SfAA President’s Column

August 1, 2011

By Merrill Eisenberg
University of Arizona

Merrill Eisenberg

It’s been a busy summer for the SfAA, and I’d like to let the membership know what’s been happening in your Society:

SfAA is a participatory organization, with many opportunities for members to engage in the workings of the Society through participation in committee work.  You name it, and it seems that we have a committee for it!

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Alternative and Non-capitalist Political Ecologies: A Special Track for the 2012 Society for Applied Anthropology Annual Meeting, March 28-31, 2012—Baltimore, MD

August 1, 2011

By Brian J. Burke
University of Arizona

We live today at the intersection of the two great crises of our time, an economic crisis that has brought severe social dislocation, growing inequalities, violence, and an ecological crisis that has undermined the natural resources that sustain us and the ecosystems that we call home. These crises scream out for new modes of being in the world, ways of life that move us toward a sustainable and egalitarian future. But how do we get there? How do we create these new modes of being and how do we make them real? The answers are not clear, but they surely do not involve more of the same. We can no longer hope for the benefits of growth to trickle down, nor can we wait for the tidal wave of revolution to sweep over us. We need imagination, critique, and action today. As the activist scholars J.K. Gibson-Graham suggest, we need possibilities for creating revolution “in the here and now.”

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“Please, Tell Us About your Last Doctor’s Visit.” Exposing Medicine’s Complicity with the Cruelties of Capitalism

August 1, 2011

By Brian McKenna
University of Michigan-Dearborn

Brian McKenna

I asked a recent class of 34 students to write about their last medical experience (with identities protected). Their responses astounded me.

One student, an Iraq War veteran, went to the local Veteran’s Administration hospital to evaluate his disability claims for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) only to be told he was just suffering from hearing loss and to “check the VA website” for updates. Another student, also a veteran, suffering a persistent left shoulder injury from his days as a paratrooper, was informed that his pain likely came from an earlier botched surgery by an Army doctor who was “less experienced” than other surgeons. Then there was the father who took his three year old daughter to the ER at 2AM with a stomach ache. Over five hours she was given four x-rays, an ultrasound and an enema with no improvement (and no diagnosis) of her condition. She cried all night and was given nothing for the pain. Finally, at 7AM, after the father refused a second enema, he took her home with a prescription for MiraLAX (a laxative), gave it to her and she was quickly cured.

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Climbing, Tourism and Sacred Peaks: A Research Project in Southwest China

August 1, 2011

By Julie Tate-Libby
Wenatchee Valley College

By Mark Allen
IFMGA Certified Mountain Guide

Julie Tate-Libby

Mountains have often been regarded as sacred places for the people who live among them. Unfortunately, local conceptions of mountains as sacred places have been misunderstood by scholars, explorers, government officials, and perhaps more recently, tourists. Perhaps no region in the world has elicited more interest or fascination than the Himalaya as a center for spiritual enlightenment, mountaineering, and first ascents. Many studies have examined the impact of tourism and mountaineering on local tribes in the Himalaya (Ortner 1989, Fisher 1990), but little attention has been given to the issue of sacred peaks and how the burgeoning climbing industry is affecting local conceptions of sacred places, their resident deities, and what happens after the peak has been climbed, renamed, and published in international journals. This project seeks to understand the interplay between local and nonlocal conceptions of sacred geography, and the impact of international mountaineering on indigenous community’s religious heritage and traditional culture.

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Managing the Cultural Resources of Nubia: An Interview with William Y. Adams and Nettie K. Adams for the Society for Applied Anthropology Oral History Project

August 1, 2011

By John van Willigen
Chair, SfAA Oral History Project
University of Kentucky

John van Willigen

William Y. Adams’ distinguished career includes doing archaeology in response to the construction of dams; Glen Canyon Dam in Arizona and the Aswan high  dam project in Egypt. This interview is focused on his work dealing with the impacts of the inundation which the dam caused in the Sudan. This work started in 1957 and lasting seven years. His wife, anthropologist Nettie K. Adams was a partner in these efforts and  has made important contributions to the study of textiles in an archaeological context in the Middle East. They are both anthropology graduates of the University of Arizona.  Their involvement in Nubia started as a four month consulting project for Bill but evolved in an important multi-year effort in which both were involved. Based on this work Bill published  the seminal Nubia: Corridor to Africa (1977). This volume received the 1978 Melville J. Herskovits Prize of the African Studies Association as the best book on Africa published in English of that year.  Later his Nubian work was officially recognized in the Sudan by being awarded the Order of the Two Niles by the President.  Upon his return to the United States, Bill Adams became a faculty member at the University of Kentucky where he played a major role in the development of the Applied Anthropology PhD Program. Now retired,  Bill and Nettie  continue their writing and research programs. The interview and editing for transcription accuracy and continuity was done by John van Willigen.

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