Title: Washoe ethnographer Anita Spring transcription of taped interview
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00086724/00010
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Title: Washoe ethnographer Anita Spring transcription of taped interview
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Creator: Spring, Anita
Publisher: Spring, Anita
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Bibliographic ID: UF00086724
Volume ID: VID00010
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S CHRONICLER : Anita Spring

INTERVIEWER : Meredith (Penny) Rucks

DATE : 1/17 and 1/18/99

TAPE : 10

SUBJECT : Washoe Ethnographers

TRANSCRIBER : Linda Sommer

AUDIT-EDITOR : Penny Rucks

Meredith (Penny) Rucks: OK.

Anita Spring: Both the men and the women are fashion-

conscious and fashion-driven, I would say. And so anyway, I had

very few things with me. So the first thing I tried to do was to

find a place to, you know, have my hair fixed. After all, I'd

been in a developing country [laughter] and had spent twenty-four

hours at the Lusaka airport and, you know....

R: Oh, yes.

S: I... you know. So they... I found a place; they did a

nice job--no problem. And I was wearing these very high heels; I

was all dressed up. I was carrying a very heavy briefcase filled

with my books and publications and some Xeroxed stuff that I had

copied about the organization. I mean, it was really quite a


Anita Spring

Anita Spring

heavy briefcase. And I tripped.., my heel caught in the carpet,

and I tripped, going down the stairs, and fell down a half or

more flight of stairs the evening before my first interview at

FAO. And here I am in Italy--I don't know anybody; I'm staying at

this hotel. I pick myself up; I can't walk.

R: Yes.

S: My hair is finished nicely. I look good. I'm all

dressed up. I've got high heels, I've got a broken heel on one of

the shoes and the heavy briefcase, and I can't walk.

R: Right.

S: You know, and I'm in deep pain. I've just fallen down a

flight of steps. [sighs] Well, I... a kind person who came by

helped me get up and got me to some hospital where they did some

X ray, and I was able to get to some kind of pharmacy where I got

a Dr. Scholl kind of...

R: Oh my god...

S: ... hard-based sandal...

R: Yes.

S: ... to walk! [laughter] And, I mean, it was a terrible

exercise at the hospital, you know, not knowing the language or

what they were doing, their procedures, and so forth, and not

knowing anybody. All I could do was get a cab from place A to B,


Anita Spring

you know, and somebody actually helped me get there, which is...

R: Yes.

S: ... really rather extraordinary. Anyway, I called...

and the X ray said that it was not broken.

R: Yes.

S: Well, in fact, subsequently it was re-X-rayed; it had

been broken in three places. But I called the next morning, and I

explained the situation that I could hardly walk, and I didn't

know what they had prepared for me in terms of the interview, but

was it possible for me to be in one place, and then maybe people

could come and interview? I knew that was probably not the

standard way.

R: Yes.

S: Lo and behold, they agreed to it, and I was actually

put in a room, and people came and interviewed me.

R: Right. Right.

S: And, you know, I just did a smashing job of those... of

that interview.

R: Yes.

S: And I went ba... I interviewed there for, I don't know,

two or three days. I met the director general. I had to walk into

his office. He did not come direct to me. I remember it took me


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about fifteen minutes to walk from--it was huge office--from the

entryway to his office, from his office, the entry of his office

or the entrance of his office, to his desk.

R: Yes. Yes.

S: It was really far!

R: And it was probably that big. [laughter]

S: Yes. He... it was really far away! I mean, it was a

huge, a huge...it was like half a city block office.

R: Yes.

S: And it took about fifteen minutes to come [laughter] in

that condition to where he was.

Anyway, I went home in a wheelchair, and when I got to my

house, there was a telegram wedged in my front door offering me

the job.

Now, I know how remarkable that is, having.., yes, after

working at FAO, where we strung people out for weeks, months,

years in terms of hires. It really was quite remarkable. And, of

course, I didn't know it at the time. I was...

R: At the time, right.

S: ... really elated, because I thought, "Wow, this would

be just...."

R: Cool.


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S: Yes, fabulously, wildly interesting....

R: So did you have... during the interview did you have a

chance to get your questions answered, too, about how the

organization worked? I mean...

S: Oh, well, they would have been totally usefless,

pointless questions and answers at that point; it was such a

complicated place.

R: Right.

S: But, yes, I'm sure I got to ask all kinds of things.

But I really was able to sell them a bill of goods

programmatically, because I read stuff about the service, and I

read stuff about the organization. I was totally up on the

subject. And I just sort of said, "Well, I think you need to do


R: Yes. Yes.

S: And, you know, it was really very accurate for what

they needed to do. And so they hired me on the spot. And then I

went back to Italy in July, before I was at....

R: Once you got that job offer, was there any question in

your mind that you would not do that and go to Oxford? I mean,

this was clear that this was like the opportunity of a lifetime.

S: Oh. This is... I mean, this was the opportunity of a


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lifetime. I mean, I said I was in... I disdained agriculture; I

planted that land that the women gave me. You know. I pooh-poohed

it. I did... wrote the, you know, the light-bulb-going-off paper

in 1979. I then went on to Cameroon, did the agricultural

university design. Then I did the famous Malawi project and then

was on all the OTA panels and then did those other, you know,

smaller consultancies on...

R: Yes.

S: ... in those various countries. This was like the head

guru of women in agriculture for the world!

R: Right. Right. There's no way you're not doing this.

S: There's no way I was not doing this.

R: Yes. And I also wanted to make it clear that this was

potentially a permanent...

S: Yes, it was.

R: ... appointment.

S: In fact, they moved all my stuff to Italy, in all

probably fifteen thousand pounds and books and.... [laughter]

R: What did you do with your appointment at the

university? How did you handle that?

S: Well, I took a leave of absence a year at a time. And

usually the university... universities, but certainly the


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University of Florida, just allow year, maybe max two.

R: Yes.

S: But I had no idea whether I was going to stay and/or

how I was going to find it.

R: Yes.

S: And I took a one-year leave.

R: What was your biggest question, was whether you could

fit into the organization or vice versa or whether you'd like

Rome or...

S: Oh....

R: ... or a multitude?

S: It's a long story. It's a... you know, could I give up

a tenured post?

R: OK.

S: You know, was I going to be happy outside the

university? Did I want to live...?

R: So you still had strong affinity to academia.

S: Yes. Did I want to, you know, live overseas for the

rest of my life?

R: Right.

S: I mean there were a lot of questions.

R: Right.


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S: Yes.

R: Right.

S: And my personal situation at the time was...

R: Unsettled.

S: ... unsettled. So there were a lot of things.

R: OK.

S: But anyway, I was particularly lucky, and I suspect it

would not have happened if I hadn't been in an administrative

post at the University of Florida, because I don't think they're

in the habit of just giving, you know, standard, regular faculty

members extended leaves of absence.

R: That kind of leeway....

S: Yes. But as an associate dean of the College of Liberal

Arts and Sciences, which is like half the University of Florida,

you know, I was.... I... first of all, I knew who the people were

that I was negotiating with. [laughter]

R: Right. Right. Right.

S: As an ordinary faculty member... like I am now, I don't

even remember who's up there. You know, like I don't concern

myself that I'm not buddy-buddy and....

R: Right.

S: But I knew the people; they knew me. You know, we were


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all people who, you know, stepped down from administrative posts,

were on gold... you know, had golden parachutes.

R: Yes.

S: They had offered me a full-year salary, which would

have, you know... while I was a fellow at Oxford, these place...

Oxford. You know, you bring your own money and everything...

R: Right.

S: ... on these fellow things.

R: Right. Right.

S: I mean, they give you space and the prestige and da-da-


R: Right. Right. Yes.

S: ... but they're not in the habit of paying for you.

R: Right.

S: You know. So I had the money.

R: Yes.

S: And I said, "I'll...," you know, "I won't take the

money, but give me the leave, and then...," you know. So then

they So they save the year salary,...

R: Yes.

S: ... and then I asked for two years. Then when I came, I

said, "Well, you know, this is a senior post; it's diplomatic


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rank; you don't have other faculty members who are invited to do

these things very frequently." You know,...

R: Yes.

S: ... I mean, they're one or two here and there. There

was one other person for another agency at another time period.

And, you know, because I knew the people, and I'd turned... I

hadn't taken the year's salary money....

R: Right.

S: Yes. So I actually got three years. But I kind of

divvied the year at a time. If I had asked for three years at the


R: Right.

S: ... first of all, I had no idea I wanted to stay three

years, even... yes. Even if I had asked for two years at the

beginning, it might have been dicey.

R: Did you have a minimum... I mean, was there some kind

of contractual arrangement that you would ?

