore utilized SMS’ing and instant messaging on the social media applications of MXit and WhatsApp with youth in addition to interviews, focus groups and participant observation in order to understand how a sample of township youth talk about identity, relationships, everyday activities and challenges in daily life. Data were collected from 75 youth aged 14-22 over 12 months. This study found that while some youth cannot afford cell phones, the majority of youth do have cell phones and utilize them throughout the day to instant message on social media. These youth use social media as tools not only to chat with friends and family about daily life, but to experiment with their identity, especially gender and sexual identities, and to develop relationships with peers and potential romantic partners that they would not otherwise speak to in their daily lives. The significant role of globalization in shaping the ways youth use social media to experiment with their identities as well as the advantages and challenges to using cell phones and social media in research with vulnerable youth will be discussed.
Bradley Philipson (Tulane University & Casady School) ON KATY PERRY AND ADOLESCENT LIMINALITY: AN ETHNOGRAPHIC STUDY OF PROSOCIAL DEVELOPMENT IN A BOYS’ SUMMER CAMP COUNSELOR-IN-TRAINING PROGRAM
Over the years, a number of quantitative studies have attempted and failed to capture the positive psychological growth that comes from participation in outdoor adventure education, as well as the precise source of that growth. The logical conclusion from this is either that such growth is an illusion, such growth can’t be measured, or that the studies were in some way methodologically flawed. The present study takes an intensive ethnographic/autoethnographic approach to study the progress of six teenage boys in a bifurcated eight-week summer camp program evenly divided between adventure travel and apprenticeship as staff to younger children. As the researcher, I was returning to a summer camp where, I myself, had learned how to work with kids and laid the groundwork for what would become a career in education. The autoethnographic methodology in a familiar setting allowed me to lay my biases bare and get to know each subject on a deeper level. While the study set out to find out what antecedent factors predicated the development of resilience and self-efficacy, what it revealed was more along the lines of generalized positive psychological growth as a result of a healthy, value-setting group dynamic.
Session 4. The Public, The Private, and the Parent: Knowledge Regimes of Childrearing, (Andrea Ford, Chair) ACYIG. CROWN POINT
Participants: Ford, Blank, Trnka, Stubbs
Andrea Ford (University of Chicago) BREAST MILK TECHNOLOGIES AND QUESTIONS OF INFANT CARE IN THE UNITED STATES
Infant care in North America has been impacted by recent social and technological developments in the production, circulation, and use of breast milk. Human milk is being banked, donated, exchanged, shipped internationally, prescribed as medicine, sold at exorbitant prices, patented, and genetically simulated in other species. Biotech companies are a driving force in this commoditization that expands breast milk from the spaces of intimate, social relationships into the realm of privately traded goods. At the same time, community breast milk exchanges attempt to restore breast milk to “the commons” as a basic and communal resource, while subverting regulatory mechanisms of the state and medical industry. Milk donated to milk banks blurs the line between gift and commodity, as not all banks are non-profit, and the donated milk that crosses international lines as “charity” raises questions of race, inequalities, and colonial legacies. The recent revival of wet nursing in the United States likewise highlights the issue of demographic variations in breastfeeding rates, indicating differential access to breast milk, the most healthful – and affordable – infant nutrition (the same populations with low rates of breastfeeding also suffer from significantly higher rates of infant mortality). This paper explores the motivations of mothers (and others concerned with the care of particular infants) for participating in these developments in various ways. It draws from web forums, community events, and interviews with milk bank staff, donors, and participants in community milk sharing.
Sharla Blank (Washburn University) CORPORAL PUNISHMENT: THE CLASH OF INTERNATIONAL LEGISLATION VERSUS LOCAL STANDARDS OF PROPER PARENTING IN DOMINICA, WEST INDIES
This paper will explore the clash of local versus international standards of how to properly discipline a child in Dominica, West Indies. With the passage in 1991 of the United Nation’s Convention on Rights of the Child, many Dominicans felt their rights to punish children as they saw fit, including using corporeal punishment, were being threatened by external legislative forces. The U.N. convention privileges Eurocentric white middle-class notions of childrearing, rather than local, historical and culturally based understandings. In the Caribbean, support exists for using physical punishment to discipline children, as it is believed this practice leads to greater respect for parents and others in positions of authority. This paper explores if new parenting practices have emerged among my rural working class informants in the 10 years since I conducted my original field research in 2001-2. It includes an analysis of interview data from parents, teachers, and government representatives regarding current parental disciplinary methods. Informant interviews reveal that today, when informants discipline their children, they offer an explanation of why they are upset to their offspring, a privilege they never experienced growing up. The use of corporal punishment is interpreted as virtuous by many Dominicans as it is perceived to be an essential element of Dominican culture, one that will be slow to change, if it ever does. Additionally, legislation punishing its use is conceived of as subject to interpretation.
Susanna Trnka (The University of Auckland) RESPONSIBILITY, CARE, AND THE SELF-MANAGING SUBJECT: FAMILIAL REGIMES OF COPING WITH CHILDHOOD ASTHMA IN NEW ZEALAND
Since the introduction of neoliberal self-management programs for asthma in the late 1980s, New Zealand has been at the forefront of promoting patient-centered regimes of asthma care. As Nikolas Rose’s work has shown, such moves towards inculcating ‘responsible’ medical subjects have profound implications not only for the provision of health care but for the formation of contemporary subjectivities. But what happens to the ‘self’ in self-management when the subjects in question are children? Drawing from recent scholarly attention to the importance of notions of ‘responsibility’ and ‘responsibilization’ in constituting contemporary subjectivity, especially with respect to issues of health and illness (e.g. Rose 1996, 2007; Novas and Rose 2007; Davis 2012; Zigon 2010), this paper investigates how concepts of responsibility, care and the self-managing subject are constituted through familial, medical and governmental responses to childhood asthma. I argue that while New Zealand physicians and asthma educators often focus on the tensions arising between encouraging patient ‘choice’ and fostering ‘compliance’ with pharmaceutical regimes, parents and children engage in more complex ethics and practices of care that revolve around notions of ‘slack’ versus ‘stroppy’ mothers and the desire to raise self-sufficient children. Moreover, the daily negotiations and strivings towards maintaining a sense of normalcy result in the rise of a parent-expert and a child who becomes an active, but not independent, member of familial regimes of coping and care.
Matilda Stubbs (Northwestern University) DOCUMENTING LIVES: THE MATERIAL AND SOCIAL LIFE OF THE CASE FILE IN THE U.S. FOSTER CARE SYSTEM
Within in legal paperwork, foster youth in the United States continually negotiate the procedural strategies utilized by the foster care system and social service administrators to document their lives. This paper attends specifically to how this bureaucratic context is experienced by staff and youth through the circulation of legal documents and the management of case files. The presentation stems from research investigating critically the often overlooked routine movements of everyday filing and the labor involved to connect individuals with necessary services and resources. Namely, this endeavor is particularly interested in the cultural models of identity, self, and personhood that develop over time through a youth’s participation in and engagement with this documentary system of child rearing.
Session 5: DISCUSSION: OBESITY STIGMA (Eileen Anderson-Fye, Organizer), ACYIG. BELMONT
Participants: Anderson-Fye, McClure, Bharati, Floriano, Chen
Obesity rates are rising around the globe; so is stigma against obesity. This stigma can be at a socio-cultural group level and can also be internalized by individuals. This discussion will focus on these dual levels of fat stigma and the relationships between them, with a particular focus on the mediating factor of upward mobility. The presenters draw upon data collected for an NSF-funded study in 2012 about fat stigma in four cultures: Belize, Jamaica, Nepal, and the U.S. The focal population to be discussed is college students between the ages of 18:15-25 since across cultures, college students exhibit upward mobility. This age group of late adolescence is also a time of great plasticity and change in many contexts, including the cultures included in this study. Questions to be raised include: How are messages about obesity and health communicated? How do body ideals change in a given context? How do institutions (e.g. educational, religious) affect body image? How do people come to internalize stigmatizing messages around fat? What are the effects of changing cultural norms regarding obesity? How are messages and practices around fat and body ideals gendered? How do foodways interact with fat perception? We welcome active participation and discussion.
Eileen Anderson-Fye (Case Western Reserve University)
Stephanie McClure (Case Western Reserve University)
Arundhati Bharati (Case Western Reserve University)
Maureen Floriano (Case Western Reserve University)
Yunzhu Chen (Case Western Reserve University)
Session 6: MENTAL MODELS OF SOCIAL ISSUES (Elysee Nouvet, Chair) SPA. MARINER POINT
Participants: Nouvet & the DECIDE research team, Onyeneho, Kendall-Taylor, Ramos
Elysee Nouvet (McMaster University) & the DECIDE research team ETHICAL SENSE-MAKING AT THE END OF LIFE IN CANADIAN HOSPITALS
Drawing on qualitative data from interviews with nurses and physicians collected during the DECIDE study, a CIHR-funded study aimed at identifying barriers and potential solutions to good communication and decision-making about goals of care in Canadian hospitals, this presentation highlights the cultural ethical frames embedded within physicians’ and nurses’ assessments of certain patients on medical wards as obvious candidates for comfort care. Whether stressing nurse/physician duty to alleviate suffering, or scarce healthcare resources, these ethical frames appear to anchor the medical team’s confidence when they decide it is best to end aggressive life-saving interventions (to Allow Natural Death). While central to the medical team’s sense-making of the dying on the ward, these ethical frames are also key to discussions held with patients and families aimed at bringing these individuals into an awareness and acceptance of the end of life and the end of aggressive medical care. The moral arguments presented in such conversations are for the most part familiar and well received; nevertheless, what patients and families prefer and value as they experience failing bodies and health is not universal. It is these “difficult” cases, when probed in interview, that are most revealing of the ethical frames guiding what care medical teams’ offer and are eager to provide to critically ill patients. As physicians and nurses recall disbelief, frustration, and moral distress when needing to work alongside those insisting on what they view as a futile “prolonged death”, clearly articulated are ethical notions about what constitutes a “good” and “bad” life, the human and the inhuman, and a “dignified” versus an “unnatural” death
DECIDE research team:
Elyse Nouvet (McMaster University)
Patricia Strachan (McMaster University)
Jennifer Kryworuchko (University of Saskatchewan)
Kevin Brazil (Queen’s University, Belfast, Ireland)
Daren Heyland (Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada)
John You (McMaster University)
Golda Kosi Onyeneho (Washington University in St. Louis) INVESTIGATING NATIONAL NARRATION AND NARCISSISM: FINDINGS FROM AN INITIAL NIGERIAN HISTORY SURVEY
A team of psychologists (Liu et al. 2012) has recently described a phenomenon they call national narcissism, where citizens report on surveys that their country played an inordinately large role in world history. They suggest that national narcissism is related to patriotism and connotes an understanding of national identity and history. These scholars suggest that national narcissism is extremely robust. However, what exceptions exist to the claim that national narcissism is the norm? During preliminary research in Lagos, Nigeria, and the remote and regional Mbaise, Nigeria, I collected surveys on Nigerian and world history. People struggled to list five important events in Nigerian history, and often pointed me to local cultural historians, who despite easily discussing the history of their local communities also had difficulty listing major national events. After extended periods of time, many did list five events. However, after seventy surveys, there was little convergence, in the events people listed. Concurrently, scholars have argued that Nigerians have “no national identity” (Watts 2004, Falola 2010) and that many do not show patriotism as they frequently complain about government and national corruption. Throughout its history, Nigeria has often experienced sectarian violence (Watts 2004). Thus multiple lines of evidence, including national history survey data, seem to provide an exception to a claim that national narcissism is normal or robust. It instead suggests that national narcissism requires work to engender it. We are then left asking why and when national narcissism occurs and what role it plays in facilitating civic life.
Nat Kendall-Taylor (Frameworks Institute) SENSICAL TRANSLATIONS: A CASE STUDY IN APPLIED COGNITIVE COMMUNICATIONS
The FrameWorks Institute applies cultural models and metaphor theory from cognitive anthropology to develop communications devices that reframe public understandings and discourses on social problems. This paper traces three case studies, in the areas of child mental health, budgets and taxes, and environmental health, where substantial gaps between scientific and public knowledge were identified, and describes the research process to develop “explanatory metaphors” to close those gaps and cultivate more accurate and expansive patterns of public thinking. Three distinct cognitively attuned communications tasks are described: (1) foregrounding an extant but recessive cognitive model prominent among the public; (2) filling a domain-specific “cognitive lacuna” in public thinking by introducing a modified version of an existing model from a kindred cognitive domain; and (3) building off or working around an existing dominant cognitive model that is consistent with expert knowledge but incomplete. The paper concludes with observations on how the practice of applied communications has challenged and strengthened our theory of culture and cognition.
Francisco A. Ramos (California State University, Fullerton) OUT OF UNIFORM: FORMER MILITARY SERVICE MEMBER PERSPECTIVES ON FOREIGN AND NATIONAL IDENTITY
In the majority of United States joint military partnership exercises, one highly significant aspect that has received minor attention has been non-combat related community relations and humanitarian assistance projects. Since 2001 these projects known as COMRELs have been adopted as part of the Foreign Humanitarian Assistance Joint Partnership Doctrine (JP 3-29), deeming them mission essential for all military commands deploying outside the United States. Over the past decade recent events have focused discussion on the political-economic aspects of military partnerships centered primarily on their role in U.S. foreign policy (Novak 1995) and neo-imperialism (Lutz 2006). Thus far ethnographic discussions concerning project participants have fallen by the wayside in favor of theoretical conversations about multinational military operations. Aside from defense department sponsored media outlets such as the Armed Forces Network, military participation has rarely ever been considered worthy of publicity. Furthermore, the amount of attention given to individual participants whose engagement in these events is scarcely considered when analyzing current U.S. military culture. In this discussion I focused on how recently discharged service members have reconciled their primary mission as ever ready combatants, with that of humanitarian emissaries. Based on data collected from former COMREL participants I argue that through these projects military personnel develop a more progressive portrait of foreign policy and cultural admiration than what media and scholarly outlets have often portrayed. Furthermore, I maintain that through such fledgling investigation we may consider the prominence service members bear in ethnographic discussions about America’s military presence globally.
THURSDAY (3:30-5:15 PM)
Session 1. Person, Family, and Ethics in the Contemporary World (Keziah Conrad and Merav Shohet, Organizers), SPA. BELMONT
Participants: Conrad, Bonet, Eliot, Dawley, Yan
This panel explores relationships between the individual and the group in the context of family life. Through case studies of families from the former Yugoslavia, Iraq, Israel, Costa Rica and Vietnam, we investigate how ideologies of virtuous conduct, kinship, and the family structure the experience of their individual members, and also how such ideologies can fail to capture the richness and complexity of subjective and intersubjective experience. Like Kurtz (1992) and Briggs (1998), we take seriously the idea that cultural patterns of childrearing and family interaction are organized to produce particular sorts of individuals and to socialize particular orientations to the group. We explore how such patterns differentially impact the psychodynamics and subjectivities of family members in diverse contexts over the course of their lifespan as they internalize, attempt to live out, or reject ideal forms of what they or their communities regard as ethical practice. With Yan (2003, 2011), we also interrogate the ways in which “traditional” norms of self-sacrifice and authority in the family that effectively achieve power relations rooted in age, gender, and status hierarchies increasingly compete with “modern” ideals of romantic love, personal development, and independence. We therefore ask how family members negotiate and live out idealized norms such as “relationship” and “autonomy” that may be in complementary or competing relations with one another in local definitions of ethical personhood.
Keziah Conrad (University of California, Los Angeles) CARE FOR ONESELF, CARE FOR OTHERS: INDIVIDUALISM AND RESPONSIBILITY IN BOSNIAN MIXED-ETHNICITY FAMILIES
In the polarized context of contemporary Bosnia-Herzegovina, individuals who belong to mixed-ethnicity families occupy a unique subject position in which they are frequently faced with dilemmas of identification, affiliation, and relationship. People from these families are often perceived as individualists who make their own way in the world, as outsiders to ethno-religious collectives, and as overt opponents of nationalism. Indeed, many of them do adopt strategies of identification and relationship that are in tension with ideals of purity, religious orthodoxy, and nationality. They frequently seek to associate themselves instead with ideals of cosmopolitan secularity and modernity, prioritizing self-development and relationships in the nuclear family over obligations to kin or a religious/national community. Nevertheless, responsibilities toward members of the extended family remain a critical factor around which Bosnians organize their lives. These responsibilities include physical care and material assistance, but also reciprocal patterns of visitation and hospitality that often have to do with religious holidays. In this paper, I focus on video footage in which a woman of Serb/Croat (Christian) background prepares and hosts a special iftar meal during Ramadan for her husband’s Muslim parents. I argue that this type of interaction complicates our simplistic sense that individualism is opposed to caring relationship and responsibility, and raises provocative questions about how to participate in communities of belonging without becoming exclusive or being drawn into violence against others.
“The Cruel Mother”: Refugee Youths and Family Negotiations
Sally Bonet, (Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey)
This paper draws on research focusing on the interplay of identity and forced migration for recently resettled Iraqi refugee youths and their families. I critically examine refugee youths’ discourses and practices of “the self” as they take up the challenges of inclusion, participation, and group survival within the context of their new host country. Key themes include the experiences and expressions of identity that become salient for Iraqi refugee youths in the U.S. setting, and how they shape their aspirations and future life paths, as well as how they and their parents negotiate “traditional” roles in light of the demands and realities of their new contexts. Drawing on interviews, family focus groups, and participant observations, I suggest that ethical personhood for youth participants was often articulated in terms of ethical group membership. In this paper, I focus on the contours of an ethical life as articulated by Samah, a 19-year old woman who in undertaking care for her widowed mother and younger siblings has had to put her own hopes and dreams on hold.
From ‘aib to ḥarām: (Re)interpreting women’s roles and family responsibilities in light of Bedouin tradition and Islamic law
Krista Eliot (University of California, San Diego)
In the Bedouin Arab community in southern Israel where I conducted my fieldwork, a generation ago it was unheard of for women to attend college or work outside of the home. But today, they are pursuing higher education and entering the workforce en masse—a development that potentially threatens “traditional” family norms. Women who join the workforce face the challenge of taking on new social roles (and their families, of permitting them to take on these new roles) while still holding on to “traditional” ethical ideals. I argue that by labeling certain practices as ʽaib (shameful) and others as ḥarām (forbidden), the notion of an authenticated, unchanging Islamic law provides a sense of seeming continuity through time, even as customs that are judged to be extra-Islamic may be dispensed with. An action that is ḥarām is considered contrary to Islamic teaching, while that which is ʽaib disobeys only tradition, which is subject to change. While the content of the categories of “ʽaib” and “ḥarām” change over time and vary depending upon who one asks, the postulation of an unchanging code of ethics establishing what is ḥarām provides a sense of continuity amidst social change. This paper will explore how individual women and their families draw on these concepts as they attempt to conform to, challenge, or cope with (sometimes conflicting) ideals of ethical behavior in their families and communities.
Wrestling with God to make peace with the family: evangelicalism, the support group movement, and the Jacobean struggle for male gender identity in Costa Rica
William Dawley (University of California, San Diego)
Men’s gender identities and relationships with the home have become a popular topic of concern in many parts of Latin America. In a variety of institutional and social spaces that give voice to this concern, the stereotype of the macho has come to embody a critique of an unethical masculinity, toxic to the family. My research focuses on the success of the evangelical and support group movements in propagating an alternative to machismo: an emergent, family-friendly, “spiritual” masculinity, referred to in many contexts as the hombre de verdad (“real man”). Although discourses of personal transformation and spirituality are by no means exclusive to the evangelical and support group movements, these movements have succeeded in reproducing a shared, religious-therapeutic system of ethics that specializes in identity transformation, grouping participants into peer-oriented groups to engage in narrative practices of self-examination. Male participants in the evangelical and support group movements that I observed for almost two years in northern Costa Rica sometimes participated in several men’s groups of this kind. The peer-orientation of these groups appeared to render narrative self-examination and explicitly spiritual identity work less threatening and to create an intimacy that, in turn, reduced the appeal of other, competing peer-groups and identity models. Using excerpts from my participant-observation and interviews with participants, I focus on how the dominant model of masculinity in these groups–the hombre de verdad–is contrasted with the macho model largely in terms of his spirituality and relationship with the family.
Binding Ties: Motherhood, Femininity/Masculinity, and Sacrifice in Vietnam’s Development
Merav Shohet (University of Toronto)
What does it mean to be a good woman and a good person? How do gendered identities relate to state laws and practices, and how might mothers (and fathers) experience this? In Vietnam, women have historically been, and presently continue to be, portrayed and enjoined to act as naturalized self-sacrificing mothers. Equated with the victimized, suffering Nation during war, and with competent, managerial, harmony-promoting workers and care-takers in the state’s current development project, mothers are idealized as the moral bedrock of the nation, often contrasted with selfish prostitutes or fickle, unreliable fathers. This paper goes beyond analyzing the conflicted relationship which the state has with gender and its representations, whereby policies aimed at improving the living conditions of women and promoting gender equality effectively reinforce gender differences and naturalized family roles. Drawing on longitudinal household-based ethnographic research in urbanizing Central Vietnam, I interrogate what role “sacrifice” plays in mothers’ lives, and show the tensions involved in appropriating notions of virtuous womanhood in the nation’s shifting historical context. I argue that while motherhood continues to be reproduced as an ethical role tied to idealized social asymmetries among women, children, and men, it is not a monolithic, seamless practice. To better understand continuities and change in Vietnam’s political and moral economy, I attend to the personal histories of differently positioned mothers (and fathers), and the complicated ways in which they interpret and experience devotion and duty as part of their subjectivities.
Yunxiang Yan (University of California, Los Angeles)
Session 2. Digital Media, Peer Relations, and Children and Young People’s Learning, (Christo Sims, Organizer) ACYIG. BAYVIEW II
Participants: Pfister, Cole, Lecusay & Rosero, Gonzalez, Sims, Lemke
This intergenerational and interdisciplinary panel explores relations between the new media environment, peer relations, and diverse pathways of learning and development in and across sites of ‘formal’ and ‘informal’ education. While many observers have commented on the increasing role of digital media in children and young people’s lives, comparatively few have offered in-depth accounts of the differences in how children and young people orient towards digital media in their everyday lives, especially for children of non-dominant groups. Moreover, researchers have given comparatively little attention to how children and young people’s digital media practices, which often center on friendship and peer relations, intersect with the learning and developmental pathways structured by ‘formal’ and ‘informal’ educational activities. By drawing on ethnographic studies of diverse sites of learning – knitters in an online forum, an after-school program in a mostly African American subsidized housing center, a collaborative digital video production between underprivileged Latino high school students and privileged university students, the launch of a ‘school for digital kids’ in Manhattan, and the joint playing of video games amongst elementary school aged students and university undergraduates – we hope to add complexity and nuance to debates about the role of digital media in processes of learning, development, and social change.
“Changes are Coming”: How an online community reorganized itself to maximize participation, learning, and development
Rachel Cody Pfister (University of California, San Diego)
This talk discusses how an online fiber crafting community set about organizing itself and its activities to foster a space where members of all levels of experience could socialize, collaborate, learn, and advance their interests. Research on interest-driven communities has shown these informal environments to be powerful spaces of learning and development. But there has been little discussion on how these communities become spaces of intergenerational collaboration that encourage learning, production and advancement within the interest area. This presentation will draw from ethnographic fieldwork conducted within an online fibercrafting community to discuss how the organizers and long-term members of that community intentionally set out to create such a space after they noticed problematic changes in participation and membership. This case study demonstrates that the organization of a group can be instrumental in creating a space where learning and development can occur, and that the members and administrators of these groups act as skilled community leaders and intentional designers when creating these spaces.
Social Imaginaries about digital technologies and education in the afterschool hours: The reality is more interesting than the dream
Michael Cole, Robert Lecusay, Ivan Rosero, (University of California, San Diego)
In recent years, a great deal of research and government money has been spent promoting the development of a digital infrastructure to support educational activities of grade school children attending after-school programs in a variety of “informal learning” environments. Based upon several years of ethnographic observations in a digitally-enriched afterschool setting in a poor, mostly African American, subsidized housing center, we have found such activities to be rich sites for understanding the way that youth media practices interact with, and enter into, activities specifically designed to enhance children’s learning through the use of powerful and attractive digital tools. The digital tools in this case included carefully designed simulations and stop motion animation. The activities included learning about parallel circuits as part of a physics curriculum and learning about the ocean and inhabitants as part of a curriculum unit on marine science. This research shows in rather stark manner the ways in which activities emanating from the school and the local cultural norms of the child participants in the after-school setting interact, often in conflictual ways that work against the best laid plans of the elders, while revealing educational potentials from hybridization in the circumstances of the local, after-school idioculture. Fostering participatory culture practices: Practical video production in an after-school program
Fostering participatory culture practices: Practical video production in an after-school program
David Gonzalez (University of California, San Diego)
This paper introduces optimal forms of participatory culture practices, ones that are not individual media production nor affiliated group content. Instead, the paper details how two distinctive groups (underprivileged high school Latino students and advantaged university students) collaborated with each other, in the context of an after-school program supported by a university-community partnership, to create a video that counteracted stereotypes circulating on the Internet. I observe this collaboration in terms of media literacy and practical video production, and analyze the process with Henry Jenkins’ notion of “negotiation.” Negotiation illustrates the process of bringing together groups that otherwise might have segregated lives. To explicate this point, I interrogate the features that provoke cultural differences, alongside the practical video production.
“These aren’t your mother’s jeans”: The cultural politics of integrating digital media in school
Christo Sims (University of California, San Diego)
This talk examines the relationship between digital media practices and the identity negotiations young people take part in by way of their participation in compulsory schooling. The paper draws on fieldwork conducted between 2009 and 2011 at an experimental New York City public middle school that promoted itself as tailored to fit the interests and needs of a generation purportedly transformed by the rise of digital media. Applying Holland and Lave’s (2001) notion of “history in person,” the paper analyzes how historical structures of privilege were brought to a present in which digital media was assumed to be a commonly celebrated feature of all young people’s out-of-school lives. I suggest that while all students engaged in a diversity of digital media practices, only some digital media practices were sanctioned by educators, and these tended to correspond with the distinguishing interests of one of the school’s dominant cliques: a group of mostly privileged and mostly white boys. The talk concludes with a reflection on the cultural politics inherent in educators’ attempts to appropriate presumed aspects of children’s culture, and encourages a more collaborative and participatory approach for those intervening and advocating on behalf of non-dominant children and youth.
Games and learning: Making the interplay of feeling and meaning visible
Jay Lemke (University of California, San Diego)
If we take as our unit of analysis the social activities in which children and young people are engaged and through which they learn, then these activities always involve a subtle interplay between feeling and meaning. In playing computer games while playing with one another, the participants in this study – elementary school age students and university undergraduates in a voluntary after-school program – show their changing feelings about one another, about the games, and about events in their play. I will present a number of examples of how feelings shape meanings made and how meanings affect feelings, always mediated by interactions with one another and with material and symbolic tools and artifacts. The young students and their university ‘buddies’ play with and in an educational virtual world (Quest Atlantis) both as it was intended to be used and in their own innovative ways. They also play more commercial computer games (e.g. Portal, World of Goo) and simulations (MS Flight Simulator) in more and less serious ways, for their own sake and as arenas for extending their play with one another. In these activities learning is unpredictable and resists institutional constraints. The chaotic living ground of culture and community becomes forcefully visible.
Session 3. Psychiatric Categories and Social Power (Jack R. Friedman, Chair) SPA. BAYVIEW III
Participants: Cooper, Friedman, Martinez, and Hejtmanek
“It Means He’s Better Than We Thought”: The Construction and Translation of Psychiatric Knowledge at the Costa County Mental Health Court
Jessica Cooper (Princeton University)
How are psychiatric categories and logics made legible to systems of American criminal law? How does the commensuration of these systems enable different forms of liberal governance for mentally ill offenders? Based on six months of ethnographic fieldwork, this paper analyzes the importation of psychiatric categories at the Costa Costa Mental Health Court (CCMHC). The CCMHC is a specialty criminal court that only adjudicates offenders with an Axis-1 psychiatric diagnoses. In place of incarceration, offenders processed by the CCMHC receive a two year mental health probation sentence, during which time the court manages the offender’s daily life. Mental health probation is not administered by probation and parole officers, but is actively managed by the court itself: the judge presides over a team of attorneys, social workers, psychologists, and psychiatrists who determine what is in the offender’s best interests. Here, I employ a Latourian framework (1987) to explain the processes of commensuration at work at the CCMHC to combine legal and psychiatric logics. Commensuration occurs once the psychiatric evidence is made stable by a black box of a diagnosis and mobilized into the courtroom. I suggest that social workers play a fundamental role in translating scientific evidence for the legal actors, enabling special forms of adjudication and governance for mentally ill offenders.
Undifferentiated Madness: Eroding Labels and the Search for Meaning Among Romanian Psychiatric Patients
Jack R. Friedman (University of Oklahoma)
In this paper, I ask how the seemingly chaotic and frequently undifferentiated mix of patients in Romanian psychiatric hospitals – what I have termed The Sad, The Mad, and The Bad (the depressed, the psychotic, and the alcoholic) – come to create a new assemblage of pathology that reflects neoliberal, EU-oriented fantasies of belonging and exclusion that inform contemporary Romanian practices of national identity construction through tropes and new imaginings of the “healthy citizen.” The paper interrogates traditional critiques associated with “labeling theory” in mental health care in order to consider what happens to the sense of self and subjectivity when the boundaries between mental illness labels have begun to erode not due to a humanistic desire to remove the labels of mental illness, but because of new institutional arrangements in post-millennial Romania that have left “the mad” as an abandoned population, warehoused as an undifferentiated, abjected mass. In essence, one of the questions that this paper asks is: What happens to the experience of the self and one’s subjectivity when there is a retrenchment against the modern tendencies to rationally pursue a taxonomy of pathology and deviance, and, instead, those with mental illness find themselves marginalized as an undifferentiated population. This paper explores patient narratives as they struggle to distinguish their own selves and subjectivities from those of the other patients who populate the Romanian psychiatric hospital setting as well as try to make sense of where they fit into new imaginings of Romanian citizenship.
Responsibility, Responsibilization and the Legal Brain
Nicole Martinez (University of Chicago)
Neuroscientific information is often viewed as having great potential to address questions relating to whether a mentally ill person is responsible for his or her actions and therefore subject to punishment. Neuroscientific information is thought to challenge existing models of legal responsibility, by undermining rational choice models and supporting deterministic models of the brain and behavior. A number of legal scholars and neuroscientists have proposed that these new understandings of the brain may lead to a criminal justice system in which the treatment of mental disorder, rather than punishment, is a primary goal. However, law, neuroscientific information, and folk concepts are mutually constitutive discourses about the mind, the will, and personhood, and it is in this framework that judgments regarding responsibility, mental disorder and punishment are constructed. While neuroscientific information may be thought to establish and confirm de-responsibilizing biological narratives of personhood, such information in practice does not necessarily serve to contradict dominant cultural narratives of personal responsibility. Instead of providing a direct counternarrative to personal responsibility, legal interpretations of the neuroscience may serve to reinforce a focus on the individual brain and personal responsibility, in a manner that does not ultimately reduce the role of responsibility and punishment in the criminal justice system.
