CHRONICLER : Anita Spring
INTERVIEWER : Meredith (Penny) Rucks
DATE : 1/18/99
TAPE : 11
SUBJECT : Washoe Ethnographers
TRANSCRIBER : Linda Sommer
AUDIT-EDITOR : Penny.Rucks
Meredith (Penny) Rucks: OK.
Anita Spring: ... In a lot of other countries (we'll count
the number of countries in minute) is that the people from the
country itself who are on the team--and usually these are the
educated professionals who have formal positions either in the
project or in the ministry or in the university or in the
research complex--they have very strong ideas about how things
are in their country.
S: OK. And when you do... and a lot of those ideas are...
from the anthropologist's point of view, are what we call "the
R: Is that the normative...?
S: Normative. Yes
S: What in fact, when I drag them.... [laughter] Sometimes
it literally is dragging them, because they're some... some of
them are reluctant to leave their cozy posts...
R: And go to the bush?
S: ... and go to the bush.
S: When I take them to... and then to sit in people's
houses and get household data, that stuff... a lot of that stuff
is very real, although, you know, even when you talk to people,
they're giving you their best performance and telling you the
best stuff. But compared to the ideal stuff that people are
thinking, you know, these are... they may have never lived in the
rural areas themselves. They may have been urbanites, which is
why they were... you know, had access to education and are now
with their master... or bachelors, masters, or Ph.D.'s in the
research or extension or, you know, decision-making posts. So
they have very, very strong ideas. And when it comes to gender,
in particular, it's often up against a stone wall, as I found out
in... well, Ethiopia was a perfect, classic example. They knew
all about this crop; they knew that women only processed it.
Anita Spring 11-3
S: Forget about the fact that women were the ones who knew
all the varieties and the planting techniques and helped do all
these other things. They were just focused on the fact that women
S: ... and domestic aspects of the harvesting and
processing of the crop. I mean, that is a fight that continues to
this day, by the way. I mean, this is a very recent one...
S: ... and one that will probably, you know, go into the
next century. [laughter]
R: Yes. Yes.
S: It's just amazing. So you take them... you take these
agricultural professionals out to the field, and you put them in
households, and you ask a series of questions. You've all worked
this.... [phone rings; tape is turned off, then back on]
S: And we've all worked together to prepare the list of
questions, because everybody wants to get his or her questions.
And then you actually ask those questions to real people, and you
get answers that are... you know, some of the answers, they are
contrary to the belief system of the people asking the questions.
Now, they're not contrary to my belief system, because I'm open.
I don't care whether the answer is A, B, or C.
S: But the... some of these people think that, you know,
it's this way. And then you get an answer, and it's not that way,
and what's the response? The response isn't, "Oh, my goodness.
Isn't that interesting? I'll have to adjust my own belief
system." The response is, "They're wrong." [laughter]
R: Right. [laughter]
S: "I know more than they do. I'm educated; I'm a trained
professional. My opinion is better than their opinion."
S: And so the stuff... they don't hear it.
S: It just, you know, slides off, or, you know, it's ba...
it may be troubling them, but they bury it.
S: So it's really very interesting to watch that. And
then, of course, I come along, and I say, "Oh, well, yes. Here's
the story. So-and-so said it."
S: And then it sets up a big argument.
R: And multiple so-and-so's said it.
S: And multiple so-and-so's said it, and then it sets up
really a big argument.
S: And when it gets to something like gender... [laughter]
And these are very deeply.held beliefs.
R: And you must be frequently perceived as the messenger
that they like to go.... I mean, it must be... it's a very
delicate, diplomatic issue.
S: It's very delicate diplomatically, some of those
things. But my point was that the agri... this teamwork is
fabulous, and you do accomplish much more than a single
researcher. And you do get instant feedback... well, not maybe
not instant, but you do get feedback on a whole range of
subjects, and you tend not to make linguistic mistakes or
terminology mistakes, because they're corrected.
S: And you tend not to get the categories off too far,
because peo... you know, you're working with people, and then
they say, "Oh, well, this means this, and that means that." You
say, "Oh, right," and then you make the correction. But you also
come up against this problem of people's own cultural beliefs,
not wanting to believe that their culture or their society
actually either has a range of behaviors, has more flexibility
than they realized, does things that perhaps they didn't approve
of, and so forth.
S: Yes. So... and that's a very, very hard sell.
S: So anyway, I experienced that, of course, in Malawi,
but that... they were so open to the subject of women in
development at that time, after the initial closed response, that
I... it wasn't too bad, and the data were so spectacular.
S: Although I must say, the labor data, which showed that
women actually spent more time in agriculture than they did in
their domestic duties or the... that they spent so much time on,
you know, these farm operations, like planting, fertilizer
application, you know, the technical parts...
S: ... of production. I did actually get people say--some
of these men--"That's because it takes them longer."
R: Oh, my god. All right.
S: You know?
S: Like... and there's still this notion that an hour of
woman's time and an hour of a man's time are not the same; it's
not the same hour. And the entire discipline of agricultural
economics, as a standard convention... now, I believe this must
be changing in the 1990s, but this has certainly been true up...
all through the 1980s and maybe for lots of people still today,
but certainly the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s... I don't when it
S: ... that a woman's hour is counted as two-thirds of a
man's hour. And so you can pick up the standard literature on
farm labor allocations all over the planet, written by ag
economists, and it's just there. It's just in there. And, in
fact, in my reports and in my book on Malawi and in the analysis
of this very extensive data that I collected, I analyzed it two
ways. I said, "OK. Let's count it that way...