S: With FAO they would have not shipped the things back.

They would have.... I think I had to stay there two years, and

then there was another... I think it had to be, oh, two years or


R: Right. Right.


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S: ... before... and then three years before they would do

one other very big thing. So... and then they wanted me to stay,

and then I chose to come back for personal reasons. But I got to

really do an amazing set of tasks.

R: Yes.

S: Just amazing set of tasks. I got to plan and put into

effect their entire plan of action for women in development,

which would affect the whole service, the whole, you know,

programmatic efforts that they had on women in agriculture, and

to really change and build that unit from one that had... you

know, it was just moving out of, you know, just the very basic

notion of food production, women in food production.

R: Right.

S: In fact, parts of it was call... you know, were called

women in food production. And it hadn't been too long before

that, that it had been home economics.

R: Yes. Yes.

S: So that was kind of an evolution that was taking place

on a worldwide basis, but at the country level and in the

agencies, that these home economics units, which, by the way, at

FAO had been created in 1949, by the end of the 1970s were moving

toward at least focusing on women in food systems as producers,


Anita Spring

and then as the 1980s came in, really focusing on women in

agriculture. So, in fact, that... the name of it actually


R: Yes.

S: ... while I was there.

R: Yes.

S: You know, it had been women in food systems, and then

it really became women in agricultural production and rural

development. And always have to... [laughter]...it took so long.

Anyway, I got to pick all the priorities and programmatic

efforts to go along with the plan of action for women in

development, women in agriculture. And I picked seven of them.

This was worked out in conjunction with, you know, quite a number

of people. But essentially, they were my programmatic ideas. And

they were both somewhat shocking and yet accepted by people in

the organization. And they did some modification of them, and....

[tape recorder off, then on]

S: OK. So let me tell you a little bit about the seven

priorities, because I think it'll sort of bring to a culmination

some of these other things that I've been talking about,...

R: Yes.

S: ... because I really got to put a lot of this stuff


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into practice, and the work through all these fieldwork

experiences, you know, obviously building since the Washoe,...

R: Yes.

S: ... were really, you know, coming to a climax in these

priorities and why I thought a whole major organization could

actually be re... you know, could... we could use these

priorities to kind benefit the program and that they would make

sense, not only for the agency and what it did internally, but

that it would be accepted by the member governments, because this

program and had to be voted on and agreed upon by 157-member...

R: Ah.

S: ... governments. So here they are:

FAO staff training on women and development. Well, what does

that mean? I had to create a program, a training program, that

would teach or train the predominantly male--and I say

predominantly 90 percent plus--...

R: Yes.

S: ... male staff of the organization in gender analysis.

Now, I told you who the people were. They'd been former, you

know, ministers of agriculture, heads of research stations--you

know, the most technical technical. Many of them were very, very

international, multilingual, very sophisticated people--certainly


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not interested in women in development.

R: Yes.

S: And many of them were production people, and....


R: Right. Right.

S: You know, I told you the social science production


R: Versus the commodities....

S: No. No. The social science versus the natural science

production people.

R: Oh, oh. Yes.

S: Yes.

R: Yes.

S: The other was the commodity versus the farming systems.

That's a different group.

R: Different dichotomy.

S: Different dichotomy, different battle. So to put

together that training program. And by the way, by the time I

ended my tenure at FAO, over seven hundred of the senior staff of

the organization had attended these training courses. Each course

had no more than twenty-five people.

R: Wow.


Anita Spring

S: We had designed and developed them in English, French,

and Spanish. We had developed individual case studies, sectorial

case studies. The program became a model for the World Bank in

UNDP. It also then was R.A....

R: What is UNDP?

S: United Nations Development Program.

R: OK.

S: It also then was used in countries themselves, and it

was actually the largest training program FAO had ever done for

its staff. So I started out with that prior.., one of... that was

one of the main priorities, because I figured that, you know,

unless people really had the tools and skills and the knowledge

to look at the subject, they would never be able find it of any

use or to take it seriously. The subject of women in development,

I have always maintained, is a dreadful one. It's very hard.

People just don't get it.

R: Yes.

S: And people make fun of it, and they think of it in a

derogatory manner. Or they think they know it. So here's what I

always used to say to someone: "You went out to dinner; you got

the check; you paid the bill; you added it up; you calculated the

tip. [laughter] You use some mathematical, arithmetic skills that


Anita Spring

you picked up along the way to do that. But you have no

pretensions of being a mathematician, do you?"

R: Yes.

S: But all these mean-- "Well, yes, you have a mother,

and, yes, you may have a wife, and maybe you have some daughters.

And all of a sudden you're an expert on women in development."

R: Yes.

S: You know?

R: Yes.

S: People thought that it was a nontechnical subject, that

just because they talked to their secretary or something, that

they knew something about the subject. [laughter]

R: Yes. Yes.

S: You know, just amazing. So, you know, they... it was a

joke-type subject.

R: Yes. Yes.

S: So that's why I say it's a very, very difficult

subject. And there's a... this... you know, it's a discipline

that really started in academe in about 1970...

R: Yes.

S: ... with the publish... that publication of Ester

Boserup's-book--I think we talked about this earlier--Women's


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Role in Economic Development,...

R: Yes.

S: ... and then really took off as a scholarly endeavor

not only in the United States but really on a worldwide basis.

R: Yes.

S: But many people just didn't know about it.

R: Right.

S: OK. And nor did they know how to analyze data and to

analyze what they were doing in terms of the effects on women, as

well as on men. So this whole methodology of gender analysis

training, in which you looked at... look at access benefits and

control. Who has access, let's say, to land? Who has access to

getting credit? Who has access to the technical inputs, whether

they be fertilizer or knowledge...

R: Right.

S: ... of how to grow something...

R: Right. Right.

S: ... or produce something or market something? So that's

the access part. Who... you might have access to land, but do you

actually control it?

R: Right.

S: You might have access to land, but do you actually


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control it?

R: Right.

S: You might have access and control, but are you going to

get the benefits from it?

R: Right.

S: OK. So this became a methodology; it actually grew out

of the Harvard Business School in terms of case studies. And I

didn't invent it. There's a whole group from Harvard who put this

together. But it was making the rounds everywhere. And we were

all, you know, steeped in that tradition that you could do gender

analysis training. We have done some at the University of Florida

in the women in agriculture program, so I was quite familiar with

it. And it was absolutely critical that the FAO go through a

gender analysis training program. It was one of the hardest

programs to create.

R: Yes.

S: I brought in three pilot teams to try to figure out how

to do it for the agency. Well, I didn't know I was going to bring

in three pilot teams. I started out with a woman named Caroline

Moser [sp?] and her colleague Karen Leavey [sp?], who-had done

the training for British OTA, Office of Technology Assistance,

and the Swedish development group, SIDA S-I-D-A.


Anita Spring

R: Yes.

S: And she had this notion of a generic way of doing

gender analysis training. She and... I wanted a very sympathetic

crowd; I wanted social scientists. She said, "No, no. We can

handle production scientists."

I said, "I bet can't."

"Yes. Yes. How could you criticize?" And she made a mess of

it. She thought she had done a wonderful job,...

R: Oh.

S: ... because people were polite. People at FAO were

terribly polite. To... their... I mean, you know,

S: A lot of these people were of diplomatic rank. I was a

diplomatic rank.

R: Yes.

S: You know. What we were... you know. The way business

was conducted was in this very, you know, grown-up and diplomatic

way, but, you know, you could still...

R: Right.

S: ... criticize and stab people in the back at other


R: Right. Right. And completely undermine....

S: And undermine, yes. Well, that's... her workshop set me


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back six months. I had to do damage control. I had to go around

practically person by person and unit by unit and say, "Oh, that

was just our first attempt. Well, we understand that it was not

particularly well received, and we're going to, you know,

[laughter]... try something else, and, you know, we hope you'll

participate and help evaluate along with us, these new


R: Yes. Yes.

S: OK. Et cetera, et cetera. I mean, six months it took me

to clean up from that woman. She just was a disaster, and yet she

thought she just did a brilliant job, because people were very

cordial and you know. And they were cordial.

R: Was this like an awareness training or also

methodolo... methods for...?

S: It was mostly awareness.

R: Yes.

S: There was some feminist stuff. She, unfortunately in

her style, talks very quickly and, you know, doesn't breathe

between sentences.

R: [laughter]

S: You know what I'm talking about. Just goes on and on

and on. And that was not well... really well received. And then


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the methodology itself was too generic and not enough, you know,

real techniques and too conceptual... you know, feminist

conceptual. I'm not in disagreement with any of the content

whatsoever, but for that audience it was irritating to them.

