S Anita Spring 2- c/t-O- Q
S Meredith (Penny) Rucks
S Washoe Ethnographers
: Linda Sommer 3 aO- CLk&c
S Penny Rucks A 4 4
..eyedt- (Pormy) -Thesk-. OeK--.-- We-'re-o-tbaek,-
Anita Spring: C n we w .... So in that sense, ya==
kag that was really my major n foray into linguistic
S: And not really to be repeated, although the
categorization of things, using terminologies from other cultures
being studied, I've always done that. Yes.
R: Y Did we want to move on past your sojourn
[laughter] with the Washoe? Well, actually, to get back seriously
to your... the business of getting your master's degree,...
R: ... based on the work that you did there. You did end
up using... you ended up writing your thesis and not needing to
go back into the field to validate. I mean, what you got in that
seven weeks basically constructed the fieldwork for your thesis,
is that right?
S: Yes, it did. Yes, it's true. And it's funny, here again
quoting from the... .o-ftfmte 3a .4 the appendix on
appraising the field school, wn.a--h- ..fhat the-.. we
should come out of the field one week early, write the report,
and then if we had any queries, wei' have tha ability to go back
for the last week..
S: ... to check on the data.
S: That was one of my suggestions, and, of course,
something very studentish [lt
J_. Yes. N.e r.
S: But still a valid point probably.
R: Oh, yes. Yes.
S: I mean, everybody would like that. By the way, I have
done a lot of thinking on that particular subject.
R: Of validation?
S: Of both validation and this notion about being able to
Anita Spring 5-3
R: Yes. Yes.
S: And, of course, the standard anthropological method...
classic methodology is you collect, collect, collect, collect all
the data; you write up good field notes, for sure; but you're
really not analyzing in the field--you're collecting.
S: And you come out of the field, and then you spend an
inordinately long period of time analyzing. [laughter] And, of
course, there are things that you forgot..
S: ..to collect, or you're unsure of your information,
or you have part information. It's a mess. And I don't see this
handled very well in our training of students and in their work
and the f we do for ourselves, apW.
S: And the problem is, Imear-f you_ -..e- I rgee, if
you're in Reno, vgaks you can take a couple of hours and
S: and it's not so bad. But if your field site is
Zambia, you cannot do that. .~keww, ,u may get back five years
Anita Spring 5-4
later or something like that,...
S: ... after your informants are scattered or whatever.
'-h how It's just an impossible thing. And besides, you
needed to do the analysis in the intervening time period. So
these sort of long stretches of time in the field without ever
sz~-c coming out of the field and these long stretches of
collection, collection, collection of data with the notion that
analysis comes subsequently has been something that has bothered
me for a very long time. So I have, in more recent fieldwork and,
certainly, once I started the notion of rapid appraisals and
analyses as preludes to formal surveys ors to more in-depth
work, really changed that whole notion. And so .-tirs I
really like^, is, [c- e_ i .me--instead of lengthy times
in the field all attached in one block... and I didn't get a
chance to practice this one until really late in life--1994 and
1995--so it's really very recent.. -
R: But you'd been mulling this problem over...
S: Yes, I have. Yes, I have actually.
R: Yes. As early as your Luvale work, had you been
thinking about this?
S: No, it was after that.
R: OK. All right.
S: That was. what started this. I gqetck from
two years in the field there were a few things I didn't know the
S:< nd I only realized it afterye e in deep analysis.
K_ _J a ghght .
S: ..- writing it up, and you can't go back.
S.7 et ,-ad t's frustrating. And I'm sure every
anthropologist has this.
S: ..-ha-h-is problem, and it's part of -"'', Ry
bad methodology that we have or methods that we have...
S: ..of doing tes-. The Jamaica project was done in five
trips. Two of them were about a week and a half long;.
S: ... ne was three months long;...
,.F-- -- Es .
Anita Spring 5-6
S: one was a month long; ayd t-hn I d-m o... one
was another amount of time shorter. But mu ~ Lb t adthen I
left students there in Jamaica, Y1e-,ew. 'o -11 -ibut
n .-r-..i- could' do~ to the rural areas...
S: .. here I was working. But itrP. i^-i i.... you
-do.. you-would collect td ~C; we.. analyzed a lot of --- c L
there with Jamaican colleagues.
R: Yes. Yes.
S: So that's the other part of the methodology--that
validation, running it by people who are from the country r--
.teg and/or the culture.
R: Do you think it's most successful in projects that
involve kind of team approach?
S: Oh, yes. Yes, I do.
: vYe.s Yc~.
S: Yes. Yes, ot co-rrs&.
S: And the team thi I'll get to..
R--- agK. mut
S: in just a minute.
Anita Spring 5-7
S: But this... just to finish this topic, being able to
come out of the field, try to do some analysis ...
S: ok at what you have, and then beji able to go
back, and then you Fec try to get as much of what you
didn't... 5, what is missing.
S: Is an amazing kind of thing.
S: As far as I'm concerned, you can do two to three times
more, using that methodology, than i e trying to
analyze ari after you've come back after a very long period of
time, getting so frustrated that you concoct... literally, I
think people concoct half the stuff, because they have to answer
these questions, and they didn't get the full story, and they use
data that are possibly so or tangentially so to do final
constructions and analyses....
R: It's like connecting the dots.
: it's like ....
S: That's it. You're going to connect them no matter what,
because, otherwise, it's not going to make sense for your
Anita Spring 5-8
dissertation, or that article is going to look pretty stupid;..
S: c-- ad f -hink tere ..And I don't think it's a
question of trying to cheat or lie or fudge or,--ccai~fi
anything like that. I just think that you then begin to put in
other thought patterns, an. g .fZ- I think everybody does
R: Well, it's also the process of coming back to your own
-.-= tra- and beginning to think in a different
S: Yes. And then this must have been connected.
R: And then it is transformed.
S. This must have been the way it was.'.
S- .-~ and makes sense that it was that way'
You run it by your dissertation chair; you run it by
your colleagues; and they... "Oh, yes. Well, that's logical. That
S: And so it becomes something that th
S: And I there's an awful lot of ethnography that has been
constructed like that, if people really, are willing to
be honest about it. But if you have the choice and the chance of
going back and forth, back and forth, verifying.... I mean, I
think you did a lot of this, because you had....
