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Alan Goodman

Weatherhead Resident Scholar

Affiliation at time of award:
Professor of Anthropology and Director of the US Southwest/Mexico Program
Hampshire College
Amherst, Massachusetts


Peasants and Pestilence: Connections Between Past and Present Nutrition and Health
Exploring the connections between biological well-being in the past and present is the focus of Alan H. Goodman’s work during his tenure as 1998-99 SAR resident scholar. Peasants and Pestilence: Connections Between Past and Present Nutrition and Health, Goodman’s book-in-progress, will first review the history of efforts to link the past and present including Darwinian (or evolutionary) medicine. Secondly, the study will link the past and present via data on shared “stress indicators,” such as infant mortality, growth, enamel hypoplasia, and iron deficiency.

Prior “evolutionary medicine” studies often consider contemporary infirmities to be due to discontinuities between the present and the conditions under which humans evolved. Conversely, says Goodman, ethnoarchaeological studies try to use information from the present to make inferences about the past. In his work, Goodman explains, “I critically evaluate both approaches and then present a novel one that links the human biological condition in the past and present through commonly used indicators of physiological stress.”

Goodman sees a key challenge of this project to be demonstrating the contemporary utility of studies of the past. “I hope to provide a fresh perspective on the distinctly biocultural phenomena of health and nutrition and to establish the relevance of a biocultural perspective for understanding the human condition in both the past and present.” Unlike previous “evolutionary medicine” studies which, in Goodman’s view, “emphasize the trees of discontinuities,” he will highlight insights gained from a “focus on the forest of overlooked continuities.”

As an example, Goodman points to the deadly synergy between infectious disease and malnutrition—a major health threat to children since the Paleolithic era that continues to be responsible for forty percent of all deaths today. “Groups with little access to and control over power and resources suffer the most,” observes Goodman. “I explore how these main determinants of infirmities today may help to explain health inequalities in the past.”

Goodman is uniquely positioned to undertake this synthesis due to his active engagement in research and teaching on health and nutrition in both past and present groups. In the 1980s, Goodman’s research on stress in contemporary populations contributed to the development of a biocultural perspective on stress in past populations. He participated in the large-scale international nutrition studies (Tezonteopan and Solis, Mexico; Kalama, Egypt; and El Progresso, Guatemala) that focused on the functional consequences of infirmities and malnutrition. “This work sensitized me to the degree to which health and nutrition are affected by political-economic processes,” reflects Goodman. The common indicators provide a means to extrapolate from infirmities seen today to the consequences of these same infirmities in the past.

“I hope this project will demonstrate the strength of integrating anthropology across the borders between the past and the present, and also across the borders between biology, local culture and ecology, and larger political-economic processes,” Goodman states.

Ana Celia Zentella

National Endowment for the Humanities Resident Scholar

Affiliation at time of award:
Professor of Black and Puerto Rican Studies
Hunter College
Doctoral programs in Anthropology, Developmental Psychology, and Linguistics
Graduate Center
City University of New York


Las Voces del Pueblo: Latino Languages and Identities
By the year 2005, Hispanics/Latinos will become the largest minority in the United States. Despite dissimilarities in political histories, immigration patterns, and obstacles to progress, the peoples who make up this sector of society are generally regarded as a homogenous group, due to their common usage of the Spanish language. In Las Voces del Pueblo: Latino Languages and Identities, the book-in-progress of Ana Celia Zentella, the current SAR resident scholar investigates how the features of Spanish and English regional and class dialects alternately harden and blur boundaries as a new pan-US Latino identity is forged.

“Latinos use their bilingual and multidialectal repertoire to contest popular notions about how ‘American’ they are, in ways that contribute to a more diverse and united nation,” says Zentella. “This book will address the way in which the unity of Latinos is facilitated by widespread acknowledgement of Spanish as their common language, at the same time that their distinct varieties of Spanish proclaim their allegiance to a particular national origin.”

“There is no doubt that the various dialects of the Spanish language are mutually intelligible,” Zentella explains, “but ignoring the differences contributes to what I have called ‘chiquita-fication.'” This process diminishes the complexity of Latino languages and cultures in the United States, obscures their distinct ways of structuring reality, facilitates the racialization of Latinos, and feeds into a Hispanophobia which calls for increasing control over Spanish and Spanish speakers.

Zentella conducted ethnographic research that included over 270 sociolinguistic interviews with members of New York’s principle Latino communities-Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Cubans, and Colombians. The final study will also include Mexicans.