R: Right.

S: And, of course, that's wrong. I mean, they... you know,

but that's how it was perceived.

R: Right. Right.

S: So that didn't work, and by the time I got permission

and got it organized for the next round, a good six months had...

you know, by the time I did all the cleanup, a good six months

had slipped by. And the next team were some of my American

colleagues, people I knew very well, people who had been

involve... one woman who had been involved, or at least partially

involved, in the women and agriculture program....

R: Did you have pretty much free reign as to who to


S: Oh, you bet.

R: OK.

S: Oh, you bet.

R: Right.

S: Yes. Now, these all had to be approved and everything


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but, you know, with proper justifications and so forth. And I

could pick from anywhere. You pick up the phone; you can get

anybody on the planet. You know,[laughter] it is really quite

amazing, you know. I mean you have that possibility of tapping

anybody. They can refuse, or they're busy, but you go on to the

next one.

R: Right.

S: So I brought in a team from the United States with

connections at the University of Florida. And I knew the work

they had done, and they had developed these case studies and so

forth. And they gave that session, and the case studies proved

too academic. And I also had one man and one woman as my

trainers. I had a male trainer.The first two were both women.

R: You mean by too academic, they weren't practical enough

or applied enough or...?

S: They weren't applied enough.

R: OK.

S: OK?

R: All right.

S: It's not a question of practicality; it's a question of

level of analysis... methodology, approach to a problem. I mean,

I know this sounds trite, but the agencies don't take an aca...


Anita Spring

an ivory-tower approach of looking at something from a distance.

They are actually in the business of carrying out projects, of

executing projects, and...

R: Right.

S: ... and whether they do a good or bad job, they're real

projects. They're not...

R: Right.

S: They're not studying the projects. They're doing the


R: Right.

S: OK.

R: Right.

S: And that's what I mean. There's a big difference.

R: Yes.

S: So that was not well received, although there was not

much cleanup. It just that it didn't work.

R: Right. Right.

S: Yes.

Then I made a trip to the Netherlands as a guest of the

Dutch government. And I went through all their training

institutes, especially one at the World Tropical Institute and at

Vaganen[sp?] University--that one, too. And then there was


Anita Spring 10-24

another set, as I recall, because they did a lot of training, and

maybe there was a possibility of having those people act as

trainers. And then they came, including one of the min... not the

minister of agriculture, there was a Dutch team from the

Netherlands. They came to FAO and sort of did a needs analysis,

and they made suggestions about what they might do in terms of

training. And it was awful. It was just awful!

R: Yes.

S: You know? It just didn't fly.

Then I had heard that the Canadians were quite good, and

then... so I hired a Canadian team. And I do recall that, you


R: Now. when you say it was awful, are you saying that you

knew... that you could anticipate it just was not going to be

effective, in that context?

S: Yes.

R: Or...?

S: Their report was awful.

S: They just didn't... it was not on target.

S: OK.

R: Yes.

S: It was not going to be adequate for the organization.

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Their methodologies, their... you know. And there was this whole

controversy about whether we would have trainers who would come

in from the outside or whether we would try to grow our own,...

R: Right.

S: ... whether the... we would have the funding to pay to

send people places....

R: Right. I see. So how that was actually going to happen.

S: Yes. I mean, there were a.lot of things. Not only the

content and the methodology, but the people, the personnel, the

placements, the venue, the logistics.... I mean, the payment....

R: And these consultants that you'd have come in were to

have done all of that or to have all that?

S: Well, they were try... they were supposed to come up

with the recommendations for... based on the need, first of all.

R: Right.

S: What are the needs?

R: Right.

S: And then what are the recommendations for solving the

problem and fulfilling those needs?

R: Right.

S: OK. And two of the people who came were actual trainers

at institutions in the Netherlands.


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R: Right. Right.

S: And nobody liked them, you know, much in was in the FAO

context. They continued to be trainers, and I understand very

successful ones, in the Netherlands, but they, you know the whole

thing didn't jive or jell with what FAO's needs really were...

R: Right.

S: ... or desires and so forth.

R: Now, would this training eventually have not only been

for the Rome-based office, but also all these field...

S: Correct.

R: ... as well. OK.

S: Correct.

R: Which is a truly programmatic, huge....

S: Absolutely.

R: OK.

S: Yes.

R: All right.

S: With the goal that they would also then get to the

project level in-country and get to the agricultural sector

within the country, which we actually managed to do eventually.

R: Yes.

S: But anyway, to make a long story short, I brought in


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these Canadians.

R: Yes.

S: They were well received--a man and a woman--well

received in terms of their methodology that they used, but the

content was not appropriate for FAO. So after all of this--and I

had one other needs assessment, which I won't go into this

chapter and verse--after all of this, I just said, "Wait a

minute. Time to rethink the entire thing."

R: Yes.

S: "We're going to have to have... I think it's best if we

have.., if we grow our own trainers here, if we develop cases

based on what people at FAO are doing,...

R: Yes.

S: ... if we start with what is on people's desks...

R: Right.

S: ... and work outward...." And, of course, that goes

right backward to the Malawi...

R: Yes, it does.

S: ... exercise, in which we went to everybody's office,

found out what they were doing,...

R: Right.

S: ... and then tried to genderize what they were doing.


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R: Right.

S: But I had started at FAO with these other highfalutin,

you know, "bring in the experts."

R: Right.

S: And they had just made a mess of it.

R: Well, and also, bring in... isn't... was there some...

is there some aspect of that, too, is you are making an effort to

plumb this international field of experts...

S: Oh, absolutely. Oh, absolutely.

R: ... you know, spread the....

S: Yes. Absolutely.

R: Yes.

S: And anyway, I... we found this woman who was living in

Rome, and she became one of my lead trainers. I'd asked the

Canadian woman who had done so well in the methodology if she

would do a training of training sessions.

R: Yes.

S: And I had several local....

R: You mean, trainer...

S: Training...

R: ... training of trainers.

S: ... training of trainers...


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R: Yes.

S: Yes.

R: Yes.

S: ... session. And I had several people, including Vickie

Wild[sp?], who were participants in this to sort of transfer the

methodology. And then I hired consultants and people to write

cases based...

R: Ah... on FAO?

S: ... on FAO real project documents. And many of the

cases actually used the actual project document but, you know,

provided an addition, which is usually not the case for, you

know, projects.

R: Yes.

S: [Such as] background material or contextual materials

or working outlines or, you know, worksheets...

R: Right.

S: ... of how to work through things.

R: Right.

S: And, of course, they had worksheets on access benefits

and control for the various aspects of the project to be

genderized. What did women do? What did men do? Who had...

R: Right.


Anita Spring

S: ... access to it? Who had control of it? Who

benefitted...? You know, all those kinds of things-- crop by

crop, task by task, policy by policy,... [laughter] whatever it


R: Yes.

S: Anyway, to make a long story short, it... that

methodology did work very well. We created a pool of trainers; I

was very, very keen. They're all kinds of ups and downs; there's

a publication on this and... that we have--several of them--that

describes the lessons learned and the successes and the failures

and so forth. But we managed to develop a repertoire of about ten

cases, you know, that cover different sectors--forestry,

fisheries, livestock production, policy, ag policy, et cetera, as

well as, the, you know, very standard projects. And all kinds of

worksheets and all kinds of procedures and all kinds of small

group interaction and the use of facilitators, people who'd been

through the workshop before or knowledgeable people about women

in development... or on women in development who could help

facilitate discussions. We started off, you know, all from the

small group stuff. You elect a leader or rapporteur or a chair or

this and that. People spend so much time on that!

R: Yes.


Anita Spring

S: But if you have it already selected when you go in your

small groups, they just get on with the topic. So, you know, I

had all kinds of techniques to sort of facilitate these things.

And, of course, we wanted to, in addition to headquarters, do the

regional offices. So the first round was in Latin America, and we

had the material in Spanish and did the workshops in the regional

office, which was located in Chile... Santiago, Chile. And then

had one... a series of them in west Africa. And I had the idea,

of course, to send people there first to find out the lay of the

land, to design the case studies, because I...

R: Yes.

S: ... I'd been burned at headquarters, and I didn't want

to, you know, [laughter] go through that in the field. And we did

the... in Asia and a Middle Eastern one. It was close enough to

Rome, so we did it there, but we also did some in Cairo. So they

got done in three languages--French, English, and Spanish. I had

hoped for Arabic, but they said most of the Arabic speakers in

the organization spoke French or English,...

R: Yes. Yes.

S: ... and it wasn't necessary and added expense. And I

also, in order to make the thing work, took the same model from

Malawi, from the Malawi work, knowing that FAO was an extremely


Anita Spring 10-32

strongly organized, hierarchical organization, that people only

did things if someone higher than they told them to do it.