S: ... and see if it's still significant in terms of what
they're doing. And then let's count it, the standard labor. An
hour of a woman and an hour of a man is exactly same." [Tape off,
S: And the data still showed that women were, you know,
doing much more in terms of agriculture than people gave them
credit for, or they were equal or more than (it depended on the
particular item) male participation, and certainly the amount of
hours was extremely significant or higher than their activities
in the domestic realm, et cetera. So, I mean, that was really
very interesting. But this notion that is maintained within the
literature is that a woman's hour counts differently, is
extraordinary. But I got on that, because I was talking about
how... what a hard sell it is to... often to people within the
The other thing I wanted to mention about methodology in
Malawi has to do with a very long and extensive series of
questionnaire instruments, which I don't think I mentioned
S: Fifteen different survey and questionnaire instruments,
one of which was anthropometric measurements of the children in
the household--weight, height, kinds of skin-fold dimen...
caliber dimensions, and so forth.
S: This very standard anthropological... physical
anthropological assessments of human populations. But... and a
measured dietary intake protocol, which we had students from the
Bunda[sp?] College of Agriculture living in the villages for six
weeks and actually going to the households and watching what they
were eating and measuring it, measuring food commodities.
R: So that was not questionnaire; that was observation.
S: That... well, measurement and observation.
R: Yes. Yes. I mean, of the food, of what was actually
going in their mouths.
S: Yes. Yes. That was different than a twenty-four-hour
recall or... I mean, I think we did that, too, which is a
completely different kind of exercise. And then there were the
standard demographic questionnaires and the.... [tape off, then
S: So in addition to the diet and anthropometry, these
surveys had household composition, education profile; there was
one on migration and work history, one on natality and fertility.
Then there were a number of them on agriculture, specifically:
garden inventory, which was all the different crops and
livestock, really, that people were planting; a questionnaire on
land tenure, how they got their land, how they disposed of it if
they did; garden labor questionnaire, in which... who did what,
all gender-disaggregated and age-disaggregated.
S: A history of the gardens and their cultivation
practices through time was another one. Yet another was farm
planning their agricultural knowledge, you know, for example.
This was a staggering one. Fertilizer being such a valued
commodity in this landlocked country, it had to be brought in
from outside. And I was very curious to know if people really
knew what to do with it, like, how much to use and when to use
S: So I went through a lot of procedures to get it...
questionnaires that... or questions that would elicit the answer.
R: Yes. Yes.
S: Anyway, I'll just tell you the results: about 50
percent of the people thought that you put the fertilizer on
right before the maize was tasseling,...
R: .Oh, boy.
Anita Spring 11-11
S: ... you know. And the ones who had been really
contacted who were mostly men had more information about putting
the fertilizer on at the very beginning of the planting process.
R: Yes. Yes.
S: So here's this incredibly scarce resource that was
being used much too late, just because people didn't have the
S: Or they didn't... you know, nobody had told them what
was really happening. So that was a pretty interesting one.
There was also... there were also questionnaires on their
experience planting maize. It was targeted to a specific
commodity and their production. And there was another
questionnaire on resources--where they got capital, where they
got labor, where they... farm machinery, all those kinds of
things--and their material wealth. I mean, what was their house
made out of? Did they have a radio, bicycle? One on extension
contacts: what had been their experience? Another one on change
and development: how did they view things as a result of these
projects that... you know, these large projects from the World
Bank and other donors? Had it affected their lives? So there were
fifteen of these different surveys, protocols, measurements; and
then that was compared to data that had been collected in that
seven-thousand-household survey that had been funded by the World
Bank, and where there were comparable ones.... And some of the...
in one survey we managed to actually have a sample that used the
same people, found them that had been used in that survey. So...
R: Oh. my, that's....
S: ... so there was a lot... methodologically, there was a
lot of work on preparing instruments, testing them, piloting
them, finding a correct sample, or finding correct samples.
S: I wanted a significant sample of female-headed
households, for example. I wanted a sample of the people who had
actually been part of the seven-thousand-household survey from
the previous couple of years, because that survey had actually
measured their plots and had been.... You know, the data we could
use from it was really significant. I didn't have the
wherewithal, the personnel, to actually go and measure people's
plots at that time and take, you know, weighed inventory of a
plo... of the...
S: ... production,...
Anita Spring 11-13
S: ... you know, how much maize they were producing on
a... in a small plot, then extrapolated to a per-hectare figure.
S: But that had been done on those other surveys. So, you
know, there... a lot of methodological work in sampling and
instrument preparation and analysis and coordination between
various kinds of surveys and questionnaires that had been done,
so that they weren't apples and oranges in terms of the data
comparisons. Spent a lot of time on that methodologically.
S: And then... and the analysis--and this became a very
significant aspect of future methodologies--was the notion of
indicators. What were the indicators of... involved in
development and change, for example? Or what were the indicators
involved in production techniques? [sound of papers rustling]
R: So they're like representative indicators of....
S: Yes. Like, for example, let me read some of them to you
in terms of characteristics of households. So an indicator would
be the percentage of how house... of... sorry, the sex of
S: ... the percentage of households that were male-headed
and the percentage that... female-headed and in various areas.
