Volume 63, No. 1, Spring 2004
Malinowski Award Lecture, 2003
Regions of Refuge in the United States: Issues, Problems, and Concerns for the Future of Mexican-Origin Populations in the United States
Carlos G. Vélez-Ibáñez
This address provides a conceptual heuristic of “regions of refuge” as a means of understanding the complex and dynamic processes responsible for the great growth and emergence of Mexican-origin populations in the United States. Such processes are transnational, national, and regional, but at their center are economic issues of production and labor that have their genesis in the 19th century and will be even more important in the next century. By 2100, the Mexican-origin population will make up slightly less than a third of the entire U.S. population and will face issues of increasing economic inequality, steep social stratification, and modest educational attainment. The multiple methodological approaches of applied anthropology are crucial to the solution of what I have termed the “distribution of sadness” that accompanies such growth and issues.
Key words: regions of refuge, political ecology, distribution of sadness, colonias, Mexican-origin population
The Political Ecology of Land-Use Change: Affluent Ranchers and Destitute Farmers in the Mexican Municipio of Alamos
Marcela Vásquez-León and Diana Liverman
This paper examines the interactions between the environment, political and economic policies, and changes in land use and land quality by focusing on one region in northwest Mexico where dramatic transformations have occurred since the early 1970s. A political ecology approach is used to examine the nature and causes of environmental change at different scales of analysis, to address the importance of meanings assigned to ecological systems, and the effect of human-environmental interactions on natural resources. The objective of the study is to uncover the different circumstances under which farmers and ranchers have affected environmental change and how land-use decisions interact with political, economic, and environmental drivers through history. An emphasis is placed on the complexity of interactions between drivers and on understanding differences in perspectives between large-scale commercial ranchers, more diversified small-scale farmers and ejidatarios, bureaucrats, and environmentalists. The study concludes that strategies for reducing deforestation and developing reasonable community-based plans that promote sustainable livelihoods must consider the local and external causes of deforestation, the difficulty of environmental monitoring, and intraregional differences in environmental and socioeconomic parameters.
Key words: ranching, farming, deforestation, buffelgrass, Mexico
Reducing Diabetes in Indian Country: Lessons from the Three Domains Influencing Pima Diabetes
Carolyn M. Smith-Morris
The prevalence of diabetes among Pima (Akimel O’odham) Indians involves three important domains: political-economic, genetic, and cultural. Programs in diabetes education have made noteworthy improvements in the last two decades in addressing cultural information and attitudes. It is less common to see political-economic factors addressed, particularly the structural barriers to care that include poverty and unemployment. The genetic contributions to modern rates of diabetes have, perhaps, been overemphasized in the past, contributing to a sense that this disease is inevitable in American Indian populations. I review six lessons drawn from these domains and from diabetes prevention and treatment programs in Indian country: 1) the basic importance of cultural sensitivity; 2) the strengths of community participation; 3) the influential but not dominant significance of genetics; 4) some relevant structural changes in forms of health care; 5) the need for political-economic change within tribes to sustain communitywide change; and 6) the significance of a stable financial foundation for diabetes programs.
Key words: diabetes, political economy, community participation, Pima Indians
Reasserting Community: The Social Challenge of Wastewater Management in Panajachel, Guatemala
Blake D. Ratner and Alberto Rivera Gutiérrez
This article assesses recent efforts in a multiethnic town in the Guatemalan highlands to address wastewater pollution, which threatens public health and tourism, the basis of the town’s economy. Reporting on an ongoing program of action research, the authors trace the erosion of traditional, Mayan civic and religious institutions that were previously responsible for maintenance of a collective waterworks infrastructure, which in recent years has become the conduit for untreated sewage. They detail how a wastewater treatment plant was built in the town with external expertise and finance, and with little regard for its social and institutional sustainability, and they analyze how local government, business associations, and nongovernmental organizations are now taking steps to address these shortcomings. Treating community not as a fixed social unit but as a network of social interactions that are continually remade, the authors argue that while state and market forces have undermined traditional institutions of local governance, they may also become foci for reasserting community and rebuilding the relationships of shared responsibility necessary to manage the commons. The challenge for development practitioners working in public infrastructure and other domains is to integrate project planning and implementation into processes of community building.
Key words: common property, community, wastewater management, public infrastructure, Guatemala
The Delayed Contraceptive Revolution in Guatemala
Roberto Santiso-Galvez and Jane T. Bertrand
Guatemala has the second lowest level of contraceptive use of any country in Latin America, despite an active private family planning program for over 30 years. Previous analyses identify correlates of contraceptive use but fail to address the fundamental question: Why does Guatemala differ so markedly from the rest of Spanish-speaking Latin America in the acceptance of family planning? This case study explores political and historical factors at the macrolevel that have shaped the evolution of family planning in Guatemala. These include the anti-imperialistic leftist movements of the 1960s and 1970s; the large percentage of the population that is indigenous; the civil unrest that peaked in the 1980s and paralyzed social programs, especially in the western highlands; and the powerful alliance between the government and the Catholic Church. Although none of these factors is unique to Guatemala, the convergence of the four in a single country explains why Guatemala lags far behind its Latin American neighbors in the acceptance of family planning. However, recent events give reason for guarded optimism that Guatemala is advancing toward greater acceptance of family planning.