Race Un/Consciousness in American Adolescent Mental Health Treatment Center
Katherine Hejtmanek (CUNY-Brooklyn College)
Race is fundamental to American society. Race shapes institutionalization practices and ideologies in the United States, especially for Black youth involved in justice, foster care, and public mental health systems. Race also shapes the way individuals feel about the racial “other”, including fear, distrust, and paranoia. These state level practices and individual emotional expressions of racialized shape daily life, especially in residential treatment, institutional mental health treatment for youth in the United States. In my research on residential treatment for youth in the United States, I found that more young people of color were institutionalized, reflecting broader society incarceration practices. These young people of color understood their treatment and recovery as racialized, especially the young black men. I also found the bias by which mental health treatment and psychological discourse are shaped by a largely white racial consciousness and an adherence to the contemporary American “colorblind” ideology. In other words, some people talk about how race matters for youth in treatment, others deny race’s significant, other fear how racism influences the treatment process, and some “flip-the-script” and explicitly racialize the predominantly white-based treatment process. Using data from eighteen months of fieldwork at one institution, I argue that mental health treatment is highly racialized, which is revealed through what I call the racial consciousness and unconsciousness of those enacting the treatment regimens, those receiving care, and the very mental health ideologies governing treatment practice in a “post-racial” colorblind, racially paranoid United States.
Session 4. Adolescent Agents and Sociocultural Transformations (Ashley Elizabeth Drake and Rita Biagioli, Organizers), SPA. CROWN POINT
Participants: Biagioli, Drake, Tennant, Guest
Since the 1990s, there has been a proliferation of academic interest in adolescence within multicultural contexts (Larson, 2002). However, these studies are primarily concerned with how culture affects adolescence and often underemphasize how adolescents as agents negotiate their cultural identities within varied contexts. Such an approach inevitably leads to an uncomplicated representation of a distinct critical period in which attitudes and beliefs are still forming and individuals first appear capable of social agency (Havighurst, 1972). Through the lens of the cohort-specific theoretical model (LeVine, 2011) this panel explores the impact of culturally salient adolescent experiences on sociocultural transformations as well as the effects of these transformations on adolescent experiences. Drawing on both ethnographic and quantitative analyses in diverse cultural settings, we examine how adolescents acquire, cognize, transform, and share cultural knowledge in multicultural contexts. In instances such as these, individuals are exposed to competing practices, forms of religiosity, and linguistic diversity, and thus have to (consciously or unconsciously) privilege elements from one arena that will shape their cultural belonging, or otherwise combine different elements to construct necessarily reconciled and hybrid cultural affiliations (Shweder, et al. 2006). Therefore, this panel will delve into the following questions: How do adolescent identities manifest in new and diverse cultural contexts that incorporate elements of local and global culture? How does a person choose which elements of these orientations to accept or reject? How do personal adolescent experiences potentially influence the enculturation process and vice versa? Finally, what aspects of culture does one (choose to) internalize as constitutive of the self during adolescence? With this panel, we hope to explore what it means to be an adolescent in context.
Defining Religiosity Through Emotionality: Adolescents at Hindu Summer Camp
Rita Biagioli, (University of Chicago)
Hindu adolescents in America are increasingly learning about Hinduism at Hindu summer camps. Through interviews with campers, counselors, and parents I explore the ways in which Hinduism, as well as devotees’ conceptualizations and performances of Hinduism, have or have not changed in the diaspora. Moreover, I assess methods of religious and cultural transmission, what aspects of Hinduism are transmitted, and whether these experiences effectively transmit Hindu values. Hindu culture is so diverse that active transmission itself essentializes what can be passed down and thus defined as Hinduism. Scholars of diasporas often refer to Bourdieu’s (1977) habitus to explain how religious values are passed down. Unfortunately, a traditionally Hindu habitus in America, uprooted and transplanted, risks seeming impertinent to Hindu adolescents who have never lived in India. How do adolescents conceptualize what constitutes religiosity and subsequently perform what they conceptualize? I argue that adolescents largely shape what it means to be Hindu in America due to the necessary essentialization of Hinduism for their consumption. Despite adult efforts to retain particulars of Hindu traditions, adolescents amalgamate Hinduism with American ideals of religiosity, indicating that in adolescent development, societal influences count as much as (if not more than) individual upbringing. However, through emotionality associated with religiosity at Hindu summer camp, adolescents, who traditionally focus on forming extra-familial bonds (Berndt, 1982), cohere into a group that is proud to be Hindu, but utilize Hinduism defined on their own terms.
“Not ready to be a woman”: Exploring the Adolescent Perspective on “Breast Ironing” in Cameroon, West Africa
Ashley Elizabeth Drake (University of Chicago)
Western-based non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have frequently condemned controversial indigenous practices in the name of human rights. One such practice in Cameroon, West Africa that has recently been influenced by Western abolition efforts is “breast ironing,” a term coined in 2006 by a German-based NGO, Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ). This practice involves routinely massaging the breasts of adolescent girls with heated objects such as grinding stones, pestles, or ladles to inhibit breast development. GTZ depicts breast ironing as a deleterious tradition and speculates that it leads to short and long term health complications. The local cultural logics behind this practice, however, portray breast ironing as a beneficial ethno-medical procedure employed to regulate significant aspects of maturation. In this paper I consider how GTZ’s eradication efforts ultimately risk compromising the interpretive community’s associated beliefs, values, and sanctions surrounding physical and psychological adolescent development. Based on a combination of ethnographic materials and interviews collected among the Bamiléké ethnic group in Dschang, Cameroon, I explore how adolescent members of this ethnic group navigate competing social and ideological systems concerned with “proper” corporeal maturation. My analysis seeks to shed light on how local breast ironing practices commingle with historical and contemporary sentiments of adolescent development, fertility, and sexual education among the Bamiléké.
“The Earth is 10,000’s Old”: How Creationism, Evolution Debates, and Folk Theories of Origins Define Religious Belief In Emergent Adulthood In Kansas
Joseph Tennant (University of Chicago)
Why is it the case that for a large majority of Americans, the theory of evolution is seen as a point of controversy, and for some an outright attack on their religious beliefs? Critics of evolutionary theory have throughout the last century opposed the teaching of evolution in schools (Numbers, 2006; Larson, 2006) and fought for the inclusion of biblical creationism and later intelligent design in schools (Edwards v Alliguard, 1987; Kitzmiller v Dover, 2004). Is such a wide-spread and organized opposition to evolutionary theory a case of simple scientific disagreement, an ignorant or misinformed public, or both? This study will seek to establish the existence of a theological notion of teleology in Christianity and present arguments that provide evidence suggesting that this theology is the basis of many of the Intelligent Design critiques of evolution. The study will then present evidence from survey research showing that members of Christian cultural groups in Kansas, specifically college students aged 18:15-22, apply this teleological reasoning to evolutionary theory without using the formal structure of professional critics, suggesting that the broad cultural movement of creationism is the product of individual minds applying their personal experiences of the broad theology. This study will further show that knowledge about evolutionary theory is low among all those sampled, and that instead of ignorance, creationist claims (and pushback by atheists) are an assertion of folk understandings of metaphysics. These understandings are linked to expressions about personal experiences with God, church attendance and affiliation. These understandings are also indicative of a process of identity consolidation in emerging adults, meaning those in their late teens to mid-twenties who are characterized by prolonged time obtaining higher education, searching for and changing jobs, and general economic, relational, and residential flux (Arnett, 2000). Qualitative data will show that these emergent adults use evolution and experiences with God as a way to stake a claim about where they ‘fit’ in their communities and broadly the universe at large.
Professor Andrew M. Guest (University of Portland, Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences)
Session 5. Interpersonal Engagements in Situations of Conflict (Erin McFee, Chair) SPA. MARINER POINT
Participants: McFee, Wright, Hallman, Frey
Ex-Combatants and Communities in Transition: Forgiveness and Reconciliation in “Post” Conflict Colombia
Erin McFee (University of Chicago)
Colombia’s “post” conflict setting is characterized by a climate of insecurity; individuals must navigate concurrent post-conflict, low-level conflict, and criminal gang activity. Further contributing to experiences of insecurity are blurred distinctions between victim and perpetrator, making truth, justice, and reparations ever more difficult to obtain. This paper explores forgiveness and reconciliation in this context and draws from interviews with ex-combatants from illegal armed groups who were participants in the government-sponsored reintegration program in 2011. These accounts reveal the way in which these processes intersect with everyday experiences of insecurity. Woven throughout these narratives were three distinct themes regarding the circulation of forgiveness and reconciliation: 1) an ex-combatant’s consideration of his or her own acts committed while in the armed group or by the group more generally; 2) community consideration of perceived injustices perpetrated by the ex-combatant; and 3) the ex-combatant’s consideration of perceived injustices perpetrated by the community. This investigation is both timely and necessary: there are currently 41 armed conflicts taking place the world over and roughly 950,000 ex-combatants from previous conflicts transitioning to civilian life. In Colombia alone, there are 55,000 ex-combatants. The question of how communities learn to forgive and the consequences of not being able to do so will only continue to grow in importance.
(On HIV care and the state in Botswana)
Arielle Wright (University of St. Louis)
Botswana was one of the nations hardest hit by the HIV epidemic. This posed serious challenges for the state about how to respond to the massive numbers of its citizens in desperate need of care. Free anti-retroviral therapy (ART) in the past decade has reduced mortality rates, but many remain in need of long-term assistance. In 1998, Botswana introduced the Community-Home Based Care (CHBC) program, which sent local volunteers into homes to assist families with the care of HIV patients. In the current era of ART, the CHBC program continues to rely on community volunteers to assist families with chronically ill patients. The volunteers receive minor compensation by the state, only a fraction of the local living wage and less than other state-funded voluntary positions. Based on pilot research with CHBC volunteers in the summer of 2012, this paper examines how family and volunteer caregivers make claims to greater assistance from the state. These claims bring the state into new economies of care (James 2010; Livingston 2005) surrounding the sick that reconfigure the obligations and relations of citizens and the government. In this way, “care” becomes a productive site where affective, ethical and economic interests intersect with political formations and interventions. Economies of care offer an entry point for further exploration of how social and political relations are re-forged in the wake of a national crisis.
Paralinguistic Pain: Intonation and trauma in asylum advocacy
Candler Hallman (University of California, San Diego)
Narrating trauma is a process of memory construction that displays the interaction between individual psychological experience and socio-political constructs of violence, personhood, and healing (Leys 2000). Trauma narratives also have interactive and sociological capital: human rights advocates often cite personal narratives in the attempt to garner support for their causes. The expression of trauma is particularly important for refugees as violent events act as “evidence” for asylum claims. Paralinguistic cues have been relatively understudied in trauma narratives in both clinical and public settings. This paper studies intonation shifts in a series of Congolese refugee narratives in Northern Ireland to show how paralinguistic cues are used by speakers and audience members to signal empathy and align cross-cultural experiences of political violence. Speakers aim to convey emotional experience through intonation shifts, and encourage empathy with refugees’ claims for asylum. This study contributes to the analysis of trauma narratives as both an expression of experience and a genre of talk in transnational human rights advocacy. It highlights intonation as an important device for engaging audiences and developing empathetic bonds between individuals from different cultural environments. Paralinguistic cues are important devices in the process of framing violent experiences in terms of universalizing human rights discourse.
Moral Injuries: Insurance as Affliction in a Worker’s Compensation Program for Civilians in War Zones
Robert Frey (Columbia University)
The men and women who are injured while working as civilian contractors in the war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan represent a gap in the literature on the health consequences of the United States’ Global War on Terror. This presentation reports findings from research on these workers’ post-war experiences, with a focus on their use of the Defense Base Act (DBA), the federal workers’ compensation program that insures them while they work overseas. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork conducted throughout the United States from 2011-2012, I present my findings through comparison of the divergent trajectories of a network of truck drivers injured in a roadside ambush in Iraq in 2005. Without government oversight and regulation of the DBA, civilian workers adjust to their injuries and other aspects of their return to life at home in the face of their insurance carriers’ efforts to delay, deny, or otherwise defend against payment of DBA claims. This “delay, deny, defend” ethos has two consequences for the workers for whom the DBA was created: (1) denials of care and delays in compensation exacerbate injuries, at times resulting in the production of permanent disabilities; (2) the mistreatment that injured workers experience under the DBA becomes embodied as another sort of injury, a moral injury. Moral injuries, characterized by feelings of betrayal by institutions charged with protective duties, and by a corresponding loss of the ability to trust, compound psychological injuries, preventing complete healing and complete reintegration into society.
Welcome Reception 5:45-8:00, CABANAS
FRIDAY, April 5 (8:00-10 AM)
Session 1. Theorizing Intercountry Adoption in the Global Economy of Childhood (Kristen Cheney, Organizer), ACYIG. MISSION III
Participants: Cheney, Stryker, Chen
A robust literature on inter-country adoption (ICA) has recently emerged, much of which has been concerned with the cultural politics of ICA. This panel aims to build on that literature and to extend its purview to explore ICA as a lens on broader questions of the global political economy of childhood. With the flow of children overwhelmingly from poor sending countries to wealthy receiving countries, the study of ICA helps provide a critical generational analysis to global issues, thereby enriching our understanding of broader political-economic developmental issues, including power relations – between, for example, children and adults, and between the global North and South. The papers in this panel therefore attempt to theorize the import of ICA practice and the figure of the international adoptee in light of these global flows of children, considering its implications for issues ranging from nations’ long-term development strategies (Cheney) to market-driven humanitarianism (Hoffman), to the emergence of ICA as a form global proselytization (Stryker). In each instance, the international adoptee comes to represent something greater than a child in need of ‘saving’, serving simultaneously as both an emblem of, and a solution to, various crises in social reproduction – thus revealing childhood’s detriments and its uses.
‘Giving Children a Better Life’? Examining Inter-country Adoption as International Development
Kristen Cheney (International Institute of Social Studies)
Despite a proliferation of scholarship that examines ICA in terms of identity, migration, social mobility, neocolonialism, relief aid, and even proselytization, the development issues that often precipitate – and, some argue, are alleviated by – ICA tend to remain a subtext in analyses. On the other hand, development studies tend to overlook children’s roles, symbolic or pragmatic, in international development. In this paper, I will thus consider how placing children at the center of development studies through generational approaches to the global political economy of adoption can enhance our understandings of larger questions of international development. Drawing on sentimentalized notions of children, arguments about ‘giving children a better life’ through ICA can gloss over the structural issues of poverty, demographic inequalities, crises in social reproduction, and insecurity that gave rise to ICAs in the first place, recasting broader international development questions. While the symbolic value of children as embodiments of a nation’s future has been documented, the symbolic importance of children to a nation becomes globalized in ICA: transnational adoptees become symptomatic embodiments of both receiving countries’ social and economic ‘progress’ and sending nations’ failures to ‘take care of their own’. I thus intend to bring ICA into conversation with development studies to rethink fundamental children’s and development studies themes like ‘progress’ and standards of living – particularly for children – through a critical intergenerational lens.
A Bond above All Others”: “Spiritual Kinship”, Christian Fundamentalism, and Intercountry Adoption as Evangelization
Rachael Stryker (California State University, East Bay)
Anthropological literature on “new kinship” (i.e., Schneider 1984; Franklin and McKinnon 2001) often foregrounds an inherent contradiction in adoption and fostering — while adoptive families in the West typically use a biological model for kinship as a reference, adoption and fosterage practice is also informed by larger principles of sociality and personhood. This paper asks to what degree new kinship studies can be used to understand the phenomenon of “spiritual kinship” (the belief that one’s adoption by God trumps all secular forms of relatedness within adoption and fostering) within Christian evangelical communities in the United States. Beginning with a brief recent history of the relationship between emerging forms of evangelism and shifting adoption cultures in the U.S., the paper then focuses on the ways that Christian parachurch organizations and megachurches operate as discourses through which narratives and practices of spiritual adoption are sometimes used to negate blood relations and early histories of adoptees, elevate adoptive parent status over birth parent status, and strengthen Christian evangelization efforts. The paper concludes with a discussion of what this negation of blood kinship within fundamentalist U.S. Christian communities means for the emergence of intercountry adoption as global proselytization and for the geopolitics and “aftermath politics” that drive international adoption markets.
“They Do Not Have a Strong Chinese Identity”: Multicultural Governmentality in Intercountry Adoptions from China
Xiaobei Chen (Carleton University, Canada)
This paper locates changes in cultures of adoptions, specifically attitudes and approaches to racial and ethnic differences in adoptive kinship, in the shifting currents of broader politics of difference and cultures of recognition. It examines how contemporary mode of recognizing cultural difference, typified by the phrase “fostering a healthy and robust racial and ethnic identity,” is conceptualized and practiced in transnational adoptive families, especially those with children from China. What norms are taught to parents with regard to defining the identifies of children and adopters, and what strategies are prescribed in negotiating cultural identity difference and kinship? Drawing on critiques of multicultural politics, I highlight the limitations of the dominant mode of multicultural kinship making, specifically the lack of consideration of power dynamics in cultural recognition practices, the essentialist notion of culture, and the impact of the cultural identity imperative on children’s autonomy and agency in making culture and creating identities. I propose an approach to cultural recognition that goes beyond accepting that the adopted child has a different cultural heritage and that is geared towards a partnership in learning about the construction of the meanings of being a non-white ethnic minority in North America.
Session 2. Making up Publics and Persons: Recognition in Sociocultural and Psychosocial Life (Greg Thompson, Organizer) SPA. MISSION II
Participants: Smith, Hickman, Thompson, Hollan
In this panel, we develop a notion of recognition as a process of making up persons and publics across micro- and macro- perspectives. The first paper considers the moral panics of the Peruvian public sphere with regard to the emergence of internet-mediated first person shooter games played by indigenous Aymara boys at internet cafes. This paper demonstrates how this type of video game play is recognized by the Peruvian public sphere as morally threatening. The second paper takes up the example of whale hunting of the Makah Indian Nation of northwest Washington, exploring the kinds of recognition that are at stake in the controversy surrounding the Makah whale hunt. Here recognition is explored with regard to the various publics constituted by legal as well as moral claims to legitimacy, and, also, to the imputations of the intentions of the whales themselves. The third paper takes a micro-level approach to recognition, focusing on interpersonal recognition in the interactional context of a tutoring session between a college tutor and a high school student. The fourth paper looks at the politics of recognition of a millenarian and messianic Hmong revitalization movement in Thailand. This paper considers both the macro-level conditions of recognition of this group as a public as such and the micro-level practices that members of this movement engage with in order to be recognizable to other Hmong. Taken together, the papers show how “recognition” usefully illuminates the constitutive relation of persons and publics.
(Mis-)recognizing virtual masculinity: indigenous boyhood video game play and moral panic in the Peruvian public sphere
Benjamin Smith (Vassar College)
In this talk, I offer an account of how internet-mediated video game play among indigenous Aymara boys has come to be “recognizable” to the Peruvian public sphere. A remarkable feature of the urban and periurban landscape of southern Peru is the ubiquity of public internet cafes that cater to a swelling population of game-playing indigenous boys. Of special concern in this context is the way in which their video game play – and the forms of masculinity at stake in such play – has come to be visible to the Peruvian public sphere. In this talk, I draw upon analyses of local media of various sorts (e.g., public signs, newspapers, etc.) as well as interviews with local authorities (e.g., teachers, politicians, heads of families) as a way to provide an account of the broader sociocultural meaningfulness of boyhood video game play. These analyses suggest that boyhood game play has incited a moral panic in Peruvian public discourse: game play is understood to make boys violent, to draw them away from the influence of their families, to distract them from what should be their true occupations, and to articulate them with respect to virtual worlds that they find more compelling than their non-virtual, actual social worlds. The talk shows how a politics of (mis-)recognition – i.e., one that sees an other as irretrievably misshapen, as morally monstrous – extends to virtually-mediated forms of sociability and the kinds of identities (e.g., indigenous, urban boyhood) immanent to them.
Historical legitimacy and the politics of recognition for a Hmong revitalization movement
Jacob R. Hickman (Brigham Young University)
A preponderance of millenarian and messianic movements have been documented in Hmong history over the past centuries, and contemporary movements continue to attract adherents in the contemporary global diaspora. In the present paper I undertake an analysis of the politics of recognition encountered by the leaders of one particular movement in Thailand. Founded by a prophet who revealed the ‘true’ Hmong orthography, the ‘truth’ of Hmong history, and prophesied about the eventual global recognition of Hmong everywhere, members of this religious community are very conscious about how they are understood by fellow Hmong of various stripes and the nation states in which their members reside. This paper probes the macroscopic conditions of recognition as perceived by the major actors of this group, as well as the micro-level practices that they engage in as a way to situate themselves within this complicated landscape of cross-cutting purposes. Although local (Hmong) Christians reject this group as pagan in the face of their local missionary efforts, international Christian groups – arguing in the name of global Christian martyrdom – claim Hmong with quite similar messianic tendencies to be “Hmong Christians” being persecuted by the Vietnamese government. Similarly, the movement I analyze here seeks to appeal to pervasive aspirations for political autonomy in Hmong society while also denying threatening political aspirations and assuring the Thai State (and others) of their apolitical nature. I analyze the careful work undertaken by leaders of one movement as they navigate these politics of recognition.
Interpersonal recognition: Making up persons and publics in everyday life
Greg Thompson (Brigham Young University)
In this paper I consider the role of interpersonal recognition in making up persons in interaction. Drawing on the Hegelian notion of recognition, I define interpersonal recognition as the process whereby, through talk with one another, people become explicitly and implicitly identified as instances of particular types of persons. The case taken up in this paper is a single interaction between a college tutor and a high school student who are engaged in a tutoring session. The paper first introduces how, in the early portion of the interaction, and through the joint building of the frame of the interaction, the student is implicitly recognized as a failed participant in her role as student. Then, turning to the latter portion of the tutoring session, the paper traces out how progress in the tutoring session becomes highly dependent upon the contested recognition of a third person, namely the student’s teacher. I show how the eventual resolution of this recognition, mediated by a non-present third person, makes it possible for the lesson to go on. Through this analysis I seek to show how interpersonal recognition is a process of complex imbrications of persons, and that selves-in-interaction are subtly bound up with one another. Pushing against psychological perspectives on recognition (e.g., “self-esteem”), I argue that recognition captures the essence of the co-constitutive nature of persons in interaction. Finally, interpersonal recognition enables and constrains participants’ access to power and agency in interaction while also making up socioculturally recognizable publics (e.g., “good students” and “learning disabled”).
Douglas W. Hollan (University of California, Los Angeles)
Session 3. Play Across the Lifespan: Mood, Meaning, and Transformation (S. Megan Heller and Karen Gainer Sirota, Organizers, Elisa Sobo, Panel Chair), SPA. BAYVIEW III
Participants: Sobo, Heller, Mitsuhara, Sirota, Stromberg
Developmental and anthropological theories of play have often emphasized its role in facilitating childhood learning and well-being. This panel builds upon and extends this perspective by bringing together ethnographic research about play involving both children and adults to explore how and why play – as a mood, disposition, or attitude – is elicited to potentiate psychocultural learning, development, and transformation across the lifespan. Research on play is particularly relevant to psychological anthropology since play involves individuals’ subjective perceptions, dispositions, moods, and experiences, yet is recognized, guided, and understood within an intersubjective domain that indexes consensually-shared cultural models and understandings. Play – as analytic construct and psychocultural practice – sheds light on the intermediate phenomena that connect individuals and culture, and that also may be used to reaffirm or transform them. The subjunctive mood evoked or leveraged through play is characterized by “as-if’ qualities, which enhance possibilities for cultural learning and transformation that can transcend the play frame, itself. The panel examines emic and etic perspectives about play to understand how play may be invoked to maintain and reproduce social order, and to register and enact cultural critiques that challenge the status quo. As such, the panel considers how play is generative in meaning-making and solution-building vis-à-vis individual lives and sociocultural milieu. Panel participants explore play in five psychocultural contexts: a Waldorf school; Burning Man; a Hare Krishna temple; Los Angeles dual-earner families; and girls’ volleyball spectatorship, and they also consider theoretical implications for anthropologically-informed understandings of play.
Dreaming, risking, moving, willing: Successful play in a Waldorf preschool/kindergarten
Elisa Sobo (San Diego State University)
Most early and lower education research focuses on children’s academic outcomes; however, Waldorf education—an independent alternative to public schooling—promotes a broader set of achievements related to individual, social, and even cosmic well-being. This paper considers play as Waldorf teachers see it with reference to the cultural model of/for child development that Waldorf education is built upon. It describes how play is orchestrated in early childhood classrooms in one well-established Waldorf school, and explores its value for students (ages four through six). In brief, play comprises, in Waldorf education, acting from a “dreamy” state or “soul mood” that is naturally concurrent with young children’s still-close connection to the spiritual realm from whence they came. Moreover, children themselves dictate what will be done in play. Play does occur in adult-created environments stocked well (both indoors and out) with natural materials, simple hand-made toys, and useful work tools (e.g., brooms, shovels) but only because teachers feel this kind of set-up will best foster children’s creativity and keep play flowing freely. Although teachers actively redirect children away from recognizable media themes or violent action, they will not stop them from climbing on tables as if they are mountains, or piling chairs up to make airplanes and so forth. Keeping the body, including limbs and hands, “in movement” and empowering children themselves to decide what to do is key for the healthful emergence of the will, a central developmental goal for Waldorf early childhood education because strong “will forces” are crucial for lifelong well-being.
Bring your own cup: Drinking alcohol at Burning Man as a shared play practice
S. Megan Heller (University of California, Los Angeles)
Previous research on drinking conceptualizes drunkenness as learned behavior that varies by cultural context, distinguishing between drunkenness as a simple physiological response to alcohol and as a culturally constructed practice situated within particular occasions for drinking. In this paper I argue that drinking at Burning Man is practiced as a form of play, one of many play practices available to those who go to the event. At Burning Man – an alternative cultural event that takes place in a Nevada desert each summer – it is always playtime because participants encourage one another to be creative and challenge social norms through art, self-expression, and innovation. In this paper, I define play as a mood, and drinking alcohol as a primary and salient way that many adults enter into it. Once participants at Burning Man experience this mood in this play-oriented context, they often become more willing to try other cultural practices, some of which can help them to sustain the mood. We often think of alcohol as chemically lowering one’s psychological defenses, but another conceptualization is that drinking can signal playtime and provide a person with a practice for entering into a mood of play and inviting others to share in the mood. Play practices, including drinking, reduce the salience of dominant cultural models that are suitable to ordinary, non-play contexts. A person may then feel freer to experiment with alternative ways of being, becoming more willing to learn new cultural practices, take risks, and become transformed by their sociocultural context.
Partying with Krishna: “Chant and be happy”
Teruko Mitsuhara (University of California, Los Angeles)
We all have that partying propensity, but it’s important to connect everything back to its source.” For Hare Krishna devotees, that source is Krishna, the Hindu pleasure deity who plays, flirts, cries, laughs, and so forth. Devotees consider Krishna to be the “Ultimate Partier” with whom devotees can “connect” through bhakti yoga — a tradition that promulgates love and service to Krishna as well as practices of austerity and control of the senses. Entering into a playful mood without alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes is at first a foreign concept to most converts. However, converts must learn to forgo these behaviors, which are considered partying in the “modes of ignorance and passion” and instead learn to party in the “mode of goodness,” which is believed to elevate the soul. For many who come to the faith, partying has been associated with risk and danger. Many, for example, are former alcoholics who could not have a good time without drinking. In singing and dancing for Krishna and chanting and praying to Him, adult converts are re-socialized into a new meaning of partying and playfulness. Through linguistic analysis of Hare Krishna devotees’ narrative practices, this paper examines how senior devotees apprentice female novices into a relationship of disenchantment with partying in the modes of ignorance and passion. As in a therapy session, the senior devotee must constantly scaffold a new moral perspective and redefine “fun” and “playfulness” to successfully socialize converts into culturally appropriate ways of being devotees of Krishna.
We’re making up our own rules”: Intergenerational play and household economies of affect and interpersonal relations in Los Angeles dual-earner families
Karen Gainer Sirota (California State University, Long Beach)
In this paper, I explore interactional contexts and dynamics of play among Los Angeles dual-earner families. The paper employs videotaped, ethnographic observational data to examine how children and adults in contemporary U.S. household settings mutually inspire playful moods, attitudes, and stances in interaction with one another. Contemporary U.S. conceptions of play and playfulness often frame these proclivities as desired components of family life, in that they provide expressive avenues which encourage creativity and which promote social and emotional growth. In this paper, however, I attend to how the subjunctive mood that is evoked though play facilitates articulation and apprehension of otherwise difficult, challenging, or taboo topics among family members. As such, play comprises an intergenerational communicative genre via which family members’ emotions and interpersonal troubles can be proffered, managed, and entertained (e.g., puppets that are allowed to misbehave, games with flexible rules that children can create and control, recreational activities that contextualize and frame parents’ wistful laments about their own waning youthfulness and vigor). Data analysis highlights how intergenerational play serves to mark, critique, and impact upon household economies of affective and relational exchange. Using discourse analysis, the paper additionally interrogates metacommunicative contexts and framings of play. By considering play as an etic analytic construct and as a locally negotiated on-the-ground practice, the paper addresses implications for anthropological theories and understandings about play, and argues for a simultaneous appreciation of the poetics and pragmatics of play in apprehending the multi-dimensionality, flexibility, and adaptability of culture and human agency.
Maybe it’s just play: Volleyball spectating and anthropological analysis
Peter Stromberg (University of Tulsa)
Watching a sport is itself a form of play. Just as organized collective play depends upon the capacity to coordinate actions with others, sense and participate in the group’s rhythms, and become caught up in the team’s emotions, the spectator must feel the movements of the game in order to enjoy watching it. Fully engaged spectating is best considered as a form of pretend play in which the spectator to some degree places herself in the position of the participant. In this paper, I describe key features of engaged spectating among adults who attend girls’ volleyball matches. These included attenuated imitation of participant’s movements, entrainment with the game’s rhythms, identification with key players, and cognitive focus on cataphoric (suspense-building) aspects of the game. A prominent result of this form of play is the achievement of an emotionally saturated mental state. Such states are familiar in other areas such as ritual and therapeutic routines. However, the mental states of play (like aesthetic experiences) may or may not be tied to discursive systems that are valorized by the emotional power of the experience. Sometimes, often in fact, the play of spectating is not tied to articulable cultural symbols. This raises an issue for anthropological interpretation: what is there to say about forms of play that are undertaken, as in Johan Huizinga’s famous definition, “for their own sake?” Anthropologists must be careful that their attempts to understand the social significance of play do not distort its fundamental character as simple pleasurable activity.
