American Ethnologist

Published by Wiley

Online ISSN: 1548-1425


Print ISSN: 0094-0496


[Not Available].
  • Article

January 1975


15 Reads

L Paul


B D Paul

Aged Bodies and Kinship Matters: The Ethical Field of Kidney Transplant

March 2006


128 Reads

The number of kidneys transplanted to people over age 70, both from living and cadaver donors, has increased steadily in the past two decades in the United States. Live kidney donation, on the rise for all age groups, opens up new dimensions of intergenerational relationship and medical responsibility when the transfer of organs is from younger to older people. There is little public knowledge or discussion of this phenomenon, in which the site of ethical judgment and activism about longevity and mortality is one's regard for the body of another and the substance of the body itself is ground for moral consideration about how kinship is "done." The clinic, patient, and patient's family together shape a bond between biological identity and human worth, a demand for an old age marked by somatic pliability and renewability, and a claim of responsibility that merges the "right to live" and "making live." Live kidney transplantation joins genetic, reproductive, and pharmacological forms of social participation as one more technique linking ethics to intervention and the understanding of the arc of human life to clinical opportunity and consumption. Significant in this example is the medicocultural scripting of transplant choice that becomes a high-stakes obligation in which the long-term impacts on generational relations cannot be foreseen.

Chronic Disaster Syndrome: Displacement, Disaster Capitalism, and the Eviction of the Poor from New Orleans

November 2009


512 Reads

Many New Orleans residents who were displaced in 2005 by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the subsequent levee failures and floods are still displaced. Living with long-term stress related to loss of family, community, jobs, and social security as well as the continuous struggle for a decent life in unsettled life circumstances, they manifest what we are calling "chronic disaster syndrome." The term refers not only to the physiological and psychological effects generated at the individual level by ongoing social disruption but also to the nexus of socioeconomic and political conditions that produce this situation as a long-term and intractable problem. Chronic disaster syndrome emerges from the convergence of three phenomena that create a nexus of displacement: long-term effects of personal trauma (including near loss of life and loss of family members, homes, jobs, community, financial security, and well-being); the social arrangements that enable the smooth functioning of what Naomi Klein calls "disaster capitalism," in which "disaster" is prolonged as a way of life; and the permanent displacement of the most vulnerable populations from the social landscape as a perceived remedy that actually exacerbates the syndrome.

the surrogate colonization of Palestine, 1917–1939
  • Article
  • Full-text available

February 1989


1,178 Reads

The "surrogate colonization" of Palestine had a foreign power giving to a nonnative group rights over land occupied by an indigenous people. It thus brought into play the complementary and conflicting agendas of three culturally distinguishable parties: British, Jews and Arabs. Each party had both "externalist" [those with no sustained practical experience of day to day life in Palestine] and "internalist" representatives. The surrogate idea was based on a "strategic consensus" involving each party's externalist camp: the British ruling elite, the leadership of the World Zionist Organization and the Hashemite Dynasty of Arabia. The collapse of this triangular consensus, which put an end to the policy but not the process of surrogate colonization, resulted from irreconcilable antagonisms within and between the major currents of each internalist camp. A focus on the land problem in Palestine highlights contradictions in each party's internalist agenda, which forestalled a rift between the Jewish and British sides of the consensus long enough for the Zionist settlement in Palestine (Yishuv) to acquire territory and to develop a largely self-sufficient economic, cultural, political and military infrastructure.

Four Kinds of Authenticity? Regarding Nicaraguan Pottery in Scandinavian Museums, 2006-08

July 2009


37 Reads

Since the late 1970s, ceramics producers in the Nicaraguan village of San Juan de Oriente have repeatedly transformed both the design of and the technology for making their products. Different types of Scandinavian museums exhibited the most recent form of San Juanense pottery in 2006–08, which provided me with an opportunity to reflect on the history and character of the pottery in light of my own involvement with its producers since the early 1980s. This article unpacks those reflections in terms of the discourse of authenticity that anthropologists have elaborated over the past three decades. [multiple forms of authenticity, ceramics production, artisan communities, San Juan de Oriente, Nicaragua, role of anthropology, systems of value]

SARS, a shipwreck, a NATO attack, and September 11, 2001: Global information flows and Chinese responses to tragic news events

January 2008


19 Reads

In this article, I examine how Chinese citizens in China and abroad used discourses of Chinese backwardness to make sense of tragic news events while simultaneously trying to avoid becoming identified with that backwardness. I focus on various interpretations of NATO's bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade in 1999; the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks; the sinking of a Chinese ferry in 1999; and the 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic to explore how Chinese citizens negotiated between their own ambivalent loyalties and the contradictory official, unofficial, local, national, and international narratives in which these events were embedded. These negotiations suggest that global information flows are creating a transnational panopticon that increasingly enables neoliberal governmentality to operate on transnational levels.

The memorialization of September 11: Dominant and local discourse on the rebuilding of the World Trade Center site

August 2004


93 Reads

An inherent tension exists between the meanings of the World Trade Center site created by dominant political and economic players and the significance of the space for those who actually live near it. Most of the writing on and analysis of the site have focused on the construction of a memorial space for an imagined national and global community of visitors who identify with its broader, state-produced meanings. But New Yorkers, in general, and downtown residents, in particular, bring to meaning making their own personal involvement in and knowledge of a located history that has social, political, and economic significance for their everyday lives. These meanings are as much a part of memorialization as the dominant players' political machinations and economic competition for space and status. Uncovering and eliciting these local memorial discourses is part of an ethnographic project that focuses on how personalized narratives of loss emerge and are manipulated within mass-mediated representations of the World Trade Center space. My contribution to understanding how the memorial process works has been to analyze what downtown residents say about their experience of September 11 and its aftermath, to record their feelings about a memorial, and, in so doing, to contest, expand, and modify the dominant media and governmental representations of September 11 and its memorialization.