R: I had the luxury of doing... just because of the
S: ?If you'd done a lot of that,.
S: ./and also ca back and then analyzing and seeing
what's missing .
S: ... the reliability of your data is much higher, number
one. Number two, if you have the possibility of checking the data
that you collect, after you've analyzed it and filled in the
Anita Spring 5-10
gaps, then the validity of your data is much higher. J-1- r
S: So these are two major problemsOEs.-
R: Now, was the Jamaica project the first time you really
had a chance to operationalize these ideas about doing...?
S: ....becau ..herea--s-T so pi mel~ in a way....
S: I was teaching at the same time I was leading this
project, so, 'y(r s3 I could get a week or two here,...
... or I could add a... the weekend before and after
spring break, or after the term ended, could go for a couple of
s: It was just the realization, after, ,y-g the
second or third trip,...
S>., that, gee, that was great! I got... y Jr here\
J I add the actual amount of time I have been in the field, it
doesn't look like a whole lot.
S: But it's divided now over three trips.
S: I feel that I have learned as much in those three
trips, which maybe tally to three months
S: .7or three and a half months, than I learned in a
S: ... in ~T i -iannw_ in one of these other places.
R: Yes. 6
S: And, 'yJiow, I also came back and thought, "Gee, I
should have used this methodology." So what did I do? I got that
methodology and took it with me...
S: on the next trip.
3-;t kCrC^ s/m/ /ar ^h i~-yaV C4
S: r I needed this particular piece of equipment, e---I--
rneedr yrou know, 'Thate-vr it wg.
S: The next round had that in it.
I didn't sit there in the field, X~buknow wishing and
wondering, and so it was fabulous. It was really wonderful.'
S: ..a. as a way to do it.
R: Yes. So... ad-have you...w r u have written this
training... I mean, you've developed training programs that....
S: Yes. I haven't written enough about it. In fact, this
session that I did with..
S: j > Russ BernardEzggV just this last week, because he,
.1ri knnw has written the whole book on research methods in
anthropology and has just edited the Handbook of Cultural
Methods, y- ,- .. ]
S: The newest
S: ... tome on methodology.
S: mean, he is Mr. Methodology...
7'.i. in anthropology. And we had gotten in a
conversation about a week or two earlier on methods, and I had
used both of his books in preparing this recent NSF grant in
Anita Spring 5-13
terms of methodology. So the methodology part was very fresh in
my own mind, and I had..
S:_ .. just read some... or reread some of the chapters in
those two books on methodology. 4jj9 a I'm always concerned
with how the methods influence the data collection and what we
S: So after that discussion, q, I told him about all
these methodologies that I had been using over the years and had
,a produced all these reports and-al- ae S some -19
academic chapters in books Je said, "Oh. I didn't know you had
done all those things. What were they?"
And then I gave him-eanase to read a copy of "The Tree
Against Hunger: Cultivation of Inset in Ethiopia," plus the
Jamaica project, "Environmental Contaminants in the Lower Black
River Morass," that is a report. "The Tree Against Hunger" is a
publication by the American Association for the Advancement of
Science, and it was reviewed in Science magazine.
But, anyway, he looked at those and said, "Oh, there must
have been a lot of methodologies or a lot of methodology
involved... and different methodologies in the collection of the
Anita Spring 5-14
data that are reported on in these volumes."
I said, "Yes, there were." In fact, every time I did one of
these projects, I gave a methods course first.
S: and it nld- T L ... he Kenya one was only half
a day, but the Ethiopian one was four days.
S: The Jamaican one was three to four day.
----T-e. -youkno fff-atd-fe
only... and some got less ot of them were team efforts, and
so we all had to kind of be on the same wavelength.
R: Were you the only anthropologist?
S: Let's see. Yes and no. [laugb-e] Let's see...
Kenya.... No, as a matter of fact. There was another
anthropologist, but that's not how she works.
R: Right. So you... eyr-- 5 ;rC^I 7 were
definitely in charge of setting the agenda for the methods to be
S: I wanted us to do certain kinds of data collection, and
I figured that people couldn't just do it without having some
S: And, otherwise, everybody would be going their separate
S: and it would just aa~rte be a waste of our time.
So, yes, there was another well-known anthropologist on the Kenya
project. There were qth:r...--couple of other social scientists
who didn't have a clue of these things in -in Ethiopia.
There was an archaeologist in Ethiopia, but he would not have
known anything about that.
R: Now, are all these projects when you were with the
S: No ,t o.
S-.. we' re t.l n about. .
S: They're all.. anm n- n~- -.-' they're all
l- g ino lthl-LU r-nter.
S__ Yes YeSL
S: EjLidifferent funding sources and some before and after
and so forth, yes. So that I would have to give a methodology
Anita Spring 5-16
S: ... workshop. Yes, they were all hands-on workshops for
S: basically, in order for people to know how to
collect the data, to do with the data, and so forth. And the
other thing is, all of these exercises ended with the analysis of
the data collected..
-r and writing ift .-i Mi- them up in a very
short and finite time, so that a product was produced--not this
long, protracted analyses, and then maybe you write it
up...years.. .-y, that agonizing process that I personally
had gone through in the pa--.b.Me..ii mean, post-
S: ... imy dissertation...
S: ... and the writing it up for the final Ph.D.
S: That was agonizing because it was a big topic. XZA
jrhre there were a few things that didn't get askedj/or the data
were a little unclear, like everybody else's,...
Anita Spring 5-17
R- -- --R-i gt .
S: ...and you agonize -sp he- over those thingsptk4
S: So that had been on my mind for many years, actually.
R: And it must affect people's desire to continue post-doc
research whole... C
Yes.d, see, I have....
R: ... experience.
S: Yes. A~-- I have done an extraordinarily long list
of fieldwork assignments.
S: And varied.
R: Tremendously varied.
S: Vare4. But I probably, u wjg when I'd
studied the Luvale, had the t.hoii thl, Iy -, that wi i. I
would keep going back and back and back. And I did go back once
before I went off on another,.. r=stat_ career path.