Session 4. Double Session: Rethinking Cultural Models of Child Rearing and Social Learning, Part I (Stéphanie Borios, Chair) ACYIG. BAYVIEW II
Participants: Borios, Goya, Kazemipour, Morris, Xu, New, Garthus-Niegel, Roberts/Oberg de la Garza/Lavigne
Social learning of plants among Peruvian Andean children
Stéphanie Borios (University of Florida)
In this paper, I examine the relationship between children’s social interactions, strategies on which they rely to learn, and their ethnobotanical knowledge. Taking plant knowledge transmission as an example of cultural transmission, I focus on explaining how social interactions with different role models (e.g., parents, siblings, and peers) and the combination of learning strategies (i.e., observational learning, play and work, schooling) affect what children know about plants, and ultimately their development. Specifically, I address the central role played by peers and siblings through interactions taking place in daily activities such as herding. Data were collected using ethnographic methods in addition to free-listings, drawings and a plant knowledge test. I worked with children from 4 to 18 years old whose families mainly engage in subsistence agriculture, herding, and weaving in one high-altitude community in the department of Cusco, Peru. This research contributes to the anthropology of childhood, bringing new insight into the dynamics of cultural transmission and children’s agency in this process. It also answers the call for studies about knowledge transmission beyond formal schooling. Our conception of what constitutes learning is biased towards a modern and Western way of learning, with verbal instruction from the schoolteacher to the pupil, and through writing. It is important to reflect the diversity and richness of cultural transmission under other circumstances, especially to look at the knowledge that rural children acquire from a very early age by taking part in household and communal activities.
Young Traditional Art Performers in Okinawa and Their Dual Educational Experiences
Junko Goya (National Museum of Ethnology)
The purpose of this study is to examine how young performers of traditional arts in Okinawa try to maintain the art forms as transmitted and at the same time create new forms of traditional arts in the process of learning and performing traditional arts. Of special interest is the fact that in today’s Okinawa, many students of performative arts learn traditional arts in both formal educational settings, such as universities and graduate schools, and traditional art schools based on a master-apprentice relationship. The entrance of formal education into the traditional arts field has opened up choices that were not available under the traditional apprentice system, by allowing students to learn different styles and even mix them together. They come to create “new” traditional arts associated with new aesthetic senses and performance styles that crosscut various masterly “schools.” At the same time they continue to attend a traditional art school to learn a particular style from their master. I view that through these dual experiences, the young generation performers in Okinawa strive to achieve two tasks simultaneously: on the one hand, they aim to express in their art an “Okinawaness” that transcends differences among different masterly schools; on the other hand, they endeavor to be truthful to their identity as belonging to a particular masterly tradition of performing arts.
Mothers Lead Micro-Revolutions: “Parenting Themes” of Iranian-American Mothers
Whitney White Kazemipour (Independent Scholar)
The complicated nature of human survival and cooperation under all circumstances promotes the adoption of culture (Geertz 1973); even more, the challenge and urgency of ensuring children’s survival and growth may promote the adoption of socially-vetted childrearing solutions (Quinn 2005). Cross-cultural research demonstrates that cultural models shape goals and routines of mothers (e.g., Super & Harkness 1996; Weisner 2002; LeVine 1994). However, because protecting, nurturing, and training children (Ruddick 1989) requires constant adaptation to changing environments and developing children it is also a “major cognitive task” (Super and Harkness 2003). Do mothers only reproduce cultural solutions, or are they also sources of social change? How do they mother in the midst of sociocultural change? This paper presents data from extensive in-depth interviews with 1.5-generation Iranian-American mothers, interpreted within the context of several years’ participant observation. Immigrant mothers provide a window onto these questions because they negotiate the changing sociocultural landscapes innate to their family’s transition between countries. These immigrant mothers each exhibited a few, idiosyncratic parenting obsessions (which I call “parenting themes”), none of which overlapped with those of the other mothers. This paper proposes that these themes, in contrast with the naturalized and shared dimensions of cultural models, are a distinct cognitive and emotional process potentially capable of generating sociocultural change. The mothers’ parenting themes reflect motivated, frequent, and conscious thought, which in turn generated elaborate intellectual articulations, creative educational activities, and steadfastness in the face of resulting social controversy.
“Oh those days were different”: Native Hawaiian parenting reflections
Ashley M. Morris (University of Hawai’i at M’noa)
Recent publications about parenting suggest that parents adjust their parenting philosophies to fit the current cultural climate and to prepare children for the future (Greenfield, Maynard, & Childs, 2003). However, a popular idea in folk psychology proposes that parenting behaviors are “passed down” through the generations (e.g., Siegall & Hartzell, 2004). In my pre-dissertation field research, funded by the SPA/Lemelson Fellowship, I asked Native Hawaiian parents of preschoolers to reflect on their own upbringings as well as their current parenting goals and strategies. Interesting themes emerged that support both parental adjustment as well as parenting continuities across generations. For example, parents remembered learning to respect adults as young children and reported that they also emphasized respect with their own children. However, almost all parents mentioned that they were more “interactive” with their own children than their parents had been. In my presentation, I discuss possible reasons for these similarities and differences as well as potential implications for parental teaching strategies.
Session 5. Workshop: Narrating Perspectives: How We Ask, What We Write, (Rob Whitley Organizer), SPA MISSION I
Participants: Whitley, Luhrmann, Myers, Wright, Mattingly, Good, Good
This workshop will facilitate the discussion of how anthropologists ask questions and present data to shift public and academic perspectives on the people with whom we work. Many anthropologists struggle to frame questions that legitimately capture phenomenology and then analyze data in ways that add perspective to the population at hand. Many of us work with marginalized peoples, such as people with a severe mental illness, or with a chronic physical illness. As we ask questions, frame our research, and consider the potential implications of our published results, we face stark choices regarding which aspects of their study to highlight and emphasize, and which aspects to downplay and elide. On the one hand, negative portrayals of participants can perpetuate stereotypes, stigma and discrimination. On the other hand, portraits focused on the positive can justify under-spending and inaction. In this workshop, a range of scholars will reflect on the research process form beginning to end. They will use personal experience and examples to illustrate the challenges and opportunities of faithfully representing the lives of their participants in publications. They will also reflect on consideration given to the potential implications of their papers when writing-up research. Panelists will give brief informal 5-7 minute presentations, which will be followed by questions and discussion.
Rob Whitley (McGill University)
Tanya Luhrmann (Stanford University)
Neely Myers (George Washington University)
Anthony Wright (University of Texas, Austin)
Cheryl Mattingly (University of Southern California.)
Mary-Jo Delvecchio Good (Harvard University)
Byron Good (Harvard University)
Session 1. CONTINUATION OF DOUBLE SESSION Rethinking Cultural Models Of Child Rearing, Part II (Jing Xu, Chair) ACYIG. BAYVIEW II
Participants: Borios, Goya, Kazemipour, Morris, Xu, New, Garthus-Niegel, Roberts/Oberg de la Garza/Lavigne
The Ontogeny of Proto-Guanxi: Chinese Children’s World of Sharing in An Age of “Moral Crisis”
Jing Xu (Washington University in St. Louis)
How does a singleton Chinese child become a moral person, in particular, one who shares things with others? What ideologies and practices of sharing are promoted by teachers and parents? What are the underlying motivations and principles of children’s sharing practices? How are the developmental processes shaped by broader historical and socio-cultural forces, especially the ongoing moral transformations in Chinese society, and the dynamics of guanxi (??), the informal mechanisms of exchanging favors and building relationships? Drawing upon a mixed-methods approach, this study looks into the Chinese children’s world of sharing in an age of “moral crisis”. During my fieldwork in a preschool in Shanghai, China, I find a contrast between the egalitarian ideology of sharing and the particularistic and mutualistic practices of sharing, which I call “proto-guanxi”. I further examine the ontogeny of “proto-guanxi” to explore why it emerges so early on and resists change, despite the daily bombarding of an opposite ideology. I argue that “proto-guanxi” is a fundamental form of sociality rooted in children’s unquenchable thirst for order and predictability in social life. It is shaped under the influences of “guanxi” practices in adult world, and in turn generates new social interactions. The ontogeny of “proto-guanxi” is a self-organizing process by way of which young children create and make sense of their own moral world.
Cultural Models in Transition
Rebecca New (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
Cultural models of child-rearing are well-established in the anthropological literature, and position parenting practices as instantiations of cultural values, beliefs and goals. The Chinese Model of Learning is consistent with this theoretical premise. Rooted in Confucianism, this model has been used to describe and explain educational achievements in Chinese immigrant students, including those of second- and later-generations. In this paper, I examine the so-called “immigrant paradox” and suggest that some cultural models, more than others, are more flexibly transported and sustained in new socio-cultural contexts. I illustrate this premise by considering 21st century interpretations of an “ideal child,” including readiness for school, in three populations of Chinese adults experiencing significant societal changes: Chinese immigrant parents of (pre-school) young children in the U.S., Chinese parents of young children (Hong Kong), and Chinese teachers of young children (mainland China). Primary data sources include observations in US and Chinese early childhood classrooms, informal conversations with parents and teachers in China, and approximately 600 “ideal child” descriptions from the three groups of adults listed. This notion of cultural models in transition is considered in light of increased Chinese immigration to the US and Chinese education reform initiatives. Results suggest that cultural models of child-rearing capable of surviving major social transformations and transitions are those in which the moral and relational are inextricable from the individual.
New Pupil Management: Choreographies of/for learning in Norwegian early years education
Kristian Garthus-Niegel (Norwegian Institute of Public Health)
The paper is an ethnographic analysis of the Early Years Literacy Program (EYLP) (Crevola & Hill 1999), an instruction model that has spread rapidly in schools in the Norwegian capital of Oslo in the recent 5 years (Oslo Education Department 2011). The analysis builds on two participant observation fieldworks conducted in 1 grade EYLP classrooms (pupils aged 5-6 years) in 2011 and 2012, comparing high- and low immigrant origin pupil proportion contexts. In Norway, most pupils are schooled through a comprehensive public education system founded on welfare political ideals of universal social equality (Sejersted 2011). It was heavily influenced by New Public Management/NPM ideas (Christensen & Lærgreid 2007) due to a general reform in 2006. EYLP was developed in Australia during the 1990’s, espousing many basic principles of the NPM-related school efficiency movement (i.e. strong school- and class leadership, a dedicated/engaged staff, structured daily routines, high pupil expectations). It prescribes a daily regime of minutely organized, disciplined teaching sessions, focused explicitly on basic literacy- and numeracy skilling. The paper identifies NPM-analogies in the EYLP model in its broader rationale as well as in the classroom arrangements and social choreographies which it prescribes. Field observation case materials are presented to illuminate how these analogies shape and influence everyday teaching- and learning interaction processes. The interaction analysis is framed by a combination of Paul Connertons’ ritual learning theory (Connerton 1989) and Naomi Quinns’ cognitive theory of child rearing universals (Quinn 2005).
Cultural patterns of communicating care in the classroom: Examining the experience of Latino student in the Chicago area
Amy Roberts, Tammy Oberg de la Garza, and Alyson Lavigne (Roosevelt University)
Learning is situated in the practices of communities, such that children learn both who they are and how to learn by participating in the communities they inhabit. In the United States many K-12 teachers come from different cultural backgrounds than their students. This difference in cultural background between teachers and students brings into question how this might present challenges in the relationships between student and teacher (Connell, 1993; Delpit, 1995; Valenzuela, 1999). In particular, we are interested in the ways culture shapes how teachers, as primary agents of the larger schooling system, communicate care to students and how students perceive this care. Teacher care is important in supporting positive student outcomes and creating effective learning environments (Battitisch & Hom, 1997; Noddings, 1995). Latino children were interviewed about their perceptions of their teacher’s care for them and the climate of their classrooms. Child participants were shown video clips of interactions between teachers and students and asked to describe the caring behaviors they saw in the clips and those shown by their teacher. The replication of dominant culture and language in the U.S. school system may indirectly give Latino students the message that their culture and language are inferior. We argue that students’ relationships with teachers may be crucial in shaping their experience with the culture of schools, which can be alienating or hostile to them. Examining what happens in school, particularly in classrooms and with teachers, can help us understand ways to support Latino students’ identity and learning.
Session 2. Living with Parent Migration: Consequences for and Interventions with Children
(Kristen Yarris, Organizer), ACYIG. MISSION III
Participants: Crivello, Duque-Páramo, Faris, Yarris, Rae-Espinoza
In this session, we draw on fieldwork conducted with children in Colombia, Nicaragua, Peru, and other cultural contexts in order to explore children’s affective responses to their parents’ migrations. Our interest lies in understanding how parent migration structures children’s subjective and emotional experiences, and how children differently respond to the transformations that migration implies for their lives. On the one hand, parent migration may imply significant social, cultural, and emotional ruptures for children, and thereby result in negative consequences for children’s mental, emotional, and behavioral health. However, in this session, we are also interested in highlighting the ways children cope with the ruptures and transformations of parent migration by drawing on social, relational, and cultural resources. These resources may be cultural tropes for family life that help children make sense of parent migration, relational ties that children construe with surrogate caregivers and extended family members, or community programs that offer support for children living with parental migration. We also hope to demonstrate the temporal dimensions of children’s experiences of parent migration, in other words, the ways children’s age at parent migration and family migration trajectories in destination countries influence children’s lives over time. Finally, we share examples of programs that have been implemented with children living with parent migration and explore the possibilities for mental and community health interventions that foster children’s wellbeing in different social and cultural settings.
Children making sense of migration in Peru: is there a relationship between parental migration and children’s aspirations?
Gina Crivello (University of Oxford)
Abstract: Peru is a highly mobile country and it reports high levels of social and economic inequality. It has a long history of rural to urban migration, and a recent history of displacement due to civil war in the 1980s and early 90s. The migration literature tends to be focused on adult experiences, and children are often studied as a vulnerable group ‘left behind’. Policies are geared towards protecting children in extreme situations, such as trafficking for sexual or labor exploitation. Little attention is paid to children’s ordinary experiences of migration, including how they experience the migration of parents. This paper is based on research carried out by Young Lives, a long-term study of child poverty that since 2002 has tracked the changing circumstances of a group of children in Peru. For many children growing up in rural poverty, migration is considered a way to escape poverty, by accessing better schools and jobs. Aspirations to migrate to the city are therefore high. But how do children’s aspirations relate to and reflect their current family organization and histories of migration — particularly the migration of parents and siblings? The paper explores this relationship and the multiple ways in which young people frame migration, from loss, suffering and fragmentation, to hope, improvement and opportunity. It examines children’s narratives at different ages (12 – 15) to see whether their explanations of parental migration change over time, especially in relation to children’s changing roles and responsibilities within the home, and their transition to adulthood.
Colombian Children and Parents’ International Migration. Realities, Issues, and Ideas for Actions.
María Claudia Duque-Páramo (Pontificia Universidad Javeriana)
Abstract: Like their parents who have migrated abroad, children who stay in Colombia are agents that construct cultural realities while interacting with their parents, siblings, caregivers, relatives, peers, school teachers, and other social actors. Based on field work conducted in 2008:15-2011 in Bogota and in three Colombian cities of the department of Risaralda with a high index of international migration, this presentation focuses on three topics. First, I will discuss the diversity and complexities of children’s realities, experiences, and issues, particularly their experiences of separation from the migrant parent and the relationship with their caregivers and the family they live with. Second, I analyze the children’s experiences as cultural realities both different and also related to the migrant parents’ perspectives and to the Colombian context, particularly the context of Colombian international migration. Third, I will explore ideas about how to support the families and maintain and promote cultural and emotional bonds in the distance between children in Colombia and their parents living abroad.
An Alternative Intervention: Youth workers and the creative arts on the periphery of Bogotá Colombia.
Kate Faris (University of Oregon)
Abstract: This paper explores the role of youth workers who utilize the arts in the Sixth Commune of Soacha, Colombia through a historical and anthropological lens in order to understand what motivates the workers that pursue this arts-based social work, and the impact the work has as an intervention with the children of Soacha. Often Soacha, a southern municipality of Bogotá, is the first part of the metropolitan area that internally displaced people find themselves. The children in these neighborhoods attend overcrowded schools and confront multiple forms of abuse in and outside of their homes. Through the case study of twelve youth workers and two administrators of the local NGO, La Fundación Proyecto de Vida, I show how a comprehensive approach to support the youth achieves the goal of the youth workers to create a safe and creative space for every child. This Colombian model of intervention includes workshops that cover topic areas such as the environment, music, fine arts, physical health, and movement. In addition to the workshops, the organization provides psychological resources through family counseling, art and dance therapy, along with an onsite cafeteria. Ultimately I illustrate how a comprehensive, arts-based approach to support youth breaks the cycles of violence that are otherwise perpetuated by the lack of governmental social programs. By looking to youth worker experiences with underserved children it is possible for policy makers to design more effective approaches to create safe spaces that allow children to live in a more secure environment.
“Quiero ir y no quiero ir” (I want to go and I don’t want to go): Ambivalence and Children’s Experiences of Transnational Family Life
Kristin Yarris (University of Oregon)
Abstract: This paper explores the experiences of Nicaraguan children of migrant mothers using the framework of the migrant imaginary (Jackson 2008) in order to capture the ways children’s subjective experiences of migration are structured by broader social-cultural and political-economic dynamics. I demonstrate that children are central actors in global migration processes (Coe et al. 2011); keenly aware of the (primarily economic) factors pushing their mothers to migrate, children engage with the remittances on material and affective levels, form relational attachments to their grandmothers and other caregivers in their mothers’ absence, and respond with uncertainty to the possibility of reunification with migrant mothers in destination countries. This ambivalence, children’s desires to be both “here” and “there” (Hondagneu-Sotelo and Avila 1997) – both in Nicaragua with extended families and with mothers abroad – is central to children’s imaginary of migration and to the reality of their lived experiences of transnational family life. I highlight this ambivalence using case studies of three children whose mothers are in different receiving countries, showing how the politics and possibilities of family reunification influence children’s lives over time.
Heather Rae-Espinoza (California State University, Long Beach)
Session 3. Culture, Madness and Mental Health: Ethnographic Approaches to Psychosis, Trauma, and Recovery (Janis Jenkins and Neely Myers, Organizers) SPA. BAYVIEW III
Participants: Gideonse, Carpenter-Song, Novak, Myers, Hamilton, Good
The papers presented on this panel use ethnographic approaches to illuminate the relationships between culture, madness, and mental health. Cultural context shapes the ways madness develops, and also how its manifestations are then framed, interpreted, and treated. All of these affect people’s capacity to recover and lead meaningful lives, for the ways culture shapes madness also reveals much about what kinds of biological citizens people in those contexts are expected to become. These ethnographic papers explore a variety of cultural contexts and the consequences of particular forms of biopolitics for people struggling to recover from mental experiences of trauma and psychosis. Gideonse will discuss the complex interplay of personal, historical and structural power relations that affects the subjectivities of HIV+ men-who-have-sex-with-men who have embraced an identity as crystal methamphetamine addicts in an attempt to find a new life. Carpenter-Song delves into the vulnerabilities of homeless parents, deemed financially insecure, who lose custody of their children, and the ways the custody battle that ensues renders certain forms of madness. Novak discusses how trauma diagnoses and free state-sponsored mental health care in Colombia for marginalized, internally displaced persons have concentrated biopower in the hands of the state, which then works to reconstruct affect. Finally, Myers calls into question the United States’ federal recommendations for recovery-oriented mental health care, and looks for signs of a new form of biopolitics emerging around serious psychiatric disabilities in the United States as the subversive peer service movement in American mental health care, led by self-proclaimed “mad” people, gains traction.
Narrating the Psychopathology of Meth Addiction
Theodore K. Gideonse (University of California, San Diego)
In the lengthy process that addicts experience as they try to recover from addiction and become a recovering addict, they learn to narrativize their drug experiences within psychodynamic structures and tropes. This is done not only in concert with psychotherapists but also within 12-step programs, recovery programs built around cognitive behavior therapy, and through pop psychology and self-help narratives. In this paper, I will examine how HIV+ men who have sex with men and use crystal meth in San Diego (14 of whom were the focus of person-centered ethnographies I conducted in 2010 and 2011) reframe their drug experiences within the preferred narratives of psychopathology, narratives that are also conveniently in concert with the ideologies of the Drug War and healthcare in late capitalism. Ultimately, I argue that in becoming meth addicts, these men also become objects and subjects of mental health discourses. How the experience with these discourses and those who wield them affects the individual subjectivities of these men, however, involves a complex interplay of power relations: personal, structural, and historical.
“The kids were my drive”: Loss of Children in the Context of Homelessness
Elizabeth Carpenter-Song, (Geisler School of Medicine at Dartmouth College)
In this paper I examine the impact of profound losses endured by parents who have experienced homelessness. This paper draws on over three years of ethnographic fieldwork with families in rural New England. In the course of this work, I have witnessed the gradual unraveling of life for two families in the wake of losing custody of their children. The hallmark features of homelessness—poverty and displacement—render parents exquisitely vulnerable to the gaze of social workers, health professionals, law enforcement, and other ‘helping’ professions. Homeless families must engage with numerous organizations to meet their basic needs yet, in doing so, risk having their financial and housing insecurity call into question their adequacy as parents. I argue that the loss of children in this context produces tectonic shifts in parents’ ways of being-in-the-world as life loses coherence and structure. Under these conditions, the existential moorings of family life are shattered and everyday life is re-oriented away from caregiving toward compulsions such as hoarding and addiction. Such responses to loss, in turn, become further ‘evidence’ of their unsuitability as parents. I conclude by exploring forms of madness induced by navigating systems of power in efforts to regain parental rights and secure basic needs.
Political Violence and State Subsidized Psychological Services: Contradictions in Public Health Policy and Clinical Narratives in Cartagena, Colombia
Jessica M. Novak (University of California, San Diego)
This paper examines how Colombian patients in the northern city of Cartagena learn to reframe their experiences of political violence and insecurity in mental health settings. In Colombia, the ongoing internal armed conflict and associated drug violence have resulted in the eighth highest homicide rate in the world and an Internally Displaced Person (IDP) population that is second only to South Sudan. In spite of these facts, the 2012 United Nations survey of ‘happiest countries’ ranked Colombia in the top ten percent of all member nations. Some scholars have argued that security and well-being are mutually constitutive categories, writing off Colombia as a paradox. I argue that Colombia’s 1993 national health care reform, leading to a 500% increase in the number of residents with access to state subsidized mental health services, provides an excellent ethnographic lens for examining the apparent security/well-being paradox. Drawing from fieldwork in two of Cartagena’s three mental health clinics, I claim that the extension of biomedical citizenship to formally marginalized citizens allowed the state to consolidate power in what Das and Poole have called “the margins”, while furthering what Jenkins has called “the state construction of affect” by transforming the meaning of political violence and trauma through carefully articulated discourses about mental illness and personal recovery.
Madness, Recovery and Moral Agency
Neely Myers (George Washington University)
This paper investigates the impact United States’ recent federal recommendations for recovery-oriented mental health care at two remarkably different psychosocial rehabilitation settings. At one, a new form of biological citizenship for people with serious psychiatric disabilities emerged based on the American notion that “good” people are rational, autonomous, hard working, and self-made. Several years of fieldwork indicated that this model of recovery failed. In a different, subversive peer service setting, however, recovery was a quest for valued citizenship that people took together as part of an intimate community of peers. The recovery-oriented peer service movement in American mental health care, led by self-proclaimed “mad” people, is gaining traction, and promises to offer a new kind of citizenship to mad people that includes building their capacity to become moral agents—people who can be and become in a way that is meaningful for them and resonates with others. The preliminary successes of the peer movement in promoting recovery for people with serious psychiatric disabilities points to the importance of moral agency in recovery and the potential of peer services for promoting recovery around the globe.
Alison Hamilton (University of California, Los Angeles)
Byron Good (Harvard University)
Session 4. Imagining a Future: Contextualizing Children’s Education, Aspirations, and Prospects, (Bonnie Richard, Chair) ACYIG. MISSION II
Participants: Richard, Prazak, Warshel
Childhoods at School: Negotiating Modernity, Social Change, and Identity in Ladakh, India
Bonnie Richard (University of California, Los Angeles)
In the rural, Himalayan region of Ladakh, India, it is difficult today to find a healthy child who is not attending school. Influenced by prevalent economic development discourse, it is common sense to Ladakhis that education in schools is crucial for achieving economic advancement, the hoped-for benefits of modernity, and general wellbeing. This attitude towards schools has been widespread among Ladakhis since the late 1990s, meaning that many children are among the first generation to attend school full-time. Drawing on data from ethnographic research with Ladakhi children and parents, I analyze the everyday complications and contradictions that schooling and developing one’s educated personhood present for children. My data show that Ladakhi children actively attempt to balance their desires for modern lifestyles with discourses lamenting the loss of traditional practices. Children struggle to embody a contemporary Ladakhi identity that incorporates the most socially and economically valued attributes of both the modern and the traditional. Familial obligations, which become increasingly consequential as they enter their teen years and begin seriously considering adult roles, can lead to friction with students’ individual hopes and dreams. For Ladakhi children, becoming an ideal educated person is a socially complicated endeavor for which pathways to achievement are not clearly marked
The Changing Trajectories of Children’s Lives in Rural Kenya
Miroslava Prazak (Bennington College)
In the early 1980s, most homestead heads in Kuria district had not gone to school beyond a year or two of primary education and their wives had not gone at all. As subsistence farmers and cattle keepers they learned the necessary skills from their parents through practice. In the timespan of a generation, education is the sine qua non for the aspirations of most of the population, and definitely a path towards the kind of life most youths aspire to. The close connection between education, employment and wealth that informs their aspirations harkens from the era of their parents, the time when those with even a few years of schooling could parlay it into some form of remunerated employment. But as more and more people have gone further and further with their studies, they have not found a concomitant growth in employment opportunities in their communities, nor in the larger national labor market. Drawing on longitudinal research spanning the period 1984-2008 in rural Kuria district in Kenya, this paper focuses on lives of children. It centers on the role formal education is playing in changing the realities and expectations of children in the society, set against the backdrop of socioeconomic, political and cultural change in the rural society and the nation. This entails analyzing survey data, combining them with data from opinion polls, interviews and participant observation.
Forced Sedentarization, Migration and Child-Soldiers and -‘Wives’ at the Sahelian-Saharan Azawadian Borderlands
Yael Warshel (University of California, Los Angeles)
The interstate system is the product of global social, economic, political and military forces. These forces have constructed and reified the so-called “international” system into an interstate system. The interstate system, in turn, has made the state the prime locus for the meting out of human rights, namely through the provision of state-based citizenship rights. In addition, via processes of forced-migration and-sedentarization, it has rendered once migratory families, sedentary. The glocalization of these processes by Algeria, Mali, Libya, Niger, Burkina Faso, and Mauritania, who form the borderlands around the Tuareg nationalist Azawadian state concept, has further altered family livelihoods and lifestyles. In this paper I describe how these glocalization processes, as part and parcel of historical and/or contemporary practices of confounding “international” development aid with policies of sedentarization, the mishandling of aid funds, political conflict, draught, and desertification, are limiting what economic opportunities are available to families, locally. The result has been that “professions” like child soldiering and “wifing,” together with other forms of child labor, are becoming more attractive. That this is occurring in spite of arguments that the state evolved into the primier political unit for housing the world’s people because of its superior ability to maximize economic profit, renders a problem. It does so at the local level both when considering the prospects for children growing up within such a context and that of the region over the long-run.
Session 5. Discussion: Psychological Anthropology of Old Age (Jason Danely, Organizer), SPA. MISSION I
Participants: Danely, Seaman, Taylor, Parish, Corwin, Lamb
Anthropologists have recognized children as active producers of culture, even as they are routinely marginalized on the one hand, and cared for, celebrated, and indulged on the other. How could these insights also help us rethink the other end of the developmental life course? How has psychological anthropology contributed to a similar interference in our perspectives of old age? This session brings together a group of participants to discuss how psychological anthropology has continued to develop critical perspectives on advanced age in ways that highlight both the practical and conceptual stakes of anthropological engagement. Topics for discussion include the ways old age opens up new questions and vantage points that expand our perspective on personhood and memory; embodiment and suffering, care and recognition; health, wellness and “successful aging”; kinship and intergenerational dynamics; bereavement and loss; and biopolitics at the end of life. By alternating brief talks and responses to the audience and to each other, this session will explore ways to unstick research on old age, and will urge us beyond the “subdisciplinary limbo” (Cohen1994:155) of “geroanthropology” to see what kinds of articulations are possible with other issues of psychological anthropology.
Jason Danely (Rhode Island College)
Aaron Seaman (University of Chicago)
Janelle Taylor (University of Washington)
Steven Parish (UCSD)
Anna Corwin (UCLA)
Sarah Lamb (Brandeis)
Session 6. POSTER SESSION. BAYVIEW I
FRIDAY (Noon-1:15) UCLA-UCSD Culture and Mind graduate conference planning meeting (Aidan Seale-Feldman, Organizer) MISSION I
Session 1. What’s Up with Affect? (Thomas Csordas, Organizer), SPA. BAYVIEW II
Participants: Csordas, Cassaniti, Throop, Spector Hallman, Tran, Itzhak
It has traditionally been the case in anthropology that affect and emotion are synonyms. However, in the past several years an emergent “affect studies” has taken its place alongside the “anthropology of emotion,” suggesting a distinction between emotion and affect. But is such a distinction of value to contemporary anthropology? Does it (re)introduce a kind of dualism between culture and experience, or between mind and body? Are the two approaches redundant, simply different academic idioms for saying the same things? Are they being elaborated in dialogue with or in ignorance of one another? Is affect studies reinventing the wheel of an anthropology of emotion? What stance does each of these approaches take toward the related issues of embodiment, intersubjectivity, agency, intentionality, experience, meaning, mood, feeling, and sensibility? Does the notion of ethos offer a common ground between affect and emotion? This session addresses this series of questions regarding how the two approaches are related, both conceptually and in terms of concrete ethnographic data.
Introduction: Emotion/Affect, Mind/Body, Meaning/Intensity, Discrimination/Ambience
Thomas J. Csordas (University of California, San Diego)
This paper introduces the topic of our session by commenting on the historical significance of a renewed interest in emotion/affect and reflecting on a number of critical conceptual distinctions relevant to the anthropological analysis of these closely linked phenomena. The problem has a different intellectual cast when examined in relation to mental process as opposed to bodily experience. It has different existential consequences when conceived in terms of force or intensity as opposed to its significance or meaning. It has a different phenomenological valence when approached as defining a social ambience as opposed to discriminating qualitative features of consciousness. Emphasizing one side or another of these distinctions alters how emotiona/affect can be understood with respect to intentionality, temporality, immediacy, and intersubjectivity. Finally, I ask how these considerations pertain to the qualification of affect with adjectives that assign them to a cultural domain, as when reference is made to aesthetic, moral, religious, or pathological emotions.