That's an indicator. An indicator or variable in terms of land
was the length of time the land had been held, and was there a
difference between the male-headed and female-headed? Or an
indicator of land, obviously, is the range of size or the mean or
the distribution size by type of household. An indicator in terms
of cropping pattern was a comparison between in... planting
innovative crops, newly introduced, versus planting the
S: The hectarage allowed for a particular crop by type of
crop. These were all indicators. Or in terms of wealth items--and
I think this is easy to understand--farm equipment, that's
indicator. Or consumer goods.
S: OK. So I had... for all of those surveys, was able to
sum it up in terms of these indicators and then the findings in
terms of a comparison of households. The farming practices... you
know, did the... an indicator was fertilizer use.
S: OK. Or....
R: Those are good examples.
S: Yes. I think that gets the point across.
R: It does.
S: An indicator of change and development was credit
taking--who did and who didn't?--or use of inputs--who did or who
S: Or people's notions of whether they thought there was
more or less food, so I called that changes in food self-
R: Now, for instance, we talked before that in order to
identify these indicators, you had done that, for instance, in
the case of the wealth, was the focus groups where people would
S: Oh, yes.
R: ... would actually....
S: That's the Ethiopian case.
S: Yes. So that whole methodology was really developed in
S: In the... it was there a little bit in... before I went
to field,- but it was in the real analysis of the data that this
idea that we could pull out the indicators. I mean, the...
this... the instruments had been designed with this in mind, and
it actually was a reality that you could pull the data out. They
were meaningful in terms of the data collected. That was good.
R: Yes. Yes.
S: So anyway, that's another methodology from Malawi, this
whole very elaborate survey, elaborate survey instruments, and
then the methodology not only of analyzing them statistically,
straight statistic analysis, but also pulling out the indicators.
R: And also... and I know you've made this point, but I
don't think it can be overemphasized, is the other, I think,
tremendous difference here is this immediate feedback from
immediate quick analysis...
R: ... and then adjustment.
S: Let me comment on that, because as far as I was
concerned, the work in Malawi... there was too much data
Anita Spring 11-17
S: It took too long to analyze.
S: It took too long to write that book.
S: Of course, my life was interrupted by moving to Rome
and being an associate dean and, you know, all these other
things. And so the book just really lingered on for much too
long, even though I was writing articles, fortunately. And that
was sort of... those articles and my talks and everything were
getting out. And that's, as I said yesterday, why the project was
R: And wasn't the... was it the 1985 Congress of Women and
Development or meeting ....
S: The decade conference in Nairobi? I gave a paper...
R: My... on the Malawi work or...?
S: I'm sure it was.
S: [laughter] Yes, I have a photograph of me giving the
paper, but I think...I'm pretty sure its content was Malawi at
the time,- or African women in Malawi, As An Example, was probably
Anita Spring 11-18
more like it.
S: Something like that. But anyway, I was very excited by
the data that were collected; I was very excited by the
methodology that had been used in Malawi. All the other
methodologies that I talked about, with the exception of the
survey... really, a lot of those things had been analyzed and
presented. You saw those sort of informal, but bound...
S: ... reports...that we just did them on a....
R: Merely for in-country purposes?
S: Yes. What is called, a dicta...?
S: No, it wasn't mimeograph. The next step--stencil.
S: Yes. I started out with mimeograph,...
S: ... and it was so bad that I was able to upgrade to
S: You know. And we had a copier and a stencil machine and
S: You know, it was the olden days.
S: So... but it was working through the analysis of
fifteen protocols, two of.which were measurement data,[laughter]
for this large sample of, oh, 100, 110 households, and then a
separate sample of 58 female-headed households and then linking
it back to the surveys that had been done by the government of
Malawi and from their 7,000 households, pulling it out for that
S: It was a mess. I mean, it just took years and years and
years to work through that. And, you know, by the time the
results come out, who cares?
S: You know. And that's sort of standard anthropological
procedure and methodology.
S: You know, you cook your data until, you know... you let
it simmer on the stove for a real long time. And then at the end
it may be a very good product, but people are no longer hungry,
because, you know,...
R: Pretty bad! [laughter]
S: ... [laughter] they've gone off to eat something
S: Let's put it that way.
R: Yes. Yes. Yes.
S: So I was really very disturbed by that process.
R: I see, yes.
S: Very disturbed by the fact that these formal surveys
that were so elegantly designed... I mean, it was really very
elegant work, and the analysis, which was very careful, was just
S: And, you know, if I had had, like, two years of
research leave when I came back from Malawi, I could have,
[clicks fingers] you know, whipped it out. But teaching full-time
and then moving up into the... that associate dean position and
then going to FAO--I mean, it was just impossible to work on that
stuff with the same vigor and rigor and time... just time-wise.
So it was-very piece... done in a very piecemeal way, and that's
why it took so very long.
In the meantime, however, I did all kinds of projects that
did not take so long...
S: ... and developed yet another methodology that has
given me a new outlook on life and which I feel very confident
using, and I love the results. I love doing them; I love teaching
people how to do them; and you get closure right away. And a....
[tape off, then on] A lot of it comes from the farming systems
research and extension methodologies. And I've sort of inputted
into that a lot of anthropological ways of doing things, because
a lot of the people who do farming systems are ag economists.