R: Yes. Yes. iw 44
S: But I, -you kew, had seen Elizabeth Col son[pq and
Ted SrEteFRET I ] and, yo~nks w, read... even earlier,--ifwe-et
tQ o-bac ly, Ri-chrd-- r Richards [I i-
Anita Spring 5-18
S: p. and, of course, Victor Turner and all the British
social anthropologists and the Americans, like Elizabeth and Ted,
who b-at *- 1~o kept going back to their research sites and
doing longitudinal work and looking at changes,~e sto through
time and how things affected people and following some of the...
: same people-! i part he key informant
R: Right. Right.
S: And I thought I'd be somebody who would do tha
R: Yes. Yes.
S: That appealed to me, to jtdgE follow things along
through time. Little did I know that after the thatpt, going back
to the Luvale, I would then embark on the interest in agriculture
and start doing projects all over Africa and then, subsequently,
4q JyoiJ4w many other places,~, for the Fi vl17/
\o~i university, for the U.S. government, for other
development agencies, for the UN, and so forth. ]'2\e I had no
way to know at the time that that was going to happen.
Anita Spring 5-19
R: LA. \A Yes.
S: So, n when I &1 list f~Bpage
on fieldwork in my vita. O/All_ / sometimes I don't even. I
leave lots of things off.
R: Because it's just too long.
S: Because I think people will thin/wp% "How did
she do all that?"
S: r, "It couldn't have been much in depth."
R: Right. h/ t l..a Th R'
S: So, I'll pick five of them...
S: and leave the....
R: Representative or something.
$--No, I don't evea-s- at.
R-- You don' t.. yG ...
S: I just leave those on...
S: rs ome thingso...
S: Att like a grant that I just applied for,...
Anita Spring 5-20
S: .because maybe they'll think I'm a gadfly or,,a
i ~ something like that. But if I give you.the whole list1PtJ.
S: .. see how long and diversified, yclgF, the
fieldwork is. But I love fieldwork. But I now have this idea,
after having spent so much time agonizing over the Ph.D.
dissertation, that the analysis and the write-up, at least
initially in the first round, should be fairly quick.
S: Now, the Washoe stuff was good.
S: I mean, 4.e a fairly long report was produced. The
master's thesis actually was finished in 1967,.
S: ... after I'd already left for Cornell..
S: .-. as a graduate student there.
S: t just got delayed because I went off to... I didn't
have it turned in and then went off to do the Ph.D. program.
R: I t ....
/_, fi ih n
Anita Spring 5-21
I also wrote the article for the Cornell Journal of Social
S: ,S So I had to do that in addition to my course work
R: Finish the thesis and you writing that article?
R: Now, did you deliver.., was it at the Great Basin
meetings that... did you deliver a paper on the semantic..
S: I think I did.
R: ... categories?
S: I do l'L ....
R: Because I think you at least worked on it, but it was
unclear il in your papers if you'd actually..
R: .../given a paper.
S: I think I did.
R: Because I would like to know, I mean, wTEia-... that
must have been your first professional meeting....
S: Oh, of delivering a paper?
R: Yes. Was it? Because most people do remember that
rather clearly, because it's a...
S: It wasn't my first professional...
R: ... terrifying....
S: ... meeting to attend.
R: Oh, it was.... But to read your own work?
S: Yes, probably was
P- Ys. _.
S: Y~/2because I can't imagine having given a paper at a
profess... at the 1-a, for example,
S: ...-n any of the previous stuff.
S: So that may be... yes, that probably is right.
R: But '4a since you don't remember, though, do you
remember the first... yt"p)d kpt Apaper that you were really
concerned about a reaction to in a professional meeting?
S: No. I have to look at my vita.
S: I probably have it written on there.
S: I have given so many papers and so many talks,...
R: So it's no longer this kind of big thing
S: ... I can't even recall.
R: Yes. Well, that's what comes with having such a varied
and rich.... [laughter]
S: I can't... I don't recall the first one. I do... yes, I
do recall one thing.
R: All right.
S: I do recall it, now that I've mentioned the name of
Elizabeth Col son.
S: Elizabeth Co son said--and I have had very few bits of
advice given by other anthropologists, real good advice--she
said, "Anita, I have to give you some advice." a4ndxaf__ -- I
guess I was going to give a scholarly paper at a conference.
R: And this is someone that you care about. I mean, whose
S: Elizabeth Col on is like, you know, the preeminent
female Africanist--still alive.
S: She's emerita from Berkeley, but..
S: ,2nyway... and I've always respected her and her work.'
S:;-She's so, -f~ g dedicated~ a ... She told me
Anita Spring 5-24
not to wear clanking jewelry,..
1 2'. speaking of dress.
R: Yes. Here we go. This is good. Yes.
S: That was... because I used to wear these elaborate
S: OK? And she was afraid that my necklace would clank
against the microphone..
S: .../ hen I was giving my first. or my presentation.
S: So in Zambia...
S: ... in about 1971,..
S: ... -he pulled me aside and gave me this discussion.,
SA And_--w^dt-airhi ], iii oin. She gave me this advice.
R: Yes. So more on... you see, it's critical! [laughter]
S: Yes. She knew it, and she's not even into that subject.
Anita Spring 5-25
R: So she... now, she's one... because that actually
brings up another topic that I really wanted to get to, was
tfJA who the people are you admired and
admire in terms of being role models..
R: .... 3f the kind of anthropologist you wanted to
R: ... and have become.
S: Yes. Well, certainly Elizabeth Co son's in that
category. I mean, her work on the Gwembet.4 in Zambia, and its
longitudinal work 4
S: is sterling. And she is a professor of anthropology
with her extensive knowledge o .
S: C kinship and social organization.
R: Now, when were you first aware of her work?
S: Oh. Well, let's see... I... probably when I went to
R: Yes. All right.
S: OK. I left San Francisco; went to Cornell in 1966.
.While I was there, after the... "f!G, 1966-
1967, so by the end of that first term, I turned in my master's
at San Francisco State ( -
~#f y'v University and had written the paper for the
-4 .-y, f Social Relations. And by the way, I don't know
if should add this, the following year, 1968, I was invited by
San Francisco State to teach a course during the summer.