R: Right.

S: So I made... I had the director general issue a mandate

that everybody had to do this, because at the beginning I was

getting, you know, junior females who they could happen to send

and, you know, this and that.

R: Right.

S: So it was really, really important to do that. And

eventually, there were workshops done in the country... the

project staff, government staff, and so forth. The first one was

in Honduras. The president of Honduras had come to FAO with his

wife. It turned out that his sister had been one of my students

at the University of Florida; she'd gotten a master's degree. So

I had this wonderful kind of entree... [laughter]

R: Yes. Yes.

S: ... with that group and used that as one of the first

cases. I figured it didn't help... I mean, it didn't hurt to have

that kind of help...

R: Right.

S: ... from those senior...

R: Yes.

Anita Spring






going to





all there



but ....

... politicians.

So that was one of your case studies or one of your


That was one of the... that was the first in-country

course. We had done all the offices....

You'd done the field offices....

The headquarters and field offices... now, this is

be country-specific.

The first country-specific.


OK. Got it.

And then I left after that, and they had to continue in

te arenas. But anyway, that was the training program.


And anyway, there's lots of stories on that one,

There's even a... I had a video made. Italian film crew,


R: [laughter]

S: [laughter] ...we're in Italy, which I show in my

classes from time to time. I'm even in it. And it shows how the

training program was put together and who took it and what it

accomplished and why.


Anita Spring

R: Yes.

S: It's amazing what you can do.

R: Yes. Yes.

S: OK. That was the first priority. The second priority

was policy advice to member governments. Now, it was under the

policy advice to member governments that I tried to accomplish

that coordinating project.in Jamaica, which I described earlier.

R: Ah. Yes. Yes.

S: And, see, this had already... all... these priorities

had already been put forth in a plan of action, a very formal,

you know, plan of action that, you know, chapter and verse.

R: Right.

S: You know, what are the conditions that women find

themselves in? In fact, it was divided into the civil or legal

aspects concerning women, the economic aspects that women were

involved in, all the social considerations, and the decision

making and leadership. So those... sort of four major rubrics.

But then the program priorities, in which only seven were

specified, and this was actually... I had to present it to all

the member governments of FAO, and they approved it with some....

You know, there were some give and take and queries and so forth.

So policy advice to member governments was an approved priority.


Anita Spring

R: Yes.

S: And so the idea was to try to find ways to

operationalize that. And, I mean, when I say "policy advice to

member governments," let's think back to the Malawi situation, in

which I was advising them, "Disaggregate your data; have a credit

program in which...

R: Right.

S: ... your actual staff can work with women farmers and

create the mechanisms. Put it in your five-year development plan.

Switch from, you know, teaching women how to grow a few

vegetables or raise a few chickens to some really concrete stuff,

since they're out there growing maize every day."

R: Right.

S: "Give them channels for marketing, et cetera, et


R: Yes.

S: That's what I had in mind with policy advice to member

government. [laughter]. You know, "Change from the making-school-

lunches type of projects that you're asking for. Don't ask us for

chicken-wings-type projects or drumsticks-around-the-world-type


R: Yes.


Anita Spring

S: ... when, in fact, you know, we would like something

more comprehensive. "Think comprehensively." And we managed to do

a number of them in some very unusual places.

R: Yes.

S: Like Tunisia was very good. You know, it's just kind of

amazing that some of the places you wouldn't think would... we

were able to sort of get in at the... at that level.

R: Yes.

S: Policy advice. Number... priority number three: the

reorientation of home economics and agricultural curricu....


R: [laughter]

S: I mean, that has been a pet peeve of mine forever, you







and that



You must have been relieved it was in the plan.

No! I made... I wrote it!

Oh, you wrote the plan?


Oh, OK. I thought you had been giv... this was approved

when you got there,....

Well, no. They approved the notion of doing it.

But ....


Anita Spring

S: They had people work on parts of the original plan, but

all the priorities and implementation of the plan, I had to do.

R: All right. So this is... this really is your....

S: So these were my priorities.

R: Yes. Yes.

S: So, my goodness, here I was, m-m-m!

R: Yes.

S: Did that click off?

R: No.

S: OK. I was able to send out consultants and my officers

to different countries, and they were there working in these

countries with the home economics units,...

R: Oh, my.

S: ... coming from FAO, and helping to redesign the

curriculum and tried to... moved it along,...moved those

curricula along to focus on, you know, a little bit more with it

things than the standard stuff. That was a great joy.

R: Yes. Yes.

S: I had this one consultant who was particularly good,

and they were... there are a number of publications describing

it. He had great success in an unusual, unusual countries. India,

Sudan are two that I can remember right off the bat.


Anita Spring 10-38

R: Yes.

S: But the one in India was... that was a coup. That was

really good.

R: Yes.

S: Yes. So that was the third. The fourth was project

development and monitoring. So the project in Egypt that went

from school lunches to, you know, agronomic knowledge and

practice for women. The... I don't know; I had fifty projects in

different places. And they were all... I was fine-tuning all of

them to sort of be a little bit more focused on all the kinds of

things I had already do in Malawi and other things that were

appropriate for the local area, like, they had a pro... the

project in Honduras, for example, was focused on washing

machines. I have a hard time conceptualizing this myself.

R: [laughter]

S: Yes, with the thought if they gave them washing

machines, they'd have more time to....

R: [laughter]

S: You know, and it's not untrue. It's just that it, you

know... I can't imagine, you know, giving rural men golf carts or


R: [laughter]

Anita Spring 10-39

S: ... and not teaching them a little bit about

production. I don't know; I mean, it was just so bizarre,...

R: [laughter]

S: ... some of those projects. So any of the... they all

had to be reoriented to the subject matter,... [laughter]

R: Yes.

S: ... number one. Number two, this idea about monitoring,

coming up with variables and indicators that were [laughter]

appropriate to, you know, the subject. And I did actually spend a

lot of time trying to put through a monitoring system, an

evaluation system, for all of FAO's projects. And actually, my

goal, even though I had something like fifty projects that I was

in charge of in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Near East,

FAO at any one time had about twenty-five hundred...

R: Right.

S: ... projects going.

R: Yes.

S: And so we said we took a two-pronged approach: the

women-specific or women-only projects were places where we were

testing things or trying things or demonstrating things, or where

governments were not yet ready to move into integrated projects.

OK. But the goal was to sort of make inroads into that larger

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portfolio, similar to the mainstream credit thing that I had done

in Malawi.

R: Yes. Yes.

S: Yes.

R: Yes.

S: So that women would be part of credit takers, just as

men would be part of, you.know, the clientele of credit takers.

R: Right.

S: So that was really the goal, was to get that larger

body of projects genderized and... or at least....

R: Did you... at this point did you have time to kind of

review some of those... the other projects that weren't specific

to women in development?

S: Oh. Well, for one thing we were... we'd used them in

the case studies.

R: Ah, of course.

S: And the thing is, there were only, you know, ten or

twelve that became real case studies, but you could imagine that

the consultants who were writing the case studies were scouring

the FAO projects to find ones that would make good studies. So,

you know, they were going through a lot of stuff; I was going

through stuff. I was seeing... I had to sign off on all kinds of


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projects, so I saw a huge number of projects.

R: So they did have you sign off on....

S: And I had a staff....

R: They did have you sign off on...

S: Sometimes.

R: ... other projects?

S: Sometimes.

R: Yes. Yes.

S: On little bits and pieces of them. Sometimes. And I had

a staff, and I was building up my staff and hiring people, and,

you know, they would give me feedback. So that worked very well.

But I tried to put together an entire system. In fact, it went

through fifteen drafts. And I thought I had sold it to the

organization. I had this published in an evaluation journal, and

I use it in my classes. And it distinguishes between

beneficiaries and recipients and participants in projects. It was

a whole numerical system for measuring whether projects addressed

gender issues, whether women were actually part of project...

R: Ah.

S: ... participants or beneficiaries and the project

personnel, if women were involved. So it was a whole numerical

system, and all these categories explained. It never got formally


Anita Spring

accepted by FAO. I was just at the brink.

R: Yes.

S: Just at the brink. Almost got it through.

R: Yes.

S: The fifth priority was the preparation of manuals and

guidelines to promote women and development.


End of Side 1, Beginning of Side 2

S: You know, the brilliant minds on women and development,

I hired an awful lot of them to write papers. And I must say,

some of them were terrible.