S: There are anthropologists; I mean, and there are also
agricultural production people, like agronomists, even one or two
breeders, I'm sure, horticulturalists, soil scientists, and so
forth. But it's mostly... it's the social scientists, and then we
drag around the production people [laughter] and try to get their
R: And there's a lot of compatibility between economic
analysis and anthro
S: ,Yes. It's funny--to the anthropologists, the ag
economists look like almost hardcore scientists, you know,...
R: Yes. Yes.
S: ... natural scientists. But from within colleges of
agriculture and agricultural discipline,...
R: They're the soft people.
S: ... they're the soft people.
S: Yes. It's quite interesting.
S: Anyway, let's see. After I left FAO, I did a series of
consultancy work and... yes, mostly consultancies, in which I
re... and then the research, my own research, in which I used the
rapid rural appraisal methodologies and started to prepare
written materials that would go along with these. They'd never
been published, and I never had time to really do this. And maybe
I will. I'm getting encouragement from a number of colleagues
that this stuff is pretty unique.
S: But here's sort of how it went: I wanted to take these
teams of people, because we were evaluating a project, or we were
trying to figure out what was happening in an area. I wanted to
take them to the field, and I knew their perspectives were quite
different than mine, and I was aware of the fact that they would
hold these prejudicial notions, and I knew we had to get to the
household level. So I started to put together these
R: And you had a short... relatively short time frame.
S: Yes. This is on a relatively short time frame to do it,
but in terms of time frame, you know, chronologically, I'm
dealing with the period from 1992 to 1997.
S: It's in that time frame.
S: And it's spurred on by the fact that the first year
after I've come back from FAO, in the summer of the next year, I
am hired to teach a course for the U.S. Department of Agriculture
in conjunction with Peter Hildebrand, who is the grand guru of
farming systems, research and extension, and an ag economist, for
a five-week course in the summer of 1992.
R: And where would this be?
S: And that was in Gainesville.
S: And the participants are from Nigeria, Morocco, Uganda,
S: And they were all men. OK. And they're all agricultural
professionals who either have master's degrees or Ph.D.'s. And
Pete Hildebrand had developed a whole quantitative and
theoretical perspective on modified stability analysis, using the
Malawi data. And he had come to Malawi in about 1982, 1983, as a
visitor. And so those data then became, you know... and I haven't
talked about what those data were about and why they're so
spectacular, but maybe I'll get to it.
But anyway, so he and I were teaching the course together.
And then he pulled in a man named Tito French[sp?], who was in ag
extension, although actually he's an agronomist, but he'd worked
with the ag extension people in north Florida on a particular
crop, perennial peanuts. And so I did the rapid appraisal, the
fieldwork part, in which I would... took these agricultural
professionals after the training that we had given them to north
Florida to do the actual...
S: ... fieldwork with farmers.
S: OK? And so that was one of the... you know. I would
teach the methodology part on, you know, sampling and
interviewing and how you analyze data, and what are the
techniques of eliciting data, and what are the... what are people
doing at the household level in terms of farming and gender
division of labor, and so forth. And Pete Hildebrand did his
modified stability analysis, and how do we calculate that, and
what does that mean at the local level, and what local farmers
are doing. So it was a very good, collaborative and... kind of
S: ... teaching course, because I was picking up things
from him, and he was picking up things from me,...
S: ... as we were teaching these agricultural
S: And I might add that my affiliation with the college of
agriculture in these kinds of training courses then continued
through four more...? Three...? Yes. And the next round was...
were twelve Turkish agricultural professionals, who were all on
the same project in Turkey, a project actually funded by the
German aid agency, but they paid for them to come to University
of Florida, because this training program was so good.
S: And I took even more responsibility with that one and
did yet another round in north Florida with the perennial peanut
farmers. And then there was a group of... and there were women, a
couple of women, in amongst the ones from Turkey; I think two.
And then there was a group of only three from Bangladesh with a
woman who was head of whatever the agricultural unit was and
another woman and a man. That was a very interesting one, very
S: And then there was a couple of Malawians who sort of
got some private training. They were hardcore male chauvinists,
but we worked with them. They never got to do the fieldwork part.
S: And the Bangladeshis... I was right.., it was right in
the middle of the term, and I could not take the week off to do a
field exercise. So they wound up... I think we had one of the
senior graduate students in ag econ take them to organic farmers
in Alachua County or something.
S: And so I did not do the fieldwork part of that. And
then there were other bits and pieces.
Anita Spring 11-27
R: So there's been real progress within the department of
S: Well, now, this... no, no, no, no, no. No. This was a
separate... they had constituted themselves as an international
training division within the office of international programs in
the College of Agriculture.
R: I see.
S: And their purpose, of course, was to get these outside
grant... well, they weren't grants--outside....
R: Yes. Contract.
S: Contracts is really what they were.
S: So the first year it was the contract from USDA to hold
the training course. I thought it was going to be USDA the second
year, but it ran into financial and political snafus, and they
decided to go with their... you know, on their own. And they got
the contract from GTZED[sp?], the Germany agency, to do the
Turkish ag professionals. And then they got another contract from
the government of Bangladesh and something from Malawi, and
probably USAID, or the World Bank paid for that one.