S: The Hunters and Gatherersjxof the Worldethjig.
R: Yes. Which you did.
S: Which I did, yes., Three hours every day.
R: Yes. But it was good to get back to the West.
R: ..xfrom Cornell?
S: Oh, yes. Oh... oh, yes. wait until we get into that
SBut anyway, 5E4 '4 so then f I .. at Cornell,
Anita Spring 5-27
efetden19we f do- eCornell from
1966 to 1970.
S: OK. Those four years.
S: At least there during the academic...
Btrt-?yo d alre ...
R: Lat tWpt t .. en you went to Cornell,
you were going to be an Africanist?
S: Oh, yes. 14o) .
S:/\ ... .howg I get l t-h in ihe fl st\paic v
S: OK. Yes. While still at San Francisco State,.
S: ..?I read Victor Turner's book, Schism and Continuity
in an African Society.
S: And it just blew my mind. I just thought it was
Anita Spring 5-28
Su in the way he analyzed how matrilineality
and kinship ian- the sorvi fee=- understanding how people thought
and reacted to the world qda -.i -- v.,f- s.4_w, I just thought it
R: Do you still use this... his book in your teaching?
S: It's funny, I don't have it on my shelf today, because
I pulled it out just last week, and one of my students checked i
S: ... to read, since her exams are coming up. And she
needed to bolster the section on African ethnography, and I was
shocked that she had not looked at that one,..
S: so pulled it out for her. It's a 1957 book. And so
I was so enamored...
S: by British social anthropology at this point,
having moved, as I told you, through archaeology, yeukiow, urban
studies, basic kinship,...
0'^. .. American Indi? ... So probably when I came back,
probably that year, t .. till I graduated, ie .d
Anita Spring 5-29
the fall term of 1965 and the spring term of 1966, when I then
... that first term I probably... I came back; I was
working on the master's; I probably took those Africa courses.
S: I realized there was no way to s-Pi be drawn back to
the Washoe because of s/ lo~,hthe *91Wb limited methodology of
working with informants and the small size, and you couldn't live
there, and the long list of anthropologists who've already worked
S: I mean, how could you get a dissertation..
S: ... .then? And then, of course, when James Downs's book
came out in 1966....
R: Ah. OK. That's key. That's right in those years.
S: Yes. And here it all was, although a pretty static view
of the Washoe, but anyway.... *S yPd kyf^ All those case
S: They're edited to be of a particular nature. They're
al c Bu ,nywa ne thl s fairly comprehensive.
~/61+ I4 "What dissertation were you going to pull out of that,"
I said to myself.
R: Now, when we were talking before, and I might have
missed a stitch here, you said that when you were a student at
San Francisco State and it didn't occur to you that you were
going past a master's, because at that juncture it was possible
for people to get work with master's degrees ....
S: Oh, right. I was there for three years,...
S: because I was k-i o= working my way througho~gr
R: So I'd like to know when you knew you were going to get
S ---Aft --r.-., viously-kn- ...
S: ... after... it had to be by the
S: It had to be right after the Wash
R: Right. Well, I'm just wondering i
end of the fall term
f that was enough of
... zyou-woe-rgog, "Yes, I'm going to do this
professionally, but just not there."
S: W tIIA. yes. I think it's easy to, 6j&le 4y say it at
this point, but it had to have been... because you had to send in
the applications. ~ iy/ier/ jl the applications to
universities in America are due either in December or January.
R: That's right.
S: You had to write them and mail them in. / I
got accepted to four places... or six places, as I remember,..
S: four of which had money.
R: Yes. Yes.
S: And Cornell had the full fellowship, and Victor Turner
was there. Pittsburgh... was e/,one of the Carnegie-Mellon
fellowships? Penn was a teaching assistant. Northwestern was... I
think that was a fellowship, too, or some kind of scholarship.
And then there were two others, so I obviously applied to at
least six of them.
S: I think I got turned down... well, I don't know; I
can't remember. I think I did apply to Yale.... I don't know;
Anita Spring 5-32
there were a few others.
S: Anyway... oh, and Berkeley.
S: Berkeley turned me down.
R: Yes. I'll be damned.
S: Yes. I was so furious.
R: [laughter] No, it's funny, because I....
S: They didn't even admit me. And here I had a full
fellowship at Cornell, a fellowship at Pitt,...
S: ... a fellowship at Northwestern..
S: a TA-ship at Penn,...
S: .. and an acceptance, I think, at Yale with no money.
R: Have you ever analyzed... I mean, have you ever figured
out why Berkeley would turn you down with -..?
S: And I said, "But I'm a California resident!"
R: Yes. Yes.
S: "What does this school...?" You know, I was just...
Anita Spring 5-34
S: The money ,A u/ / was perfectly good.
S: So it was really Northwestern, because they had4i..
ve ,Opg,4,vk the premiere African.
S: ... program.
R: ... yes.
S: And Cornell was Ivy League, and Victor Turner was
there, and it was a full fellowship. I think the Northwestern one
was, T ...
0 2'. equally as good. And I remember.-eg !;n 4-Maurice-
Opler calling me and trying to convince me to take it.
S: e tape]?
S: (5. And so forth. And so I had to have known as soon as
I finished the Washoe field school and that term....
R: Do you suppose you got a letter from d'Azevedo for
Northwestern? I mean, do you suppose... do you remember asking
any of those people? I'm just wondering, since he was an alum of
Anita Spring 5-35
S: Have no... I have no a4 A.-- ()
R: It seemed like a probable....
R: --zZZs.y es
S: ... yes. Probably. I mean, I probably had him
End of Side 1, Beginning of Side 2
S: "d I have-. I guess we have to conclude, I mean, _yJ-
,nS, it had to have been the fact that I felt that I had very...
Anita Spring 5-36
rLs-Z erd done very successful.-.. I'd C:done-a-veryw-eg ul job
in the field school..
S: ... and had collected real anthropological data.
S: that was of a very reputable nature...
R: Yes. And written a professional paper based....
S: ... written a profession... well, no, I hadn't written
that paper yet.
