Volume 54, Number 1, Abstracts

JAR Distinguished Lecture:
Ethnicity and/as Class in America

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Sherry B. Ortner
Department of Anthropology, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027

In this article I question the basically classless notion of identities operating in contemporary politics, both out in the world and within contemporary social and cultural analysis. Instead I try to bring to light several aspects of what I call "the hidden life of class" in the United States.


Rada Dyson-Hudson
Department of Anthropology, Binghamton University, Binghamton, NY 13902-6000
Dominique Meekers
Population Services International and Department of Population Dynamics, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21218
Neville Dyson-Hudson
Department of Anthropology, Binghamton University, Binghamton, NY 13902-6000

The arid land occupied by the South Turkana in northwestern Kenya is characterized by relatively well distributed water resources, complex vegetation communities, and low-density patches of forage which vary with low predictability in time and space. The people's coping strategies include a high dependence on livestock, use of multiple pathways of food energy transfer from plants through livestock to people, and extreme nomadism both to provide herds with necessary resources and to protect them from environmental hazards. Traditional marriage practices benefit wealthy herd owners, elder sons, and formally married women and contribute to the resilience and persistence of the South Turkana pastoral production system as a whole. However, these practices disadvantage other classes of Turkana society, particularly women unable to complete the marriage process and nonmarital children. This analysis contributes to an understanding of marriage in general, demonstrates the value of long-term multidisciplinary studies, and has broad implications for development planning.


Linda E. Dick-Bissonnette
Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Oakland University, Rochester, MI 48309-4401

Decision-making, residence patterns, and specializations among the Foothill Yokoch (Yokuts), (Western) Mono, and (Southern Sierra Nevada) Miwok indicate that the previously reported male bias of these groups was partly due to researchers' assumptions and partly a contact-induced response. Comparing data from these groups with hunting and warfare hypotheses confirms that their traditional gender-egalitarian ethos and social ranking were based on age, knowledge, talent, and family ties. A diachronic approach and synthesis of new and old ethnographic material, archaeological studies, and historical data with descendants' statements shed light on the roles of women and men and on the basis of authority in some societies.


David Yetman
The Southwest Center, University of Arizona, 1052 North Highland, Tucson, Arizona, 85721
Alberto Burquez
Instituto de Ecologia, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, Apartado Postal 1354, Hermosillo, Sonora 8300, Mexico

Changes in 1992 to Article 27 of Mexico's Constitution permitted the privatization of former collectively owned lands (ejidos). In 1996 governmental officials arrived in Tecoripa, a small livestock ejido village in Sonora, to assist ejidatarios (ejido members) in deciding whether to privatize. The ejidatarios struggled with two problems simultaneously: whether to privatize and whether to increase the size of their individual parcels from ten to twenty-seven hectares, thereby decreasing the amount of communally owned lands.

A key motive force in the ejido's decision has been the ejidatarios' desire to increase individual cattle production. This would be accomplished by clearing the native forest and creating an artificial grassland by planting buffelgrass, an African exotic. Ejidatarios believe that by privatizing, expanding their individual holdings, and creating grassland, they will become more prosperous. In Tecoripa they have sought the twin goals of privatizing and expanding their parcels. Their confidence in gaining increased wealth through expanded cattle production is based on inadequate information, however. Ecological variables and economic forces pose grave threats to the long-term viability of their private initiative.


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