R: So you... were you always working with the same team of
S: No. No. And then we were also trying to, you know,
develop a group of people... and they all had graduate students
involved in doing a lot of the training. And the... it turns out
that we've had these marvelous programs through that and other
parts of the university on training graduate students to do this
kind of training...
S: ... and training of trainers. And a lot of that
methodology really evolved from my FAO, you know, work with
training people and coordinating people in that gender analysis
training program. So that was a natural.
S: But anyway, so starting in 1992, I star... and going
forward for a good five years, I really started working on this
methodology of collecting data, how... training people on how to
collect the data, training people on how to analyze the data
collected in a very short period of time.
S: So every single one of these rapid rural appraisals--or
let's just call them rapid appraisals, because they can be rural,
urban... doesn't matter--the research was done, the data were
collected., the report... the data were analyzed, and the report
Anita Spring 11-29
was written and completed in a very timely manner,...
S: ... within weeks or no more than a months...
R: Yes. That's amazing.
S: ... of the end of the data collection.
S: And this was a reaction--some might call it an
overreaction--to the length of time it had taken to analyze that
rather extensive data set from Malawi.
R: Now, in this rapid appraisal, is there an opportunity
that you were talking about...had identified before as one of the
weaknesses of standard methods--for the informants or the
participants at the ground level to comment on the results?
S: Well, in the Jamaica project there was, and I'll...let
me review what it is, and... yes, that's a good question, because
if I jump into that, I'm going to be ahead of myself.
R: All right. But....
[tape off, then on]
S: What I did, eventually, was to distinguish between an
informal appraisal and what is possible, and what are the
Anita Spring 11-30
constraints, and what do you get out of it--and a formal survey.
And so I argued that, you know, in a very short period of time
and using multidisciplinary teams. You could do one of these
appraisals, and you recover about 60 percent of the data. In
other words, when you go out and talk to people.
S: A lot of the methodologies or a lot of the procedures
for this, you don't really take notes. On the other hand, I would
always make up these reporting formats, so people would have a
place to write things in, in terms of the categories. So the data
and the analysis are available very quickly, and you can keep
modifying it as you go. Like, if yesterday you asked the question
wrong or you didn't ask about something, today you are not bound
to do it the same way.
S: So your questions and way you ask them and actually
even your sample, which is a casual... an informal sample, keep
changing, based on what you're finding out and your needs. If you
think, you know, X is the central key, and you keep badgering
people about X, if you find out that, well, you know,*you were
off base, you don't have to stick with it.
S: You immediately change to Y and then go from there. So
you're never held back.
R: So it's really adaptive.
S: It's very adaptive, and you can keep changing your
notions of what the desirable data are, as you go through the
process. In other words, you can modify the stuff right on the
spot. And you can sample all stakeholders. So you can say, "Well,
this is not just a questionnaire of farmers in village X or a
stratified sample of householders in a project area. I'm going to
go talk to the extension agent. I'm going to go to talk to the
head of the project. I'm going to go talk to the minister of
agriculture and, you know, and find out what they think or what
they're doing or, you know, their opinion or so forth." So you
can include all the stakeholders.
Now, it's very qualitative.
S: Get some general notions of frequencies.
R: Yes. Yes.
S: And believe me, I have actually done--you're not
supposed--some, you know, at least rudimentary quantitative... I
hate... I hesitate to say "statistical," because I'm not... I
would not do tests of significance on any of these kinds of data,
Anita Spring 11-32
but they are listed in charts, you know.
R: Yes. Yes.
S: And they're mostly frequencies and percentages and
means. I mean, I feel comfortable going that far.
S: So what I did is I would get people to understand the
nature of these informal appraisals, and I contrasted them with
the formal surveys. In the formal surveys you get all your data,
S: ... that's your data, and you have a... it takes a long
time to collect. You may do it yourself, or you may use
enumerators. You're using actual survey questionnaire
instruments. If you're clever enough and conscientious enough,
you've piloted them, so you know that they actually work, but now
you can use actual measurements, and then you get statistically
valid and reliable data, which you can do tests of significance
S: On the other hand, it takes a huge amount of time.
Anita Spring 11-33
S: And by the time... you know, for the Malawi thing
showed me that it just took so long to do really a comprehensive
survey. And my colleagues right now are bogged down in this in
Ethiopia. They moved from my rapid appraisal to a formal survey.
I don't believe they'll ever get it analyzed completely.
R: Yes. Yes.
S: You know, they'll get some rudimentary stuff, and it's
been a couple of years, and they keep wanting to go on and do
more and more and more and more. And everybody's got a million
questions. And they just... you know, they're going to grappling
with this for a very, very long time. Whereas I, you know,
helped... did the fieldwork, got the feedback, and we wrote up
the report. It's, you know, an inch thick of... and it was
written in a month.
S: And it's done. And people have used it as the basis for
all kinds of things. And I don't think I'll ever see one of those
based on their formal survey, quite frankly. I'll see little bits
and pieces of it, but... you know.
R: Formal survey will probably end up validating your
results of that....
S: I think it will.
R: Which will be useful monitoring....
S: Yes. Yes, that'll be really interesting.
S: Anyway, so I developed that idea that there were those
differences, number one. Number two, a lot of this stuff is
scattered in the farming systems literature. And I pretty much
scoured it at one point and pulled out all the helpful hints and
charts. And a lot of the stuff is very graphic, and they're in
charts and in, you know, farm maps....