In addition to Las Voces del Pueblo, Zentella has worked on another book while at SAR, A Spanish Apple for the Teacher: The Verbal and Literacy Skills of Latino Children. This project describes the dialects of Spanish and English spoken by the major Spanish-speaking groups in the United States, and suggests ways to resolve the language-related problems of Latino children in school.

David B. Edwards

National Endowment for the Humanities Resident Scholar

Affiliation at time of award:
Associate Professor and Associate Dean
Anthropology and Sociology
Williams College


Children of History: Genealogies of the Afghan Jihad
The current book project of David B. Edwards, 1998-99 SAR resident scholar, is a sequel to his first book, Heroes of the Age: Moral Fault Lines on the Afghan Frontier, and the continuation of a long interest and involvement in the Afghan conflict. Titled Children of History: Genealogies of the Afghan Jihad, the book explores the ascendence of Islamic political authority in Afghanistan by looking at three leaders who played important roles during the formative period of the war. The three leaders are Nur Muhammad Taraki, the secretary-general of the Marxist political party that took power in 1978; Samiullah Safi, the head of one of the first tribal uprisings to break out against the Marxist government; and Qazi Amin Waqad, one of the leaders of the radical Islamic political parties that came to dominate the Afghan resistance from the time of the Soviet invasion until the emergence of the Taliban militia movement in 1995.

“My approach in both this book and my earlier work has been to use individual lives as a lens for viewing wider political processes,” explains Edwards. “My first book used oral family histories, miracle tales, and royal proclamations….This book centers on autobiographical accounts of men who have played important roles during the early stages of the current conflict in Afghanistan.” Edwards also uses such texts as tape cassettes of jihad poetry, speeches, propaganda photographs, and political pamphlets to place these leaders in historical and cultural context.

“This project is humanistic in a more profound sense as well,” says Edwards, “in that my ultimate goal is to understand the cost of the war in human terms. The three leaders were chosen not only because of the positions of authority and prestige they have occupied, but also because of the various ways in which they exemplify the dislocations and uncertainties of Afghan society over the last forty years. While some of their deeds would be considered ‘heroic’ in Afghan terms, the meaning of these deeds is ambiguous at best, and my highlighting of that ambiguity is meant to trouble our understanding of the war’s significance, which has been vastly simplified and distorted in the western media…One of the goals of the book then is to capture a sense of what went wrong: why did these men choose the paths they did, what were the implications of those choices, and what does this history tell us about the trajectory and possibility of political community in the late twentieth century?” Edwards adds.

Since 1975, Edwards has spent approximately four and a half years in Pakistan and Afghanistan, most recently in the summer of 1995 when he travelled throughout eastern Afghanistan. He has conducted research in Afghan refugee camps, has visited a number of mujahidin bases, and has conducted extensive interviews with more than eighty prominent Afghan political, tribal and religious figures. This summer, he is planning on returning to Afghanistan to complete research on a third book, tentatively titled Mirror of Jihad: Afghanistan, Ethnography and the New World Order, which will bring together his personal experiences and observations from over twenty years of research on Afghans and Afghan political culture.

“As someone who originally studied literature and creative writing,” Edwards observes, “the accurate and sensitive treatment of lives and times has always been of central concern to me, and it remains so today. My goal in this third, and I hope final book on Afghanistan is to leave behind a human-scale history that will help people understand the immense tragedy that unfolded in Afghanistan in the last quarter of the twentieth century.”

Frank Salomon

National Endowment for the Humanities Resident Scholar

Affiliation at time of award:
Professor of Anthropology
University of Wisconsin


Prehispanic Notation and 'Real Writing' in a Peruvian Village
In 1994, a schoolteacher from the high-Andean village of Tupicocha in central Peru urged Frank Salomon to visit his hometown and see its equipos (Spanish for “teams”). “I thought he was talking about soccer teams,” Salomon recalls. Instead, he meant the objects archaeologists call khipus: knotted-cord records made by Andean peoples from Middle Horizon times (600-1000 C.E.) onward. Tupicocha’s nine khipus are held as sacred patrimony by eight of the ten corporate descent groups, called ayllus, and are displayed in annual civic rites.

The descent groups who own khipus are the same ones whose mythology fills the only Quechua-language book on Andean belief written in the early colony, a source Salomon translated with George Urioste and published in 1991. Because of Tupicocha’s peculiarly rich relation to the written record, Salomon felt it was a very special place to find khipus. “This province isn’t just any patch of the Andes; it means as much to Andean scholars as the island of Ithaca might mean to Classicists. Second only to the Inca capital of Cuzco, this is the place where our knowledge of Andean culture has real time depth,” Salomon explained.