R: [laughter]

S: Had to rewrite them.... I mean, they just... you know,

it was... the agency perspective is really different. People want

to know, not this reference and that reference, but what it means

and how you operationalize it, and what are the real data in a

place, and how that relates and what the agency should do,

what... and what perspective it should take with governments and

so forth. And a lot of people don't know how to write'stuff like


R: Right.


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S: They're really not on target.

OK. The sixth priority was population education with special

reference to women and development. And FAO had a whole portfolio

of projects that were funded by UNFPA, the UN agency for

population. And so... but FAO could not do any kind of

contraceptive or family planning itself. It could only do

agriculture- and education-type activities. Only WHO, for

example, or UNFPA could actually do... you know, give out condoms


R: Right. Right.

S: ... any of that stuff.

R: Right.

S: But the thing turns on the following principle: women

who know how to make decisions and who can make decisions also

make decisions about their reproduction.

R: Right.

S: And women who are not able to make decisions don't even

have a possibility of making decisions about the reproduction.

R: Right.

S: So very young women under the thumb of their husbands

and mothers-in-law with no economic wherewithal, with no

participation in the... anything outside the household are not


Anita Spring

likely to be able to control their fertility very well. [laugher]

R: Right.

S: But women who have their own economic wherewithal, have

been given leadership skills, you know, they are in a better

position. So these were projects of that nature. I remember we

had about three in China, couple in... you know, one in Uganda, I

remember.... You know, there were different places around the

world that were funded, and the... they turned on the notion that

you would increase women's economic prowess and also give them

technical skills. And they could include population education.

R: Yes.

S: They did not include, you know, family planning


R: Right. Right.

S: But we saw that as a very important priority and it fit

right into stuff we were doing, so that sort of stayed in there.

R: Yes.

S: The final one was data collection, research studies,

communication, and public information. And, of course, the data

collection and the gender disaggregation of data was a very old

theme for me, based on the Malawi work.

R: Right.


Anita Spring

S: And... but I did take it, I think, to some new heights

at FAO. For example, I had the idea that it might take twenty-

five to fifty years, but that if we started, this would be

something that might come into effect on the planet, and that was

getting people.....Oh, FAO is a repository for all major

statistics on agriculture on a country-by-country basis. And if

they were to disaggregate their data...

R: Right.

S: ... and get countries to collect the data and look at

it at various levels and disaggregate and so forth and so on,

this would really be changing the way the world's data on

agriculture would be collected. So I had a.... [laughter]

R: Yes. Pretty big plan...

S: Yes.

S: Pretty big plan there.

R: Yes. Yes.

S: So I had various consultants write papers and

documents. Some of them are printed or published. Others are

all... were all printed for conferences.

R: Yes.

S: And worked with the very hard-core statistical unit of

FAO,... [laughter], you know, hoping that we could, you know,


Anita Spring

give them the wherewithal to do it. And also, I called an

interagency meeting of all the UN agencies, for them to report on

what their agency was doing in terms of gender-disaggregated

statistics. So that was a very, you know, interesting priority to

work on,...

R: Yes. Yes.

S: ... that data collection, of course, research studies,

you know, all this....

R: Did some of it get put into practice?

S: Oh, yes. Yes.

R: Yes.

S: But it was all after my time...

R: Yes.

S: ... that, you know.... But every... the interagency

meeting took place, and I chaired it. The research background

papers were all done. Some of them got published. One of them got

published in a real publication.

R: Yes.

S: The work with the statistics office was started. And I

really don't know what, you know, the end result.

R: You really... in three years you fulfilled major

portions of those...


Anita Spring

S: Mm. Major proportions, and there's one thing that's not

here. There're two things that are not here. First, I set up a

mechanism whereby what was accomplished had to be reported every

two years... or every year, rather, and it had to be

accomplish... it had to be reported on by unit-by-unit and


R: Wow. Yes.

S: And two of those were done during my tenure there. And

it was a real big feat to get the... that was through a small...

one part of the... one committee. And I got the Canadians--could

never get the Americans to do anything--got the Canadians to

understand the nature of that and to make that suggestion and to

argue for it. And then it was adopted, and then it became, you

know, "the law," because it was adopted by the FAO council. And

so then every... it wasn't just the women's unit, women and

agriculture unit, but it was every unit in FAO had to do it. Now,

we would coordinate it through my, you know, service, and we

would write the major document. But all the data...

R: Right.

S: ... was from them, and they had to be listed chapter

and verse as to who they were and what they did in their

programmatic efforts, and everybody could see it.


Anita Spring

R: Right.

S: That had major consequences.

R: Oh, I'm sure it would.

S: Yes.

R: I mean, that's the....

S: And that must still continue today. The other thing is,

the... all these priorities were kept all through the 1990s. The

only thing that was added to them was a focus on the environment.

R: Ah. Yes.

S: OK.

R: Yes.

S: But the same... these same ones continued for another


R: So do you continue to get their annual report for...?

S: I really don't. I get some things. The stuff is

voluminous, and...

R: Right.

S: ... I get... a lot of it's on the Internet. I could

download a lot of it.

R: Right. Right.

S: But for, you know, the first few years afterwards I got

everything, and then....


Anita Spring

R: You were tracking it then.

S: Yes. Yes. And then I just got so busy.

R: Well, you made the statement that the things were

done... it took you a long time, you say, to figure out just

really how different the FAO was from academia. And I'm just

wondering exactly what you meant by that, that it took you.... It

just... the bureaucracy, the protocol, or what?

S: Well, the bureaucracy and pro... everything was


R: And it....

S: First of all, there are people from ninety-two

different countries working there. Secondly, when I was there,

the general dir... the director general was Lebanese, and he ran

it like his private fiefdom.

R: OK! [laughter]

S: [laughter] OK. Third, the... how shall I say? It was

really very difficult. I used to feel that I would walk down the

hallways.... And, oh, by the way, the other thing that was very

difficult was being an American there, because the U.S. hadn't

paid its dues, and it still is in arrears.

R: Yes. Yes.

S: .So people would say things like.... [laughter]


Anita Spring

R: Well, yes.

S: You know, they would... "Well! I see you haven't paid

your...." [laughter] I mean, like... I didn't even vote for

Reagan, you know. [laughter]

R: Yes. Yes.

S: You know, I didn't vote for the people.... The people I

voted for for Congress were trying to get the dues paid, you

know. We were not trying to, well, limit what UNFPA could do or

pull out because, you know, they wouldn't work in countries that

allowed abortion. You know, I mean and all that stuff. And so you

get into the elevator, and people would make these

confrontational comments! [laughter]

R: Yes.

S: It was just amazing. So we had that, plus that fact

that subject matter is women. That's pretty amazing. I used to

feel at the beginning,...

R: Yes.

S: ... and I have shared this before, and I know it will

sound very weird, that I would walk down the hallways and be...

FAO is a huge, huge place. There are six massive buildings, each

one... a corridor on one side is a city block.

S: .OK.


Anita Spring

R: Yes.

S: So when you walk down a highway, it's a long highway. I

would walk down the hallway, and I would feel at the beginning

that it was like you were kind of dodging the bullets and the

bows... the arrows.

R: [laughter]

S: OK? And then after about a year and half, it was kind

of like I was sending them back,...

R: [laughter]

S: ... deflecting them! They were going back to their


R: [laughter]

S: [laughter]

R: Oh!

S: It was really amazing.

R: Yes.

S: Quite amazing.

R: So did the atmosphere of that just kind of wear you

down? I mean, was that part of your decision to...?

S: Well, at the beginning... and the unit was in such a

mess when I got there, and it had lost so much... so many of its

staff, and I had to sort of build up the staff members, and


Anita Spring 10-52

unlike, you know, my interview: go to New York; two weeks later,

three weeks later, get tracked down in Malawi. Go there, you

know; practically kill yourself. But that doesn't matter.

R: Yes. Yes.

S: Interview. By the time you get home, you're offered the


R: Yes.

S: If I had been able to hire people like that...but, you

know, things would drag on for ten months or a year and a half

until I had....

R: I was going to ask you how long it took to get these

priorities voted on and approved for...?

S: Oh, yes. Yes.

R: I mean, do you remember how long that took?

S: Well, yes. I think I worked on the priorities for... I

think that... let's see, if I started there in August, September

of 1988, so probably by conference of 1989, May, May of 1989, I

had that organized. The priorities.

R: Yes. Yes.

S: And then by... and I probably had the first training

course... I think I had the first training course in June of

1989, the- one that bombed. And then I probably had the second one

Anita Spring

in November of 1989. And it was really cranking along, 1989,

1990, 1991.

R: Yes.

S: Yes. So they were really... you know.