Figure 1. Names, World Trade Center (March 2004). 
Figure 2. Names in the USS Arizona Memorial shrine room. 
Figure 3. Pearl Harbor survivor Richard Fiske in video conference with high school class. 
Figure 4. Pearl Harbor survivor Everett Hyland giving a talk at the USS Arizona Memorial. 
Figure 5. Pearl Harbor survivor Richard Fiske talking with visitors at the USS Arizona Memorial. 
National Subjects: September 11 and Pearl Harbor

January 2008


5,657 Reads

Despite a long tradition of writing on collective representations of the past, anthropology has contributed relatively little to the expanding literature on national memory. Yet ethnographic approaches have the facility to delineate practices that create historical narrative and give it emotive power while keeping in view longer-term political forces that underwrite dominant imaginaries. In this article I inquire into the discursive origins of emotional involvement in national history by juxtaposing two events of spectacular violence, September 11 and Pearl Harbor. Focusing on the representation of these events in public culture and at memorial sites, I argue that personal narratives play a central role in formations of national subjectivity, at times emotionalizing dominant memories and at other times opening possibilities for alternative visions.

"The Importance of Nighttime Observations in Time Allocation Studies." American Ethnologist 13:537-545, 1986.

October 1986


46 Reads

Most time allocation studies have been conducted during daylight hours alone. However, an exploratory study of time allocation among the Samukundi Abelam, a horticultural group of Papua New Guinea, revealed that significant activities take place after dark. Furthermore, the nature and duration of these activities differ from those observed during daylight hours. Results suggest that time allocation studies confined to daylight hours alone may contain selective biases. By extension, comparative economic analyses utilizing such studies may also be biased. A sampling strategy employing limited, differentially weighted nighttime observations is suggested.

Plains Indians, A.D. 500‐1500: The Archaeological Past of Historic Groups/ The Cheyenne in Plains Indian Trade Relations 1795‐1840

January 2008


60 Reads

Plains Indians, A.D. 500‐1500: The Archaeological Past of Historic Groups. KARL SCHLESIER. ed. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1994. xxvii. 479 pp., illustrations, maps, tables, list of contributors, bibliography, index. The Cheyenne in Plains Indian Trade Relations 1795‐1840. JOSEPH JABLOW. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1994. xix. 100 pp., maps, bibliography, Index.

Tetzcoco in the Early 16th Century: The State, the City, and the Calpolli

October 2009


118 Reads

Examination of the internal structure and system of tribute in the pre-Hispanic city of Tetzcoco, Mexico, indicates that the city contained several kinds of territorial groupings that received the services of commoners. These commoners were organized into calpolli, which were basically groups with common tributary obligations. They gave service either in food production, unskilled labor, or specialized skilled work, but it was usually part-time, compensated with lands for subsistence, and this gave the city a dispersed layout. [Aztec, calpulli, craft specialization, tribute, urbanism]

the Hawaiian kapu abolition of 18191

February 1974


39 Reads

The abolition of the kapu (tabu) system of Hawaii after the death of Kamehameha I in 1819 has been a continuing source of interest as a problem in the explanation of culture change. Divine intervention, church-state conflict, cultural fatigue, women's liberation, cultural imperialism, socioeconomic evolution, and the politics of state formation have been offered as explanations. The cultural revolution is here reexamined from the integrative framework of “political culture.”

Custom, Courts, and Class Formation: Constructing the Hegemonic Process Through the Petty Sessions of a Southeastern Irish Parish, 1828‐1884

January 2008


15 Reads

This exploration of hegemony, law, and politics attempts to expand recent anthropological approaches to hegemony and the law both topically and temporally. Specifically, I try to insert notions of coercion, class formation, agency, and political process into what have largely been cultural approaches to hegemony; I do so by exploring the workings of a local court through time. This court, in the context of a colonial state, brought together numerous agents (landlords, laborers, farmers, and retailers) who had conflicting and also sometimes converging economic and political interests and understandings. Through their interaction, the court became a theater, forum, and arena while, over time, it proved simultaneously to be both a civilizing device and a way of reproducing local class experience.[hegemony, historical anthropology, political-legal anthropology, class formation, courts, Ireland, colonialism]

discourses of rule and the acknowledgment of the peasantry in Dominica, W.I., 1838–1928

October 2009


30 Reads

Designations used by colonizers to describe colonized populations emerge through a multi-layered process that is affected by local social relations, by the colonizers' sociocultural outlook, by imperial tensions and by the metropolitan context. This paper describes the emergence of such a designation, the centurylong process by which cultivators in Dominica came to be called “peasants” by British colonists. Proponents and opponents alike saw in the word a metaphor for the acknowledgment of new relations of production that gave cultivators firmer control of the labor process.[Naming, colonialist discourse, British colonialism, peasantry, Dominica, Caribbean]

Nomads and their trade partners: Historical context and trade relations in southwest Iran, 1840-1975

November 1997


14 Reads

Fredrik Barth's classic work on Basseris (1961) demonstrated the importance of Iranian pastoral nomads' exchanges with the settled world. In this article I examine historical variations in the nature of exchange relationships and the political and economic context in which these were embedded. I argue that the “friendly” relations described by Barth were an anomaly associated with the Pahlavi dynasty's destruction of tribal elites, and I demonstrate that tribespeople have a long history of actively contesting unfavorable conditions of trade.

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