Convergences and divergences of affect and emotion in Buddhist Northern Thailand
Julia Cassaniti (Washington State University)
In this talk I address the intersubjective construction and maintenance of feeling in a small Buddhist community in Northern Thailand through the lenses of emotion and affect theory, critically engaging the convergences and divergences between the two approaches. One of the main differences seems to be the emphasis in affect theory on the interested (politically or otherwise) and effusive forces at play when one is simultaneously “affecting” and “being affected by” something; the anthropology of emotions in comparison may, perhaps unfairly, be said to focus on more stable or individualized culturally constructed states of feeling. While in my past work I like many others have used emotion and affect almost interchangeably, here I have attempted to differentiate them in order to examine the conclusions the two perspectives may warrant. In my field site particular feelings are central: calmness, acceptance, and the letting go of attachments are understood to create desired results. While an analysis of feelings according to theories of affect may focus on moving atmospheres of calmness construction and their corresponding embodied representation in the shared spaces and places of the community, a focus on emotion may lead to analyses of the meanings and consequences that these atmospheres suggest – how calmness works (and doesn’t work) for individuals. While the foci may differ, and while affect theory may usefully open analytical space to us for the fluid, politicized world of force at work in emotional construction, there is no reason why the anthropology of emotion cannot, and does not, usefully do the same.
Affect, Attunement, and Mood: Some Phenomenological Anthropological Reflections on Affect Theory
Jason Throop (University of California, San Diego)
Focusing particularly on the influential work of Brian Massumi and Sara Ahmed, whose contributions to affect theory draw selectively from William James’ radical empiricism and Edmund Husserl’s phenomenology respectively, the paper begins by examining some possible points of convergence between these recent theories of “affect” and existing phenomenologically grounded accounts of mood, emotion, feeling and sensation in psychological anthropology. Turning to a set of somewhat more critical reflections, the paper then shifts to explore how phenomenological anthropological accounts of intermediary varieties of experience, in particular the experiences of hypcognized emotions and moral moods, significantly illuminates aspects of affect not captured in Massumi’s or Ahmed’s theoretical paradigms. Drawing at times rather different lessons from James and Husserl, phenomenological anthropological accounts of intermediary varieties of experience suggest anexistentially richer and more dynamic rendering of affective phenomena than is found in contemporary approaches to theorizing affect in cultural studies.
Everyday Shame-Sleeping at a Japanese Alternative School
Heather Spector Hallman (Lutheran Pacific University)
Anthropologists have examined shame experience in its cognitive and affective aspects, in socialization processes, in patterns of social control, in ethical experience, and in an interdependent construal of self, among others. In this paper I consider instances of “everyday shame” among reforming school-refusers at a Japanese alternative school. Elspeth Probyn describes everyday shame as an experience of bodily rupture from a social context that manifests in the sensation of “out-of-placeness” in which attention to the intersubjective environment precipitates shame in the form of “the body saying that it cannot fit in although it desperately wants to.” Sleeping in class is one way students perform everyday shame. Sleep behaviors range from guttural snoring to texting under the cover of one’s bowed head. Faculty and students reason that ignorance of course material and resistance to engagement with teachers motivate class napping. Sleeping students play with shame’s moral value, performing a meta-comment on the affective experience; it is an affect-posture that undermines and reinforces the extraordinary shame of being a long-term absentee. Probyn’s synthesis of the body and the social, of affect and emotion, challenges distinctions between these constructs, makes central the intersubjective context in individual experience, and situates the everyday as a departure point for cross-cultural comparisons of shame.
Anxiety as affect and/or emotion
Allen Tran (Bucknell University)
This paper focuses on anxiety’s conceptualization as an emotion or an affect to identify productive convergences between the anthropology of emotion and affect theory. In particular, I compare how the concepts of public feelings and the state construction of affect link public discourse and private experience. A common criticism of affect theory within the anthropology of emotion is its experience-distant take on experience. Anthropologists of self and feeling traditionally focused on the meaning of various emotions to the self. This connected public and private domains so that individual and collective meaning overlapped in often complementary ways. Conversely, some strands of affect theory tend to focus on alienation and the ways that experiences that are felt and interpreted as intimate can also be profoundly depersonalizing. I argue that this experience-distant approach lends affect theory a perspective that is uniquely positioned to analyze anxiety, which has remained relatively undertheorized within the anthropology of emotion. Anxiety is unique from other emotions/feelings/affects/moods in that it lacks an object. That is, while fear has a specific object, anxiety is often felt as a vague and unspecific apprehension, with many sufferers unable to articulate what they are actually afraid of; it is open-ended in its possibilities. Drawing from ethnographic material from post-reform Ho Chi Minh City, I examine cases in which people do not know what they are feeling and the de-centered subjectivities such experiences produce.
Building the Civilization of Love: the Social Life of Emotion in a Catholic Charismatic Community in France
Nofit Itzhak (University of California, San Diego)
Through an ethnographic examination of the cultural life and circulation of love in the context of Catholic Charismatic humanitarian and religious practice in France, this paper seeks to explore points of overlap, convergence, continuity and innovation between the anthropology of emotions and studies of affect. To achieve this, I focus on the concept of intersubjectivity as a particularly useful analytical hinge between these two bodies of literature.
Session 2. Illegality and Agency in the Lives of Young People (Debbie Boehm and Susan Terrio, Organizers), ACYIG BAYVIEW I
Participants: Boehm, Kennedy, Valdivia, Meloni, Terrio, Whistler
This session brings together scholars studying the effects of illegality and deportability on children, youth, and families—those who migrate and/or are affected by the migration of others. A range of experiences in North America will be considered, including the impact of evolving immigration policies, especially those that regulate entry, produce unauthorized migrants, and redefine potential citizens; immigrant status and mixed status families; how state legal systems uniquely affect young people; and the ways that migration and national membership are shaped by subjectivity, such as age, class, ethnicity, race, and gender. On the one hand, the papers explore how children and youth are marginalized within and across borders, and how legal frameworks and state power disadvantage them. On the other hand, the papers examine youth empowerment movements and civil disobedience initiatives through which youth challenge public policies on enforcement and deportation and shape legislation on citizenship, family security, and immigration. The papers consider and problematize the conception and deployment of agency and resistance among undocumented children and youth.
Undocumented to DACAmented: A Path to Uncertainty
Deborah A. Boehm (University of Nevada, Reno)
This paper traces the process through which undocumented youth may apply for the Obama administration’s recently implemented Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Drawing on ethnographic research with young people at different stages of the application process, I follow the diverse DACA experiences of youth, as well as study the ways that community organizations and immigrant rights advocates shepherd potential applicants through the necessary steps. In doing so, I provide an ethnography of DREAMers and the many actors connected to them, but also of the legal and bureaucratic labyrinth that young people face. Youth find themselves in a conundrum as they go from being undocumented to hyper-documented, transitioning from an unrecognized presence within the nation to a presence that must be thoroughly detailed. The act of documenting a previously undocumented life can be confusing, frustrating, and, at times, profoundly disappointing. Although deferred action does provide temporary relief to some, the process is shaped by confusion and uncertainty. Without a path to citizenship, DACA provides only a path to temporary security, an uncertain status even for those who successfully maneuver through the process. Yet for these young people, parents and siblings, and community members, DACA is one way to directly challenge what they see as unjust immigration laws; in this sense, applying is activism. For family members, advocates, and young people themselves, DACA—despite its ambiguity and the relatively insecure status of recipients—is understood to be an opportunity that must be pursued.
To Be Someone: A Child’s Right to Migrate to Fulfill Her/His Capabilities?
Elizabeth G. Kennedy (San Diego State University/University of California, Santa Barbara)
In my interactions with over 150 detained unaccompanied child migrants (legally called “Unaccompanied Alien Children”) awaiting reunification with family or community members in the United States, over half write me before leaving that they came to the U.S. “to be someone.” While examining what being “someone” means to these detained youth, this paper more broadly engages with the somewhat limited literature on children and citizenship in a globalized world and from regions where transnational families are more normal than wholly singular state-based family units. In doing so, this paper draws from the capabilities approach to human rights advocated by Martha Nussbaum and Amartya Sen to question both what conditions must be present for a child’s capabilities to fully develop and also whether a child’s future self can be used to justify limited rights in the present. The rights to education, family unity, health, and mobility will be given special emphasis. At the same time, the paper seeks to answer what obligations the global community currently has and/or should have in ensuring children’s equal access to the conditions determined. To the extent that only limited obligations exist, the paper puts forward several theories as to why in order to begin a conversation on how such theories may be addressed to increase obligations.
DREAM ACTivism: Offline and Online Activism for Undocumented Immigrant Youth Rights
Carolina Valdivia (San Diego State University)
This qualitative study explores the various off- and online strategies and tactics employed by undocumented and documented college students. The project offers insight about the experiences, opportunities, and challenges of activists, both documented and undocumented. A guiding question is: How does new social media facilitate or hinder activism? The study draws on new social movement theory to discuss political engagement for undocumented immigrant youth rights and the role of new social media in such activism. Preliminary findings suggest that forms of online activism complement traditional forms of organizing. Undocumented students who began their activism online found new forms of community where they could share their experiences anonymously and connect with other undocumented students in the United States. Activism is often centered on passing legislation such as the DREAM Act to address the challenges undocumented immigrant youth face. Activists are also concerned with changing social and cultural dominant ideologies by calling for the eradication of the word ‘illegal’ from public discourse and “coming out the shadows.”
Rethinking Agency Beyond Resistance: Experiences and Perspectives from Undocumented Youth in Montreal
Francesca Meloni (McGill University)
This paper analyzes the narratives and subjective experiences of undocumented youth in Montreal. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork and interviews with undocumented youth from Latin-American countries, the paper explores youth’s agency and everyday lives. What does it mean to be undocumented for youth’s everyday lives? And how do multiple factors—such as family relationships, gender, migratory trajectory, social relations, neighbourhood, work, and school—influence their experiences of illegality and “deportability”? This paper explores these issues, considering not only the structural constraints undocumented youth may face, but also their individual interpretations and everyday agency. The agency of undocumented youth has been often analyzed in relation to the concept of resistance. However, merging together agency and resistance may blind us to the multiple forms of agency that in fact exist beyond the structural constraints undocumented youth are expected to resist. This paper contributes to the debate, rethinking and complexifying the concept of agency. We should thus understand how multiple forms of agency are also entangled with vulnerability, and are grounded in pragmatism rather than in mere resistance. The research recognizes undocumented youth’s lives and selves within a wider social context, and within relational and changing dynamics that may engage forgetting, memory, absence, presence, and survival.
Dreamer Activists and the Politics of Illegality on Campus
Susan Terrio (Georgetown University)
This paper centers on undocumented students currently enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs where they struggle to balance a deep commitment to social activism and immigration policy reform while building a distinctive academic profile they may not have the opportunity to use. In addition to the competitive scholastic and social pressures associated with a college experience, undocumented students face the challenges of being unable to work legally, to complete internships or to study abroad while living under the threat of deportation. Furthermore, because of the costs and risks associated with travel, many return home only once during the academic year and suffer the pain of isolation from family and community. Yet these Dreamer activists challenge recent research on the undocumented who are depicted as “global cast offs” whose liminal position demands that they be speechless victims, invisible and apolitical. Their exclusion from legal personhood too often connotes muted agency, moral failings, and even criminality. To validate their claim for a pathway to citizenship, they strategically deploy agency and resistance, both in rhetoric and practice. These students use new forms of public visibility that include art, speeches, rallies, and marches as mechanisms to raise public awareness, to subvert state technologies of control, and to transcend the limitations that define their undocumented status. Their self-presentation as models of student achievement and positive action are central to their identities and to their politics of reform.
Queering Migration Studies: Sexuality and Immigration Status among Mexican Youth in the United States
Rebecca Whistler (University of Nevada)
In recent migration studies, scholars have closely considered the role that sexuality plays in shaping identity among transnational subjects. Past migration research primarily focused on gender using a heteronormative frame, omitting large populations of people who identified as non-heterosexual or participated in non-heterosexual practices. By developing a queer theoretical perspective in migration studies that includes a range of experiences, academics can provide a more holistic view of the cultures they study and individual migration patterns. Following recent work by queer theorists, this research studies how sexuality shapes diverse migration flows. My project further complicates this inquiry by including immigration status and age as interconnected factors that shape Mexican migration. Including diverse subjectivities in a queer theoretical perspective shows that ideas of self are malleable and can change with a variety of contextual transitions in one’s life. Outside of academia, Mexican youth movements, such as the DREAMers and UndocuQueer, work to bring these issues to light since many of the undocumented youth leading these movements are part of the LGBTQ community. Through the lens of emergent theoretical frameworks, and by researching current immigration and gay rights movements, I will conduct ethnographic fieldwork with Mexican youth of varying sexual identities and immigration statuses in my community to consider the ways that sexuality, immigration status, and age affect personal experiences and shape identity.
Session 3. The Post-Apocalyptic Imagination: Fantasy and the End Times (Charles W. Nuckolls, Organizer), SPA. MISSION III
Participants: Tedlock, Brown, Natale, Nuckolls, Tedlock
In the last few years, public media, especially in the West, have been suffused with images of the end times and afterward, from the zombie apocalypse to life after the collapse of civilization. Several popular television series and video are now based on preparing for and surviving the end of the world. Once a fringe activity, “survivalism” has gone mainstream, and a growing industry supplies tourists with end-of-the-world journeys and “doomsday preppers” with all they need to survive in the post-apocalytpic landscape. The purpose of the panel is to explore these themes by analyzing them as public fantasies that are motivated by anxieties about place, personhood, and social order. The second aim of panel is to examine today’s widespread fascination the apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic thought, and to understand its rising appeal across broad sections of contemporary society around the world.
Apocalypse as Tourism: The Mayan Case
Dennis Tedlock (State University of New York at Buffalo)
The Long-Count and other smaller-scale calendars are vibrating at the epicenter
of an ever-enlarging and deeply mysterious international tourist moment created by scholar-artists and declared to be Mayan. A transcultural experiment, called “The Harmonic Convergence,” was first enacted August 16-17, 1987 at Stonehenge, the Grand Canyon, Mt. Shasta, Joshua Tree, Machu Pichu, and Chichen Itza. This festival was defined by the late art historian Jose Arguelles as “the point at which the counter-spin of history finally comes to a momentary halt, and the spin of post-history commences.” He described it as the fulfillment of the prophecy of Quetzalcoatl, known as the “Thirteen Heavens and Nine hells,” after which humanity would begin to experience an unprecedented New Age of Peace. This paper focuses on the 25-year culmination of the 5,125 year Great Cycle of Mayan history, projected to come to an end during the Winter Solstice ceremonies December 21-23, 2012 on the Maya Riviera,in Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras.
Atlas Shrugged: A Capitalistic End of Days, A Secular Apocalypse
Susan Love Brown (Florida Atlantic University)
In her novel, Atlas Shrugged, author Ayn Rand reconstructs this scenario on the battlefield of ideas and creates a struggle between the good producers and the evil looters that brings about the end of the world and its corruption through the withdrawal of a few good men. Through their refusal to act, these few good men bring about the collapse of the U.S. economy and society itself, hoping that when they have rid themselves of corrupt politicians and wayward businessmen, they can rebuild their ideal society on the ruins of Armageddon. Rand, thus, creates a secular apocalypse that brings about the end of the world as we know it. However, because her scenario precludes divine intervention, it courts moral ambiguity. Can a group of individuals, through action or inaction, ever be morally justified in bringing about the end of the world or the collapse of society, even if the root of their initial actions is a principled one? Does not this kind of scenario bring into conflict the individual and society? If so, how can this contradiction be resolved? Is such a resolution even necessary in this secular version of the end? This paper weighs and balances the moral valences and their construction by Rand in the service of her unlikely metaphor in order to shed light on the very concept of the End of Days or the Apocalypse itself.
The End of Book: Apocalyptic Fantasies and the Eschatology of New Media
Simone Natale (Institut für Medienkultur und Theater, Universität zu Köln)
In Western societies, one of the most widespread fantasies about the future of technology is the idea that the introduction of a new medium will result in the disappearance (or “death”) of the older ones. The introduction of television, for instance, stimulated prophecies about the end of cinema and radio; today, the development of digital media inspires predictions about the end of television. This paper will address similar prophecies, in which discourses about scientific and technological progress mingle with apocalyptic fantasies and fears. Relying on the case study of the recent introduction of e-readers and the outcome of predictions on the future disappearance of paper books in contemporary United States, my paper will show how these fantasies are based on the combination of widespread ideas regarding the evolutionary nature of technological progress, on one side, and cultural and religious anxieties about the apocalypse and the end of times, on the other side. Ultimately, then, fantasies about the end of media reveal the intimate connection of discourses about technology and religion in contemporary Western societies.
Apocalypse as a Fantasy of Reparation in American Culture
Charles W. Nuckolls (Brigham Young University)
Max Weber describes the social outcome of American capitalism in stark terms. Social cohesion declines and people become mere “specialists without spirit,” with no greater moral purpose than production and consumption of industrial commodities. This paper considers Weber’s diagnosis of modernity, and argues that it works surprisingly well as a description of apocalyptic landscape in the popular imagination. I suggest that apocalyptic fantasy attempts to achieve a reparative goal: the making of a new world in which objects charged with opposing meanings are reconstructed without their real-world contradictions and ambivalences. The primary focus of this reconstruction, I argue, is marriage, an institution fraught with ambivalence and increasingly contested. Apocalyptic fantasy centers on the restoration of “traditional marriage” as a cultural goal – something such fantasy suggests can only be done – implicitly and without calling attention to itself — against the background of a modern world destroyed by disease, alien invasion, or (most popularly) the living dead.
Against Apocalypse: The Multiple Strands of Mayan Time
Barbara Tedlock (State University of New York at Buffalo)
In the history of Mesoamerican thinking about the unfolding of time, there are three major traditions. In one of these, most evident among Mayan peoples past and present, events unfold on a human and observable scale, influenced by the character of the days of a divinatory calendar by astronomical periods, running alongside past and present civil calendars. Time is composed of overlapping strands whose boundaries cannot coincide in such a way as to bring the world to the brink of an apocalypse. The second way of thinking, most evident among the Aztecs but also occurring in the Mayan Popol Vuh, posits major eras, four of five in number, separated by cataclysmic changes. The third kind of thinking, introduced by Christian missionaries, posits major disjunctions defined by the history of Christianity. One of these is of course Judgment Day, but before that comes the epochal arrival of missionaries in the Americas. This was an event so important to missionaries that it must have been prophesied, the problem being that in theory, heathens would be unable to receive an authentic prophecy (the solution to this problem will be revealed in the presentation). In the case of current attention to December 21, 2012, the Christian belief in prophesied changes on a cosmic scale has been projected onto a Mayan date that is merely an artificial numerical junction in a civil calendar, no more spiritual than the metrical system. Running across this junction are the autonomous rhythms of the divinatory calendar, human gestation, and the periodicity of the sun, moon, planets, all of which will contribute to the character of the coming period and all of which may be expected to continue uninterrupted.
Session 4. Indigenous Children, Identities, and Processes of Change in Contemporary Latin America (Andrea Szulc & Carolina Remorini), ACYIG. BAYVIEW III
Participants: Alvares, Diaz, Szulc, Correaia de Silva, Remorini & Teves, Arauz et al, Cohn
Childhood and indigenous children have frequently aroused two types of perspectives: the romantic and the victimizing. The romantic perspective depicts indigenous children as closer to nature and more innocent and pure than other children, while the victimizing perspectives focus on the deprivation they experience as the result of their marginal, unprotected living conditions and often as the result of living in poverty. Anthropology has countered these perspectives with new theoretical and methodological frameworks, generating highly productive analysis and reflections on the way in which indigenous children conceive of and experience the contemporary world. At the same time, these studies can reveal interesting aspects of the societies in which these children participate, showing the diverse ways in which several “traditional” knowledge and practices remain vital while being continuously transformed in creative ways. The aim of this panel is to stimulate the debate on issues such as the following: How do contemporary processes of change –at cultural, economic, political and ecological level- affect indigenous children’s daily lives and life trajectories? What role do children play and what experiences, practices and relationships are significant within these processes? How have the differing social constructions of childhood influenced the policies of government (at the national and local levels) and of indigenous and other organizations in relation to children’s welfare, education, health, etc.? From this particular perspective, we seek to highlight the continuities and transformations of diverse indigenous communities in South America through the ethnographic analysis of children’s everyday experiences, life trajectories and their perspectives of the multiple contexts and networks they participate in.
Between school and shamanism – the music, the child and the knowledge construction.
Myriam Martins Alvares (Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais)
To the Maxakali, knowledge, its memory and transmission – designate by the same root word yumug – always means some kind of relationship between subjects. Their histories poetically or musically build, always refer to the meeting with another being – man, spirit or animal – and the appropriation of its perception of the world. This relationship is constituted through its own performance, for the chants are spiritual beings. As the children are the ones responsible to do this performance during the rituals, they are those who really update the relations with the spirits. The adults only coordinate the performance of the youngsters during the rituals. In the last two decades, the Maxakali made an approach between the context of schooling and the shamanism, through the processes of musicality and the translation of their writing. The ritual dimension progressively encompasses the school institution through music and the ritual performances of children, as it becomes the main school activity. Considering the school as a context parallel to the shamanism, I intend to compare the shamanism with the practices of translation that have the child as the mediating agent. The practice of translation, especially of musical translation, as a strategy in the contact with the otherness, can be characterized as a new way of production of knowledge. Circumscribed by the logic of shamanism, the translation has singing as its main vehicle and the child as its mediating channel.
The processes of knowledge construction in initial education of some indigenous children of the Colombian Amazon
Maritza Díaz (Pontifical Javeriana University, National Ministry of Culture)
Ethno-oriented educational policies in Colombia have recently been encouraging the “inner pedagogies”, as a way of strengthening the culture of indigenous peoples. They have also established intercultural education, seeking to promote recognition of cultural differences. The above, is based on the need to distinguish historical and cultural particularities in the educational process. Simultaneously, public education policies plan that education be inclusive to all children, as a way of reassuring their rights. Inclusion in this case does not just refer to the educational system, but to become part of a whole system and way of life. My paper is based on my fieldwork and as participant of several government programs. I focus on the possible ambiguities and the ways of reconciling between distinction and inclusion. This analysis is approached from the relationship between the way knowledge is built based through action–experience, council and assisted exploration, occurring in the first years of life, inside some indigenous groups of Amazonia (Cubeo, Tukuna and Huitoto), and the transformations generated by the national education, through skills and performance based methods, centered in instruction and execution. I gather both methods have different effects in the capacity of childhood agency.
Picikece (mapuche children) Turning a hostile school environment into a field for self recognition as mapuche .
Andrea Szulc (National Council of Scientific and Technical Research (CONICET), University of Buenos Aires (UBA))
Elementary schools continue to play a central role today in mapuche rural communities, at Neuquén –Argentina-, sometimes, as the only government enclave. While for non-Mapuche teachers school is the place for children per se, the practices of the Mapuche show that for them, school attendance is subordinated to other needs of the children and their domestic groups. On the one hand, these needs are related to the timing of transhumant livestock, and on the other, to children’s welfare, as they enter an institution perceived as not their own. For some mapuche children –who take part in organizations with Mapuche philosophy and leadership-, school can become with time a relevant educational space, although staying hostile. Fieldwork has yielded countless cases in which they question school curriculum and the national and provincial symbols presented therein; taking pride in their performance. These experiences are based on the Mapuche definition of childhood and also on the particular definition of Mapuche identity promoted by these organizations, according to which being able to defend their collective rights on unequal grounds becomes a diacritic feature, along with behaving and thinking according to the Mapuche worldview. By basing the arguments on a conceptualization of childhood as a field for disputing hegemony, and of boys and girls as social subjects and competent interlocutors, this paper then explores the ambivalent school experiences of mapuche children. The analysis reveals school’s reconfiguration as an arena for putting children’s self-recognition into practice along with their capacity for reasoning, a change that has been enabling these children “successful” school trajectories.
Participation and learning of the Xakriabá boys, between the hunts, the hoe and the school: tensions of a debate under construction.
Rogério Correia da Silva (Federal University of Minas Gerais)
The following paper is part of the research that sought to investigate the childhood lived by the indigenous Xakriabá children, characterizing the sociability and learning which configure their education, particularly the daily life in their family group and their participation in the group’s activities. The movement of the children through the village constitutes a study theme on the indigenous childhood that gains new hues as we get to know the social aspects related to infant education in the various indigenous groups. It is by following the boys aged above 10 years old in their walks through the indigenous land that we identify the spaces and various activities they engage in. We will proceed to an analysis of such movement, participation and learning of the children, in a close dialogue with theories that deal with the processes of learning of social practices. We will highlight two of the activities performed by the boys: the hunts and the farm work. The hunt, for it consists in an activity that, despite being reduced, contradicts a whole tendency of entrance in the territory of cultural goods of the non-indigenous world, thus establishing strong references in the constitution of group identity. Such fact involves us, thus, in a complex debate on the new settings of childhood among the Xakriabá people, which shows, the importance of the particular forms of traditional indigenous education, the intense schooling process experienced by the children and the concern with the increasing assignment to the of tasks formerly undertaken by men.
From “Aldea kue” to the future: Mbya children´s everyday life and perspectives in changing contexts
Carolina Remorini (National University of La Plata, National Council of Scientific and Technical Research (CONICET));
Laura Teves (National University of La Plata)
The discontinuity in the intergenerational transmission of knowledge, skills and cultural practices considered “traditional” from Mbya perspective, is often a recurring theme in the speeches of indigenous leaders. This problem is attributed to the reduction of spheres for learning the Ñande Reko (“our culture”) and the native language. Facing this position, our ethnographic observation of children’s participation in routine activities both, at home and in activities organized by peers, shows, however, the effectiveness of some knowledge and skills highly valued in the context of the Mbya life style. Otherwise, talking with children, we accessed to their expectations about their community and the projects arising to facing ecological and cultural transformations. In this paper we account for Mbya children perspectives regarding these processes of transformations and its impact on their daily lives, trajectories and projects. We base it on our experience working with children and youth in one Mbya community in which we inquire about the community history (“Aldea kue”) and expectations for the future. By performing drawings, models and conversations we recognized their concerns related to access to education and health services and labor opportunities that add value to their knowledge and cultural experiences. Contrasting adults and children´s perceptions we observed the latter pose a set of expectations regarding changes in life style and its tangible expression in the “future village”. We also recognized the articulation children raised between traditional and innovative components of life style in a regional context characterized by demand for traditional knowledge and exploitation of ecosystems for different economic initiatives and tourism.
Intra-cultural and generational transformations in children´s participation and collaboration in a P´urhépecha community
Rebeca Mejía Arauz (ITESO University, Guadalajara);
Ulrike Keyser Ohrt (National Pedagogical University);
Maricela Correa Chávez (Clark University, Worcester)
This research focused on finding whether there were generational and intra-cultural transformations in parental ideas about the activities in which children should get involved and collaborate in family chores. We interviewed families with little experience and families with extensive experience with schooling in a P´urhépecha community in México, including parents whose jobs are related to teaching; specially we asked about the ways in which children participate in collaborative everyday family activities and how they learn through this participation. We found differences among parents with different schooling experience in the types of activities they encouraged their children to collaborate and this was related to their ideas about children development. Our results also show generational and intra-cultural transformations in parental ideas about the main activities in which children should participate having an important impact in their development according to these parents. We conclude that differences in parents´ views about what children are able to do have an important effect on the organization of children´s participation, and through this on their development and the development of the community.
Clarice Cohn (Federal University of Sao Carlos)
Session 5. Discussion & Workshop: Methods for Studying Childrearing from Anthropology, Psychology, and Psychological Anthropology (Vanessa Fong, Organizer), ACYIG. MISSION I
Participants: Berman, Fong, Naftali, Chapin, Kremer-Sadlik, Sandhofer
This discussion panel is a methods workshop that will address similarities and differences between psychological and anthropological approaches to the study of childrearing, and how psychological anthropology can try to integrate these approaches. Elise Berman, Orna Naftali, and Bambi Chapin have drawn on primarily anthropological methods such as interviews and participant observation in their study of children in the Marshall Islands, China, and Sri Lanka. Catherine Sandhofer has drawn on primarily psychological methods, such as experiments, assessments, and structured observations, to examine how US children learn language from their parents. Vanessa Fong has drawn on a combination of anthropological methods like interviews and participant observation and psychological methods like surveys, assessments, and structured observations to study childrearing in China. Tamar Kremer-Sadlik has drawn on a combination of surveys, interviews, participant observation, and videorecordings of naturalistic everyday childrearing practices among US families, which are analyzed with a combination of anthropological and psychological approaches. Panelists will speak briefly about the methods for research and analysis that they have used to study childrearing, and then spend the bulk of the session engaging in discussion with each other and the audience about the practical, epistemological, and disciplinary challenges and opportunities of the panelists’ methods and of other methods used by audience members.
Elise Berman (University of North Carolina at Charlotte)
Vanessa Fong (Amherst College)
Orna Naftali (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
Bambi Chapin (University of Maryland Baltimore County)
Tamar Kremer-Sadlik (UCLA Center on Everyday Lives of Families)
Catherine M. Sandhofer (University of California, Los Angeles)
Session 6. Food, Youth, and Culture (Cameron Hay, Chair) ACYIG. MISSION II
Participants: Vasilevska-Das, Gobbo, Fisher, Hay
Food For Thought
Francesca Gobbo (University of Turin)
My presentation will be about the cultural images of children that are constructed and implemented through political and educational initiatives in a local context such as the town of Padua, in Italy. There I carried out ethnographic fieldwork in three pre-schools (two for children between 6 and 36 months of age, and one for children between 3 and 6 years of age) during Winter and Spring of 2012 to learn what meanings children, teachers and cooks attributed to food and meals the schools provided. Serendipitously, the town of Padua represents an interesting case study, since as early as 1900 its elected representatives voted to give free school lunch to needy children attending compulsory primary schooling. If children were expected to come to school – argued the administrators – then the latter had the duty to see that many of them did not come on an empty stomach given that an epidemiological and comparative research had proved that a healthy diet promoted learning achievements. More than a century later, this town’s administration (as others in Italy) provides meals for children of different school grades that are still free for the neediest ones, but it emphasizes an informed approach to eating and sustainability that is also enacted among young children through special educational projects, strict cooking rules and choice of organic produce, while teachers’ actions care for the socializing potential of eating together and of the learning/teaching processes that the latter and food entails.
An Ethnographic Exploration of the Meaning and Consumption of Candy among American Teens and Young Adults.