R: Oh, OK. Oh, of course not. That's right.
S: I was still at San Francisco State.
S: Yes. I had. ej written up the field report,
which is about three-quarters of the length of the thesis,...
p. Yg-. ----------
S and analyzed the stuff.
I had not yet finished the thesis.
R: Yes. Yes.
S: ? And so I would have had to have applied and gotten
all the application forms...
Anita Spring 5-37
----... by October at the latest of that fall term and have
turned them in by December or January at the latest.
R: So you would have had to race back to San Francisco
S: At the latest. So it was very clear in my mind at that
S .. that I wanted to go on for the Ph.D. and that I
knew that the Ph.D. was, yp Iipw, leading toward a career as a
professor in anthropology.
R: I just wondered if you remembered any sort of seminal
conversations you had maybe with Ed Montgomery or Don Fowler or
who knows who, where you were sort of soul searching to see if
that's what you really wanted to do.
S: Yes. No, I probably came back from the field tEa3 and
sad- "Yes, it .. .," and talked to Jim AijabAa4hif- 5; ..
S-: -- -nd A~Ti m ,ri ,a [s and David Campbell and
sa 9-4=nd4 John Adair 2 and said, you know, "What do you
S: I do recall, now that I mention it, that they
Anita Spring 5-38
encouraged me to apply to schools back Easteand that John-
Agig-TT-I had lunch with John Adair and his wife nma~- rsr
many years later at one of the anthropology meetings, and he
brought the topic up. And he said, "I wanted you to go back East
to get your Ph.D.," and he said, "I never told you what Cornell
was like, because if I had told you what it was like, you
wouldn't have gone."
: o So, aU Ae-they pushed me in that direction.
.S_ 'TheyA did.
R: Now, did you have any... I mean, were you seriously...
well, yes, I can see why you... why Northwestern would be very
attractive. But given the fact that you were so enamored with
R: .approach, and he was there, it must have been....
S: ... it cost me big time to have made that decision,..
s^- because Cornell is noted for Latin American studies
and Asian studies.
Anita Spring 5-39
S: And although Victor Turner was there, Abner Cohen[?g-
was a visiting prof, Mark SchwartzJ f was a visiting prof, even
Elizabeth Col/son came through for a term, .
R,; < _._____
-^ .<- Louis B. Leakey came through for a term,...
S: : 'the fact that they all came through for a term)
tey did not have an African program, which meant that you
couldn't take African history, you couldn't take African
geography, you couldn't take political sci I-meaye d...
E;-mni, Victor Turner was there,...
-t" .gand you could take African anthropology, but that
does not a program make. /
S: And a real bonafide Africanist, .. t...and I
knew this, but I was also to find this out, it has taken me years
to pick up African geography, African political economy,.
S: ... African history.
S Years! And I still am always learning that, because I
never had a course, as an Africanist--and a senior Africanist at
the present time--and I never had African linguistics; I never
had African geography, African history, African political
science, or any of the courses--African humanities,...
R: Right. Right. Now, I'm... you're right.
S: ... African literature. That would have been all part
of the curriculum at Northwestern.
R: Yes. So in that sense, you feel like maybe you didn't
make the right decision or....
S: Well, it's been a struggle,)..
S because I knew I was lacking those things.
Sr----_ < s.
R: Yes. So was Victor Turner your advisor?
S: Oh, at the beginning before he left.
S:- And when he left, and a few students followed him to
S: s n but, see, I had this full fellowship that
was good for my entire stay at Cornell. And having spent so much
Anita Spring 5-41
time working and so forth,....
R: Now, the fellowship was from the NIH, right?
S: The fellowship was from the NIH, but it was part of a
programmatic effort that Cornell had applied for to get those
fellowships. But it was not transferrable.
R: And you were not... were you directed... I mean, your
interest was, I think you said, was that already in medical...?
S: It was in medical; it was in spiritual.., that whole
ritual and the intersection of ritual and medical systems,...
S: ... OK, or health care systems.
R: Wasn't... there really wasn't a medical anthropology at
this point, was there?
S: W'll not Cornell was good in that part,.
P' _Yoc. And Z--... -
S: ..? bga-... .u.L. the med school, by the way, is in
New York City. It has nothing to do with.... [+1aug
S: So that's not what made it good. The sociologists did
have some good demographers and health people--iDjs-' Z.
,people. They were very interested in health care and population
Anita Spring 5-42
dynamics. And so I was able to get that whole component, plus.
S.. the fact that Cornell had some very good physical
anthropologists. So William Steeneyp- was on my committee; I
had really heavy courses in a4thr -n physical anthropology
from Kenneth Kennedy; Brooke Thomas < was there, who also
served on my committee for.... ~I I had several people,
because some of them left,
S: ...7not because I kept changing.
S: I mean, I had to change.
Bo the physical anthropological, medical
anthropological part was there.
S: Victor Turner had already gotten me focused on doing
the Luvale, his next group, .
S: .. so that was all set.
S: He just wasn't going to be around when I got back.
Anita Spring 5-43
R: Right. Right.
S: And I was about to go off, and then he left. So..<
a fw fq&I would have had to pn take course work at
Chicago; he funding was insecure.
R: Right. Right.
S: It. ~9-<<5 v/a really was not a consideration,
S: There were just so many things that, rypH -<
S: It made no sense to leave. I had just met the man I was
going to marry,Y ic53 I mean, all kinds of .
S reasons. But professional reasons had to do with my
program was set; I'd finished the course work; ..
S: yeke A I had the fellowship; I had the money to
go to the field....
R: Was it a great loss to you to lose his .?
S: Oh, big time.
S: -C cause none of the people whom I worked with when I
--.. really had the hey weren't Africanists. They
weren't British social anthropologists.
S: They did do the medical, population....
S: So I mean, it was... j, it was like a half part
of it. Y.ui--kfw....
S: ... half of it was covered; half of it wasn't.
S: They didn't do any of the symbol and ritual stuff,.
S: and so that is in some ways,, jw th e
less e dhasized and the health stuff was more emphasized.
S: So it would have really been good had he been there
whean-=hae advise'me in the writing up.
S: Big-time difference.