The Tupicocha khipus, known to postdate 1650 through radiocarbon dating, are a unique clue to the persistence of non-alphabetic systems of complex recording far into the era when the written word had achieved solid dominance under Spanish rule. Supported by the National Science Foundation and Wenner Gren in 1994-1997, Salomon studied how and why South America’s most notable “writing without words” endured alongside the alphabetic record.

Although today nobody claims the ability to read the khipus, those in Tupicocha offer a unique opportunity for researchers because they are the only known case of khipus functioning as political charters of a living social organization. “While Tupicochans do not now make khipus, they do make other kinds of non alphabetic signs, particularly the unique code carved on their staffs of office,” Salomon commented. One fruit of his term at SAR is the first clear model of “how a ‘writing without words’ actually works.” The villagers also continue to carry on the institutional proceedings khipus once recorded, providing functional clues to how khipus worked as a collective record.

By working with village officers and artisans during two fieldwork seasons, Salomon compiled a wide variety of data bases, including a knot-by-knot registry of the specimens, and khipu terminology that might reflect lore inherited from the prehispanic art. He observed how khipus are handled in community work, ritual, and meetings, and he conducted interviews on how the descent groups, or ayllus, function in politics, production, and ritual. Sometimes working by candlelight, Salomon scrutinized the internal records of the ayllus, and documented oral traditions about the village’s past and its sacred places.

Salomon’s book, tentatively titled The Romance of the Precise: Andean Media and the Advent of the Alphabet, is built around the concept of the Andean village as an intellectual community. He believes that understanding the coexistence of the alphabet with Andean media, which are completely different in principle from Old World writings, will “help us understand just how varied are the ‘technologies of intellect’ through which peoples interpret and record their experience and reason out their social agendas.

Up to now, specialists in the history of writing have tended to shrug off systems which do not employ the “glottographic” principle, Salomon said, “that is, the principle of using visible symbols to stand for speech sounds. In Tupicocha, it is possible to trace the way in which villagers carried over from the Inca age a rich cord-based data technology particularly useful for doing the kind of work we do today with spreadsheets, and combined it with the glottographic writing of Europe. How they did so is demonstrated in village archives – hundreds of volumes accumulated while planning around stringent constraints of water supply, labor power, agro-pastoral cycles, and politico-ritual calendar.”

Salomon’s work examines the possibility that khipus moved toward flexible nonverbal schematics, a “deck” of periodically updated social symbols with which to play out possible “games” of resource use, or to record “rounds” already accomplished.

Nathan Sayre

Weatherhead Resident Scholar

Affiliation at time of award:
Ph.D. Candidate
Department of Anthropology
University of Chicago


Ranching and the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge: Natures, States and Capitals in the Urbanizing Southwest
In the polarized controversy surrounding public lands ranching in the West, one fact has been overlooked by scholars and journalists alike, maintains Nathan Sayre. “The worst ecological damage to rangelands occurred during the cattle boom of the late nineteenth century, while public outcry against grazing has emerged only in the last twenty-five years.”

While ecologists have studied the consequences of cattle grazing, government agencies have reported on present conditions and efforts to improve the range. Environmentalists have called for an end to all public lands grazing. All of these perspectives treat grazing as an issue involving only two parties: the ranchers and the government. In his dissertation, The Urbanization of Ranching, Sayre argues that the new demands for public land use by recently-arrived urban Western residents , as well as the effect these new migrants have on the regional economy, are not being taken into account by any of these perspectives.

“Resolving the environmental problem of cattle grazing in the West requires that it be understood historically, culturally, and economically as well as ecologically. Analysis of the social forces responsible for rangeland destruction in the late nineteenth century reveals a complex dynamic of natures, states, and capitals. Seen in the light of this history, the present controversy cannot be understood apart from the growing urbanization of the West,” stated Sayre.

The transformation of the Buenos Aires Ranch in southwest Arizona into the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge-established in 1985 to reintroduce the endangered masked bobwhite quail and to restore a desert grassland to its “original” condition-offered Sayre a prime example of that complex dynamic created by the contrasting value systems held by ranching, government conservation, and environmental tourism/recreation that underpin much of the ranching controversy.

Sayre conducted much of his dissertation fieldwork while volunteering as the caretaker of an environmental education facility on the refuge in 1996 and 1997. “When I first got into it,” Sayre recalls, “I had accepted the conventional media line-the Fish and Wildlife Service (who bought the ranch to establish the refuge) was the virtuous party, while the ranchers were trying to sabotage their efforts. Eventually I realized the quail was really a symbol serving as a pretext for other unacknowledged goals: satisfying the demands of Tucson’s exploding population of retirees for weekend recreation in nature-stressing public use such as birding, wildlife viewing, and photography.” This shadow motivation became more apparent as efforts to reintroduce the quail proved unsuccessful.