Lawrence Fisher (Roosevelt University)
This paper is based on ethnographic observations and interviews with more than 60 daily candy consumers who have incorporated candy into their everyday lives. While the choices in chewy candy favorites (e.g., Skittles, Starburst, Life Saver Gummies, etc.) may be similar, my research reveals that important aspects of the connection that American teens and young adults have with candy are gender specific at the behavioral and ideational levels. This paper explores these findings and makes connections between the relationship to candy and peer and parental interaction, while exploring the limited awareness – and counter explanations – that heavy users entertain for the rationale behind their candy consumption that pose challenges for psychological analyses devoid of a theory of culture. Videotapes of candy-eating sessions document the ritual of candy consumption and the proclivity of females to include the colorful packaging, the event of candy purchasing with friends, and the banter during group consumption all within the meaning and nature of candy. These laminations and a general disregard for context for candy enjoyment appear less evident among males of the same age. Likewise girls have more vivid and emotional memories of their first candy purchases. Both genders, however, use the term, “OCD” freely when describing how they and friends consume and play with candy, but the expression refers to strictly to the behavior (e.g., sorting candy by colors) and not to any appreciation of anxiety-related underlying psychodynamics. Correlated observations of the prevalence of fingernail biting and other rituals associated with handling the package further suggest the complexity and significance of candy’s ritual among these teens and young adults, while indicating some acknowledgment of the looming intrusion of the adult world into their lives.
Childhood Obesity in Latvia – a problem imported?
Karina Vasilevska-Das (Riga Stradins University)
The term “obesity epidemic” has penetrated the public consciousness and, when used in the context of children, carries with it a certain sense of social obligation and urgency. This paper will investigate how the issue of “childhood obesity” is addressed in the small Baltic nation of Latvia by examining the techniques used to access children’s health via the European Child Obesity Surveillance Initiative, which monitors the Body Mass Index (BMI) of 1st grade students and the availability of healthy foods and exercise in schools. In 2010, as many seven year-old children were underweight in Latvia (10.8%) as were obese (10.1%) according to the Surveillance Initiative. However, the public effort concentrated primarily on fighting obesity. The way Latvian student bodies were appropriated by the state agency charged with handling the measurements can be seen as an example of the biomedicalization of obesity. Schools were identified as spaces where interventions could be carried out and were treated as partly responsible (along with parents) for the outcome, which from 2008 to 2010 was an increase in obesity among seven year-olds from 8.0 % to 10.1 % . The paper will demonstrate the complex interplay of gender, ethnicity (Latvian vs. Russian) and residence (urban vs. countryside) in the interpretation of obesity statistics in Latvia. The paper will also place the findings into an international context and reveal how the hegemonic power relations which exist between the state of Latvia and the West come into play when obesity and the bodies of its citizen children are concerned.
Judging Health in terms of Self: Patterns of Agency among Emerging Adults
M. Cameron Hay (Miami University)
Emerging adults must navigate the shifting expectations, social judgment sand sensations of health or illness as they go through their daily lives. Recent scholarship, such as the work in the special issue of Ethos on adolescent well-being (Anderson-Fye & Korbin 2011), shows how focusing on context illuminates the constraints and agency of adolescents and emerging adults to negotiate social-cultural expectations in the interactions of their daily lives. Are there patterns in the agency of emerging adults? I explore this possibility by examining the findings of two studies among emerging adults in a university context: one a study on disordered eating and the other on decision making in the context of an epidemic. We found disordered eating behaviors such as binge eating were normalized through social interactions that highlighted that “good students are stressed” and when stressed one needs “comfort foods.” Likewise statements about self, such as “I am a good student,” were linked with particular cultural models such as “good students go to class” in ways that legitimated and normalized consistent behavior despite feeling miserable with high fevers and sneezes. I conclude by suggesting that agency may be patterned, and by paying attention to the ways in which statements about the self are associated with cultural models may be useful in understanding how emerging adults navigate issues of health within the contexts of multiple expectations and complex social worlds.
Plenary: Film screening and discussion: “Bitter Honey” (Rob Lemelson) Mission I, II, & III
Bitter Honey offers a dynamic, intimate, and emotionally charged portrait of three polygamous Balinese families. Shot over a four-year period on the island of Bali, Indonesia, this feature-length film draws attention to the plight of Balinese women in polygamous marriages—which are frequently characterized by psychological manipulation, economic hardship, infidelity, and domestic violence. Due to a social structure where men predominate in many domains, these women are oft left with little voice. Bitter Honey draws attention to their struggle, documents those making courageous efforts to better protect and empower them, and aims to trigger a wider conversation about contemporary polygamy and women’s rights in contemporary Indonesia.
COCKTAIL PARTY AT UCSD: Buses leave hotel at 5:30 for “15 at the Village,” leave the party at 8 to drop off points in San Diego, returning to the hotel approx. 8:30
SATURDAY, April 6 (8:00-10 AM)
Session 1. Subjectivity/Subjectivities in Indonesia (Byron Good, Organizer), SPA. Mission II
Participants: Hollan, Lemelson, Simon, Hoesterey, Santikarma, Dwyer, Good
Recent writings in psychological anthropology and cultural anthropology/cultural studies have put “subjectivity” at the heart of theoretical and ethnographic discussions. The term “subjectivity” signals an interest in rich understandings of inner states and processes, while linking these to the social and political. Attention to issues such as public media, violence and trauma, post-coloniality, and “hauntology” have been added to classic studies of childhood, gender, emotions, psychopathology, youth culture, and childhood as domains of research richly linking the psychological to the social and political. This panel invites anthropologists working in diverse settings in Indonesia to discuss aspects of subjectivity in parts of contemporary Indonesia in which they work. Are new forms of subjectivity emerging across contemporary Indonesia? Are there new and distinctive forms of Islamic subjectivities? Are classical categories of island and ethnicity as critical as ever to our understanding of subjectivities in Indonesia? What is the place of studies of violence and trauma in studies of subjectivity? And what methods are appropriate for such research? We hope questions such as these will give heightened attention to a broad set of issues that have increasingly brought psychological anthropology to the center of the discipline.
A Torajan Selfscape of Loss and Regret
Douglas Hollan (University of California, Los Angeles)
Nene’naTandi was a Toraja man in his sixties when I knew him well and interviewed him in the 1980s. Although he was a jovial man known for his humor and rhetorical and storytelling skills—which gave him much more influence in the village that his commoner background warranted—he was haunted by the lack of his own biologically related children, a misfortune that he attributed to his cavalier disregard of his parents’ and ancestors’ advice and counsel in his wild youth. Part of this waywardness involved an ill-conceived trip to the western part of the island of New Guinea during a time of political and economic unrest, where he suffered great hunger and nearly lost all hope of ever returning home again. In this paper, I use the concept of a “selfscape” (Hollan 2003, 2005, 2008) to analyze how Nene’naTandi interweaves political-economic turmoil and cultural ideas of ancestral retribution into a deeply felt and experienced tale of loss and regret. While I argue that the meaning and consequences of political events are always refracted through developing selfscapes, I also demonstrate how a developing selfscape may come to be marked and affected by the particularities of culture and politics.
Film: Ngaben: Emotion and Restraint in a Balinese Heart
Robert Lemelson (University of California, Los Angeles)
The Balinese cremation ceremony, or ngaben, has primarily been known in the West as either a major tourist attraction that dazzles visitors with the splendor, intricacy, and drama of its performance, or as fodder for long-standing anthropological arguments about personhood
and emotion on the island that debated whether or not Balinese people expressed, or even experienced, grief. According to Balinese Hindu beliefs, cremation is one of the most important steps in a person’s spiritual life, and a heavy responsibility to the family, because it is through cremation that the physical body is returned to its five constituent elements and the soul is cleansed and released from the body to ascend to heaven and be reincarnated. “Ngaben: Emotion and Restraint in a Balinese Heart” takes an impressionistic look at the ngaben from the perspective of a mourning son, Nyoman Asub, and reveals the intimacy, sadness, and tenderness at the core of this funerary ritual and the feeling and force that underlie an exquisite cultural tradition. Amidst ample cultural and interpretive understandings of the cremation ceremony, the film purposefully provides a personalistic, impressionistic, and poetic glimpse of the process and the complex emotions involved. This film will be followed by brief comments about the role of film in representing Indonesian subjectivities.
West Sumatra and the Politics of Subjectivity
Gregory Simon (University of California, Los Angeles)
The concept of subjectivity has increasingly been used in theorizing the ways that the experience of being a person is a political one. Attention has increasingly been placed on how explicitly political structures, especially those of subjugation that lead to suffering, create complex forms of subjectivity, or perhaps create subjectivity itself. This paper asks what role large-scale, national political events in Indonesia must play in our analysis of subjectivities in particular Indonesian societies. When large shifts in national political life occur, to what extent must our studies of subjectivities take these events as necessarily basic to the forms of subjectivity that exists in the subjects who have lived through them? Do great shifts in national political life necessarily create new subjectivities, and are these subjectivities therefore national in nature? Using Minangkabau society in West Sumatra as its ethnographic focus, this paper looks at the role of the fall of Suharto and the emergence of the era of reformasi in Indonesia to begin to address these questions. It suggests that regional histories and identities are still of major importance in the way that national political events inform the subjectivities of Indonesian actors. More broadly, it suggests that the nationalization and even the politicization of the concept of subjectivity should not obscure the roles played by more enduring patterns of social and existential experience in the subjective responses of actors to national political events.
Shaming the State: Pornography, Pop Preachers, and Islamic Psychology in Indonesia
James Hoesterey (Emory University)
Playboy magazine hit the streets of Jakarta in 2006. At that time, Indonesia’s parliament was drafting a controversial anti-pornography bill. Celebrity Muslim televangelist Abdullah Gymnastiar used his public pulpit to rally support for the legislation and, in his words, to create a “culture of shame.” Over the course of several months, Gymnastiar summoned state actors – governors, parliamentarians, and even Indonesia’s president — to appear on his television program to publicly profess their sense of shame and, by extension, their support for the legislation. The “culture of shame” Gymnastiar sought to cultivate, however, bore little resemblance to prior anthropological understandings of so-called shame cultures. Whereas psychological anthropologists have conventionally studied self and subjectivity in terms of an embodied and feeling anthropos, Begoña Aretxaga has urged scholars to explore what we might call the “subjectivity of the state.” Careful not to reify the state, Aretxaga nonetheless argued that, “if the fictional reality of the state is socially powerful, then scholars must focus… on the actual social and subjective life of this formation we call the state (2003:401).In the context of post-authoritarian Indonesia, how might Islamic psychologies, public performances, and political fantasies endow the state with a political affect of shame? Bridging Aretxaga’s ideas abut the subjectivity of the state with an inverse reading of Althusser’s notion of interpellation and subject formation, I explore how Gymnastiar summoned the state into a political subjectivity of shame.
“AmpusTebusTiang”: Ritualized Subjectivities of Violence in Bali
Degung Santikarma (George Mason University)
In a recent documentary produced by Al Jazeera News, a Balinese dancer admits to having killed dozens of alleged communists during the 1965-66 massacres, saying he has no need to pity his victims or their families. The contrast drawn by Al Jazeera is clear: intercutting shots of a killer’s graceful dance moves with a cold confession of violence, the ironies of an island renowned for its supposed spiritual harmony are highlighted in troubling relief. Yet untranslated by Al Jazeera, this man ends his recounting by saying in Balinese, “Ampuntebustiang,” using the same word (tebus) one might use to describe having paid to release a valuable item from a pawnshop. Beginning from this seemingly odd statement, this paper considers how human rights activism in Bali confronts what I call the ritualized subjectivities of violence, in which transactions in the invisible (niskala) world of spirits, gods and ancestors are used to transform the socially disruptive legacies of mass killing, in the process shifting emotional resonance from the public political domain. Arguing that since 1965, ritual subjectivity has been the key site for the extension of state power in Bali, I show how emotions of guilt, anger, sorrow and hopelessness are depoliticized through ritual transactions and references to fate (nasib) and karma. I conclude by describing the wedges created between survivors of violence and the young human rights activists defending them, who critique what they see as a conservative ritual idiom and embrace universalizing languages of rights, testimony and humanization.
Wound and Witness: The Affective Politics of Transitional Justice in Indonesia
Leslie Dwyer (George Mason University)
In the aftermath of Soeharto’s32-year dictatorship (1966-1998), Indonesia experienced an outpouring of testimony concerning the violence and terror that marked his regime. Yet the ongoing reluctance of post-Soeharto leaders to address past human rights abuses, and the continuing legitimation of state-sponsored violence as a necessary response to threat, has recently led international observers to describe transitional justice as having “failed” and “derailed” in Indonesia. In this paper, I seek to bring concerns with narrative and political subjectivity to bear on discussions of the “failure” of transitional justice in Indonesia, arguing for greater attention to the politics of speech and emotion that have constrained the witnessing subject. Drawing on a decade of ethnographic research with survivors of mass violence in Bali, I ask what it means to speak as a witness to atrocities, highlighting the deep ambivalence of the subject who is exhorted to speak in the register of the tragic, positioned and interpolated by new human rights languages whose affective politics demand the silencing of vital modes of experience. Drawing on Agamben’s (1999) articulation of testimony as the bearing witness to the unspeakable, on Balinese conceptions of aje were as a prohibition of dangerous speech, and on feminist critiques of the gendered limits of emotion demanded of the juridical witness to sexualized terror, I conclude by asking what new forms of Indonesian subjectivity may be emerging to give voice to past and present violence.
The Place of “Hauntology” in the Study of Indonesian Subjectivities
Byron Good (Harvard University)
It would be easy to gain consensus around the claim that Indonesia as a nation, and individual Indonesians, are “haunted” by the past – by the remainders of colonial violence, the killings of 1965, violence in Timor, Aceh and Papua, by very personal violence perpetrated within communities during periods of mass violence, or by a host of other sources of remorse and regret. But what is the status of such haunting? Derrida has elaborated a theory of haunting, particularly in Specters of Marx, that is referred to in the title of this talk. But how is this related to diverse uses of Freud’s idea of the uncanny, used by a variety of sociologists and ethnographers – e.g., Avery Gordon and Mary Weismantel? Or to Taussig’s writings about the religious specters associated with commodity fetishism in Latin America? Or to more basic concepts of unresolved grief? And how are these concepts useful for psychological anthropologists interested in the study of Indonesian subjectivities. This paper will combine brief descriptions of data from Jogyakarta and from Aceh with theoretical reflections to consider questions such as these.
Session 2. Parental Views on Teaching, Children’s Acquisition of Critical Life Skills and Their Contribution to the Domestic Economy (David F. Lancy, Organizer), ACYIG. BAYVIEW II
Participants: Lancy, Polak, Michelet, Medaets, Little, Coppens et al.
This session builds on two of the most important conclusions from the anthropological literature on childhood—explicit teaching is neither central in cultural models of child development (Lancy 2010) nor often observed by ethnographers and, that children are eager contributors to the domestic economy (Lancy 2008). Together we explore four examples of the dynamic process of interaction among parents, children and work. We learn that, among the Bamana, adults rarely teach but the ecology of farm-work is adapted to the need to permit children to learn by doing while not “undoing” or impeding the work of others. Mongolian pastoralists encourage the contributions of children to subsistence and the household but use relatively little direct teaching to help them develop appropriate skills. In this context where learning autonomously is favored, children develop specific learning skills and moral qualities, which include enhanced capacities for attention, sense of initiative and diligence. For Amazon forager horticulturalists in the Tapajós region, parents rebuff many child initiatives to “pitch in,” and demand an advance guarantee of successful performance. They believe that this attitude “raises the bar” insuring that children will behave like attentive novices in the company of those who’re expert and not like rambunctious children. These views on parental teaching can be contrasted with middle-class Euroamerican culture. In EA society the parent-as-patient-teacher is the gold standard. The last paper illustrates how this gold standard may be insinuated among pre-modern villagers and the probable impact on cultural transmission queries obtained from interviews.
David F. Lancy (Utah State)
Cooperation matters: How Malian peasants charge their children with agricultural tasks.
Barbara Polak (Universität Bayreuth)
As in most domestic economies, Bamana peasants in Central Mali are dependent on all family members who are able to work and therefore appreciate their children’s desire to be helpful. But children may want to participate in aspects of the work that are beyond their skill. (Polak 2012). Thus parents have to meet the challenge to enable their offspring to learn and participate while preventing them from damaging tools or the work completed by others. Bamana parents, therefore, have to supervise their children while doing their own work. The determining factors for entrusting children with tools and tasks are not only their skill level but the “cooperative value” of their helping or working activities. This value depends on the child’s ability to synchronize its activity and pace with that of other workers. As the child gains the ability to collaborate with others the need for parental oversight and management lessens. In common with parents in most non-western societies (Lancy 2010), Bamana peasants don’t teach their children domestic or farming skills, but structure tasks for them which promote learning and the experience of cooperating with their immediate social environment (Ingold 2000). They do so by choosing appropriate tools, by arranging specific tasks locally and temporally according to the skills of the participating children, and by constantly reorganizing these tasks several times a day, if a child seems to be tired, inattentive or not challenged enough.
What is there to learn from not being taught? Learning pastoral and domestic skills in southern Mongolia.
Aude Michelet (London School of Economics)
In Huld, a rural district of southern Mongolia, children aged 3 to 8 are expected to become competent at domestic and herding skills and thus helpful family members. Children are expected to learn through careful observation of the physical and social environment and through voluntary participation in family activities. These competencies are achieved with little deliberate instruction by parents—a pattern widely noted in the literature (Lancy and Grove 2010). My paper will illuminate an aspect less often identified in the literature, namely that parents associate “not teaching” with the development of specific learning skills and moral qualities. Not teaching is a calculated strategy that is embedded in Mongolian conceptions of persons as autonomous agents. I examine pedagogical interactions (or their absence) between adults and children and among children and ask how these culturally specific forms of interaction channel children’s modes of engagement and motivation in learning. I show how the relative absence of direct teaching combined with questions about what children notice and the harsh assessment of their performance promote children’s observational skills such as “open attention” (Gaskins and Paradise 2010) and moral qualities such as initiative and diligence. I conclude by suggesting that in the kindergarten and in school, teachers’ pedagogical practices also rely on the expectations that children autonomously and actively engage in learning, which requires children to use skills in learning that they have developed “at home.”
“Tu garante?” Local ideas on childhood, cultural transmission and learning practices along the Tapajós river.
Chantal Vitoria Medaets (Université Paris Descartes, Sorbonne)
In hamlets along the Tapajós river, children play an important role in the domestic economy. They help with cassava flour production, fishing, and domestic chores and similar tasks matched to their competence. Sons and daughters are proudly valorized for help they offer to the family rather than for intelligence or other individual trait. The competencies required to be a “helper” are not acquired by following explicit verbal instructions—characteristic of school education—but through observation and collaboration. Unlike other cultural contexts where children’s participation is consistently encouraged (Rogoff 2003), on the Tapajós river, children who have not yet mastered certain tasks may be prevented from participating. Their participation is invited when adults consider they can actually deliver (garante) a competent performance. It is common for a boy or a girl to be excluded from a fishing expedition, for example, if adults fear they might “get in the way,” or excluded whenever they feel they can be more efficient without participation by the children. My informants would not always agree that “one learns from one’s mistakes.” Instead, they expect children to strive to earn their elder’s respect by volunteering only after sufficient observation has led to a sense of confidence—that they can garante their performance. Yet it is crucial to the learning process to spend time in company with one’s elders (Pierrot 2011). So eager are children for acceptance as workers that they carefully present a mature demeanor to be permitted to accompany and silently observe those who’re more competent.
“How do I get them do to their chores?” Cultural variation in Mexican families’ approaches to involving children in everyday household work
Andrew D. Coppens (University of California, Santa Cruz), Lucía Alcalá (University of California, Santa Cruz),, Barbara Rogoff (University of California, Santa Cruz), and Rebeca Mejía-Arauz (ITESO University)
In many Indigenous American communities children flexibly contribute with initiative to mature endeavors (Coppens et al., 2012; Paradise & Rogoff, 2009). By contrast, in some highly schooled middle-class communities, ideas about “fairness” and the “ownership” of responsibility may delimit children’s contributions to assigned or contingently rewarded tasks (Goodnow & Delaney, 1989; Klein et al., 2009). We interviewed 44 mothers of 9- to 10-year-old children from an Indigenous-heritage and a Cosmopolitan community, both in Guadalajara, differing in experience with Western schooling and regional Indigenous practices. Mothers reported on children’s contributions to family household work, how they supported their involvement, and when it would be appropriate or “fair” to ask a child to do various tasks such as making the mother’s bed or mopping the house. Most Indigenous-heritage mothers (73%) stressed that responsibilities are flexibly shared among all family members and stated that children’s initiative is central to their involvement in family household work. By contrast, Cosmopolitan mothers frequently (55%) emphasized individual contractual arrangements and stated that family members are specifically responsible for their own things and spaces. Relatedly, Indigenous-heritage children were reported to help their families in a broader and more complex range of activities.
Interviews, history and ethnography in the study of cultural transmission: Lessons from the Asabano of Papua New Guinea.
Christopher A. J. L. Little (University of Toronto)
In the study of processes underlying the transfer of culture to children—particularly subsistence skills—there is wide divergence in the literature. The ethnographic record on childhood clearly shows the predominance of child-initiated social learning over parent-dominated teaching or instruction (Lancy 2010; Lancy and Grove 2010). Whereas, studies that rely largely on interview data report a dominant role for parents as teachers of the young (Hewlett and Cavalli-Sforza 1986). Drawing upon data collected from the relatively isolated Asabano people, I discovered the danger of relying upon interview data especially for queries re cultural transmission. When interviewed, Asabano emphatically stress the active role of adults as transmitters of information and the passive role of children as lesson recipients. Observational data fail to show any instances of teaching. Indeed, in naturally occurring situations, caregivers disavow the utility of teaching children. I explain these contradictions in light of the recent introduction of Christianity and Western education to Asabano society, which affirm the necessity for “good” parents to teach their children. In view of how rapidly this shift in perspective (if not behavior) occurred in Asabano we must question the utility of interviewing Fijian parents—whose culture has been influenced by a 100+ year history of public schooling and missionary intervention—re universal processes of cultural transmission (Kline et al 2012). This paper thus illustrates the need for a multi-method approach to the study of cultural transmission as well as an acute awareness of the impact of acculturation on how individuals respond in interviews.
David F. Lancy (Utah State)
Session 3. From Childhood and Youth To Age: New Directions in Psychological Anthropology (Elise Berman, Organizer), ACYIG. BAYVIEW III
Participants: Rosen, Agarwal, Clark, Berman, Weisner
From Childhood and Youth To Age: New Directions in Psychological Anthropology
In recent years there has been a push to understand childhood as a social construction and to view children and youth as important social agents. This research has helped correct several anthropological oversights of the last century—e.g., the mistaken notion that children are irrelevant to studies of culture and the different but still incorrect idea that children as relevant only insofar as they are going to become adults. At the same time, this focus has led us to overlook a larger issue in which children and youth are embedded: the nature and production of age. One could argue that age and gender are the two most fundamental social differentiators in any society. But, although we know quite a bit about gender and race, we know surprisingly little about age-specific identities or about how age is learned, understood, experienced, and performed. These issues are particularly relevant to psychological anthropology and its focus on the relationship between culture and development. Consequently, this session asks what the study of children and youth can lend to the analysis of age and what a focus on age can tell us about children and youth. How does taking age as an analytic category shed new light on child and youth experiences? How do our analyses of youth and childhood help us theorize age? What is the relationship between age, time, and identity? How can thinking about age bring scholars who study the different stages of life together, and what might crossing that barrier add to psychological anthropology?
What is a Child Soldier? Exploring the Boundaries Between Childhood and Adulthood for Children Under Arms.
David Rosen (Fairleigh Dickenson University)
The term “child soldier” was coined by humanitarian and human rights groups to stress the presumptively inherent incompatibility between childhood and military service. The idea of the child soldier denotes and connotes a deviant social category. This paper examines the relationship between childhood and military service in order to examine the shifting boundaries between childhood and adulthood. The transition from childhood to adulthood is both a biological process and a socio-cultural process. Entwined with biological processes are cultural categories such as children, childhood, youth, adolescence, adulthood which together with their putative cross-cultural correlates serve to impose a conceptual order on an often messy and indeterminate process of change and development. In much the same way societies determine the activities and behaviors understood as compatible or incompatible with these categories and in the management and regulation of the boundaries between them. A wide variety of mechanisms are employed –from calendrical systems to age class systems—to accomplish these tasks. Systems of managing age are subject to constant challenge and disruption. In specific situations of warfare and/or in societies warfare is generally highly valorized the problem of the child under arms presents a special challenge to the stability of age categories. This paper examines how societies respond to such challenges and to the agency of the children that pose them.
What’s age got to do with it? Interrogating Social Constructions of Youth in Palau
Rachana Agarwal (Brandeis University)
I argue that youth in Palau learn to internalize a sense of subordination and social inferiority as they grow up because they are perceived by Palauan elders as members of a subaltern social stratum. The social category of youth in Palau includes the teen years and extends all the way to the ages of 35 and even 40. I illustrate that the pronounced social dichotomy between youth and elders sometimes generates significant psychological discomfort for youth and complicates their lived realities in profound ways. Their voices and participation in Palauan society at large are constantly regulated by Palauan elders in accordance with their perceived subaltern position. Palauans in their late twenties and early thirties sometimes find this social categorization rather challenging and frustrating, particularly upon returning to their homeland after having lived abroad independently for long stretches of time. In some cases, they find themselves still being treated by elderly Palauans as social minors, and are identified more as children of a particular family and clan rather than as individuals in their own right. This situation is further compounded because of the enduring American influence on the Palauan legal system which defines the category of youth as extending up to the age of 18. My data reveals a continuous realignment of age-related boundaries in defining youth depending on different social contexts in Palau. Drawing on fieldwork for different lengths of time between 2006 and 2009, I focus on youth narratives in an attempt to foreground their voices in the scholarship, highlight their lived experiences in Palau, and problematize this age-based construction of youth.
Childhood Rituals as Markers of Selfhood and Age Grade
Cindy Clark (Rutgers University Camden)
Ritual has been discussed by anthropologists as experience set apart from the routine moorings of time and space, as liminal and category suspending. But based on fieldwork with children, ritual also acts as a pronounced marker of passing time, a way of anchoring persons to the temporal scheme of culturally constructed developmental time. Childhood ceremonial events (tooth loss ritual and birthdays) mark points in time along the morphing trajectory of childhood, and in the process, activate and rehearse notions of selfhood filtered through body and culture. Tooth loss rituals, which occur in divergent forms across differing societies, mark a biological event – second dentition – which is put to ceremonial use to culturally position children as members of shifting age-grades. Such rituals involve both children’s identifications and identities (e.g., as “big” or “little” kids) as well as the stance taken by adults and institutions towards children, anchored to an age-correlated biological event. North American birthdays use socially constructed calendrical time to ceremonially mark anniversaries of birth. In childhood, the focus on numerical age is symbolically enacted during birthday parties, including the condensed, core symbol of counted, lighted candles. Even very young children anticipate birthdays as time-markers of achieved maturation, counting their age in fractions of years along a timeline of annual markers and in anticipation of the next anniversary. Thus, ritual ties personhood to the cultural reckoning of age status, whether bodily, or counted out along a timeline in which numeracy is central to identity.
The Explanatory Power of Age: Childhood, Gift-Giving and Cultural Reproduction in the Marshall Islands
Elise Berman (University of North Carolina at Charlotte)
In the Republic of the Marshall Islands, two phenomena central to anthropological theory and research—gift giving and socialization—cannot be fully understood without taking age as a social and developmental category into account. First, gift-giving depends on children because their status as immature social actors gives them the ability to directly ask for things, transport goods, and refuse to give in ways that adults avoid. As a result, many exchanges take place in inter-age interactions that cannot occur in interactions between peers. Second, through their economic participation children take on child-specific selves and forms of habitus. Such self-definitions depend on children understanding themselves in contrast to adults, thereby leading children to imagine the future. Eventually children are propelled into adulthood as they take on, modify, and discard age-specific ways of being. Consequently, Marshallese children’s activity reveals the need for an anthropology not just of childhood but also of age. Children’s economic power comes from the fact that they are different from adults. Recognizing their important social roles, therefore, requires analyzing not just children themselves but the production and negotiation of age differences. Such a focus reveals not only forms of activity that can only take place in inter-age interactions, but also new ways to think about cultural reproduction.
Thomas Weisner (University of California, Los Angeles)
Session 4. Discussion: Legal Responses to the Paradox of Childhood ACYIG. MISSION I
Participants: Buckley, Grunzke & Grunzke
In his book Childhood, Chris Jenks (2005) outlines what he calls the “paradox of childhood”:
“Simply stated, the child is familiar to us and yet strange; he or she inhabits our world and yet
seems to answer to another; he or she is essentially of ourselves and yet appears to display a
systematically different order of being” (2-3). This discussion session explores how law—statutes and judicial opinions—has interpreted the social construction of childhood within this paradox to mediate the voices of children. The session will begin with a consideration of how the legal rulings in two areas, family law and free speech law, have determined the extent to which the speech of children has been and should be afforded legal protection, particularly in both the courtroom and the classroom.
Phillip Buckley (Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville)
Rebecca Grunzke (Mercer University)
Andrew Grunzke (Mercer University)
Session 5: Cognition, Personality Dynamics, and Social Change (Naomi Quinn, Chair) SPA. BAYVIEW I
Participants: Maynard/Greenfield, Hall, and Quinn
The Evolution and Ontogeny of Color Terms in Tzotzil Maya Children: A Diachronic Study over 43 Years
Ashley E. Maynard (University of Hawaii) and Patricia M. Greenfield (University of California, Los Angeles)
In 1969, Berlin and Kay introduced the theoretical proposition that there is a universal sequence for the evolution of color terms, based on the characteristics of the visual system. They presented a wealth of synchronic evidence in favor of this proposition. However, there has been a paucity of diachronic evidence. Even more important, Berlin and Kay did not consider what sociodemographic factors might push the expansion of color terms. Using synchronic data, Harkness (1973) confirmed Berlin & Kay’s sequence for Mam, a Maya language spoken in Guatemala, and also showed that the developmental sequence for acquiring color terms by an individual is the same as the sequence for acquiring color terms by the culture. Using data collected in 1969, 1991, and 2012, we carried out a diachronic study, examining color naming across 43 years in three generations of Maya children living in a small rural community in the highlands of Chiapas, Mexico. Starting with a five-term system, we show in this paper that color terminology expanded in each generation in the order predicted by Berlin and Kay. Participants ranged in age from 4 to 22 years, enabling us also to explore the developmental progression of color naming and its relationship to the cultural evolution of color terms. We also show how the expansion of the use of color terms is related to sociodemographic shifts over a 43-year period.