Anita Spring 5-45
S: It would have been a different product.
R: Had he been there, would it also have assisted you
while you were actually doing your fieldwork over the two
S: Oh, yes.
,S----es See, because a-n my dissertation t- = Qfil y
became much more focused on the health care system and on the
epidemiology of disease...
S _-. and what people were suffering and then how they
used ritual in that whole conglomeration of health....
R: Now, did that have a slant, an emphasis on how women...
S: Oh,-^,q yesy ^ ^
There's a lot of about women, but we'll...put that
aside for the moment. r7..
.had Victor Turner still been at Cornell, I have no
doubt that that dissertation probably would have been put into a
book, IQ t'. rch it never was; I only
wrote a series of articles on the findings)... that itllh^
Anita Spring 5-46
would have been much more slanted toward ritual and symbol m, .y
S: 7 and it would have been a very different product.
S: Very, very different. So that is a great pity.
S: It's just that he left so late in my own career at
S: I was just about to go to the field- ..
S: it ac 1-3. everything was set, and my course
work was finished, the money was all under control ...
YOU ]now. it- j ^ ... ^
SSo there was nothing I could do.
R: So when you were there under a full fellowship, did
that include... did you know that included that your fieldwork
would be funded as well, or was that separate?
S: NKseHo. I didn't know that the fieldwork... I had to
apply for that.
Anita Spring 5-47
R: Yes, OK.
S: aahe financial thing at Cornell
was a breeze
S: t.' >~I mean, as I look at our students struggling now,
both during the terms and for--ir; --. anything for the field,
minor and major, it was like night and day.
-'.-- iight and day---.
S: The fellowship not only paid the tuition fees, et
cetera, but, -Aniw, it was like something like four hundred
dollars a month for living expenses and trips to conferences,...
R: Yes. Oh, my.
S: .... and I mean, proby n. o, there
probably was even a small stipend extra for books or something ..k-
mean, it wa lk...
S: everythingng was paid for.
S Wo~w!vyiing w1a g pid for.
S: And it was at an Ivy
S: 'rp school,
and S,-ffIeaa, Cordl /y-uzrw, I'd grown up in
Philadelphia. CG-ll... I ,,a---, I'd heard about Cornell ever
since I was, yagL&w=w, that big. So...
S: it was magical in its draw.
R: Did you actually go there before you made the decision?
Did you go to see the campus...
S: No, ..
S: c- -non -nta Actually, I don't like the place.
R: Yes, I know. I... that's why I was asking! [laughter]
S: I thought it was much too cold, and people were much
S: -But, ye -~kn w, it does have this aura.
S: .~ that.. well deserved,...
and on and on.
S: But, nevertheless, I found it a difficult place.
S-'r> nd its small-town town-gown....
R: So socially, it was difficult, too?
S: Socially, it was awful.
S: I mean, really awful.
S: But then again, I was coming from San Francisco. An
urban... a very sophisticated...
S urban environment during the 1960s, west .
Anita Spring 5-49
ac l -- ir k__now, both its history and, y4SM=_ ew
coeducation and its actual, physical beauty...
Bt--Ri Ye g? ^ ------ -- -
S: ..7 and,-yu dnow, its alumni and the number of Nobel
laureates and the..
S: ... quality of it5.. Oh, I could just go, jyEow, on
.A 0 '^ ,^-^M^^E
S: ... all kinds of things were happening, to go to a very
backwater, very small, very ivory-tower place in a very cold
R: [laughter] What a combination! Yes.
S: [laughter] And that's why John Adair said, "If I told
you what it was like, you would never have gone, and we wanted
you to go."
R: Yes. Yes. Yes.
S: And he was right.
R: Yes. So how long were you there doing course work?
with Victor Turne~~f1 -e The other person I spent a lot of
time working with was Jack Roberts, John Roberts, who... he went
and became the Mellon Professor of Anthropology at Pitt.
4:. uh. Oh, oh, my. Yes."
S: And then Bill whom I was working with on
the physical anthropology, went to the University of Arizona.-
Vic Turner went to.v&. I mean, they kept getting other
people in, but, ,yaxZ:w7, the people I was very enamored by, in
terms of their work and methodologies and so forth, three of them
R: Yes. What about the other graduate students? D4d=;q u
hbave. Yru n.3j-know, wre ,e~. ..?
S: For many, many years, and I would say this is still
somewhat true, very close relationships...
S: ... with the other graduate students. Every Amer e' Z.
lya-T p meeting we would
R-^^^-'Ye~g'. ^ --4- ---fijJ M
S: go out for dinner an ...
S: ..?rhere were a number of people--very
S: with other graduate students from that time period.
R: Yes. Well, that must be satisfying.
S: That's one thing nice.
R: Y e. Because I don't think that's always the case
S: ei5< No, in fact, we had this notion that wherever you
were on the planet, you could find somebody from Cornell, and
they would help you. Anfd=k. ...
R: Oh, how lovely! That's wonderful.
S: And had a number of gr,j e
ht=p #ey had this big hotel school .yery/A. world-famous, n 2 .t9t.c,
-4g somebody from the hotel school who solved all kinds of
problems when we were in Zambia.
R: Really? Oh, how lovely.
R: Yes. So what was it you found so horrific ?
S: For me?
S: Oh, just coming from the social scene in San Francisco.
R: Yes. Yes.
S: Oh, speaking of dress, you will laugh.
S: You may have to edit this out.
S: [laughter] Coming to Cornd from San Francisco in the
Anita Spring 5-53
mid-1960s, where people went out; there were parties; there were
You know, all... that whole life. I mean, there was
"flower power" and, u ko, dance in the park, I suppose. But,
55-e ew, I had all these cocktail dresses. I must have had like
twenty of them, and I never wore one of them
S I threw them all out when I left Cornell...
S: ... about six years later, [laughter] having never...
lh'I.-... put one of them on. There was no place to go; there
was no social life.
S: Professors did not invite you to their homes.
S: Victor did once or twice, and...
S: C4 I didn't realize how rare that was.
R: Yes. Yes.