R: Which must have led to the indicators that you were
S: I'd gone through the indicators, and I went through the
farming systems literature, which I collected from everywhere.
And FAO had a unit on farming systems, as well; I thought a bit
archaic. But I'd been participating in the farming systems
meetings, had been a banquet speaker; I'd given papers; I... it's
involved in the... it's a worldwide network of people.
S: And I'd gotten all the Asian materials, and-they
were... they're very advanced in farming systems in the
Philippines, for example, and because of RRI[sp?], you know, the
Anita Spring 11-35
Rice Research Institute.
So I really was pulling all of these things, as were these
graduate students who were involved in the course, from the
farming systems literature and putting them into packets, and
the.... When I say graphic materials, I mean, there were charts,
there were graphs, there were maps, you know, really those kinds
of materials--and tables. So, for example, I'm looking at one
from Swaziland. [sound of rustling papers]
S: And I went to Swaziland; I... it was a consultancy for
USAID. It was to evaluate a project on commercial agriculture and
marketing that AID had funded or was in the process of funding.
The process... the project was ongoing. And I got there, and I
thought, "Well," you know, "did the people on the project and
does the team know about what farmers are really doing--the
farmers who were project participants?"
S: "Or are we just going to, [laughter] you know, have
hearsay from project personnel on what participants are
S: ... which is what everybody had in mind, which was, you
Anita Spring 11-36
know, the standard kind of thing.
R: And also taking you on very controlled field trips.
S: Very controlled. "This farmer is doing very well, so
we're going to see farmer, you know, X, and forget about all the
rest of it."
S: So that didn't wash. And, of course, I wanted to do a
rapid appraisal of the participants and find out from them what
they thought of the project. Thought that was a rather, you
know,... [laughter] logical way of doing it. USAID gave me
permission to do it.
S: The project staff agreed to participate, because I
could not do it without them.
S: I wasn't trying to go around them. I was trying to
involve them. My two male colleagues, of course (I think I
mentioned this), did not participate.
S: They were too busy reading a chart or, you know, or
something of no consequence,...
S: ... because, well, "what an odd idea". So I had not
brought with me any materials at all in terms of training
materials or farming systems materials. I had brought stuff
about Swaziland, and, you know, I'd had a couple of books. I
didn't have a long time to prepare for.... It was something that
just came up...
S: ... very, very quickly, and the timing was right, and
it seemed intriguing and, you know.
R: Oh, yes.
S: I wasn't... I think I wasn't the first person tapped to
do it, and then that other person couldn't do it. And so all of a
sudden I had a week to get ready, you know. End my activities in
Gainesville and pack my suitcase and get on the plane. So I
didn't have anything with me.
S: I created the training of train... the training course
from memory and typed it out. Here it is [laughter]. So I had to
create, you know, the distinctions between formal and informal
surveys. I had to create the charts on farmer diversity,
Anita Spring 11-38
stakeholder analysis, modes of interacting with farmers, kinds of
questions, the chronology and procedures for doing an appraisal,
and the perspectives taken, the kinds.... And then related to the
local project at hand, what were the kinds of data? What was the
kind of information needed?
R: So... but in this case, weren't you yourself conducting
the rapid appraisal?
R: You weren't training other people to do it?
S: Correct. Correct. So then I had to make it appropriate
for the project at hand.
S: How... you know, what was the information needed
that... to do that? How much of it had already been collected by
S: What were the impacts of the project? What were the
farmer characteristics of participants and nonparticipants? What
were the questions that were needed to be...?
R: Oh, nonparticipants, of course.
S: Yes. Nobody ever thought of that.
R: Yes... "Why aren't these people involved?"
S: Yes. Pretty important.
S: But that is the stuff that is always left out.
S: Nobody would ever think of that.
S: What were the benefits to being participants, you know,
in terms of not only agriculture and production, but in terms of
the rest of [other aspects of] their lives? I mean, these are
people, not machines, growing these things. So I kind of created
the handouts and did a training course. It was not a long one.
S: Seems to me it was like a day in length. But these were
the people who were on the project and people from USAID, and I
think there might have been one person from the....
R: About how many people are we talking about?
S: I... well, I think we're talking about eight or ten
R: And these were all going... these people were... you
were going out as a team...
Anita Spring 11-40
S: Yes. No. We were teams.
S: I don't like teams that are bigger than three people.
R: Right. OK. So you would find the people...
S: So I was... I think.., here was my methodology in all
these things: I'm only one person; I can't be with every team.
But that's OK. That's why I had to give them the training course.
R: Got it. OK.
S: And so I carefully selected who would be the team...
R: Team leader.
S: ... leader of the other two teams. And then I... we
would switch participants. So I would... you know,... they
never... day two, I was... it was another configuration.
S: And day three was another config.... The teams did not
stay the same every day. And then at the end of the day--this is
part of the methodology--you reconvene--this was pretty shocking
for people--which means you go after five o'clock. [laughter]
S: Not popular! You come back after collecting your data
each day and talk about them and say....
End of Side 1, Beginning of Side 2
S: ... in the dropout category pretty soon. The project
itself--and remember, these are staffed by American
professionals, ag professionals--had certain conceptions about
who their farmers were and about what their farmers' problems and
constraints were. And it turns out that they were somewhat
correct in some ways, and they were completely off base in
others. They had no idea of the diversity of size of land
holdings, for example. They were not very astute on the
differences in male and female participation and/or dropout
rates. There... you know, all kinds of things in terms of what
farmers really understood, in terms... I... you know, that
S: I was always interested in the knowledge base. That was
from the Malawi work.