Czech models of intimacy, authenticity, and personhood: Cognitive and object relations perspectives
Timothy Hall (University of California, Los Angeles)
Although Czech Republic largely escaped the first two waves of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1980s-1990s through a combination of political and social factors, rates of new HIV infections and prevalence in key groups such as men who have sex with men (MSM), as well as heterosexual women are now increasing rapidly. Methods: The author has conducted person-centered ethnographic research on identity processes and relationships among Czech and Slovak MSM in Prague since 1999 (n=37, ages 18:15-56). Methods include repeated ethnographic interviews as well as ethnographic observations of public behavior within the local gay communities. Results: Local cultural models of romantic love, relationships, and personal authenticity emphasize the desirability and “naturalness” of focusing on the intensity and immediacy of the relationship. This decreases the acceptability and perceived need for condom usage within sexual relationships while facilitating concurrent sexual relationships. For instance, Czechs often consider themselves to be in a committed relationship within weeks of beginning to date. This paper outlines a cognitive model of key cultural concepts relating to personhood, desire, and romantic relationships using Wierzbicka’s Natural Semantic Metalanguage. It also explores the psychodynamic issues of how these models are internalized and made emotionally salient, using insights from Object Relations and attachment theory. Conclusion: Efforts to reduce HIV risk behaviors need to recognize local understandings of relationships and their emotional salience. Emotional reactions and decision-making around health behaviors must be understood in cultural context, for example to avoid unwarranted diagnosis of characterological pathology.
A Critique of Wierzbicka’s Cultural Scripts
Quinn (Duke University)
In a long-term two-part program, Anna Wierzbicka has (1) developed a short list of sixty or so words deemed to be basic, in the sense that they occur in all languages; and (2) argued that these basic words provide “a natural semantic meta-language” that in combination define other culture-specific words. It is the second of these two premises that I reexamine in this paper. Wierzbicka’s word definitions are couched in what she calls cultural scripts, although I have yet to find anywhere in her voluminous writings an explicit method for constructing these scripts. I focus on the Ifaluk Islander word fago, for which she provides a script in a chapter on emotion words, in her 1996 volume, Semantics, Culture, and Cognition: Universal Human Concepts in Culture-Specific Configurations. It is a word that I have also analyzed in another context. I argue that her script for fago, based as it is on a combination of more basic words, does not adequately capture its meaning. Instead, I will show, a culturally adequate definition of this emotion word cannot be founded exclusively on other words, but must incorporate other relevant experience—in the case of fago, early attachment experience. Presumably this conclusion applies to the definition of emotion words and word definition more generally. It is simply not words all the way down.
Session 6: Contemplative Practices in Cultural Context: Shifting from Local to Global (Sara Lewis, Organizer) SPA. MISSION III
Participants: Corwin, Heibert, Lewis, Anderson & Garcia, Myers
Contemplative practices, such as meditation and mindfulness are increasingly considered evidence-based practices in the clinical sciences. Often these practices are borrowed from “Eastern” cultural traditions, and those used in clinical contexts sometimes only loosely resemble their original form. The aim of this panel is not to dismiss the use of these practices in clinical contexts, but rather to explore critically their shifting forms in an age of globalization. The scholars on this panel will present research findings related to local contemplative traditions, including prayer, meditation, silent retreat, and other religious or spiritual practices, exploring how they bolster wellbeing. Panelists consider how contemplative practices support individuals and communities in times of transition and difficulty. They examine the use of practices—both within their original contexts, and those, which have been “imported” from elsewhere—as contemporary therapeutics. The panel historicizes the dynamic and shifting ontologies of these practices, seeking to foster critical discussion on how they have transformed over time, including but not limited to their use in clinical contexts in North America and beyond.
Emptying the Self: How a Lifetime of Contemplative Practice Shapes the Experience of Old Age
Anna Corwin, (University of California, Los Angeles)
Elderly Catholic nuns have spent the majority of their lives in a total institution in which the details of their day – the time they woke up, the food they consumed, the clothes they wore – were structured by the institution. These practices, along with a rigorous prayer life, were designed to promote kenosis, an emptying or de-centering of the self, through which the nuns were expected to develop a “freedom” from connections to the material world. A strict regiment of prayer and meditation aimed to replace material attachments with a divine relationship. These institutional contemplative practices, practiced for hundreds of years, were designed to generate states of equanimity and peace. Epidemiologists have found that Catholic nuns age more successfully than their lay counterparts, experiencing greater physical and psychological wellbeing at the end of life. This paper draws on ethnographic research conducted over four years in a Catholic Convent in the Midwestern United States to examine how a lifetime of institutionally designed contemplative practices have impacted elderly nuns’ experience of well-being at the end of life. Analysis will focus on how the ritual processes that lead to kenosis may be connected to the types of wellbeing documented by epidemiologists and medical experts who study this community.
Buddhist Modernism and the Rise of Evidence-Based Contemplative Therapeutics
Christopher Hiebert (University of Virginia)
The term, “Western Buddhism” describes a form of Buddhism emerging in the West that is characterized by a strong emphasis on meditation; a tendency to “demystify” and “psychologize” the supernatural aspects of Buddhism; an emphasis on the “secular” and universalist aspects of Buddhism (particularly its compatibility with Western psychology and the scientific worldview); and an emphasis on lay and personal modes of practice (as opposed to the “traditional” emphasis on institutional monasticism). While it is tempting to view this re-orientation of Buddhism in the West as simply an “orientalist” appropriation of the exotic “other,” the reality is much more complex. The rise of Western Buddhism (with which the current interest in “contemplative therapeutics” is inextricably linked) should more accurately be understood as an extension of a “Buddhist Modernism” that arose, not in the West, but in Buddhist communities in Asia as a response to the various pressures of modernity experienced during the colonial and post-colonial periods. This paper sketches a brief history of Buddhist Modernism both in Asia and the West, showing how current interests in Buddhist meditation as evidence-based therapy (rather than simply a religious practice) is part of a wider and older discursive trend that has its roots in Asian Buddhist communities themselves. This presentation also examines how the recent explosion of Western interest in the medical and therapeutic applications of Buddhist meditation has influenced the Asian Buddhist communities and institutions from which these practices originate.
Cultivating Vast and Spacious Minds: Resilience, Coping, and the Work of “Mind-Training”Among Tibetan Refugees
Sara Lewis (Columbia University)
Mental health in the Tibetan refugee community has been studied extensively, but like most research on political violence, these studies focus almost exclusively on trauma. We know little about those who do not struggle with prolonged distress. Studies suggest that this exile community seems to be unusually resilient; but from where does this capacity to thrive stem? On the basis of ethnographic research in Dharamsala, India, conducted over 14 months, this paper demonstrates how Tibetans conceive of resilience as a learned and active process of making the mind more “spacious” and “flexible.” Rather than seeking help from medical providers or social service organizations, members of this community often turn to lamas and other Buddhist practitioners to alleviate mental distress. This work explores why negative emotions associated with trauma exposure are considered toxic and how many Tibetans exposed to political violence engage in a Buddhist practice known as “mind training” (lojong in Tibetan) to abate its harmful effects. Practicing lojong is said to bring about a greater sense of compassion—the hallmark characteristic of “resilience” from the Tibetan perspective. Generating compassion and putting others before oneself is not so much moralistic in this community, as it is utilitarian—compassion is seen as a “magic elixir” or formula for happiness. This paper also traces the introduction of “mind-training” perspectives to Western clinical practice, examining how these concepts have been modified to suit a secular sensibility.
Anonymous and Punitive: Mutual Aid Therapies in Mexico City
Brian Anderson and Angela Garcia (Stanford University)
Alcoholics Anonymous is a spiritually-oriented mutual aid organization for substance abuse treatment that began in the US but which has over the past several decades spread throughout Mexico. This form of group care has spawned Mexican splinter groups of a significantly Catholic religious orientation, which often employ psychological and physical rehabilitation techniques not considered evidence-based practices by current clinical standards. These techniques go far beyond the typical 12-step paradigm and include involuntary detention, isolation and shackling; physical beatings and aplicaciones (forced, sustained, painful bodily postures); and religious indoctrination. Some centers are regulated by the state; most however are not and are known as anexos. Nevertheless, clinicians and family members, often with no other options, direct patients to these anexos in desperate hope of a cure for Mexico’s increasing number individuals with substance abuse problems. Based on observations of, and interviews with, patients and padrinos (recovered addicts who provide treatment) in centers and anexos in Mexico City, this paper examines the invention and experience of unconventional therapeutic techniques that are simultaneously contemplative and punitive, caring and physically violent. The development of these techniques is explored against a background of the transnational circuit of bodies, illicit drugs and drug control policies between Mexico and the US (a.k.a. the War on Drugs) that is generating new patterns of drug use and treatment needs to which Mexico City’s mutual aid organizations are often the first and only institutions to respond.
Neely Myers (George Washington University)
SATURDAY (10:15-Noon) PLENARY: The past, present, and future of childhood studies, Part I (Claudia Strauss, organizer) BAYVIEW I, II, III
Participants: LeVine, Ochs, Chapin, Lancy, Rogoff, Cole, Worthman, Fong, Weisner
These panels are designed to spark a conversation about the past, present, and future of studies of children and youth in psychological anthropology, other fields of anthropology, and related disciplines.
Robert A. LeVine (Harvard) Sixty Years Ago and Now: The Anthropological Study of Children
Elinor Ochs (UCLA) 21st Century Language Socialization
Bambi Chapin (University of Maryland Baltimore County) Psychodynamic Approaches to Considering Children and Culture
David Lancy (Utah State) When Nurture Becomes Nature: Recalibrating Normal
Barbara Rogoff (UCSC) Challenges to the Study of Culture and Human Development from Disciplinary Boundaries
SATURDAY (1:15-3 PM) PLENARY: The past, present, and future of childhood studies, Part II (Claudia Strauss, organizer) BAYVIEW I, II, III
Participants:LeVine, Ochs, Chapin, Lancy, Rogoff, Cole, Worthman, Fong, Weisner
Michael Cole (UCSD) Concerning the Cognitive Consequences Of “Western Style” Schooling — Have We Learned Anything in the Past 40 Years?
Carol Worthman (Emory) The Crucible of Care: Developmental Ecology for the 21st Century
Vanessa Fong (Amherst) Why Study Children and Youth?
Thomas Weisner (UCLA) Why the anthropology of childhood and youth still is essential for understanding human development
SATURDAY (3:30-5:15 PM)
Session 1. ACYIG BUSINESS MEETING. BAYVIEW I
Session 2. Contemporary Sociocultural Psychodynamic Approaches to Ethnography: The Tangled Intersection of the Psychic and the Social (Aaron Denham and Kevin P. Groark, Organizers), SPA. MISSION II
Participants: Groark, Denham, Rahimi, Rae-Espinoza, Mageo, Hollan, LeVine
Sociocultural psychodynamics” engages the complex relationship between the dynamics of individual subjective experience and the social and cultural context in which these processes are embedded. Drawing upon theories ranging from culturally constituted defense mechanisms to contemporary relational theories and neuropsychoanalysis, this paradigm offers insights into the psychic complexity of individuals, while fostering a nuanced and non-reductive mode of understanding the ways subjectivity is shaped by—and in turn shapes—the broader social context. While psychodynamic theories and methods can enhance our perceptual and analytic thinking, scholars have noted that psychoanalytic approaches alone cannot be the sole mode of ethnographic analysis; as Devereux noted, psychoanalysis and anthropology are complementary modes of understanding—they cannot be melded; rather, they must be employed in a serial manner. In a similar vein, this session explores the contemporary intersections and entanglements of anthropological and psychodynamic theories, considering the compatibilities and interrelations between psychodynamic thought and other anthropological paradigms. Paper topics include ethnographically rich studies, with themes ranging across issues such as power and subjectivity, social imagination and fantasy, childrearing and socialization, intergenerational relations, and mental health. The significance of psychodynamically-oriented methodologies is a cross-cutting theme, as is the classic query articulated by Malinowski and Fortes concerning the gap between the level of observation open to the ethnographer and the level of observation and theory in which psychoanalysis operates. Ultimately, this session anticipates a productive exploration of the reciprocal engagement between diverse psychodynamic and anthropological perspectives on experience and subjectivity.
Toward a New Psychodynamic Anthropology: The Integration of Cultural Phenomenology and Psychoanalysis
Kevin P. Groark (New Center for Psychoanalysis)
In his oft-cited discussion of the “culturally constituted behavioral environment,” Irving
Hallowell argued that any given cultural ontology must be considered to be “real” insofar as people believe in it; and inasmuch as it exist as an object of belief, it becomes an effective constituent of thought, feeling, and action—in short, ethno-ontologies become basic dynamic elements in the psychic economy of individuals. In this paper, I build on the contributions of Hallowell and others (including George Devereux), sketching the outlines of what I have referred to elsewhere as a “cultural psychodynamic” approach—one that integrates contemporary psychoanalytic insights into the dynamics of huma nsubjectivity with a phenomenological and ethno-ontological approach (such as that advocated by Hallowell). Such an approach emphasizes the ways in which local beliefs, social structure, symbolic resources, and the practices of everyday life serve to structuralize the psychic field, encouraging certain culturally specific psychodynamic configurations while discouraging others. It focuses on the importance of framing epistemologies (e.g., locally distinct ethnotheories of experience, emotion, and self) in giving rise to distinct topographies of self-experience, allowing individuals to sidestep certain conflicts and dilemmas, while simultaneously throwing others into high relief. I argue that a sustained interpretive tacking between these fields lends greater dimensionality to ethnographic analyses: Psychoanalytic ideas help to illuminate dynamic intrapsychic and interpersonal processes of meaning making, while ethnographic data emphasize the powerfully constitutive role of ethnotheories and social practices in conditioning the form, function, and expression of basic psychodynamic processes.
From Within and Without: Towards a Sociocultural Psychodynamics of Infanticide in Northern Ghana
Aaron Denham (Macquarie University )
Within a rural region of Northern Ghana, community members describe how disabled or chronically ill children, births concurrent with tragic events, or children displaying unusual abilities are “spirit children” sent from the bush to cause misfortune and destroy the family. Upon identification, spirit children are often subject to infanticide through a poisonous concoction. Based upon ethnographic fieldwork within a Nankani community in Ghana, this paper considers the sociocultural psychodynamics of infanticide discourse and practice, offering observations and theory that traverse the vicissitudes of social structure, symbolic expression, and the psychodynamics of family members’ experiences of spirit children. Infanticide theories too frequently adhere to economic, rational choice, or sociobiological explanations that do not acknowledge the subjectivity, emotions, and relational patterns within families’ sociocultural and political-ecological circumstances and lifeworlds. Through an analysis of the dynamics that mediate Nankani experiences of, and responses to, misfortune and childhood abnormality, this paper affirms a sociocultural psychodynamic stance that emphasizes the complexity of individual and family subjectivities and their reciprocal relationship within the sociocultural context in which they are enmeshed. Specifically, this interpretation of the spirit child phenomenon integrates the entangled intersections from both within and outside of familial relational dynamics, articulating the centrality of the cultural and ecological system, kinship imperatives and boundaries, oedipal dynamics, the projection of aggression, and the role that the spirit child and infanticide serves in the transformation and purging of uncertainty and misfortune from the family.
Politicality of the Subject and the Significance of Understanding Meaning as the Seat of Power
Sadeq Rahimi (University of Saskatchewan)
Built around the basic propositions that a) the social subject is inherently political and b) the very existence or experience of subjectivity is coincident and coterminous with meaning, this paper will engage the process/moment of production of meaning as the process through which power becomes involved in the formation of subjective experience. I will discuss the notion of political subjectivity as it pertains to current anthropological research and theory, with specific attention paid on the one hand to the relationship between power and meaning, and on the other to the constitutive/formative role of that relationship in the development of human subjectivity. Drawing on anthropological examples from my work with psychotic patients, I will address contemporary formulations of the unconscious in psychoanalytic and anthropological literature, and the ways in which linguistically oriented conceptualizations of the unconscious lend themselves more readily to an articulation of the political as an indispensable aspect of the human experience. I will argue that meaning as such is a vehicle of power, and that it is through the structural establishment of associative patterns that constitute meaning that systems of power are operationalized, shared and sustained over time and across generations. I will conclude that the implications of formulating the subject as inherently political, and the significance of understanding meaning as the seat of power are fundamental, extensive and common to both psychoanalytic and anthropological work today.
Psychodynamic Agency & Oedipal Imagery in Children’s Reactions to Parental Emigration in Ecuador
Heather Rae-Espinoza (California State University, Long Beach)
The systematic variations in children’s reactions to parental emigration in Ecuador reveal their active negotiations in the psychological operations necessary for the internalization of cultural propositions. With parental emigration, children in Guayaquil face a self-definitional bind because of the diverse discourses found with urbanism. The children who stay after parental emigration experience contrasting interpretations of their parents’ departure from their own transnational families and from hegemonic discourses in the media, government rhetoric, and discussions with non-émigré families. Individual defense mechanisms created symbiotically with this conflicting cultural context display “psychodynamic agency” to ameliorate psychic conflicts that lack a projective system. The case study of a nine-year-old boy in his mother’s care since his father’s emigration during his preschool years describes how he forewent social approval in the use of lower level defenses with projection, fantasy, and the distortion of reality. Even though he frequently interacted with children who utilized an accepted culturally-constituted defense mechanism to react to parental emigration at school, he selected to distort reality uniquely in his individual defenses. I argue this is because his defenses were not against the painful realization of parental separation, but a manner of creating a reality in which he was rightfully the undivided recipient of maternal affection. The discussion of his home environment and the analysis of his defenses indicate the joint role of sociocultural and psychodynamic approaches for understanding parental emigration specifically, and cultural reproduction more generally.
Ideology and the Imaginary
Jeannette Mageo (Washington State University)
One might think that cultural ideologies would affect the self most directly through what Freud called the superego—cultural laws inscribed within the self in the form of conscience. For Lacan the superego is le nom du père (1977), by which he refers both to the name and to the “Law of the Father,” and to the discursive order, the Symbolic, of which it is a part. Lacan, however, also posits a prior kind of mind, the Imaginary, where thoughts take shape in images rather than in words. Through selections from an ethnography made of the life histories and dreamscapes of young people in the US Northwest, I argue that ideology-as-conscience also takes imaginary form. The Imaginary begins, Lacan believes, around the age of two in what he calls the mirror phase. The paper further argues that the Imaginary remains an inner mirror where the person sees his or her (possible) identities. This mirror, however, does not simply reflect the person’s subjective experience but culturally shared images from a multitude of sources that represent not conscience-as-law but conscience-as-norm. These images give form to subjectivity as identities, identities that in dreams people iterate, deform, and transform in a multitude of startling ways.
Douglas Hollan (University of California, Los Angeles)
Robert LeVine (Harvard)
Session 3. Narratives of Recovery: Exploring Illness as Means for Becoming (Charlotte van den Hout, Organizer), SPA. MISSION III
Participants: Whitacre, Elliot, Reyes-Foster, van den Hout, Jones, Jenkins, Lester
This panel ethnographically explores subjective accounts of recovery from serious illness, highlighting narrative themes of transformation, reconstruction, and new beginnings. Seeking to go beyond an understanding of illness as a “disruption” (Becker 1997), or as an obstacle to the maintenance of meaningful selfhood and interpersonal relationships, this panel explores ways in which illness and symptoms can also be a “potentiality for becoming” (Biehl & Locke 2010). Drawing on in-depth analyses of individual recovery narratives, the panel will explore the role that illness can play in projects of “work of the self” (Parish 2008): in subjective and intersubjective processes of (re)constructing meaningful selfhood, social relationships, and notions of morality and authenticity. Presentations will span a variety of ethnographic, clinical, and experiential contexts: from psychiatric hospitals in Mexico and Morocco to programs for HIV prevention and experiences of recovery from eating disorders and psychosis. Papers will examine 1) how understandings of ‘health’, ‘recovery’, and ‘prevention’ are shaped by the particular meanings and practices embodied by illness (Reyes-Foster, Whitacre, Elliot); 2) how these meanings are contested and negotiated in clinical settings (Whitacre, Elliot); 3) how relationships of power and intersubjective dynamics limit individuals’ freedom to give meaning to their experience (Reyes-Foster, van den Hout); and 4) how recovery from chronic illness is subjectively experienced, and how illness can come to play a formative role in individuals’ experience and exercise of agency (Jones, van den Hout). Ultimately, the papers collectively illustrate that illness can itself be productive of moralities, identities, and meaningful agency.
Recovering from HIV: How treatment, prevention and the closeness of a cure imagine new futures for HIV
Ryan Whitacre (University of California, San Francisco & Berkeley)
How might the concepts of ‘recovery’ and ‘becoming’ help us think critically and productively about the influence of HIV on understandings and feelings of one’s health and illness? I employ these concepts to think through the ways HIV and biomedical knowledges and practices give new life to hopes and fears for HIV-positive men who have sex with men (MSM) – hopes for recovery and fears of illness, hopes for a cure and fears of AIDS. This paper also includes the accounts of HIV-negative men to display the ways a common project of ‘becoming’ is directed toward HIV-prevention and spans both sides of the HIV diagnosis. Here the common ground in which recovery, becoming and prevention take root are made possible by pharmaceuticals entering bodies, both to treat illness and prevent it. The contours of this ethnographic project expand out from two treatment and prevention programs and encompass the persistent project to develop a vaccine. The first, HIV treatment as prevention, entails the pharmaceutical treatment of a body in which HIV has been found. The second, HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis, requires the pharmaceutical treatment of a body in which HIV has not been found. Each treats a body to lower the risk of transmission. Each also asks participants to imagine a future in which HIV will be encountered and need to be prevented. Ultimately, I am interested in this imagined future, these forms of becoming and preventing, and their import for recovering from HIV.
Figured World of Eating Disorders
Michelle Elliot (University of Southern California)
The biomedical classification of eating disorders, particularly anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, follows guidelines created by the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV-R (2010), thus situating it as a mental illness with serious and complex physical health symptomology. This paper, using several composite exemplars drawn from the author’s five years of clinical practice working with this population, introduces a socio-cultural framework for understanding eating disorders – figured world (Cain, 1991; Holland, Lachicotte, Skinner, & Cain, 1998) – which coexists and competes with the more traditional and established biomedical representation. A figured world contextually exists in daily activity and social discourse through mediation of roles, objects, and identity. Such a world invokes an ‘as if’ potential of symbolic and culturally determined significance. Conceptualizing eating disorders as a figured world suggests an appropriation of meaning in illness with the translation to everyday life engagement as illness or eating disorder driven. Tensions arise in the construction of identity between having an eating disorder and being ‘disordered.’ Recovery invites the re-appropriation of illness-derived symbolic meaning toward wellness, in addition to signifying an exit from this figured world into a perhaps yet unknown world, a world where food, body, self and society are familiar strangers. Figured world has been introduced as a framework through which to understand cultural practices such as Alcoholics Anonymous and its appropriation toward eating disorders suggests that the socio-cultural and symbolic dimensions of living with the illness may challenge the assumption that health rather than illness is inherently meaningful.
“Only Sick People Wear these Clothes:” The State Psychiatric Hospital and Becoming Mentally Ill in a Space of Recovery in Yucatan, Mexico
Beatriz Reyes-Foster (University of Central Florida)
As psychiatric treatment becomes widely available in Yucatan, Mexico, a common complaint has emerged among psychiatric professionals: noncompliance with medication regimens. This noncompliance is blamed on patient and family distrust of medication and ignorance about “the nature” of mental illness. However, my research suggests that this complaint is a symptom of competing narratives of illness and “Recovery” based on starkly different understandings of what it means to be “mentally ill.” I use Biehl & Locke¹s (2010) “potentiality for becoming” to conceptualize the way in which previously “healthy” people “become” mentally ill though the intersubjective experience of hospitalization in a state psychiatric facility. Based on ethnography conducted inside the acute ward of a psychiatric hospital in Yucatan, Mexico, I consider the ways in which competing definitions of health are “ordered” into being through bodily practice and submission, where patients are forced to wear uniforms, eat hospital food, and otherwise comply with a series of institutional mandates that control their bodies in an attempt to “restore” their minds. In this space, “recovery” does not imply a return to a previous state of health, but a co-construction of mental illness as a lifelong affliction merely “controlled” by psychiatric medication. I build on this claim to argue that patients, though confronted with a biomedical psychiatric discourse that seeks to construct them as new, “mentally ill” subjects, will engage in their own processes of reconstructing meaningful selfhood based on their own existing understanding of health as social and spiritual harmony.
The “Challenge” of Wellbeing: Recovery from Schizophrenia and the Freedom of Personal Responsibility
Charlotte E. van den Hout (University of California, San Diego)
Schizophrenia is a chronic psychiatric illness that often has a devastating impact on a person’s personal and social life. Nevertheless, in this paper I want to suggest that this disorder need not always be a “disruption” (Becker 1997). Through analysis of one Moroccan woman’s personal narrative of recovery from schizophrenia, I show that the experience of psychosis can also become a seed for the reconstruction of meaningful and purposeful selfhood. This woman, whom I will call Siham, sees life with a chronic illness as a “challenge:” a difficult but doable effort to maintain her grip on reality through a healthy lifestyle of regular psychiatric treatment and routinized discipline. The notion of “challenge” motivates Siham: she sees the chronicity of her illness as an invitation to cultivate and exercise personal responsibility. Siham takes this notion as the foundation for a new kind of “authentic” selfhood that incorporates illness as part of who she is, and as a constant reminder to pursue wellbeing. Life with a chronic illness thus becomes an opportunity to be “true” to herself: the management of illness becomes a technology of self. Drawing on Siham’s narrative, I therefore suggest that the chronicity of illness can be a “potentiality for becoming” (Biehl & Locke 2010:332). However, I also show that this “potentiality” is limited by intersubjective dynamics: Siham’s claims to personal responsibility are contested by her parents’ anxious control of her autonomy, which leads her to question her resolve and self-confidence.
Technologies of the Self: The Role of Agency in First Person Descriptions of Psychosis
Nev Jones (DePaul University)
This presentation revolves around the critical analysis of in-depth interviews with individuals who experience (or have experienced) psychosis. Rather than drawing a temporal distinction between (passively endured) illness and (active) ‘recovery,’ I focus on individuals’ agentic implication in their experiences of madness (‘becoming mad)’ at the level of both structure and content. Examples include the reframing of fuzzy perceptual or atmospheric changes as more clearly defined domain-specific events (e.g. clear “voices”), and the ‘willed’ manifestation of voices and visions with particular desired contents or identities (e.g. messianic promises or a dead child). In addition I will discuss narratives in which heightened states of madness are framed as desirable and/or productive in the sense of generating expanded ontological and/or aesthetic possibilities or facilitating self-disciplinary projects (Hook, 2007; Rose, 1991). The presentation will also briefly touch on sociocultural influences on the articulation and framing of experience, and the strategic use of multiple cultural explanatory scripts in a process of bricolage (Larsen, 2004).
Janis H. Jenkins (University of California, San Diego)
Rebecca Lester (Washington University in Saint Louis)
Session 4: Discussion: Political Subjectivity (Jack Friedman and Claudia Strauss, Organizers), SPA. MISSION I
Participants: Casey, Friedman, Garth, Holland, Strauss
This discussion session will engage participants and audience members in exploring the contributions of psychological anthropology to an understanding of political subjectivities, and the contribution of political studies to psychological anthropology. By “political subjectivities” we mean thoughts, feelings, motivations, identities, and actions, not just about electoral politics but more broadly regarding contestation over the social distribution of power, status, and economic rewards. One question that we pursue is how psychological anthropologists can understand “the political” in terms that keep the unique qualities of political experiences while still maintaining a link to psychological categories. We ask how a better understanding of politics and political economy could contribute to psychological anthropology. We also ask how psychological anthropology might contribute to our understandings of the formation of political consciousness or identity. We are conscious of the dangers of over-generalization that plagued earlier attempts to engage with politics as well as the dangers of being so narrow in our approach that our work has few implications for broader problems of national or global politics, so we wish to engage with the audience to consider innovative approaches that scholars have used to think about politics from a psycho-cultural standpoint.
Claudia Strauss (Pitzer)
Jack Friedman (U Oklahoma)
Conerly Casey (Rochester Institute of Technology)
Hanna Garth (UCLA)
Dorothy Holland (U North Carolina)
Session 5. Making and Remaking Gender Roles (Esin Egit, Chair) SPA. BAYVIEW II
Participants: Zia, Sangren, Egit, Beaussart
The Spectacle of a Good-Half Widow: Performing Agency in the Human Rights Movement in Kashmir
Ather Zia (University of California, Irvine)
My ethnographic project focuses on the women in Kashmir who are searching for men who have disappeared in the custody of Indian army. I will focus on the life of an activist to trace the micropolitics of agency. Agency can appear in various modes: at one end it is an active manifest form, on the other it can be more nuanced, hence different than just a simple notion of resistance to oppression (Das 2008). The use of performative politics by the activists engages the dramaturgical elements of costume and dialogue. Thus, the body becomes a performative site. I use performance as a metaphor through which “one can consider things that are in-process, existing, and changing over-time, in rehearsal” (Phelan and Lane 1998: 365). I trace the discursive practices through which the activists produce the spectacle of, what is known as “Aasal Zanan” to allow them activism. “Aasal” in Kashmiri means good and “Zanan” means “woman”. An asal zanan is obedient, modest and private. I will follow the activists while they subtly push the boundaries of the social and ‘political norms while foregrounding the performance as an “Aasal zanan”.
Woman as Symptom: Female Subjectivity in Chinese Patriliny
P. Steven Sangren (Cornell University)
It is widely supposed, both by Chinese and by foreign observers, that Chinese culture devalues women because China is patriarchal – that is, because men have power. This paper complicates this understanding by proposing in addition that China is patriarchal because Chinese patriliny, understood as what I term “instituted fantasy,” obviates women as subjects. Drawing inspiration both from classic psychoanalytic theory (Freud and Lacan) and more recent elaborations (Butler, Zizek), I argue that women, especially their reproductive powers and sexuality, constitute an unassimilable irritant for patriliny, an irritant or symptom that manifests widely in, for example, ancestor worship, ethnobiological theories, mythic narratives, family dynamics, and funerary rituals. I argue that patriliny embraces a fantasy of self-productive autonomy and power, defining subjectivity from the vantage of the filial son. This circumstance creates both practical and existential problems for women (especially daughters), on the one hand, and destabilizes family dynamics, on the other. Although much of the ethnographic evidence in this regard is widely recognized, viewing patriliny as, simultaneously, what I term a “mode of production of desire” and as “instituted fantasy” illuminates how women’s relegation to outsider status provokes both resistances to the system while, ironically, constituting an essential element in its reproduction.
