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A Rural Community Resists Nuclear Waste
Through character development, snappy dialogue, and vivid scenes, Linked Arms tells the story of a rural people’s successful struggle to keep a major nuclear dump out of Allegany County in western New York. Five times over a twelve-month period hundreds of ordinary people—merchants, teachers, homemakers, professionals, farmers, and blue collar workers—ignored potential jail terms and large fines to defy the nuclear industry and governmental authority by linking arms in the bitter cold to thwart the siting commission through civil disobedience. The hearts and minds of the resisters emerge in the narrative, as we find out why these people found civil disobedience compelling, how they organized themselves, and what moral dilemmas they addressed as they fought for their convictions. While becoming more engaged in the resistance, they confronted critical issues in contemporary America: democratic decision making, environmental policy, legal rights, corporate responsibility, and the technology of nuclear waste. Some of the book’s highlights include: conversations that took place between Governor Cuomo, Assemblyman Hasper, and the protestors, which thoughtfully probe who should bear the financial burden of a failed and dangerous technology; the scientific and technological issues discussed between Ted Taylor, a nuclear physicist who was one of the key people in the Manhattan project, and the leaders of the resistance; and the citizens’ initiation of a lawsuit that eventually reached the Supreme Court and abrogated the central provision in the 1987 congressional law that mandated states build low-level nuclear dumps across the country. These dialogues and vignettes illustrate how the civil disobedience and dogged determination of the people of Allegany County changed the course of history.
The connection between people and companion animals has received considerable attention from scholars. In her original and provocative ethnography Livestock/Deadstock, sociologist Rhoda Wilkie asks, how do the men and women who work on farms, in livestock auction markets, and slaughterhouses, interact with—or disengage from—the animals they encounter in their jobs?
Wilkie provides a nuanced appreciation of how those men and women who breed, rear, show, fatten, market, medically treat, and slaughter livestock, make sense of their interactions with the animals that constitute the focus of their work lives. Using a sociologically informed perspective, Wilkie explores their attitudes and behaviors to explain how agricultural workers think, feel, and relate to food animals.
Livestock/Deadstock looks at both people and animals in the division of labor and shows how commercial and hobby productive contexts provide male and female handlers with varying opportunities to bond with and/or distance themselves from livestock. Exploring the experiences of stockpeople, hobby farmers, auction workers, vets and slaughterers, she offers timely insight into the multifaceted, gendered, and contradictory nature of human roles in food animal production.
The Story of a Southern Midwife and an Unlikely Friendship
From 1950 until 2001, Lovie Beard Shelton practiced midwifery in eastern North Carolina homes, delivering some 4,000 babies to black, white, Mennonite, and hippie women; to those too poor to afford a hospital birth; and to a few rich enough to have any kind of delivery they pleased. Her life, which was about giving life, was conspicuously marked by loss, including the untimely death of her husband and the murder of her son.Lovie is a provocative chronicle of Shelton's life and work, which spanned enormous changes in midwifery and in the ways women give birth. In this artful exploration of documentary fieldwork, Lisa Yarger confronts the choices involved in producing an authentic portrait of a woman who is at once loner and self-styled folk hero. Fully embracing the difficulties of telling a true story, Yarger is able to get at the story of telling the story. As Lovie describes her calling, we meet a woman who sees herself working in partnership with God and who must wrestle with the question of what happens when a woman who has devoted her life to service, to doing God's work, ages out of usefulness. When I'm no longer a midwife, who am I? Facing retirement and a host of health issues, Lovie attempts to fit together the jagged pieces of her life as she prepares for one final home birth.
Trust and Terror in Revolutionary Macedonia
The underground Macedonian Revolutionary Organization recruited and mobilized over 20,000 supporters to take up arms against the Ottoman Empire between 1893 and 1903. Challenging conventional wisdom about the role of ethnic and national identity in Balkan history, Keith Brown focuses on social and cultural mechanisms of loyalty to describe the circuits of trust and terror—webs of secret communications and bonds of solidarity—that linked migrant workers, remote villagers, and their leaders in common cause. Loyalties were covertly created and maintained through acts of oath-taking, record-keeping, arms-trading, and in the use and management of deadly violence.
Self and Image Creation in a Himalayan Valley
Taberam Soni, Labh Singh, Amar Singh, and other artists live and work in the hill-villages of the lower Himalayas in Himachal Pradesh, India. There they fashion face-images of deities (mohras) out of thin sheets of precious metal. Commissioned by upper-caste patrons, the objects are cultural embodiments of divine and earthly kinship. As the artists make the images, they also cross caste boundaries in a part of India where such differences still determine rules of contact and correspondence, proximity and association. Once a mohra has been completed and consecrated, its maker is not permitted to touch it or enter the temple in which it is housed; yet during its creation the artist is sovereign, treated deferentially as he shares living quarters with the high-caste patrons.
Making Faces tells the story of these god-makers, the gods they make, and the communities that participate in the creative process and its accompanying rituals. For the author, the process of learning about Himachal, its art and artists, the people who make their home there, involved pursuing itinerant artists across difficult mountainous terrain with few, if any, means of communication between the thinly populated, high-altitude villages. The harsh geography of the region permits scant travel, and the itinerant artisan forms a critical link to the world outside; villages that commission mohras are often populated by a small number of families. Alka Hingorani evokes this world in rich visual and descriptive detail as she explores the ways in which both object and artisan are received and their identities transformed during a period of artistic endeavor.