R:. So did you return to Florida to reclaim your academic


S: Well, that is in fact what happened. They did want me

to stay at FAO. I... it was very difficult living in Rome. I

really did not like Rome as a place to live for the rest of my

life. It is a fabulous place to visit as a tourist. I had been

there as a tourist five times; I have since been there as a

tourist two or three times. As a tourist, I love it. OK. As a

resident, an alien resident,...

R: Right.

S: ... it is just awful!

R: Right.

S: It really is awful. It's hard to explain between the

strikes, between the Italians, having come on their own, and they

do not find Americans intriguing. In the 1950s and 1960s and even

in the 1970s, they used to, but they don't find that amusing much


R: Right. Right.


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S: So that part is not there.

R: Was there...

S: And....

R: Was there... were there friendships and relationships

and feelings of collegially... I mean, among the FAO? I mean,

were you part of the community of FAO?

S: Yes and no. You know, there're six thousand employees.

R: Right.

S: It's.... [laughter] big.

R: Yes.

S: It's really big. On the other hand, it's sort of an

island in the middle of Rome. I went through Italy knowing no

one, you know.

R: Yes.

S: I came back with a whole network of friends, some of

whom I still maintain contact with. But it was very, very hard.

And they're a variety of nationalities you know, they're both

Italian and American, and there are a few other nationalities,

you know, Ethiopian. You know, there are a few other

nationalities, too. But it was very hard, really hard. And the

thought... the alternative was just making it my home for the

rest of my life. Because there would have been no way to get back


Anita Spring 10-55

to probably academic....

R: Right.

S: I could have gone maybe on to another agency, but who


R: Right.

S: ... whether that was, you know,...

R: Possible, right.

S: ... possible or not.

R: Right.

S: I would have had to live in Rome for the rest of my


R: Right.

S: And it really was a very disagreeable place in terms of

the congestion. If you had to shop for a meal, you had to go to

seven or eight stores. There were strikes all the time; the

telephones were a mess; the mail service was dreadful. It really

was hard. And the other thing that was so peculiar in my case...

two very peculiar things, personally: one, I was by myself. OK.

And that was an anathema.

R: Yes. It would be there, huh?

S: Yes. And so I was a threat; the Italian women didn't

want to invite, because maybe I was trying to take away their

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husbands or something. You know.

R: [laughter]

S: You know. So, you know, that whole... you get excluded

from quite a bit of... quite a number of things, and that's

really no fun.

The other... well, people just did not understand--you know,

a woman on her own, and I.... If I had been there as a married

person with... and especially with children, with a child....

They don't have a lot of kids at the present time, about one

child per family. But that would have seemed much more normal.

R: Yes.

S: And it probably would have been more normal. I probably

would have had other networks and probably would have liked it

and stayed. But as a... you know, it really was not particularly

fun. It was very, very arduous.

The other thing is, I'm not Italian, but they thought I

looked Italian. Now, people in America don't.

R: Right.

S: But that's because we have some stereotypes about

people who are Italian. But, you know, whereas real Italian

people... many of them are blond; many of them are very thin, you



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R: Right.

S: You know. We have peculiar ones... stereotypes. But

anyway, they thought I looked Italian. Now, why was that a

problem? Well, they thought I should speak Italian very well.

R: [laughter]

S: [laughter] I was going to FAO at seven o'clock in the

morning, coming back at ten o'clock at night, and making an

international trip a month. And my mail out of the envelopes and

categorized already by my secretary was at least two feet tall

every day.

S: You know. I did take Italian lessons, and I got pretty

good at, you know, getting around and ordering food and buying

things. But I really never, you know, had time to get real


R: Right! [laughter]

S: [laughter] ... with that kind of schedule. And when I

first got there, I was the only native English speaker in my

service. And since I was responsible for everything that... every

document that went out from that unit, I could not leave it to

chance and to, you know, people who were...

R: Wow. ohhh...

S: ... for whom English was not their native language, to


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send a document out, because it would have come back. And,

therefore, not only was I... you know, as the women's service of

FAO, people were writing from all over the planet, and the

projects were coming in. I mean, it was an ext... it's an

extraordinarily... extraordinary load, which I don't... I saw

that other people in my comparable position in other sectors

didn't have any of that. Not only that, but when there were these

meetings, I'd look around, and it would me, as the service chief

on women, and there weren't.... You know, all the... there's

fifty other service chiefs in FAO, you know, for these different

units, you know. Farming systems, people's participation and

extension, you know.

R: Right.

S: They were never there.

R: Right.

S: I was at all of them.

R: Yes.

S: So, you know, I have this heavy reading load, there for

twelve to fourteen hours a day. Used to... they turned the lights

off at nine o'clock at night, and I used to actually have to feel

my way down the hall to get to the elevator, because I left at



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R: My word!

S: And, you know, I mean, you're allowed to be there at

night. It's just that they did turn the...a lot of the hallway

lights off at nine. But, you know, and I'd get there at seven

o'clock in the morning, because the traffic is so horrendous. And

I'm not a morning person.

R: Yes.

S: I couldn't even eat or do anything until I knew that I

could get to FAO and park my car in a secure place, so it

wouldn't be stolen, even though I had a lock that was that big

and a chain that was that thick that went through my wheel and

was linked to some metal shaft thing in my car.

R: Oh god.... [laughter]

S: I mean, I had to do.... [laughter] Very hard to live in

Rome! It was... you know, your car can get ripped off at any

minute, you know. They don't really bother you personally too

much, but, you know, it's not like, you know, the U.S.-- they

rape and mug and so forth.

R: [laughter]

S: But Italy, they... it's theft. [laughter]

R: Yes. Yes.

S: -You know. As my secretary will... she's Ital... she was


Anita Spring 10-60

Italian, is Italian. She goes outside her house; her car is gone.

R: Oh, good! [laughter]

S: It was a six-year-old car.

R: Yes..

S: You know. Probably somebody needed it for parts. It was

a lousy car. And she had the ha... the hassle she went through

with the insurance company, you know, trying to get a rental car,

trying to get to work, you know. She didn't have a... you know.

She had a lot... you know, a lot invested in her car; she didn't

have extra cash. She just got.... I mean, you can't just go rent

a car; it's very expensive. It's that kind of stuff that is

extraordinary. I mean, I was in a car accident. To try to get

that car fixed...I had proper insurance and everything, you know,

it was a production.

R: Yes.

S: It eventually got done.

R: Yes.

S: Or to try to sort out your telephone bill.

R: Yes.

S: There were not a... none of them were itemized. And

when you get an eight-hundred-dollar telephone bill that's not

itemized, and you try to sort that out,....

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R: So the incentives were not there for you to stay.

S: The incentives were very poor in the city for


R: Right.

S: People said that people from the Middle East liked it a

lot to live in Rome. They kind of could figure that out. That was

sort of cozy. All the northern Europeans hated it. The Americans

were mixed, you know, because Rome is so romantic in the American


R: Yes.

S: Yes.

R: Yes.

S: The people from Latin America--it depended. Some of you

know, they could easily grasp the language, being Spanish


R: Yes.

S: And so, anyway, those were some of....

R: But I'm... what I'm also interested in, and I think you

made the point that you were at all the meetings where these

other bureau chiefs were not, because you were very concerned

with establishing, also in maintaining the credibility in the...

of your program.


Anita Spring 10

S: Oh, well, not... that was not my point.

R: OK.

S: That's true. That's absolutely true. But I g

wasn't clear. The reason I was at all of those things

either invited or told to be there.

R: Yes. OK.

S: OK.

R: I see. OK, on these pro...

S: The difference was, it was part of my worklo


R: Well, it's because women's pro... I mean,...

S: Yes.

R: ... you were part of all those other program

S: Oh, absolutely.

R: Yes.

S: And that's why I said I would look around, a

know. I had to ao to this... I mean, I was giving there

S ....

nd I... you

e to four

public speeches every week and having to prepare.... I mean, I

got real good at it.

R: Yes.

S: I'm out of practice...

R: [laughter]


guess I

is I was

ad to be

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S: [laughter] ... now, but... you know. As I said, I would

have to go to this committee or that group or, you know....

R: Well, did things seem....

S: It was on my calendar, you know.

R: So did things come to a head at the university that you

had to make the decision whether you were going to stay or not?

S: No, no, no. Well, yes, yes. It was a three-year

contract at1FAO.

R: Oh. OK. All right.

S: OK. Renewable.

R: So you worked out your contract, and then you came


S: And then I came up for renew.... And I had, as I said,

negotiated three years at the University of Florida.

R: Yes. Yes.

S: I knew they would not give me more than three years.

And that was a feat in and of itself. I had accomplished the plan

of action. And I'd got... I'd actually gotten to a point where I

was real comfortable in the organization.