The Modern and Independent” Women of Generation 1980: Growing up in a Middle-Class Secular Family in Istanbul, Turkey
Esin Egit (John Jay College)
Based on narratives of a cohort of middle-class, secular Turkish women who came of age in the 1980s in Istanbul, this paper argues that parents-daughter relationship constitutes a crucial site in the formation of a particular subjectivity shared among these women, which I call ‘self-assured.’ Raised by parents who follow the gender equality teachings of Turkish modernization, these women received emotional and material support to pursue higher education and careers, as well as to build social confidence and a strong sense of self. However, women’s narratives also reveal that growing up they received conflicting messages regarding women’s identity. On the one hand, they were told that they would grow up to be modern and independent women, yet; on the other hand, by observing the dynamics between their mothers and fathers, they learned that women were typically seen as dependent and accommodating. Therefore, paradoxically, in order to inhabit the modern and independent woman identity, this cohort of women has to reject feminine identifications, and associate themselves with male identities and roles. In this context, while constructing a desired ‘modern woman’ identity for themselves, they simultaneously reproduce the existing gender hierarchy. A larger goal of this paper is to address the problem that efforts to understand non-Western modern women’s lives usually highlight discursive social and political discourses, however, often neglect psychodynamic issues. This paper will show that these two processes are not easily separable in the formation self and subjectivity, and their interconnection needs to be taken into consideration in anthropological analysis.
Gender Roles and Anonymity: How the Internet Influences Self-Reporting of Sexual Behavior
Melanie L. Beaussart (California State University, San Bernardino)
The commonly held belief about the biologic foundation of gender differences in sexual behavior has been challenged by those who suggest that these results stem from cultural biases that reinforce gender stereotypes. The use of the Internet for conducting research has found that the level of anonymity intrinsic to web-based surveys is useful in deterring these kinds of participant biases. However, concerns about Internet privacy could interfere with the effects of perceived anonymity and influence how a person responds. In this study, participants were asked to take an Internet survey and then were randomly assigned to conditions with varying degrees of implied privacy in which they answered questions about their sociosexuality and lifetime sexual partners. This study found that gender-biased reporting of sexual information was mediated by the level of anonymity the participants perceived and that this effect differed for men and women. Though gender differences in sexual behavior are often considered to be innate and biologically-based due to divergent evolved mating strategies our data suggest that men and women mostly diverge in what societal constraints are imposed on them and not in their actual sexual behavior.
(5:45-7) Cocktails BAYVIEW TERRACE
(7-9) SATURDAY NIGHT BANQUET BAYVIEW
Celebration of Ethos, 40th year
Lifetime Achievement Award presentations to Anthony Wallace (in absentia)
and Jean Lave
SUNDAY, April 7 (8:15-10 AM)
Session 1. Disorders of Development: Child and Youth Mental Health in Changing Cultural Contexts (Elizabeth Fein and Christine El Ouardani Organizers), ACYIG. BAYVIEW I
Participants: Fein, El Ouardani, Marrow, Odden, Brezis, Anderson-Fye
Although there has been a great deal of anthropological work on the conceptualization and treatment of mental illness across diverse cultural contexts, the issue of mental illness in children and adolescents adds a number of unexplored and crucial dimensions. Children’s rapid progress through developmental stages make them highly vulnerable to internal and external forces that shift those trajectories. Children and youth’s developing identities are also shaped by mental health discourses, while cultural ideals for moral and personal development find special resonance in discussions of children and their needs. This set of papers considers the ways in which both local and transnational ideas about child and adolescent mental health are interpersonally enacted with children in mental health clinics, in their families, with peers, and in their communities across a diverse set of cultural contexts, all of which are themselves undergoing periods of rapid social development and change. The panel features ethnographic accounts from Samoa, where children returning from time overseas suffer mysterious bouts of “spirit possession”; India, where new models of mental health treatment both challenge and retrench traditional patterns of authority; Morocco, where a developmentally disabled girl’s resistance to her parents’ will evokes broader patterns of resistance and compliance with a neglectful state; and the United States, where children on the autism spectrum who are chronically rejected and bullied by peers learn to understand themselves as fundamentally broken. As these papers will demonstrate, children’s development exists in a complex and co-constituitive relationship with larger social and political trends, serving as a site for negotiations around authority, authenticity, and social reproduction.
Nobody Has to Be Your Friend”: Asperger’s Syndrome and the Cycle of Social Disorder Under Conditions of Identity Capitalism
Elizabeth Fein (University of Chicago)
The enormous rise in diagnoses of autism spectrum disorders (ASD’s) has become one of the most perplexing puzzles of contemporary public health. A tremendous amount of resources have been devoted to figuring out why there are suddenly so many more people who behave in a repetitive, rule-bound way, who seem incapable of engaging in reciprocal, flexible social interactions and forming successful social relationships, and who are thus incapable of succeeding at home, school, or the workplace. The vast majority of this research, however, has taken place within a biomedical paradigm that looks for pathologies in individual bodies. Drawing on data from a two-year, multi-site ethnographic study on the experiences of individuals affected by Asperger’s Syndrome in the United States, I will argue here that biological explanations alone are insufficient to explain the increased prevalence of individuals who have normal or above-normal intelligence but severe social impairments; the development of this new kind of person is also a result of characteristics of the social environment in late modern societies. The experiences of social exclusion and interpersonal violence that result from being socially unskilled, within an “identity marketplace” where inclusion is contingent upon the display of certain social competencies, results in the rapid amplification of characteristics considered to be deviant, perpetuating ongoing cycles of exclusion and atypical development. However, models of social disorder which focus exclusively on the individual as the unit of analysis and categorization obscure this process, while simultaneously contributing to its perpetuation.
Developmental Disability and Disordered Households in Rural Morocco
Christine El Ouardani (University of Chicago)
While conducting two years of ethnographic fieldwork in a Moroccan village on socialization and disciplinary practices with children, I was particularly struck and often deeply upset by what seemed to me to be the harsh physical punishment and threats to which Khadija, the seven-year-old developmentally delayed daughter in the family I lived with, was often subject. Unlike the use of corporal discipline with “normal” children, which villagers understood to be essential to raise moral children who respected their parents and other rightful authority, most villagers vehemently objected to the use of this kind of discipline with Khadija and other children “like her” on the grounds that she was ill and she lacked reason. In this paper, I examine the ways in which Khadija’s inability to behave in age-appropriate ways particularly challenged local norms of authority that ordered everyday life in this context, causing her kin to beat her despite local disapproval. I will also examine the ways in which both biomedical discourses positioning Khadija as ill and explanations of her condition as involving spirit possession are used in these interactions to both justify and condemn her behavior and the behavior of her kin. I situate this analysis in the context of this family’s disordered relationships with state actors and show how failed state development programs are invoked in discussions about Khadija’s condition.
Advocacy and Authority in a North Indian Child Guidance Clinic
Jocelyn Marrow (Stanford University)
In the early 2000s, resident training programs for specialization in child and adolescent psychiatry in India were in processes of development, although psychiatrists practicing as generalists had been treating patients under the age of sixteen years for decades before in publicly-funded Child Guidance Clinics. Based on observations of practitioner-patient-parent interactions at the Outpatient Department, and interviews with parents, patients, and professionals at the Inpatient Department of a teaching hospital in northeastern India 2001-2004, this presentation investigates the psychosocial intervention strategies psychiatric professionals favored when their patient was a child. Professionals held strong opinions about what parental attitudes and behaviors caused distress to child patients of the working- and vernacular middle-classes. Unrealistic academic pressure, verbal abuse, and parents’ repeated failures to empathize with children’s perspectives were often mentioned as reasons children experienced emotional and behavioral problems. The doctors felt passionately about advocating for the rights of children and frequently exhorted parents about the destructive impact of what they considered insensitively hierarchical patterns of relating. While advocating a relational style that involved “befriending” one’s children, the professionals’ interactions with parents could be heavy-handed. As such the doctors’ exhortations functioned as parallel processes reproducing harsh admonishment across hierarchical statuses. Rigid interactional norms across class statuses, and the fact that most interventions were carried out in semi-public spaces where doctors were expected to perform status and authority, reinforced this way of working with families.
Spirit attacks as a complex idiom of distress in Samoan adolescents
Harold L. Odden (Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne)
Attacks by malevolent spirits, and less commonly spirit possession, remain an important element of contemporary Samoan ethnomedical explanatory models. Logistic regression analyses of an epidemiological survey of Samoan secondary school students (N = 571) revealed that the best predictors of having experienced an attack are male gender, symptoms of post-traumatic stress, interpersonal problems, and having lived overseas for six or more years. Although the relationship between distress and the use of such a local explanatory model is logical, questions remain as to (1) why experience overseas is related to claims of spirit attack and (2) why such a ‘traditional’ explanatory model would be used by adolescents who have so much of their lives overseas and who are frequently criticized for having a tenuous grasp of Samoan traditions. The relationship between overseas experience and mental and behavioral health problems can be explained in part by the “returned child” phenomenon, where children living overseas who exhibit these health problems (e.g., substance use, aggressive behavior) are often returned to live with relatives in Samoa. Exposure to Samoan culture and children-rearing techniques are thought to reverse the pathogenic influence of Western culture and end these problems. Returned children’s acceptance of this traditional explanation may be a way to reduce or defuse conflict with one’s family by demonstrating a more substantial connection to traditional culture. The paper will conclude by discussing the implications of this phenomenon for understanding adolescent health and well-being in the context of rapid sociocultural change, migration, and globalization.
Parenting a child with autism in India: Observations from a Parent-Child Training Program
Rachel Brezis (University of California, Los Angeles)
In the absence of appropriate educational and therapeutic services for autism in India, parents of children with autism shoulder much of the responsibility for care and education of their children. Action for Autism (AFA), India, an NGO founded by a group of Indian mothers of children with autism, initiated a Parent-Child Training Program (PCTP) in 2000 to provide practical and theoretical knowledge on autism to parents, while instilling in participants a philosophy of acceptance and empowerment. To date, the PCTP has trained over 340 participants throughout India, who have come to New Delhi, with their child, for 3-month training sessions. The current study presents qualitative data from a mixed-methods evaluation of the program, conducted as a collaboration between the UCLA Center for Culture and Health, and AFA. The study followed three cohorts of parents (a total N of 47) during their 3 months of training in Delhi, aiming to assess whether parents increase their knowledge of autism, their sense of competence, their degree of acceptance and empowerment, and decrease their stress. Parents’ thoughts about their child and their relationship with their child were recorded, and their 1-on-1 interactions with the child were videotaped, at the start and end of the program. These data, along with 7 months of participant observation at AFA, are used to glean a better understanding of the particular challenges faced by families of children with autism in India, and their unique strategies for coping and caring.
Eileen Anderson-Fye (Case Western Reserve University)
Session 2. Performance, Embodiment, and Identity in Dance and Sport (Jonathan Marion, Chair) SPA. MISSION II
Participants: Marlor, Castorena, Newsom, Marion
Ballet and Habitus: Getting it Into the Brain and Body
Chantelle Marlor (University of the Fraser Valley)
In Techniques of the Body, published in 1935, Marcel Mauss’ explorations of habitus foreshadow recent findings in neurology, physiology and kinesiology. I use the ballet habitus—an entirely art-ful (or artificial) habitus individuals cultivate through mental and physical training within the ballet field—as a vehicle through which to ground Mauss’ explorations of habitus in select neurophysiological findings, and, in doing so, explore mind-brain-body relationships and the process by which culture becomes inscribed onto the body. I conclude that Descartes’ dualistic view of mind (or soul) and body is only partially useful and that our understanding of the relationship between the two needs complexification. The process by which habitus is formed is temporal and involves “getting things into the body” through a number of both conscious and unconscious mind/body conduits. Yet, as the ballet habitus becomes more developed, the conscious mind progressively forgets what it has told the body to do. Moreover, it appears that several things we associate with “mind” are actually found in “the body,” like our ability to detect the placement of our limbs. Thus, in forming the ballet habitus, it is the dancer’s body-mind that becomes able to detect whether she is doing something “right,” often independently from her conscious mind. Ultimately, habitus formation occurs not just in the conscious parts of the brain and in the physical posturing of individuals, but in socialized musculature, normatized sensors of physical positioning and other “mindful” corporal ways.
Practicas, Presentations and Ceremonias: Identity Production within Danza Azteca
Sohnya Castorena (Temple University)
In this paper I discuss the embodiment, performance and reception of danzante (dancer) identities within three distinct types of danza azteca dance events: practicas (dance practices), presentations, and ceremonies. I examine each of these danza events as sacred and secular ritual processes with the intent of locating what ideologies and identities are constructed and disseminated during each type of dance event. Analysis of the performance of danza, as song and dance, in each particular danza event is critical because each type of danza event has a particular propensity to elicit different aspects, and formations of the danzantes multi-plex identities. I argue that through the expression and reception of danza at each dance event, multiple identities are produced as well as narratives of self and one’s sense of history and place within the cosmos, the danza group, and mainstream society. I focus upon the body as the site where memories are stored, accessed and expressed. The danzantes utilize multiple expressive cultural practices which grant them the power to construct, produce and express a highly politicized pan-indigenous identity. The performance, experience, and reception of danza is a particularly powerful site for the embodiment, expression and reception of each danzante’s identity and memory.
Gender, Transference, and Skates: Meaning Making in All-Women’s Flat Track Roller Derby
Matt Newsom (Louisiana State University)
Since the 2001 beginning of its current revival, all-female flat-track roller derby has provided thousands of women with the opportunity to participate in a full-contact sport—one without a greater or even near-equal male counterpart. Described as “feminist at its core,” “only feminine because of the sports bras,” and “a place to have fun and kick ass,” the revival presents an interesting cultural arena for the ethnographic study of gender. As part of a Master’s thesis, this paper explores the gender and meaning making occurring within roller derby, and attempts to understand what motivates this diverse group of women to invest their time, money, energy, sweat, and blood in this inimitable sport. This investigation combines elements of feminist theory with psychological anthropology, and adds a new dimension to our understanding of gender complexity. Using Chodorow’s (1999) application of psychoanalysis as a theory of meaning, I demonstrate how derby women are actively producing meaningful models of gender and femininity, the cultural and psychological processes that produce these models, and the various effects these models can have—such as lending a political charge to the sport or generating conflict between skaters. Ultimately, roller derby is a space where women can make it what they want; each individual “brings something to the table,” and creates personalized meaning about the world and her place in it.
Image and Identity: Contextualizing Perception, Performance, and Self
Jonathan Marion (University of Arkansas)
This presentation explores the relationships between image and identity in the sometimes overlapping image-based and image-producing worlds of ballroom dance, and fashion and glamour modeling. The materials presented are intended to open up a discussion of the complex issues and interactions of embodiment, gender, class, and value inherent to these social worlds. More specifically, these materials are intended as a messy, ethnographically grounded foray into the often-times competing agendas of not only theoretical orientations but also real-world engagements with individual instantiations of structure and agency—especially as these pertain to social constructions of the body and identity, and as reflected in different evaluations of sexism and feminism, values and economics. On one level these materials on modeling and ballroom illustrate how issues of gender, aesthetics, body, and identity are never simply “social” dynamics with purely “social” ramifications. Rather, because such values are only manifested and perpetuated through individual instantiations, they help: (a) present the nexus of visual, cultural, and bodily issues involved; (b) understand participants’ culturally contextualized agency; and (c) explore the interconnected issues of gendered performance, embodiment, identity, and social structures involved. At another level, however, and perhaps more importantly, these materials are intended to help open up questions about negotiating the interstices of personal placement and practice, between contested values, commitments, and contexts.
Session 3: Double Session: Spirituality & Self Construction, Part I (James Wilce, Chair) SPA & ACYIG. BAYVIEW II
Participants: Lazzarelli, Wilce, Ikeuchi, Shimizu, Stephan, Christian, Beryl, Lindsay
Daoist Inner Alchemy as the Experiential Foundation of Self-construction in an Urban Chinese Context
Alessandro Lazzarelli (National Tsing Hua University)
The Confucian values of humaneness and interpersonal relationships are at the core of identity construction in Chinese culture. Following these principles, the subject is educated to engage in social interactions according to the ethics of reciprocity and social duties based on one’s position in relation to others. In this way, self-representations are determined principally by conformity and reciprocity toward other persons’ responses. On another side, Daoist practices of self-cultivation, known also as Inner Alchemy, provide an experiential path by means of focusing on bodily states in order to enhance self-awareness and spirituality. Orientation toward inner and spiritual dimensions of experience does not necessarily entail asociality, as generally thought. It can also contribute to a better sense of self-cohesiveness and authenticity in confronting the Other. In this paper I aim to explain how the practice of Daoist Inner Alchemy may serve as a cultural tool through which the practitioner, far from withdrawing from worldly affairs, tends toward self-integration and authenticity while maintaining interpersonal relationships. Drawing on qualitative data gathered through my fieldwork among a group of lay practitioners of Alchemical Daoism in Taipei City, I explain how attention toward inner bodily states along with the internalization of Daoist concepts, facilitates the individual to develop a sense of self that finds orientation and meaning through intuitive feelings. Moreover, I explore the ways in which the Daoist practitioner engages in social interactions with a coherent and integrated sense of self, which is less influenced by the matrix of social relationships than by the subjective harmonization between embodied and discursive modalities of knowledge.
Emotion Pedagogies: The Growth and Glocalization of Psy/Spiritual Technologies of the Self
James Wilce (Northern Arizona University)
This paper introduces the notion of “emotion pedagogies”— courses that train participants to uncover and appropriately express their emotions. Some of these new pedagogies are ostensibly secular, drawing on the psy-disciplines (Rose 1996) and particularly psy notions of emotional intelligence. A key example is the “Second Step” curriculum that has provided millions of K-6 students in several countries with socioemotional skills training. Other pedagogies are ostensibly spiritual and focus on healing and liberating the self so that it may attain its true potential. Examples include two Finnish pedagogies: 1) New Age angel therapy (Utriainen 2011), in which “emotion healing” is a key dimension, and 2) cultural revivalist “Healing Lament” courses that train neophyte lamenters to express their deepest hurts while creating a sacralized form of emotive sociality (Wilce 2011). I argue that these pedagogies are interesting for a number of reasons, including the way some courses play with the sacred-secular divide; their rapid expansion in and beyond the U.S.; the relevance of models of “glocalization” to the spread of these pedagogies and the even broader circulation of cultural concepts of emotion (global reach, local flavor), and the significance of emotion pedagogies as formal, institutionalized technologies of the self— self-reflexive practices whose relationship to “traditional” modalities of emotion socialization remains an important empirical question. The paper presents evidence from fieldwork in Finland—participant observation and video-recording of different pedagogies, and follow-up interviews with teachers and students.
God Will Tell You How You Are”: Teenage Missionaries and the Development of Self through Divine Communication
Elaine Christian (Teachers College at Columbia University)
Every year, millions of Americans spend billions of dollars to participate in short-term missions trips, domestically and abroad, including many youth. In their promotion and legitimation, lip service is given to the plight of the less fortunate—the impoverished Asian, the orphaned African. In practice, however, development and growth of a morally correct and mature self becomes a focus of thought and activity. My research was conducted with 26 American youth and their adult leaders, participants in a seven-week missions trip to Tanzania. For this paper, I draw on observations of discussion sessions (including personal and group devotional times, Bible studies, and prayer meetings) to examine how youth develop the self. My examination begins with theories of the self from Mead (1934) and Crapanzano (1992). Mead suggests that the self consists in communication with an other; Crapanzano criticizes Mead’s “Generalized Other” as simplistic and proposes a Third, which affords space for desire. I modify these by using a framework for analysis which considers the Other (in this case, God) and a Generalized Third (the group of teenagers). I examine how participants develop their self-identity in communication with God, and how they discuss this with the rest of the team. The concept of a Generalized Third is used to interpret both the space that the team affords for desire, and the hegemonic nature of that space: they create an environment where communication with God is understood to be desirable and necessary for the development of a morally correct and mature self.
The Experience of the Holy Spirit as Heterogeneous Volition
Christopher Stephan (University of California, Los Angeles)
In this paper I seek to link research on Charismatic Christianity with an emerging literature on the will. I focus on the distinct phenomena of “operating in the Spirit” through a spiritual gift, and “manifesting the Spirit” to explore the ways in which local understandings configure the way the will is embodied during Charismatic religious experiences. Drawing upon interviews held with a group of Charismatic Adventists in Southern California, I argue that the variable ways in which the will is embodied in Charismatic Christian practice constitute the subjective experience of the gifts and manifestations of the Spirit. This argument is based on two claims: first, that Charismatic Christians experience the power of God through the attenuation of any of three phenomenological vectors of the will; second, that an attenuated sense of any of these vectors of the will becomes an experiential valence around which individuals emplot their enactments of the spiritual gifts and interpret their expressions of the manifestations. This attenuation of any of the vectors and the subsequent experiential valence comprise the sense of acting co-agentively with God, an experience I refer to as “heterogeneous volition”.
Session 4: Discussion: How Adult-Child Collaborations and Control Co-Occur in Socialization in Indigenous Communities of the Americas (Andrew Coppens Organizer), SPA. MISSION III
Participants: Coppens, Lancy, Chavajay, Silva-Chavez, Briggs, Rogoff
This session provides an informal conversational space to improve understanding of a seemingly paradoxical pattern in cultural research on child socialization and learning in many Indigenous and Indigenous-heritage American communities: Children in many Indigenous American communities contribute with striking initiative, autonomy, and responsibility to mature family and community endeavors (Correa-Chávez, Roberts, & Martínez Pérez, 2011; De Haan, 1999; Gaskins, 1999; Lancy, 2010; Paradise & Rogoff, 2009). Adults seem to explicitly avoid intervening in young children’s activity in ways that would limit their autonomy (Briggs, 1998; Mosier & Rogoff, 2003). However, some research indicates that parents and other adults in these communities commonly use threats, admonishments, or physical punishment to guide or correct children’s participation (Ember & Ember, 2005; Lipsett-Rivera, 2002; Modiano, 1973). How can adults cooperate and collaborate with children at some times and appear to use controlling practices at others, and how might both approaches support children’s initiative in helping with mature productive family and community endeavors? Understanding would benefit from discussing how these practices fit together in coherent constellations of cultural values and practices in different communities. Approximately 8 experts from a range of disciplines will be invited to participate in this session (solicitation underway). Invited participants will be spontaneously prompted to share their observations of adult-child collaboration and control in Indigenous and Indigenous-heritage communities of the Americas. Andrew D. Coppens (graduate student and session organizer) will moderate the session, asking for contributions from and among invited and other attending participants.
Andrew Coppens (University of California, Santa Cruz)
David F. Lancy (Utah State University)
Pablo Chavajay (University of New Hampshire)
Katie G. Silva-Chavez (University of California Santa Cruz)
Jean Briggs (Memorial University, Newfoundland)
Barbara Rogoff (University of California, Santa Cruz)
Session 5: Dealing with Change, Uncertainty, and Risk (Aidan Seale-Feldman, Chair) SPA. BAYVIEW III
Participants: Ferrero-Botero, Halley/Rendle, Schwartz, Orkodashvil, Seale-Feldman
Fragmentation, Preocupación, and agency among the Colombian Wayuu: Linking experience to the political in a context of uncertainty.
Esteban Ferrero-Botero (University of California, San Diego)
For thirty years, the mining company Cerrejón has exploited coal in La Guajira, Colombia, bringing fundamental disruptions, rapid change, and suffering to the Wayuu indigenous population. For the Wayuu, the experiencing of these impacts is partly shaped by a vital contradiction. The Colombian constitution of 1991 legalizes indigenous collective rights, locally perceived as the framework to obtain compensation and protection from entities like Cerrejón. Conflictingly, this constitution also provides the economic and political context for large-scale natural resource exploitation by multinational corporations. Today, the multinational conglomerate Cerrejón aims to divert the only river in La Guajira to expand production while many Wayuu resist and mobilize to defend their rights. Thinking through the life histories, the “what is at stakeness” of this struggle, and the narratives of active Wayuu leaders in resistance, this paper explores how these leaders conceptualize, feel, and live through this contradiction and the historical impacts of mining. I analyze how these leaders experience the loss of a harmonious and integral past through both sentirse mal (feeling bad) and a feeling of fragmentation from the land, a Wayuu sense of self, and from each other. These feelings and the living within an “atmosphere of political uncertainty” also lead to preocupación (worrying), an affect that, framed under the discourse of indigenous/human rights, reconfigures social experiences of suffering and reproduces active political subjectivities of resistance. Thus, this highly agentive preocupación connects the deep and corporeal feeling of uncertainty for the future with the larger economic and political processes that have helped shaped it.
(Un)Certain Societies: A Comparative Exploration of the Cultural Psychology of Uncertainty in Two Cultures
Meghan Halley (Palo Alto Medical Foundation Research Institute)
Katharine Rendle (Palo Alto Medical Foundation Research Institute)
The articulation of uncertainty within specific cultural contexts has been a topic of significant interest and investigation in psychology and anthropology for decades. In psychology, uncertainty is considered to be an important mediator of human behavior within many theoretical paradigms. In anthropology, examinations of uncertainty (and related concepts of doubt and ambivalence) have more often been framed in terms of risk – often described as both a concept and practice driven by the historical and societal development of modern society. Social theorists have suggested the possibility of using risk and uncertainty as a tool for cultural analysis by suggesting that risk and uncertainty are “fundamental to the way both lay actors and technical specialists organize the social world” (Giddens 1991:3). While Giddens and others have focused this cultural analysis of risk on “modern societies,” this paper explores how risk and uncertainty may serve as an analytic tool for a cross-cultural analysis across diverse contexts. Drawing on these perspectives on risk and uncertainty, this paper utilizes ethnographic data from two distinct populations (urban, middle class parents in Northern California and adolescents in rural southern Tanzania) to explore how risk and uncertainty circulate as broad cultural concepts in these two cultural environments. We explore how uncertainty may serve as an explanatory framework for how individuals make sense of their own social world across different cultural contexts.
Emergency/Preparedness in Children’s Literature, Fiction and Non-.
Hillel Schwartz (University of California, San Diego)
Notions of “emergency” in the West have shifted several times since the mid-1800s. I will suggest that books and magazines written for children have not only entrained them in these shifts but shaped the anxieties of successive generations of adults in such a way as to prompt new forms of training in preparedness and social structures or institutions designed to anticipate and engage with emergency.
Corruption, entropy, and category formation in Georgian higher education
Mariam Orkodashvil (Georgian American University)
The aim of the paper is to identify and analyze the stages of category formation among individuals in corrupt actions in higher education. The paper associates the stage of perception with value formation. The stage of memory is associated with the concept of entropy. The paper claims that the concept of entropy is directly related to the degree of spread of corruption in higher education. Since rare outlier cases are better stored in human memory, if corruption is widely spread in higher education, the identification of individual corrupt cases requires more human mental efforts. If the corruption is a rare happening, then the corrupt cases are better remembered and easier restored from the memory. Furthermore, the information search is related to the decisions to act in a certain way based on imperfect information, since corrupt actions are mostly associated with uncertain imperfect information. Student and parent body of the study associate the corruption cases with falsification of information, and difficulties in semantic interpretation of ambiguous information. The paper finds that the qualification of any single given action as corrupt or illegal, that is category formation, requires most efforts. This is primarily caused by the fact that judgments vary from individual to individual, and make the data is noisy (in statistical terms). The empirical data are collected through interviews, narratives and participant observation at Georgian higher education institutions.
Excavating the Imagination: Dreaming and Reverie among Yolmo-Nepali Buddhists in New York City
Aidan Seale-Feldman (University of California, Los Angeles)
What is the anthropology of imagination and how can we understand imaginative experience? Anthropology has long focused on the readily observable, the visible, and the present, yet the experience of everyday life is also shaped by private thoughts, imaginings, dreams and daydreams. This paper is an experiment in approaching such affective faculties. Drawing on fieldwork conducted with Yolmo-Nepali colleagues in Queens, New York between 2009-2012, I explore some of the imaginative experiences of migrants as they relate to and illuminate complex existential circumstances brought about by social, economic, and political forces. By attending to experiences such as dreaming, daydreaming, and the relationship between the actual and the virtual, I aim to gain a better understanding of the role of imagining in the everyday lives of Yolmo migrants. In doing so I hope to identify the limits, as well as potential openings that an attention towards the imagination entails in the context of anthropological research.
Session 6: Discussion: The ACYIG & the Convention of the Rights of the Child (David M Rosen, Organizer) MISSION I
Participants: Rosen, Sobo, Duque Paramó, Clark
This discussion session addresses the issue of whether the Anthropology of Children and Youth Interest Group should issue a policy statement supporting ratification by the United States Senate of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)and, if so, what that policy statement should contain. In 2007, prior to the formation of the ACYIG, the Society for Medical Anthropology (SMA) issued a public policy statement supporting ratification of the CRC. The SMA statement stressed the vulnerability of children and the need to protect children’s rights. It pointed to wide international support for the convention as a reflection of agreement by a great diversity of cultural groups with the principles of the CRC. The CRC has been ratified by more member nations of the United Nations than any other UN human rights treaty. But one major signatory is missing: the United States. Like many human rights documents the convention poses unique challenges to anthropology. The CRC sets for a large number of universal children’s rights. Some anthropologists are concerned that the CRC imposes the model of the Western child upon the diversity of the world’s cultures. Others argue that the language of the Convention is flexible enough to address these concerns. Some see the CRC as restricting children’s agency while others see the possibility of increased participation by children in political life. In session we ask whether the ACYIG should now issue a policy statement supporting ratification.
David M. Rosen (Fairleigh Dickinson University)
Elisa Sobo (San Diego State University)
María Claudia Duque Paramó (Javeriana Universidad de Bogotá)
Cindy Dell Clark (Rutgers University)
Session 1. Double Session Continued: Spirituality & Self Construction, Part II (Hidetada Shimizu ,Chair) SPA & ACYIG. BAYVIEW II
Two Brands of Moral Orientations among Adolescents in a Christian High School in Japan and the United States: Individualized vs. Individualistic
Hidetada Shimizu (Northern Illinois University)
When asked “what is the right thing to do?” in video-taped interviews, students in a Christian high school in the United States responded with overtly “Christian” answers, such as “doing God’s will” and “following the Ten Commandments.” In contrast, none of their Japanese, Christian-schooled counterparts made an explicit reference to “God,” “Bible,” or “Jesus.” When the students and teachers in both schools saw the videos and asked to give feedback, their answers revealed two distinct psychological orientations. The American responses were based on a “belief” in sovereign God that exists externally to a person to whom the individual must conform (i.e., “believe in” or “obey”) to live a “moral” life. The Japanese orientation, on the other hand, purported a view of Christianity that called for cultivation of a person’s inner selves (e.g. empathy and thoughtfulness) as the essence of Christian morality. In this paper, I argue that while the collective ethos of Japanese culture inhibited the students from expressing their individuality externally, they could paradoxically “hide” behind this social role to protect, nourish and cultivate their inner thoughts and feelings concerning morality. Conversely, while the individualistic ethos of the American culture gave students greater freedom of choice and initiatives in their external world, they felt comparatively lesser degree of freedom to develop and express their individualized, inner thoughts and feelings, for their culture expected consistency between their internal and external selves. Also discussed are developmental origins of such views rooted in socialization and education practices in the two cultures.