S: Never, nQver nz i n nree that kind of
R: But there was that kind of interaction at San Francisco
State, where, I mean, the... where the professors would invite
you... the students home that sort of thing?
S: Sometime... a little bit. Like,.
... John Collier and his family and a few others. But
there were so many things happening in San Francisco,..
.. you know in addition to the university.
S: There was music and art and fine restaurants and
.".. and, y uc ow, all kinds of outdoors...
S: ... things--you know, hiking and.... I mean, -y]s-
you would freeze when you went there [Cornell].
S: I mean, you know, there were so many things happening.
r: --- eK.
RT : Ye-s.
Anita Spring 5-55
S: And so many different categories of people.
S: And if you wanted to get involved in the Japanese
-rr- c-Ay-t+e Pf r"
S: ... -Chinese ?EEajl, this part of town or that
part.... Yt=tr z= there were so many things.
S: Y-. In Ithaca, there was the town and the gown. And
the town, you had no dealings with. You had to go buy things
... and deal with these dreadful landlords,.
S. who were trying to gouge you in terms of housing.
They're the ones who mostly owned it, although some of the
professors owned housing and did the same thing.
R: Yes, did the same thing. [laughter]
S: And there were the professors, who were... yie=now,--
they're professors in Ivy League school, y-e=4j2.
S: Xg@-e w. And they're very involved in their own work,
and it's very ivory-towerish. It's a very small place. There's no
place to go. Everybody is wearing heavy clothing, jeans, and
heavy shirts and....
R: And it's very waspy? Is that right?
S: It's very waspy....
S: i don't know. All I know is. qA4)
: You spent a lot of time in the library...
S: I spent every minute in the library for...
S: I had a carrel there; I had a locked carrel. I'd leave
my stuff. I was there Saturday night, Friday night,..
S: C-. you-name-it night.
? I didn't go out. There was no place to go; there was no
one to go out with.
S: There were no dresses to be worn. [laughter]
R: [laughter] Oh, my!
S: It was bleak..
: .2 socially. But, yerE r, I was so interested in
anthropology, and Cornell had a wonderful library.
S: So I read all the British social anthropologists.
R: And you did get to go to meetings and stuff like that.
S: I got to go to meetings.
S: I had4y the financial thing was under control
: I I didn't have to work.
S: It was the first time in my college career,..
-).. because I'd worked as an undergraduate; I worked
for my master. I didn't have to work.
S: It would have been ideal to, -y=Tow, socialize and
party, but there were none of them happening. No parties, no
I don't remember much of it.
R: Do you think that atmosphere sort of helped to make the
graduate students such a little cohesive...?
S: I think it did.
S: I mean, we did have some graduate student parties, .
-.m. ar Rl1- T ---. r gaiamewBut they were very
casual and ad hoc kind ..
... things. It wasn't, yIeradiw, quite, I suppose that
R: Well, San Francisco is a very sophisticated city.
S R There isn't any question about tha .
R: ef And did you ever get into New York City or...?
S: It's too far.
R: Is it? Yes.
S: Yes. It was a six-hour drive...
R: Oh, my god. Yes, that's....
S--.. ... through, you know....
R- I don't -know the geography.
S: Well, of course, I got there Ffaover a six-year
period a couple times.
S: Yes. Bit- not... it. Were else
could you go?
S: There was Binghamton....
R: How... when you knew you were going to be an
Africanist, I mean, and you're there, how'd.. ..~ i you had
said much earlier on that... I had asked if part of the appeal of
being an anthropologist, you- w, was the travel'.
'1: C.. to exotic places. And you said, "Oh, contrary, I
hated the... t- know- I was scared of flying." So I'm just
wondering if that was a conflict...
S: Oh, by that time I outgrew it'.
%hat was finished. But anyway, t~heaE- it's sort of a
love-hate relationship with Cornell.
S: It was very funny.
And, you know, my son went there, too.
R: Now, that is funny. You must have felt that was really
strange when you found out he was going to go there. [laughter]
S: Yes. He had his choice of a couple places,...
S: ... and I decided I wasn't going to influence him. And
I remember John Adair's words, [laughter]...
S: ... "If I told you what it was like, you wouldn't have
S: So I never said how much I disliked certain aspects.
I kept very, very silent....
Did he like it?
He loved it.
But he was there as an undergraduate.
S: And they did party.
R: Yes. Yes. Yes.
S: And he thought it was a great school.
S: He came... of course, he went there from Gainesville.
S: He grew up in Gainesville.
R: Yes. Yes.
S: So instead of going from San Francisco to Ithaca,
S: ... he went from Gainesville to Ithaca.
R: That's a completely different...
S: OK. So in a way...it was a little smaller than
Gainesville; you couldn't go to the beach; it was cold as
Anita Spring 5-62
S: But it was beautiful, and they had all these courses
and all these brilliant people and y -~is- &l... most of the
students were from New York City, so they were kind of
S: ... as opposed to other places in Florida,
S: (. the students being from.
R: Yes. Yes.
S: So he adored it.
R: Yes. So you met your husband in Cornell as a student?
S: And I met my husband at Cornell.
R: So he was a student. Was he an anthropologist?
S: Yes, he wa.
R h---T OK.
Yes, II s.
He was returning to school after four years in the
Anita Spring 5-63
S: -This was 1968
And, of course, I got to Cornell in 1966.
SOK. So, ycrmbnow, those first two years was my... "Oh,
my god, you don't expect me to socialize with this...
S ... this scene? This is ridiculous, so I'm just going
to be in the library .
SAnd I got A-pluses.
S: And at Cornell you get an extra point-four [.4] for.. /p
you get a 4.4. [laughter]
R: Oh, if you get an A-plus?
S: So I thought that was just the cat's meow.
Anita Spring 5-64
S: I was real impressed.
s S .
S: I didn't know they did that, gave you points.
R: Did you ever get a B in a class?
S: Yes, I did.
R: I'd like to know what is.
S: I think it was KARK[s who did it to me. KARK was
Kenneth Kennedy. [laughter]
S: The "AR" referred to other names in his.
... Kenneth Arthur... something, something, Kennedy. We
called him KARK.
R: Yes. Yes.