S: So did they really understand the project principles
and procedures or the way they were supposed to, you know, plant
Anita Spring 11-42
the green beans or the peppers and tomatoes. And did they
understand the marketing structure and so forth? So I had a lot
of questions like that, as well.
S: So they really were very pleased to.... They were very
open, the people on the project, it turned out. That group was
R: Yes. Yes.
S: So they were very pleased to have that information, to
be able to understand their participants better.
R: Yes. That's great.
S: So they were fine. AID liked it, and the people who
came from AID, and I think it was just one or two, and the one
person, I think from the Ministry of Agriculture. All the people
who participated in the assessment... and then we were trying to
write it up, although it was mostly, in this sense, my
responsibility to write up, because I was the consultant. I was
actually hired to produce a product.
S: So it wasn't a real team approach in the writeup. But
it was a team approach in collecting the data and discussing it.
S: The project staff and the ministry and the AID didn't
feel that that was their job description to produce a report. I
was the one who had to produce a report. OK. It wasn't a team
S: OK. So that has.to be said for that particular one.
S: But they really felt that they benefitted both from the
methodology and from finding out what their participants were
doing and what their participants thought of their project. So,
now, my two male colleagues were disinterested.
S: Throughout. They didn't even want to listen to how the
participants.... Turned out they had another agenda. They were
trying to get the project transferred away, and I didn't find
this out until the end. They were... their whole agenda for the
entire time was to get the next phase of the project transferred
for the... to the development company which had hired them and
myself, as well, and to take the leadership and the... that
contract away the teams...
R: -Oh, that....
S: ... that was actually...that carried it out--the
organization, another development company. And....
R: Were these private companies?
S: Yes. They were, you know....
R: NGOs and....
S: No, not NGOs. These... you know the "Beltway Bandits"--
what we call the "Beltway Bandits,"...
S: ... which has become a euphemism for these, you know,
independently constructed companies of very good professionals,
often, who get contracts from USAID or the World Bank to do
R: I'm not sure a lot of people are aware of that in the
context of USAID....
S: Yes. Well, this has been going on for a long time. A
lot of them are located in that area, in Washington, northern
Virginia, and southern Maryland. That's why they call it "around
the beltway." It goes around that whole area. That's why they're
euphemistically known as the "Beltway Bandits."
R: So a potential competing company of that nature had
hired the... for an assessment of the existing....
S: -No, no, no, no, no, no, no.
R: OK. OK.
S: I'm sorry; I've gotten you confused. I don't re... I'd
have to look in my notes. I've forgotten which company...
R: We can clarify that.
S: ... had the contract.
S: OK. Let's just call it company A.
R: Yes. Yes.
S: OK. And company A, of course, found, you know, the
agronomist, the statistician, the horticulturalist,...
S: ... the marketing specialist. I've forgotten... you
know, I think there were seven professionals, something like
that, on this project.
S: OK. Now, USAID puts out a request for proposals and
RFQs [Request for Quotations; or RFPs, Request for Bids ?] and
all those kinds of things. And universities, development
companies prepare their proposal and bid on these things. And
just as the University of Florida had gotten the contract for
Malawi or Cameroon, then Oregon State and the consortium for
international development took it away and got that. OK.
S: So sometimes they go out to universities; sometimes
they go out to these development companies; and often they're in
competition. And then people put together conglomerates of them,
like two development companies or two development companies and a
university...that... all kinds of ways of....
R: Right. And mix and match personnel....
S: ...Mixing and matching personnel to staff these.
S: But they all have these tremendous overheads, which is
why people want to get them. And that keeps these development
companies functioning. OK. That's what they're there for. And the
rationale that, you know, the staff that manages... or that's
employed by USAID, they don't have time to leave their desk and
go out and do a project in three countries simultaneously.
S: Because I mean, we have a project portfolio--the
American government does--you know, in so many countries. And
then we have just an administrative staff....
R: So there's a whole industry of...
S: Oh, huge industry. We have an administrative staff in
Washington and in each country that oversees it, but they don't
personally go out and, you know, do ten projects simultaneously
in ten different countries. It's impossible.
S: So they hire, you know, universities. And it's part of
a system to keep our professionals in America at universities up
to date and involved with international....I mean, it's a very
clever and coordinated system. And it also allows the U.S.
taxpayer to not think that we are just taking money and giving it
to people overseas. We're actually paying our own country people,
you know--Americans-- to staff these projects with some local
R: No, that was good...The fundamentals there.
S: That's the fundamentals. That's how that works. Anyway,
the project people were very happy about it. These two men who
were... one was the team leader, had worked for USAID, and was
now working, I don't know, either full-time, part-time for this
other development company.
S: Their agenda was to evaluate the project in such a way
that it would not be renewed from company A, and it would...
company B, their company, because they would have a much better
chance of- bidding on it, because they'd know the ins and outs
that these two men were going to tell them in the report and in
other conversations as to what was happening, and they might get
the next phase.
S: And, you know, it took me a long time to figure that
out. It was very subtle. I mean, obviously, I wasn't supposed to
figure it out, nor was anybody else.