Alive in the Gaze of the Other: Youtube and Authenticity of Faith among Brazilian Pentecostals in Japan
Suma Ikeuchi (Emory University)
This paper looks into the active use of photos, videos, and the internet – especially Youtube – by Pentecostal Brazilian migrants in Japan and asks the following questions: Why is the performance of faith to the anonymous online audience so important for the ethical cultivation they pursue? How does the global viewership – made real by the internet – reconfigure their visions of the transcendental Other? How do new media mediate the cultivation of faith as well as the authenticity of religious experiences? The discussions will be based on preliminary findings from my fieldwork in the Aichi Prefecture of Japan, known for its large Brazilian population. The Brazilians form the third largest group of foreign residents in Japan today after the Chinese and the Koreans. The majority are Nikkei Brazilians, or Brazilians of Japanese descent, who have ‘return’ migrated to Japan in the past few decades. The popularity of Pentecostalism is notable in this new Japanese context. According to one pastor, for instance, more than 90 % of the roughly 500 members at his church have converted to Pentecostalism not in Brazil but in Japan. In this highly transnational environment, new media seem to mediate not only the communications between the migrants and their significant others in Brazil but also the transactions between the believers and the divine Other. This paper will therefore explore the creative roles new media, including Youtube, play in the cultivation of faith.
Can we all “COEXIST”? Language and Literacy in the Identity Work of African Youth at a Pentecostal Church in Massachusetts
Louise Lamphere Beryl (Teachers College at Columbia University)
This paper explores the role language and literacy play in the socialization and identity work of immigrant youth. To that end, I analyze one event I observed during my 18:15-month research among African migrant families attending a born-again Christian church in the Greater Boston Area. Coupling theories from the anthropology of literacy and psychological anthropology, I deconstruct a “literacy event” (Heath 1982) to reveal the processes through which African youth are socialized through language and to use language (Ochs and Schieffelin 1984; Schieffelin and Ochs 1986) to become competent members of one “community of practice” (Lave and Wenger 1991). In this case, the Bible and the popular “COEXIST” bumper sticker are used as “cultural artifacts” (Bartlett and Holland 2002) to construct a hierarchy of subject positions, associated expert knowledge, and performative skills necessary to position oneself within one desired subject position versus another. In other words, youth learn the effective use of oral communication and written text to perform a certain cultural subjectivity that espouses the belief that God (in Christianity) is the only god and rejects the democratic notion touted in schools that all religions can “coexist”. Thus, this literacy event is not just an example of the socialization of immigrant youth into a particular community of practice, but also a window into the competing discourses that immigrant youth must negotiate as part of their complex identity work.
Film: “FROM ALEF TO ZAYIN: A Secular Jewish Education”
Jenn Lindsay (Boston University)
The film concerns Boston Workmen’s Circle (WC), a center for Jewish culture and social justice in Brookline, MA. A community and spiritual home for secular Jewish life, the WC welcomes participants of all “Jewish background, whatever the faith, ethnic, or gender diversity of your family” (website). Many WC families are interfaith, multicultural, and LGBT. The organization promotes progressive Jewish values and Yiddish culture, largely through their cultural Sunday School program offered for K-7th grades. The 7th grade year focuses on Spiritual Identity and culminates in a secular Bar Mitzvah ritual wherein the students present personal statements on their Jewish Identity. My Hebrew School students are learning about religion in a non-religious, and self-identified radical, liberal, feminist, pro-union, leftist, socialist, atheist Jewish community setting. The flavor of Judaism found at WC is hardly traditional, but is still strongly Jewish in ethnic and cultural terms. Nevertheless, the young members of the Bar Mitzvah class are each asked to articulate something new and different in tension with a norm. What does that mean to the kids? What exactly ARE their Jewish identities? How do the kids negotiate their family’s departure from the dominant norms of progressive/Reform Judaism? How do they articulate secular humanist Judaism? I follow them as they articulate their young adult commitment to their families’ minority religion, and their personal interpretation of what that means and what they can offer to the community.
Session 2: Narratives of Trauma and Mental Disorders (Olga Solomon, Chair) SPA. BAYVIEW III
Participants: Garofalo, Hatala/Waldram, O’Dougherty, Solomon/Angell/Lawlor, Norrmann-Vigil, Rios
Brain drain/brain gain: searching for meaningful self-reconstruction after traumatic brain injury
Livia Garofalo (University of Bologna)
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is a disruption in brain function due to the impact with an external force and an increasing public health concern in the United States. Individuals who sustain a brain injury experience difficulties in areas of cognitive, physical, emotional and social functioning, embarking on a long recovery process while adapting to a shifting sense of self. Through these experiences, brain injury emerges as complex territory of interaction between subjectivity, personal transformation and narrative reconstruction. Relying on data from fieldwork in a small outpatient rehabilitation program for brain injury survivors in Chicago, I present three narratives of recovery from individuals grappling with post-brain injury life. While brain injury can be viewed as “biographical disruption” (Bury 1982, Becker 1997), these accounts show how TBI might also become a gateway to biographical possibility. I explore how three clients differently engage in the rehabilitation process while they assess its losses and gains in the reconfiguration of self. What is literally conceived as a “brain drain” for some individuals has the potentiality of becoming a “brain gain” for others, who slowly emplot the events in their post-brain injury life and narrative in positive ways. In this context, the importance of narrative emerges as a crucial component of individuals’ rehabilitation and personal endeavor. In the aim towards (re)starting a meaningful life, the possibility to explore costs and future benefits – the drains and gains – of recovery from brain injury is a site where rehabilitation practice and anthropological engagement can and should converge.
The narrative structure of Q’eqchi Maya Mental Disorders
Andrew R. Hatala (University of Saskatchewan) and Jim Waldram (University of Saskatchewan)
Most narrative research of illness and healing in psychological and medical anthropology has been about patient experiences. To look at, talk about, and interpret the structure of healing epistemology through a narrative lens is somewhat unique. The purpose of this ethnographic study is to understand and interpret Q’eqchi Maya nosological systems of mental disorders through the interpretive lens of narrative. We argue that mental illness knowledge of Q’eqchi healers can be understood as narratives with recognizable variations that unfold over time and which together reveal several recognizable narrative types. We present details of seventeen recognizable illnesses of the mind grouped within four broad narrative types or genres, each having a discernible plot structure, casts of characters, themes, motifs, a recognizable teleology or “directedness,” and a specific resolution. In narrative terms, the healer’s diagnostic and therapeutic work can be understood as the ability to discern plot and genre and to understand and interpret specific cases within the broad, empirically-based structure of Q’eqchi medical epistemology.
Embodied distress: Perinatal mood and anxiety disorder in the transition to motherhood
Maureen O’Dougherty (University of Minnesota)
This paper employs narrative analysis to explore how women in the U.S. come to self-identify as having had a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder (“postpartum depression” and/or “postpartum obsessive compulsive disorder” and/or “postpartum anxiety” and/or “postpartum panic attacks”). Key research questions include: How do the women narrate the process by which their new identity of mother was coupled with “depression” or “anxiety”? What cultural meanings (their own and that of others) are attached to this association? How do they reconcile subjective experiences with perceived normative expectations of the emotional experiences of new mothers? How do they narrate their personal transformation into motherhood and characterize their accompanying emotional experiences in light of healthcare professionals and diagnoses? Analysis of interviews conducted for this ongoing project probes for emergent theories and cultural understandings of the women’s embodied distress. Analysis extends to their evaluations of support (received or not) from biomedical and mental health providers compared to family, friends and self-help support groups created by and for these women. This presentation addresses the debate on postpartum depression through a close look at the women’s stories of why/how they experienced embodied distress during pregnancy and/or the postpartum and the agency implied by their deployment of diagnostic labels. The paper reflects on what it has meant for their identities as women, mothers and persons to identify a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder as central to their experience of motherhood.
“How are we doing overall?” Medical records as sites of caregiver-practitioner collaboration during health care encounters involving children with autism
Olga Solomon (University of Southern California)
Amber Angell (University of Southern California)
Mary Lawlor (University of Southern California)
Medical records are inextricably linked to the practice of medicine yet little attention has been given to the socio-interactional and relational processes that contribute to the joint construction of medical records by patients, caregivers and practitioners. Following Charon’s (2006) scholarship on narrative medicine, Mattingly’s (1998, 2010) conceptualization of narrative emplotment, and Lawlor and Mattingly’s (2009) work on families’ experiences of illness and disability, we examine caregiver-practitioner interactions involving the social construction of a child’s medical records. We draw upon a video-and audio- data corpus of health care encounters involving children with autism, their caregivers, and the practitioners who serve them. The data are part of a multi method, urban ethnographic study “Autism in Urban Context: Linking Heterogeneity with Health and Service Disparities” (NIH/NIMH R01 MH089474, 2009-2012, O. Solomon, P.I.) that follows twenty six 3 to 8 years-old African America children, their families and the practitioners who served them across home, educational, clinical and community contexts. The micro-level analysis illustrates that medical records serve not only as depositories of clinically-relevant information but as mediators of shared responsibility among caregivers and practitioners for the child’s health and development. We use rigorous narrative, phenomenological and ethnographic methods to identify an interactional choreography that involves caregivers’ narrative accounts and practitioners’ note-taking that ratifies the narratives as note-worthy. This choreography engenders a mutual recognition of the shared expertise of the child’s developmental history and health challenges. Discussion emphasizes the translation of findings at family, practitioner, and policy levels to promote collaboration among caregivers and practitioners.
The narrative construction of autism in Brazilian media
Clarice Rios (University of Rio de Janeiro State)
This paper discusses the preliminary results of a research on representations of autism in Brazilian media from 2000 to 2012. The data was collected through a digital search for the terms ‘autistic’ and ‘autism’ on the archives of three major newspapers and one nationwide magazine, resulting on a database of 476 articles, which were analyzed and discussed using a narrative approach. Among other things, the researchers sought to identify the main social arenas in which these narratives unfolded as well as the social actors and the plots that conducted them. The basic premise guiding the investigation was that although autism may be hard to diagnose at times and wide and problematic as a spectrum, it gains very specific contours when included in media narratives. By mapping the circumstances and ways in which autism and people with autism participated in media narratives, we sought to identify culturally constructed beliefs not only about the autistic person and his family but also about the role of the government and science in dealing with autism. Given the increased tendency to reduce autism to its neurobiological dimension and to describe the autistic identity in such terms, this research offers valuable insight into autistic identity in Brazil, highlighting its specificities and political implications.
Did you suffer like I did? How shared lived experiences influence the co-construction of narratives of trauma
Ingrid Norrmann-Vigil (UCLA)
Previous studies of narratives of trauma and suffering have focused on sense-making (Coetzee &
Rau, 2009; Mattingly, 1998; Ochs & Capps, 2001) and on how when faced with the challenge of describing those feelings and experiences, people sometimes prefer to embody them instead of reconstructing them orally (Heath, 2002; Hydén & Peolsson, 2002). In these studies, the recipients of the tellings had not necessarily lived through similar traumas, pains or unfortunate events, and the teller was the sole experiencer and responsible party for reconstructing these past feelings and sufferings. In contrast, this paper looks at the interviews, conducted by a woman who had two miscarriages, of women who also suffered pregnancy losses. The data illustrates how the semiotic resources used by the teller (e.g., previous talk, prosody, emotional stance, gestures, shared knowledge of suffering, etc.) invited the co-construction of the narrative, particularly in the segments of the stories that carried too much emotional weight for the narrator to describe in her own words. The findings of this study carry great methodological implications as the participants shared their stories with the interviewer, and most importantly invited her to co-participate in the re-enactment of their experiences, only because of their shared knowledge and lived experiences.
Session 3: Emotion Work and Practices of the Self in Children and Youth (Aviva Sinervo, Chair), ACYIG. MISSION III
Participants: Sinervo, Ference, Koo, Zraly
Building Intimacy: Layered Constructions of Affect and Childhood
Aviva Sinervo (San Francisco State University)
Childhood is considered to be a particularly affect-laden social sphere, not only from an emic, developmental perspective but also due to the ways that children as actors, and nostalgia for—and aspirations about—childhood, elicit emotions from adults. The affectivity of childhood has been widely noted and debated within various literatures, but often from a theoretical standpoint that emphasizes the modern ideals embodied in Eurocentric models of this stage of life. This paper, based on 18 months of ethnographic fieldwork in Cusco, Peru, will interrogate one space where expectations about affect complicate the dynamics between children and adults. Focusing on interactions between local child vendors and foreign adult tourists, I argue that vendors work to build and showcase three types of intimacy when engaging potential clients: intimacy between the child and the tourist, intimacy between the child and his/her other vending peers, and intimacy between the child and the product being sold. Both popular opinion and scholarship might assume that child vendors are more successful than adult vendors because of their ability to use their age—paired with their economic status as informal vendors—strategically. Yet my research demonstrates that this tripartite and layered construction of intimacy enables children to exercise more flexible presentations of self, that at once stay firmly rooted in the realm of the emotive but also challenge simplistic readings of the relationship between affect and childhood.
In between the Seats: Trust, Risk and the Intimacy of Danger in Nairobi’s informal transportation Sector
Meghan Ference (Washington University in St. Louis)
Kenya’s informal urban transportation sector carries over 80% of the population on a daily basis and employs the majority of young people in the capital city of Nairobi. This transportation service, known commonly as the matatu sector, is a large portion of Kenya’s informal economy and operates in an environment of risk. Matatu vehicles are privately owned and operated, often resorting to a set of dangerous and illicit practices that are embedded in the business – police corruption, petty theft, and collusion with criminal and vigilante gangs, in addition to organizing work stoppages and strikes that bring the country to a standstill. These practices have resulted in wide stigmatization of matatu operators, mostly young men. However, they use this exclusion to their advantage by cultivating relationships of trust with other operators and other excluded groups of people, such as prostitutes and gang members. This paper uses data gathered from over 32 months of fieldwork in Nairobi’s matatu sector to show how the intimate space and practices of the matatu vehicle is experienced and shared, while the experience of stigmatized exclusion promotes trust relationships beyond gender and ethnic identities and informs new urban subjectivities.
Gi Yeon Koo (Seoul National University)
Making Their Own Public: Emotion and Self among the Privileged Iranian Youth
Broadly called Nasle-sevom (the Third Generation), the Iranian youth born after the 1979 Islamic Revolution have received domestic and international media attention for their defiance of the Islamic rule. Although they were raised as “Muslim Kids” under a strong regimen of Islamic socialization, Nasle-sevom as a generation is considered “the most dangerous generation” and even the “inner enemy” by the Iranian state. Based on an ethnographic research study on youth in an affluent neighborhood in Tehran, this paper explores the self and emotion among the Iranian youth, in relation to the religious and ideological dictates of the Iranian state. Particular attention is paid to the cultural practices of “do ru (two faces),” referring to the gap between the public and private self. Do ru is intensified when individuals are not allowed to reveal what they feel is their “real self” and consequently wear a mask to meet the ideological requirements of the state. Among the privileged secular youth in Northern Tehran, do ru practices are a routine feature of their everyday life through which they crisscross public and private spaces. Furthermore, they attempt to make their own public space by collectively enjoying illegal popular culture and communicating with the outside world through the New Media in private spaces. In this way, they construct a public space out of the private, which clashes with the Islamic public space morally and legally sanctioned by the state.
Resilience and Endurance: Emotional Work of Well-being in Post-Genocide Rwanda
Maggie Zraly (Utah State University and Joseph Ntaganira, National University of Rwanda)
Researchers are increasingly conceptualizing mental health as a state of being distinct from the absence of mental illness, disease, or disorder. Questions about the nature of mental health draw attention to the need to better understand fundamental human processes that constitute or support well-being. Previous work in psychological anthropology has emphasized the importance of recognizing that selves and emotions vary across cultures. This premise has been pivotal for advancing understanding in psychiatric anthropology about the cultural specificity of mental illness. Less work has been done to address how such cultural variation influences mental health and well-being. This paper explores how youth in post-genocide Rwanda approach and manage their selves and emotions while striving to improve their quality of life. We consider their accounts in light of the current literature on resilience, endurance, and well-being. By foregrounding the notion that culture and health are inextricably connected, we aim to contribute to emerging discussions of the importance of context in understanding mental health, especially with regard to mental health promotion programs and policies.
Session 4. Individualization, Psychocultural Globalization, and Education in Globalized Korea (Hyang Jin Jung & Junehui Ahn Organizers), SPA. MISSION II
Participants: Ahn, HY Jung, Park, Lee, HJ Jung, Barlow
Ethnographers of Korea have long noted an undercurrent of individualism along with and despite of a strong collectivist orientation among the people. Contemporary conditions of a globalized world have brought a new twist to the existing compromise by putting the collectivist orientation under increasing scrutiny. Conscious efforts are made to globalize, Westernize, or Americanize and thus to overcome the perceived weaknesses of collectivism. This panel addresses the very problematization and diversification of the collectivist culture in various scenes of a globalized and globalizing Korea. In so doing, it takes as the central problematic the tension between collectivism and individualism in self organization and self-other relation in the context of globalization. Our view is that while the collectivism-individualism dichotomy runs the risk of oversimplifying the world into the West and the rest, it nonetheless serves as a starting point of inquiry into human sociality as culturally constituted, particularly where the West or an ideation of the West has long provided a powerful model for emulation and reformation, such as in South Korea. Topics of this panel include the popularization of the Western child-rearing practices, through the mass media and in educational institutions, school teachers’ responses to the government-led reform for individuation, multicultural education for bi-racial children in South Korea, and bi-cultural socialization strategies of Korean-American mothers. A common thread in the papers involves the dynamic interplay of relationality and independence, and of commonality and individuality, which lies at the heart of psychocultural globalization of contemporary Koreans.
We Want a Child Who “Has a Self”: New and Not-so-new Developments in Preschool Educational Practices in an Affluent South Korea
Junehui Ahn (University of Seoul)
Influenced by Western early childhood education and socialization, more broadly Westernization and globalization of Korean society, recent Korean early childhood socialization discourses are filled with discussions on how to cultivate and foster children’s selves. Yet the ways that the term “self” is understood, implemented, and practiced within and outside the classrooms are uneven, and sometimes inconsistent and contradictory. This paper explores the ways that the term “self” and accompanying individualistic ideas are deployed in Korean middle-class socialization practices, in particular the different and competing ways that they are invoked in everyday socialization contexts. Based on ethnographic fieldwork in a preschool in an affluent neighborhood in Seoul, this paper examines how Korean middle-class caregivers embrace individualistic values while at the same time reinterpret and recontextualize them to meet the needs of local sociocultural contexts. The paper shows that even though caregivers explicitly prioritize newly introduced individualistic ideas and devalue what they perceive as old values such as group harmony, obedience, and hierarchy, they, at the same time, unconsciously practice traditional values and beliefs in everyday socialization contexts and sometimes interpret imported ideas within traditional collectivistic frameworks. The findings of this paper point to the unevenness and nonlinearity of the global circulation of Western educational ideas.
Parenting TV, Experts, and Middle-class Mothers in South Korea
Hae Young Jung (Seoul National University)
In this paper, I explore the interface between expert discourses of childrearing and actual childrearing practices among the aspiring middle-class in South Korea. Based on an ethnographic study about middle-class mothers with small children in Seoul, I closely attend to how the mothers respond to the expert advice given by a TV parenting program that they widely watch and perceive as providing a scientific and systematic approach. They intently reflect on their own parenting style as well as their parents’ that they experienced in their childhood, in order to raise their children in a “healthier” way. The experts on TV, mostly psychiatrists and psychotherapists, strongly disapprove of the traditional parenting style for being adult-centered and not respecting the mind and emotion of the child as an independent person. From the experts’ perspective, a serious problem of the “old” style is the mother’s “over-attachment” to the child that hampers the development of the child into his or her own person. The experts openly rebuke those mothers who feel strong emotional identification with their child for their inability to separate themselves from their child. In my view, the expert model presupposes and normalizes the kind of emotional distance between the dyad that is alien and alienating to most of the mothers, however willing they are to adopt it. The expert advice, however, seems to lead the mothers to label and problematize many of their parenting behaviors, emotional reactions in particular, as an over-attachment to their child.
Feeling like a Korean With or Without the Language: Dual Language Strategies of Korean- American Mothers for Socializing Relational values
Hyeyoon Park (University of Washington)
In this paper, I explore how the bilingual and bicultural context of the first generation Korean-American mothers influences their child-rearing practices, with emphasis on their linguistic strategies toward their children. Drawing from participant observations of mother-child interactions of three Korean-American mothers and in-depth interviews with them, I illustrate that the affective dimension of their culture of origin provides one of the most important socialization themes for their children; and that mothers with language choices employ active linguistic strategies for the purpose of maintaining core goals of socialization derived from their culture of origin. My argument is that despite a considerable loss of the Korean language, they attempt to retain key emotional values of their culture regulating mother-child relations, defying a common belief in equivalence between language and culture. Maternal struggles are discussed with attention to their strategies of code-switching between Korean and English and utilizing communicative norms of both languages. Their language strategies include framing a sequence with English only to charge it with the affective tones closely associated with Korean. As they gradually loosen the maintenance of Korean language and incorporate English more into their routines, they strive for a Korean-American personhood for their children that has room for both relationality and independence. Yet most critical of all to these mothers is to achieve the kind of a close emotional bond with their children that is deeply connected to the cultural ideal of human relationality in Korea.
A Multicultural Turn: Educational Aspirations and Practices for Bi-racial Children in South Korea
Boo-Mi Lee (Kyonggi University)
The increasing presence of immigrants from other parts of Asia presents an unprecedented challenge of social and cultural integration for South Korean society, for in terms of ethnic composition, South Korea has been extremely homogeneous until recently. Based on ethnographic fieldwork in two after-school programs for bi-racial children run by the civil sector, I examine how the homogeneity of the Korean society at large impacts on multiculturalism and multicultural education aimed at assimilating immigrant children into the mainstream Korean society. Particular attention is paid to how “culture” is conceived and practiced in multicultural education in these programs. While the two programs shared key educational aspirations including school success and self-esteem, they differed considerably in their pedagogical approach to multiculturalism. Specifically, Program A tended to perceive children’s racial differences as the most and possibly the only significant element of their cultural backgrounds, and concentrated on improving the children’s ability in the Korean language and math in order to enhance their self-esteem in school. In contrast, Program B viewed culture as a more complex phenomenon, and attempted to make learning more relevant to the children’s diverse cultural backgrounds. I argue that while Program A may be more efficient in helping the children to assimilate into the highly academic-oriented Korean society than Program B, Program B may have more potential for bringing changes to the prevailing cultural homogeneity of the society. I also note, however, that Program A may better help bi-racial children feel part of the society where commonness is greatly valued.
If Not Bean Sprouts, Then What? Cultural Ideals of Relationality and Reform Ideals of Individuality in South Korean Schools
Hyang Jin Jung (Seoul National University)
Since the mid-1990s, the South Korean government has implemented massive reform efforts for primary and secondary schools, significantly driven by recognition shared by all sides that the schools were imposing a unitary educational standard with heavy emphasis on rote memory, stifling creativity and individuality. Based on in-depth interviews with school teachers, I describe a conflicted contour of the educational reform as experienced by teachers, in particular reference to the reform efforts for individualization. In doing so, I closely attend to an educational metaphor, namely, bean sprouts metaphor, as the contour of the reform can be elucidated by a life-history of the metaphor. Upon the reform, criticisms abounded that students in crowded classrooms were like beans put together in a crammed pot so as to be produced as all look-alike sprouts. The metaphor of bean sprouts effectively delivered the presumed negative effects of group-oriented educational practices. This is not to deny that the bean sprouts metaphor was anchored in the cultural conceptions of relationality and human development. This more implicit, perhaps more profound, aspect of the metaphor hardly surfaced in the reform discourses, however. Ability-grouping was introduced to encourage the individuality of each child as well as to better promote the performance of high achieving students. Yet in teachers’ narratives of educational philosophy and practices is found a steadfast faith in the value of human relationality and its associated affects best nurtured in a “pot-like” behavioral environment, along with an outspoken refusal of collectivist pursuits as outdated.
Discussant: Kathleen Barlow (Central Washington University)
Session 5: Young Movements in the City (Clovis Bergere, Organizer), ACYIG. BAYVIEW I
Participants: Gallager, Bergere, Silver
This panel brings together a range of early career and established scholars in order to explore the interconnections of youth, urban environments and movement. The notion of movement – which will act as a focal point for dynamic discussions – is understood broadly. It encompasses processes as diverse as migration, dancing, parkour, autonomous play or social mobility. Specifically, movements bring to the fore a concern with both space and time. An engagement with the increasingly complex ways in which the theme of youth movement intersects with urban life and programmatic interventions in the city will be at the core of the panel’s discussions and presentations. What’s more, youth has often been understood as a time of movement, typically towards adulthood. But could new understandings of movement as a mode and process of being (young) – and an object of study in its own right – also shed light on youth itself? What changing expectations and anxieties about urban life are expressed and revealed through the movements of youth? What questions do lives increasingly lived ‘on the move’ raise for the organization of urban life and its planning – a discipline typically premised on static identities and accountabilities? These are the kinds of questions that will motivate this panel’s participants in diverse ways.
Format: In addition to presentations, each participant will be asked to read in advance and very briefly respond to one other participant’s paper. This will encourage discussions to happen across the papers rather than simply in parallel. Plenty of time will be left at the end for open discussions.
Loose Parts, Autonomous Play and the Urban Built Environment
Claire Gallagher (Georgian Court University)
Urban playground design is, and has been, primarily an adult endeavor. The well-meaning efforts of parents and community members rarely begin with the thorough engagement of the users, mainly the children of the neighborhood. The history of children’s play is rich with examples of child-driven play spaces and their meaning within the context of childhood. Among these are Elizabeth Goodenough’s Secret Spaces of Childhood, Simon Nicholson’s Theory of Loose Parts, and Colin Ward’s The Child in the City, all of which advocate for allowing children to create, manipulate, and manage their own playspaces. In contrast to this are the efforts of contemporary commercial groups such as Kaboom!, and designers such as David Rockwell and his Imagination Playground, who continue the tradition of adult imposition of prescriptive play and playspaces for children. This paper will explore the current research regarding the effects of a lack of autonomous play on children vis-à-vis the writings of Ward, Nicholson, Goodenough, and others who advocate for children’s abilities to design and advocate for change in their built environment.
Movements on street corners: mobility and youth provision in Urban Guinea
Clovis Bergere (Rutgers University Camden)
Informal meeting spaces on street corners, vacant lots or simply improvised outside a shop – often known as ‘bases’ (Ismael, 2009) or ‘bureaux’ – have long been a key feature of social life for urban youth in Guinea. Spatially and temporarily, these are highly mobile urban forms that disappear and reconstitute in seemingly arbitrary and spontaneous ways, some lasting years, some only the space of a weekend. What’s more, as first stops for visitors and travelers and nodes where information about distant – and not so distant – places is exchanged, these youth spaces have long played a key role in the constitution of ‘cultures of migration’ (Klute & Hahn, 2007). As such they reflect the changing status of mobility as a mode of operating in the Guinean city. Drawing on images and texts from a recent research engagement project conducted with young people in Labé and Conakry, this paper starts by exploring some of the changing dynamics of movement for West African youth as reflected in these informal meeting spaces. What theoretical and practical questions are raised by these new forms of mobility for youth policy and programmatic interventions that still tend to be formally based on the assumption of sedentariness? How is it complicated by the ‘bifurcated’ nature of urban governance in Guinea? What productive ways could be devised that engage these movements – rather than ignore or abuse them – in re-making the Guinean city?
Moving into Contact: Digital and Physical Youth Spaces of Encounter
Lauren J Silver (Rutgers University Camden)
Santos defines contact zones as “social fields in which different normative life-worlds, practices and knowledge meet, clash, and interact” (quoted in Dale, 2006:189). In this paper, I explore how urban youth move into contact zones and the identity shifts inspired through contact. Thus, contact zones are spaces where youth from diverse social, political, cultural, and/or geographical worlds come together. Yet, scholars have shown that movement across divides (whether these are socioeconomic, racial, ethnic, or geographical) to common space does not automatically result in boundaries breaking down or worldviews changing, e.g. desegregating schools by race in the U.S. and South Africa has not in itself led to racial and economic justice. Contact zones are not power vacuums. In this paper, I attempt to deepen the dialogue pertaining to contact, including who moves and how far does one move? Drawing upon early findings, I consider youth of color from Camden NJ transitioning to college and the potential of digital dialogues between high school students in Camden, NJ and learners in Cape Town, South Africa. Can a contact zone be designed intentionally as a physical or digital environment to foster recognition of the others’ perspectives and to view oneself through a changed lens? Can youth move digitally into the worlds of one another? Do physical and digital movements across space inspire shifting identities and connectivity among youth?
Session 6. Workshop: Talking across disciplines: experiences of anthropological and psychological research with Latino/a families and children (Kristen Yarris, organizer) ACYIG. MISSION I
Participants: Campos, Garro, López, Yarris
This workshop will foster a thoughtful and productive conversation about the challenges and opportunities we face working on inter-disciplinary and cross-cultural research endeavors with families and children. As anthropologists and psychologists, our disciplinary backgrounds shape our research questions and objectives and the bases of knowledge upon which we draw to respond to these questions. Working in cross-disciplinary settings pushes us to effectively translate our approaches to the production and dissemination of knowledge in ways we might not otherwise be asked to do within the boundaries of a single discipline. Drawing on our ongoing research projects on Latino/a family health and mental health from different cultural settings (México, Los Angeles, Nicaragua), we will offer examples of how working across disciplines has been both intellectually productive and also potentially problematic. As inter-disciplinary researchers, problems we encounter may be theoretical, methodological, and/or practical, as we attempt to translate our research interests and disciplinary approaches within competing institutional and professional demands. One particular challenge we will reflect upon is how we attempt to craft inter-disciplinary research proposals and projects that fairly balance our disciplinary aims and address discipline-specific concerns while speaking to broader audiences such as funders, reviewers, and policy makers. Another set of challenges we hope to discuss relates to the epistemic approaches of anthropology and psychology, and how we might build bridges across meaning and lived experience, on the one hand, to broader population-based concerns about disparities in health and mental health care for Latino/a populations, on the other.
Belinda Campos (Chicano/Latino Studies & School of Medicine, University of California, Irvine)
Linda Garro (University of California, Los Angeles)
Steve López (University of Southern California)
Kristin Yarris (University of Oregon)
April 4-7, 2013 • San Diego, CA
This year’s Society for Psychological Anthropology meeting will feature a special book exhibit organized and managed by LIBRARY OF SOCIAL SCIENCE.
Founded in 1990, Library of Social Science has developed a unique paradigm for bringing together a comprehensive collection of the latest and most significant books and journals in the field. By showcasing major publishers and authors, our exhibit contributes substantially to our conference, enriching the meeting experience and enhancing its intellectual value.
Authors and publishers who wish to participate in the SPA book exhibit, please contact Mei Ha Chan at [email protected] or (718) 393-1075. For additional information on Library of Social Science Book Exhibits, please contact Hugh Galford at [email protected] or (718) 393-1104.