S: A physical anthropologist. And I think that... I've
forgotten what happened. I think I cracked. something happened
to my right hand. I remember having to take the exam with my left
S: I think I got a B-plus in that class.
Anita Spring 5-65
R: Yes. So it did happen once? [laughter]
S: Yes. It did hapfl. But M31-1 the two A-pluses
that I'd racked up already killed that. Not a problem.
R: Right. No trouble.
S: Not that these things matter, but, yQu .ew, we thought
they mattered so much.
Ftape recorder is turned+ffl rrIn trnnilck n]
S: You asked about sexism at Cornell.
R: Yes. Oh, yes.
S: Cornell was, y knw, a pioneer in coeducation,
actually starting in the last century, and has always prided
itself for these kinds of things. I think they were mostly
thinking of coeducation at the undergraduate level.
S: But when I got there,,y I also thought that, _y
jgo things were going quite smoothly, that Cornell professors
were used to working with female graduate students. There were a
large number of women graduate students. It is true that all the
faculty was male with the exception of one female professor,
actually assistant professor,..
:nS--- an archaeologist, who did not get tenure and
promotion and who subsequently left. And she was someone I didn't
work with, so it didn't really affect me. So everyone I worked
with was male.
S: Well, the first couple of years everything was just
fine, and I think I thought that there was complete support and
no discrimination and...
S--... quite nice. A little unusual that there were no
faculty members who were female except for this one woman. aeps&
-hen sbe but I was really too busy with my program to notice
Then it came to taking my exams. And one had to take these
exams before one could go into the field, and this was the major
S: .. examination, and it was very...
S. .. rigorous. It involved days of writing and the oral
examination. Well, it just so happened that before I came up to
take my exams--and so this must have been like 1969, I think--
Anita Spring 5-67
something like four women in a row had failed.
R: This is in the department?
S: In the department.
R: Wow. OK.
S: And --^-y-n1zw, we knew each other, all the
Sand all the graduate students knew each other. And,
Su I lw wI k7gw thn n 7* -and thought they were perfectly,,tt-
33, bright, good students. I couldn't imagine... one of them
was a little iffy, but th..
other three were certainly as good as anybody
... errnw, who was around and it didn't make sense
S: And I just... that thought crossed my mind that they
had something in common, and I also shared that! [laughter]
R: Yes! [laughter]
S: So I... when I prepared for my exams, I was very
concerned with this.
R: Did you talk to anyone about it?
S: &L j my committee?
R: Well, among yourselves in any way?
S: I think &4(A oh, yes, I'm sure we must have discussed
this. I'm sure it was a hot topic of conversation.
S: And I'm not sure what conclusions we... vg*japaw, I
don't remember the conclusions we came to.
S: But I do remember this: that I walked into my Ph.D.
examj in my professor's office, carrying some papers. I remember
throwing them down on his desk I don't how I was so
... now that I think about it and saying, "I notice
that you flunked four women students before me. I trust that is
not going to happen in this case."
R: This is before... just before you take the exam?
S: This is the examination.
R: Yes. Yes.
S: This is the first... not "Hello, how are you? The
Anita Spring 5-69
weather is nice."
R: Yes. Yes.
S: It does strike me now as really rather bold! [laughter]
But I was very concerned, and I didn't want to be in that
S: I just had too much invested.
S: And, you know those four years in the library,...
R: Right. Right. Right.
S: ... et cetera.
S: I just... golly, that was not going to happen to me.
S: And I think they just looked at me and I don't know; I
think I just had the upper hand in that exam. I just breezed
through it. I mean, I breezed through that exam, and I'd already
done the written parts. And you know what? I want to tell you one
thing about the exam.
S: I was at a JXh A meeting... let's see, what... it
must have been in the 1980s. SEE s was 1969, ,probably, when I
took those exams.
S: I was at a m.t Inj-A meeting, in the 1980s,
mid-1980s probably, before I went to the UN, so maybe, l-i
; 1986, 198 ,...
S: something of nature. A long time later. Yes. It
could have even been later. It could have been even in the early
1990s, but I'm not sure. I was at a bar in the 1-1n-A hotel,
and all the anthropolk. gy.,u4Q, crowded the bar,...
S: ... like a Saturday night, Friday night, or something
like that. And Bet LambertL'jr, Jack Roberts... even Paul
dp?] there, because Paul was a Cornell graduate, and,
of course, Paul J ead recruited me to work at the University
of Florida. That's how I got here.
R: Oh. Oh, OK. w
S: OK. Paul was there. Who else? A few other people. We
discussed ..e -ie of them brought up my Ph.D. exam.
S: And they discussed it! I was there and we all discussed
it, chapter and verse. They remembered the answer to every
question that I had given!
S: It blew my mind.
S: It really did.
S: I mean, I had to give a treatise on the caravan routes
in sub-Saharan Africa,,F- one of the bizarre questions asked.
I wasn't studying that,
S- u but I did know the answer, fortunately.
R: Yes. Yes.
S: They remembered that exam.They remembered the questions
... they remembered the answers....
Yes. That's amazing.
It was extraordinary.
It made an impression. So maybe I got their attention
very minute I walked in and did that -Arca4 ,1- R o S
C)yvY re cio? cJ
S: But I felt secure enough... I.... both insecure and
secure enough to really sock it to them that, -saHs w, I was
going to pass that exam. I knew ~*ya all those materials.
Obviously, I did.
R: Yes. Yes.
S: And I was... I don't know what happened with those
other women. I can't imagine that they didn't know anything.
That's what didn't make sense to me. T4QY=z ...
: : hey were good graduate students.
R: Do you think perhaps they had been intimidated into
kind of flubbing the oral part?
S: Have no idea.
S: Have no idea. I just....
R: And not deliberately, but just because it seems to me
what you did is you just reversed the power srtucture.
S: I did.
S-: 4 And I had the goods to prove it. I mean,...
S: ... it's not ip yi knoW I made them feel badly and,
S: I knew it was a hard exam.
S: And I'd already done the written part which had been
days and days ', .
S: of writing and questions and so forth.
S: So they had that part already answered. But the
orals... I just really was so annoyed that four people werl ..
of Tape 5
End of Tape 5
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