R: Yes.

S: And I'd actually kind of reached a point where I could

deal with Rome.


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R: Right. Right.

S: But the thought of having to do that for the rest of my

life...not the agency, but the place,...

R: Right.

S: ... Rome. And then thinking, you know... and the male-

female scene in Italy is... was another aspect. That's a part of

the personal part... but,.you know, I don't whether it's really

germane to what we're saying, but it was part of my decision


R: Well, it's part... it's germane... it's only germane in

the sense that it's an added complication about being a

professional woman. That's all.

S: It's an added complication, and it was so, so

difficult. It was really dreadful. It was a dreadful situation.

And the thought of having to spend the rest of my life in a place

with excruciating hassles, even though the work part was pretty


R: Yes.

S: At this point I was handling it quite well and I would

have cut off all my ties. I would've had to sell my house in

Gainesville, cut my ties, and never be able to go back.

R: Yes.


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S: It just was too much. I couldn't do it.

R: Right.

S: Yes.

R: Yes.

S: And I had accomplished so much programmatically. So

that was satisfying.

R: Was there also a positive pull to get back to

academics? I mean, was that...?

S: Well, there was. And in a way it turns out to be

misguided. You'll find this amusing. People are so busy with the

workload, with the projects, with writing these documents, with

the... you have to... there are reports that have to be done for

this part of the agency and that, you know. Then I wrote forward-

looking strategies--"What did you do on this?" I mean, there are

reports constantly and project evaluations. People don't have

time to read.

R: Right.

S: OK? So when I came in, you know, I told you I was up on

the women and development literature?

R: Yes. Yes.

S: I wasn't just up on the women in development

literature; [laughter] I was really up on the women in


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development literature.

R: Yes.

S: In other words, I had read it all.

R: Right. And had written part of it. [laughter]

S: Well, that's true, too. But...

R: Yes.

S: ... the people in my unit had hardly read anything. I

used to start staff meetings with, "Well, you know, let me...

let's go through... let me explain...." [laughter]

And they were always amused. And they'd say, "Well, you just

spoke for twenty-eight minutes... [laughter]

R: Yes. Yes.

S: ... on a particular subject." I... and I brought my

library with me. They built a whole series... a whole wall of

bookshelves. Everyone said I had the best office in FAO. I had it

all decorated with those women in agriculture figurines. I have a

jillion more of them from all over.

R: Yes.

S: They were all sitting, and the books were all there,

and, you know, It was in the lights, it was, you know... it was

not too bad, not too shabby. And the pictures... the framed

pictures on the wall.


Anita Spring 10-67

R: Yes.

S: It looked pretty good.

R: Yes.

S: But I really knew the literature inside and out. And

people in the unit and other places in FAO just really didn't

know any of it. I also had this notion that, you know, after

three years, oh, yes, academics. People really communicated with

each other and talked about real issues, as opposed to, you know,

these interventions and, you know, mundane things like that.

Well, it really isn't so.

R: Yes.

S: I mean, it is true that there are, especially at the

University of Florida and I assume many campuses, a large number

of lectures that are going on outside of classes that are

sponsored by, you know, programs and centers and institutes and

series and so forth. But they are just that. A speaker comes in,

you know, speaks for forty to fifty minutes;...

R: Right.

S: ... people ask questions; and that's, you know,

intellectual endeavor.

R: Yes.

S: -There's not.... You know, that... there's just so much

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of that. And it's not the... you don't really get colleagues

having dueling discourses and...

R: [laughter]

S: ... being able to both participate in that kind of

stuff and then go out and be good buddies afterwards.

R: Yes.

S: It's pretty much not like that.

R: But that was an image that you remembered?

S: I kind of remembered it. And, of course, when I came

back, I go, "Where is that?"

R: Yes. Yes.

S: You know. Like, I go to yet another lecture on African

studies, and everybody sits there, and then there are ten... you

know, three questions asked at the end. I just went to one the

other day.

R: Yes.

S: This woman gave her talk; it was fascinating. It was on

such an interesting subject. And she finished, and there was


R: Oh.

S: And I thought, you know... I'd come in late, so I

thought, well, OK, you know. And I looked around; nobody said


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anything; nobody said anything. So, of course, I just couldn't

leave her there, and I did have some questions.

R: Right.

S: And then after that it was opened up to questions. But

you know, I mean, is that academic discourse? I don't know. It's

like somebody telling you something. [laughter]

R: Yes.

S: So anyway, I kind of remembered that part wrong. And on

the other hand, I have been personally very, very happy being

back in the U.S. I've managed to travel still a great deal.

So that part did work out OK,...

R: Yes.

S: ... but.... And, of course, I turned over this

absolutely exquisite program to the next person who also got a

lot of credit for it, too. [laughter]

R: Yes. Yes.

S: So, you know, that's part of the downside. But it was

really very interesting to be able to do this kind of thing on a

world stage, and, of course, I represented FAO in many different

public arena...arenas around the globe,...

R: Yes.

S: ... you know, at meetings, and I'd give these little

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speeches and presentations and talk about the plan of action and

how we were, you know, implementing it and what it meant and

blah, blah, blah.

R: Yes.

S: And that part was really fun.

R: Yes.

S: Yes. That was very rewarding and....

R: And it sounds like you're secure that this was a great

deal more than policy and diplomacy, that things happened on the








Oh well, seven hundred people got to go to...

... of the senior staff attended that.


My budget was always increasing. I had to do, oh,

budget work.

I bet. Oh, I was... actually, I was going to ask about


S: Massive. I had an operating budget of $2 million and

then about $50 million in these projects...

R: Project money.

S: ... that were actual projects in my unit.

R: Yes.


Anita Spring

S: As I said, we still had other parts of the agency to

work with and so forth. But it's just budgetary.

R: Yes.

S: And those all had to have budgetary hearings and be

defended and so forth. So that was.... And my budget for the

service was always increasing, even during the lean years when

everybody else's was going down.

R: Yes.

S: So that was neat.

R: Yes.

S: And I learned how to spend it all, because you can't

ask for more if you got it left over.

R: Right.

S: [laughter] And I am very frugal, the way I spend other

people's money, in particular. Really, I am.

R: Yes.

S: So I think they really got their money's worth.

R: It sounds definitely like you'd do it again.

S: Yes. Yes. Now I would, but at the time it... I don't

know. Yes. It was very interesting.

R: Yes.

S: Something that not very many people have the


Anita Spring 10-72

opportunity to do. My farewell party... I had two of them, one

given by the director general and the other given by my

colleagues, which was really extraordinary. I mean, the

testimonials and this and that, I... it was really quite

extraordinary. So that was gratifying.

R: Yes.

S: Yes. Yes. And I.got to build up the unit so that it

had.... Oh, I did a... I did some other kind of fun things. Like,

by the time I left, there were three men in the unit,...

R: Oh, that's great.

S: ... because they had thought that they could just sort

of dump women there, and it was only for women. I... and the men

proved to be very, very effective.

R: Yes.

S: Two of them are still there.

R: Yes. Well, I think having men being spokes-men....

S: Yes, they indeed were spokesmen.

R: Yes. Would be wonderful and be very powerful.

S: Yes. Yes. Yes, there were a lot of fun things.


End of 1/17/99 interview;

Beginning of 1/18/99 interview

Anita Spring

Meredith (Penny) Rucks: This is January 18, continuing with

interviewing Anita Spring. And, Anita, this morning I'd like to

start and have you kind of recap what some of the major

benchmarks in the development of your methodology have been,

moving from sort of a traditional ethnographic immersion approach

to methods that are particularly amenable to applied anthropology

in the kind of survey work that you were doing.

Anita Spring: OK. Well, the work with the Washoe, I think

we commented before, was mostly focused on key informants.

There's a pretty static method, although, you know, perfect for

budding anthropologists and a good place to start.

R: Yes.

S: And I think I will come back to that as a methodology

and how I think that needs to be changed and updated in the

modern world, even on the study of the Washoe and other American

group... Indian groups in the [Great] Basin and elsewhere,

because I think that one's been... been done...

R: Yes.

S: [laughter]

R: Yes.

S: ... and that they need... people need to move on. And


Anita Spring 10-74

it seems to be very hard to get people to move on.

R: And this is developing from... focusing exclusively

on... relying on a key informant.

S: Yes. Yes. Yes. A very, very static method.

R: Yes.

S: Anyway, so after that method with the Washoe, I then

had a really full immersion experience with the Luvale in Zambia.