Making Faces is an original and evocative account, superbly illustrated, of the various phases in the lifecycle of a mohra, at different times a religious icon, an art object, and a repository of material wealth in an otherwise subsistence economy. It will be welcomed by scholars and students of anthropology, material culture, religion, art history, and South Asian studies.
134 illus., 128 in color
Hunting in Contemporary Vermont
American hunters occupy a remarkably complex place in this country’s cultural and political landscape. On the one hand, they are cast as perpetrators of an anachronistic and unnecessary assault on innocent wildlife. On the other hand, they are lauded as exemplars of no-nonsense American rugged individualism. Yet despite the passion that surrounds the subject, we rarely hear the unfiltered voices of actual hunters in discussions of hunting. In A Matter of Life and Death, anthropologist Marc Boglioli puts a human face on a group widely regarded as morally suspect, one that currently stands in the crossfire of America’s so-called culture wars. Drawing on extensive ethnographic fieldwork in Addison County, Vermont, which took him from hunting camps and sporting goods stores to local bars and kitchen tables, Boglioli focuses on how contemporary hunters, women as well as men, understand their relationship to their prey. He shows how hunters’ attitudes toward animals flow directly from the rural lifeways they have continued to maintain in the face of encroaching urban sensibilities. The result is a rare glimpse into a culture that experiences wild animals in a way that is at once violent, consumptive, and respectful, and that regards hunting as an enduring link to a vanishing past. It is a book that will challenge readers—hunters, non-hunters, and anti-hunters alike—to reconsider what constitutes a morally appropriate relationship with the non-human residents of this planet.
In Search of an American Icon
From yesterday’s gingham girls to today’s Google-era Farmer Janes, The Midwest Farmer’s Daughter explores the resurgent role played by female agriculturalists at a time when fully 30 percent of new farms in the US are woman-owned, but when, paradoxically, America’s farm-reared daughters are conspicuously absent from popular film, television, and literature. In this first-of-its-kind treatment, Zachary Michael Jack follows the fascinating story of the girl who became a regional and national legend: from Donna Reed to Laura Ingalls Wilder, from Elly May Clampett to The Dukes of Hazzard’s Catherine Bach, from Lawrence Welk’s TV sweethearts to the tragic heroines of Jane Smiley’s Thousand Acres. From Amish farm women bloggers, to Missouri homesteaders and seed-savers, to rural Nebraskan graphic novelists and, ultimately, to the seven generations of entrepreneurial Iowan farm women who have animated his own family since before the Civil War, Jack shines new documentary light on the symbol of American virtue, energy, and ingenuity that rural writer Martha Foote Crow once described as the “great rural reserve of initiating force, sane judgment and spiritual drive.” Packed with dozens of interviews, The Midwest Farmer’s Daughter covers the history and the renaissance of agrarian women on both sides of the fence. Giving equal consideration to both agriculture’s time-tested rural and small-town Farm Bureaus, 4-H, and FFA training grounds as well as to the eco-innovations generated by the region’s rising woman-powered “agro-polises” such as Chicago, the author crafts a lively, easy-to-read cultural and social history, exploring the pioneering role today’s female agriculturalists play in the emergence of farmers’ markets, urban farms, community-supported agriculture, and the new “back-to-the-land” and “do-it-yourself” movements. For all those whose lives have been graced by the enduring strength of American farm women, The Midwest Farmer’s Daughter offers a groundbreaking examination of a dynamic American icon.
The Reinvention of a Catalan Community
Rhythms of Work and Family in the American West
Though mining is an infamously masculine industry, women make up 20 percent of all production crews in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin—the largest coal-producing region in the United States. How do these women fit into a working culture supposedly hostile to females? This is what anthropologist Jessica Smith Rolston, herself a onetime mine worker and the daughter of a miner, set out to discover. Her answers, based on years of participant-observation in four mines and extensive interviews with miners, managers, engineers, and the families of mine employees, offer a rich and surprising view of the working “families” that miners construct. In this picture, gender roles are not nearly as straightforward—or as straitened—as stereotypes suggest.Gender is far from the primary concern of coworkers in crews. Far more important, Rolston finds, is protecting the safety of the entire crew and finding a way to treat each other well despite the stresses of their jobs. These miners share the burden of rotating shift work—continually switching between twelve-hour day and night shifts—which deprives them of the daily rhythms of a typical home, from morning breakfasts to bedtime stories. Rolston identifies the mine workers’ response to these shared challenges as a new sort of constructed kinship that both challenges and reproduces gender roles in their everyday working and family lives.Crews’ expectations for coworkers to treat one another like family and to adopt an “agricultural” work ethic tend to minimize gender differences. And yet, these differences remain tenacious in the equation of masculinity with technical expertise, and of femininity with household responsibilities. For Rolston, such lingering areas of inequality highlight the importance of structural constraints that flout a common impulse among men and women to neutralize the significance of gender, at home and in the workplace.At a time when the Appalachian region continues to dominate discussion of mining culture, this book provides a very different and unexpected view—of how miners live and work together, and of how their lives and work reconfigure ideas of gender and kinship.