Key words: family planning, contraception, Catholic Church, Guatemala, Maya
Fish Discourse: Russia, Norway, and the Northeast Arctic Cod
The article argues that discourse analysis can help explain why Russian and Norwegian fishery authorities set quotas for the Northeast Arctic cod far above scientific recommendations in 19992001. While the “sustainability discourse” dominated on the Norwegian sideframing discussions in terms of whether quotas were “sustainable” or notthe Russian discourse centered around the battle between the two nations involved. According to the “cold peace discourse,” Norway wants to reduce the quota to ensure competitive prices for cod on the world market or, alternatively, simply to “ruin Russia.” The “seafaring community discourse” feeds on distrust on both sides of the border of scientific prognoses and serves to weaken the arguments of the “sustainability discourse” and strengthen the conclusions of the “cold peace discourse.” The “pity-the-Russians discourse” offers a way out of the deadlock: feeding on the Western perception of Russians as “poor,” the Norwegians are ready to set scientific recommendations aside on humanitarian grounds. Overarching discourses in society provided “windows of opportunity” for the given outcomes. Notably, the “cold peace discourse” made it possible for Russian ship owners to argue against a quota reduction, and the “pity-the-Russians discourse” made it acceptable for the Norwegians to agree to Russian claims.
Key words: discourse analysis, fisheries management, Barents Sea, Northeast Arctic cod, EastWest relations, Russia, Norway
Afro-Cuban Religions and Social Welfare: Consequences of Commercial Development in Havana
Adrian H. Hearn
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989, the government of Fidel Castro has struggled to provide Cubans with health care, adequate housing, and social security. Decision making about these issues has been decentralized to involve the public activity of community self-help groups, especially in Havana’s most marginal zones. Many such groups are rooted in Afro-Cuban religions, which since slavery times have operated as underground hubs of mutual support. Based on 18 months of fieldwork, three religious communities are examined as they build tentative relationships with state development institutions. Resulting projects set out to improve the quality of life of participants, but these aspirations become obscured as the projects seek quick returns from the burgeoning tourist market. The case studies show the strong impact of “informal religion” on specific projects and suggest that responsibility for balancing commercial and community interests lies both with state and civil society actors in their capacity to build collaborative projects.
Key words: tourism, development, religion, community organizations, Cuba
Somali Women and Well-Being: Social Networks and Social Capital among Immigrant Women in Australia
Celia McMichael and Lenore Manderson
Somalis have been one of the largest groups to migrate to Australia under its provisions for refugee and humanitarian resettlement. Drawing on ethnographic research conducted in Melbourne in 2000-2001, we explore how the loss of social relationships as a result of civil war and displacement contribute to women’s distress and sadness. To explore the erosion of social relationships among Somalis in Australia, and how this affects everyday life and women’s well-being, we draw on the concepts of social capital and social networks. We suggest that social networks among Somalis in Melbourne are problematic, restricting women’s capacity to use and create social capital to settle in Australia. However, the concept of social capital only partially accounts for women’s continued sense of displacement. Well-being is not just about contemporary social structures and activities, it is also affected by how women use the past to give meaning to the present. We argue that women’s understandings of contemporary social relations are given comparative meaning through their juxtaposition with memories of social worlds in Somalia.
Key words: social capital, well-being, refugees, Somali women, Australia
Labor and Beer in the Transkei, South Africa: Xhosa Work Parties in Historical and Contemporary Perspective
The paper examines cooperative labor and its relationship with beer drinking rituals in South Africa’s Transkei. The analysis is placed within a historical context and the evolution of both cooperative labor and beer drinking in response to specific political, ecological, and socioeconomic circumstances. This facilitates a critique of the conventional approach to work parties and the standard typology of cooperative work in Africa and has important implications for one of anthropology’s major concerns over the past decadethe study of commodities and consumption.
Key words: cooperative labor, consumption, subsistence agriculture, Xhosa ritual, South Africa
Sungusungu: The Role of Preexisting and Evolving Social Institutions among Tanzanian Vigilante Organizations
Brian Paciotti and Monique Borgerhoff Mulder
The Sungusungu justice system of Tanzania is an informal institution of social control that emerged in response to weak law enforcement by the state. By examining the development of Sungusungu in a Sukuma population that migrated to Rukwa region and its reception among the indigenous population, the authors show how certain communities are more prepared than others to sustain prosocial organizational behavior, thereby demonstrating the constraints that affect the diffusion of social institutions across social groups. The article challenges the assumption that individual agency (self-interest and power) commonly dominates the sometimes conservative nature of institutions. From an applied perspective, this case study illustrates that organizations require cultural rules to define goals and sustain effective actions. These sets of cultural rules are often found among particular populations, and efforts to spread them can be a slow process. An understanding of these conservative cultural processes is important to policy makers and applied scholars attempting to understand, control, or harness the public good produced by grassroots social movements and organizations.
Key words: informal social control, Sungusungu, cultural evolution, Tanzania