But I used a variety of techniques, including key informants, of

course, and as I told you, apprenticing myself to these two

diviners, male diviners, and to various female healers, and male

healers as well. And still a lot of genealogical work, kinship,

and social organization, and a lot of eliciting of taxonomic

categories, both in ritual and in ethnobotany. And the survey

questionnaires that were administered to a sample of the


R: During that work, had you started working at all with

having some of the people themselves ask some of the questions,

or were you doing all the direct data collection?

S: Well, I had some research assistants.

R: Yes.

S: So, yes, they were collecting some data, as well,...

R: Yes.

Anita Spring

S: ... and I was, you know, training them as to how to do

that. So yes. And then participating in all the activities, so

the participant observation. So that was that methodology--still

very classic.

R: Yes.

S: You know, the major techniques within anthropology.

R: Besides the fact that you had a greater variety of data

formats to analyze, because you'd been using different methods.

Were there any particular tricks, so to speak, of the trade that

you developed in the course of doing your Ph.D. research there

that was significantly different from the way you kept notes, you

know, when you were doing your Washoe work? I'm trying to get an


S: Well, the Washoe thing was just much more finite.

R: Yes.

S: And sort of everything that a key informant said was

written down.

R: Yes.

S: So it was like verbatim script. But in Zambia, because

it was two years full of, [laughter] you know, daily

interactions, although I kept very copious notes, took very

copious notes, and I'm a very, very good note taker and very


Anita Spring

speedy. I can practically get something down that someone says in

normal conversational tone... I can practically write it.

R: Could you... were you able to actually take notes while

you were doing some of the ritual, participating in the


S: Oh, sure, sure. Yes. Definitely. I had my notebook with

me; I could write things down.

R: So that was your role, they understood that...

S: Yes. That was not a problem.

R: Right.

S: Literacy was highly valued by these illiterate people.


R: Yes. Yes.

S: And here I was doing a history and writing it down.

That's good, becauseif I hadn't been writing it down, how was I

doing it? [laughter]

R: Right. Exactly.

S: You know.

R: So that was almost ...

S: Yes. It was almost required.

R: Yes.

S: -So the Malawi... I mean, excuse me, the Zambian thing


Anita Spring

was classic anthropology. I told you I didn't....

R: Did you keep a personal journal, too?

S: No, I did not.

R: OK.

S: OK. I'm not prone to do that.

R: And so....

S: I have tried over the years, and they never last very


R: Because your notes were pretty clean, as they should

be, I mean, in the Washoe material of any kind of reflective...

beyond.... They were very reflective. I was very interested that

you divided your data into the kind of verbatim description of

what took place and what information categories you were

gathering. But then you did a very quick kind of rundown and

analysis of the dynamic of the interview,...

S: Right.

R: ...of what was taking place.

S: Right. Right. And I still have a notation system in all

field notes that I take, in which I distinguish what the

informant is saying from maybe my comments or exegesis or queries

or comments about things being unclear or check. So I make that

distinction. Then if other people interrupt, for example, or come


Anita Spring

by and [laughter] ... participate,...

R: Yes.

S: ... then it's all very clearly noted who said what.

R: Yes.

S: So I have this whole system.

R: That you've probably been refining.

S: Well, I think it's the same system. It's pretty simple,

and I just automatically go into it when I'm taking field notes.

That's all. It doesn't really require, you know, change.

R: No. It looked like a complete... it looked like a

pretty complete system to me.

S: Yes. So it evolved actually--this is a good point--it

evolved during the Washoe work. And it's just something that I've

continued to use and maintain, because it's a very workable

system. It didn't need refinement in that... in terms of when you

interview someone.

R: Right.

S: OK. There are lots of other methodologies that then

came in.

R: Yes.

S: So the Zambian one, I've just elicited those

methodologies. Now, the Malawi research, which we went through...


Anita Spring 10-79

I mean, it... to some of the methodologies, it was working with

data to analyze them in such ways that new things would be pulled

out, and they could be used in the service of policy and

influencing policy and influencing the way things were done. And

that would eventually influence real people, in the lives of real


R: Yes.

S: Yes. Livelihood strategies of real people. So that was

one methodology. The other methodology of working simultaneously

with what we later came to call all the stakeholders--everyone

who had a stake in the topic. So since it was agriculture in

Malawi, people in the Ministry of Agriculture from the, you know,

principal secretary, you know, to the heads of sections, to the

clerks, who were filing data or the paperwork, to the people in

the field, who were program managers, to their section heads, to

the extension worker in the village, to the people on the

agricultural research station, who were conducting research on


R: Yes.

S: All of those--and to the farmers, of course, both men

and women at different levels and different parts of the life

cycle--were all interviewed and were all, you know, worked with

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in terms of getting their perspective, finding out their problems

and constraints, finding out what they did, and how what they did

might be genderized. And so that took a whole variety of

methodological formats from, you know, filling out forms to

questionnaires and surveys, to in-depth interviews, to

participant observation over a long period of time, to

interacting with people at meetings.... You know, all of those

kinds of% methodologies were used in that particular goal and


R: Yes. Now you were working some of these methods out,

weren't you, in that particular....

S: Yes. They... you know, I was just sort of inventing

them, as I went along. I mean, if someone had told me what the

end result would be at the beginning, I probably wouldn't have

believed it, because I had no idea it would evolve to that level

of complexity...

R: Yes.

S: ... and that I would be given literally carte blanche

within that country to work with that whole area and topic in

conjunction with Malawian professionals, of course.

R: But it was a very....

S: ... that we would move together in our thinking.


Anita Spring

R: So it would... it was a truly collaborative, in the

sense that it was a progression...

S: Yes.

R: ... of development of ideas,...

S: Right.

R: ... not only how to collect the data, but what the end

product would be.

S: End product-s, yes. And the other thing is that it was

not something that could have been done alone.

R: Right.

S: It would have been a very sterile, certainly not

applied, project. And I think that's part of the difference. You

cannot do applied anthropology as the lone researcher, you know,

and certainly not the lone researcher going out to work with key

informants. [laughter] It's an anathema; it's a contradiction.

R: Yes. Yes.

S: But, you know, as I went along, I was, you know,

getting more and more people involved in the process and getting

people to collect data. And then they have their own data to look

at, and it wasn't me just telling them, "Look. You really do have

40 percent female head of households in your area, or whatever

percent. And that's one out of three or one out of two... four or


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one out of two households. And you're bypassing them, and then

you wonder why production is down. Excuse me,"...

R: Yes. Yes.

S: ... you know.

R: Yes.

S: You need to look at those kind of data. So getting

people to feel ownership of data collection and the data that are

collected, I think is fairly important. And then this team-

interactive, cybernetic, feedback kind of approach, I found very,

very nice. I really liked it.

R: Yes.

S: And so I had a staff of teammates. The Ministry of

Agriculture seconded[?] a Malawian woman professional officer,

bachelor's degree in agriculture, to the project. I had the

agronomist. I had access to the entire, as I said, research and

extension staff of the country to work through some of these

things. So that... and then had several projects in which I took

teams of people around and got to see, you know, people's

reactions and Malawian opinion on various things.

R: Yes.

S: And....

R: So you were actually field testing some of the pro


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ducts as you were working.......

S: In a way, yes.

R: Yes.

S: Just getting feedback; was I thinking about this


R: Yes.

S: See, and I think that's one of the things that

anthropologists miss. In other words, even if we worked with the

key informants in Dresslerville or amongst the other Washoe

communities, the anthropologist doesn't go back and have big

discussions about, "Well, our conclusions are thus and such,

based on what you told me."

R: Yes. Right. Right.

S: You know? Gladys Walker goes and is able to get a copy

of a Nevada State Museum publication on the Washoe and is

checking and rechecking it before her interviews. But, you know,

nobody ever came back to Gladys Walker and... after they'd, you

know, talked to her for, you know, twenty, thirty hours and said,

"We've concluded, based on discussions with you, that it's thus

and such,"...

R: Right.

S: ... which would have allowed the informant to say,


Anita Spring 10-84

"Well, this is right, and that's not."

R: Right.

S: And that is a huge failing of that methodology. And

when you think of the number of people and books and so forth

that have been based on that methodology, this stuff that I was

doing was... I think the word we use is iterativee." It was

very... you know, you could get instant feedback. I mean, did you

get the right..;. not only the right term, but the right concept?

R: Yes.

S: What was politically sensitive? Was something....

R: And the incentive to be accurate from the, quote,

"informant," is that this is actually going to result in a policy

change that will affect their lives.

S: Yes, but they didn't know that.

R: Yes. Oh... yes. That's....

S: I think that's too far a stretch.

R: Yes. Yes.

S: That's too far a stretch. Now, having said that, the

other big problematic area in doing this kind of stuff, and this


End of Tape 10
End of Tape 10

Anita Spring 10-85


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