“Living on the refuge triggered a series of revelations and connections about the larger picture,” recalls Sayre. These evolved into a scrutiny of another aspect of the range controversy that he calls “the urbanization of ranching,” a term that “captures the processes by which ranch lands, previously valued according to their capacity to produce cattle, have come to be valued according to their potential as residential real estate.”

The biggest surprise and pleasure during his tenure at SAR, said Sayre, was connecting with the Quivira Coalition, a New Mexican environmental group seeking solutions to the rangeland conflict. “Quivira encourages an emphasis on the actual health of land rather than an insistence on the return to its ‘natural’ state-a condition that cannot be determined in practical terms, but is an abstract idea lending itself to a moralistic stance,” Sayre explained. “This approach offers a promising alternative to this controversy’s impasse, keeping the debate focused on the present needs of the land, rather than polarizing into a dogmatic and shrill debate between environmentalists and ranchers.

“My goal,” stated Sayre, “is to illuminate the social origins of environmental problems more generally.”

Roberta Haines

Katrin H. Lamon Resident Scholar

Affiliation at time of award:
Ph.D. Candidate
Department of Political Science
University of California at Los Angeles


Citizenship Bound to the Promised Land: An Investigation of the Status of Indigenous People in the United States
Full membership in the United States was contested by Native people at the time of the 1924 American Indian Citizenship Act, resulting in a unique status still puzzling to political theorists. In her dissertation, Roberta Haines brings the case of Native American citizenship to discussions in political theory and challenges current trends that argue for weakened group rights and identity as the means to political and social stability.

In the centuries of negotiation between the United States and indigenous people, unique arrangements evolved that are difficult to categorize in the language of liberty, equality, group rights, or citizenship most familiar to political theorists. “My work reinterprets the official U.S. policy toward indigenous nations to show its national agenda of assimilation, a course determined by early colonial positions and the momentum of building a nation-state,” said Haines.

Although indigenous tribes are semi-sovereign nations who negotiated with the U.S. to secure protection in exchange for significant territorial concessions, the U.S. wanted to quickly settle relationships with all Native peoples. At first the U.S. thought a militarily enforced unilateral treaty could move tribes beyond its borders, but when the Iroquois and Cherokee, disturbed by this display of coercive tactics, began organizing in defense, the U.S. leadership reconsidered. They chose a policy designed to pacify their neighbors: persistently encouraging tribes to withdraw further west then absorbing any individuals or small groups remaining in its path as it grew. This informal status of Native people was formally articulated in 1828 by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall who recognized native people as aliens, while declaring that tribes were “domestic” not “foreign states.” If living within tribal territory, tribal people were understood to be citizens of the indigenous Nation. Those who chose to remain within state borders were assimilated, yet usually excluded from the political body and seldom had civil rights.

The legacy of alien status was reinforced repeatedly as the U.S. moved west. Native people were alien occupants of land and resources that the U.S. claimed for itself. Indigenous nations, then remnants of these nations, were forced to move and re-move in a series of western settlement. “The United States made every effort to change tribal people; to civilize them, to Christianize them, then Americanize them. Indians would vanish and in their stead would remain but the memory of a noble race. Native people, on the other hand, had conflicting positions about their place in or with this new nation. They were especially concerned about private property and U.S. citizenship, since these were policy goals the U.S. implemented to transform indigenous people into ‘Americans,'” Haines explains.

Using the journals of the Society of American Indians (SAI) and the papers of Gertrude Bonnin, Haines’ research shows how an educated group of Native professionals worked to define a place for Native people in the United States as citizens. They argued that citizenship would free Native people from the non-status of “Indians” and establish them on the road to progress and contribution as “Americans.”

During the same period, World War I created a critical moment for the question of citizenship as Native men were registered and conscripted into military service. After the war, the U.S. Congress passed an act offering citizenship to Indian veterans, and in 1924 it passed the American Indian Citizenship Act which conferred citizenship upon indigenous people with or without their consent, culminating U.S. policy to assimilate Native people.

“Contemporary citizenship theory addresses Native Americans as one more of many groups in the U.S. My research investigates a new dimension, that Native people enjoy a modified citizenship in the U.S. while they enjoy tribal membership and thus have a unique political relationship with the U.S. It is a relationship sensitive to those who wield political power and must be understood to be protected. Without a clear understanding of the status enjoyed by Native peoples, theorists risk abridging the rights that were so dearly won,” commented Haines.