R: Right. Right. Right.
S: But, of course, I figured it out and I was horrified.
S: And the people in AID, I think, eventually saw through
S: Wasn't up to me to blow the whistle.
S: And I had no proof.
R: Right. No. And you can't, and then there... and you're
in an impossible situation to be...
S: Impossible. And I was a junior person, female.... I
mean, you know, but I finally personally figured it out,...
S: ... and these were men who'd never worked in Africa
before. Or at least one of them, for certain, and the other, very
peripherally. It was horrifying. Really horrif.... But I didn't
let that bother me. I went on to, you know... I'd have to deal
with them. They'd talk about their dates in... at the Ithaca
fraternities many years ago. When I got really frustrated, I
would interrupt them and do a movie review.
S: I thought, you know, they were, you know, at least
polite. I mean, they made me... I was polite. I had to sit there
and listen to this inane conversation, and then I would say....
After they finished talking about what happened at the fraternity
party forty years earlier, [laughter] for what reason I could not
fathom, I would say, "You know? One of the best movies I saw...."
And then I would proceed to take the floor and talk about and do
a movie review, just for comic relief,...
R: Yes. Yes.
S: ... to try to get the subject....
R: How amazing.
S: Oh, it was so terrible!
S: Really, really terrible. But anyway... so during... you
know, those were at mealtimes, because we would have these
dinners together at...
R: Oh, yes. You had to....
S: Yes. And when... you know, I tried to get people to
talk about farmers' responses to the project, [laughter]... and I
wondered... I kept wondering why, you know,...
R: What in the world they were talking about.
S: ... what happened at the fraternity party and their
date forty years ago was of any interest whatsoever, when there
was all this incredible data to be discussed.
S: So I would always start with my... you know, the
findings and so forth, and it would dissolve into the...
[laughter] this insane conversation.
But anyway, be that as it may, they... AID was very, very
pleased. And the project people were very, very pleased with the
analysis of the data. And I even gave them some suggestions on
how to analyze the data that they were collecting in terms of
categories of farmer and in terms of gender and so forth.
S: So I was quite pleased with my participation there, and
the people in the AID mission was... were pleased, and....
R: To put this in perspective, how long was this
S: This was... it seems to me it was about two and a half
R: So in two and a half months you needed to train field
staff to actually collect this assessment data and collect it,
evaluate it to some extent, to fine-tune, and then...
S: Write it up.
R: ... go back and write it up.
S: Yes. And it was all done.
R: And you wrote up...
R: In-country. Ah.
S: So it was either two or two and a-half months.
S: I'd have to look back at the exact time frame. It
seemed to me it was May, June, and a little bit into July.
Something like that. So that was 1993.
S: And, of course, 1992, in the taking the ag professional
to north Florida, that was a five-week training course, one week
in the field and one week to write up the results and come out
and finish.., with the finished product. They... but they wrote
the report on the perennial peanut. OK. So that.... And let's
see, I've forgotten the date of the Turkish professionals. It
probably was either 1993 or ninety... maybe it was 1994. The
S: ... the same thing: fieldwork for a week; write up the
S: OK. Then in 1993... must have been 1993, I met this
woman who was a geologist in the Department of Geology at the
University of Florida, who was originally from Jamaica. And we
started having conversations about doing a project on the
environment in Jamaica. She's Kathy Ellins, and she's the one who
gave me the idea for the project in Jamaica. And we put together
a joint proposal and submitted it to the North-South Center,
which is a federally funded center located in Miami. I have never
been there. It was a marvelous proposal, I thought, very, very
scientific, that would measure water quality and put that
together with people's ideas about the environment and the....
R: Was this like a watershed analysis?
S: In a way, yes.
R: Yes. In a way.
S: Yes, of the whole wetlands area in southwest part of
the country. And she was going to do the water quality stuff and
the geology and so forth. And I just loved it, because I... you
know, I could understand with my chemistry background the work
that she was going to do in the waterborne analysis of pollutants
S: However, the North-South Center did not understand it
and rejected the proposal. And in their letter they were very
keen on all the stuff I was going to do, and they did not want
the... what I would call the heavy science part that she was
going to do.
R: Well, the biological....
S: And they... I later found out that most of the
committee were social scientists. [laughter]
R: Oh, oh, oh.
S: I thought the proposal was great the first year. But we
did submit it again. And this time the science part was reduced,
and the social science part was enhanced, and not only....
R: .So the shoe was on the other foot?
S: Yes. It was quite amazing. Even though I personally
liked the proposal better the first year.
S: It's interesting.
R: Well, one theme throughout your... this part of your
career has been an effort to truly have an interdisciplinary team
R: ... multiple...
S: In every... to every...
R: ...multiple disciplines, everything.
S: And the disciplines and the perspectives should be
equal in terms of their contribution, in terms of the personnel.
S: I mean, it's not that you need the same dose of this
methodology as that methodology or this dis....
S: But where it was called for, you had all of what you
needed, and one person wasn't higher or lower. And, you know, I
was very.., you know, that Cameroon experience started me off...
S: ... on seeing that, and the Swaziland one just
accelerated my thinking on how... you know, why were these people
preeminent? They weren't interested in really evaluating the
project at all or finding... you know. It really annoyed me.
R: Yes. And then you found out they really weren't.
S: [laughter] They really weren't,...
S: ...it turned out. But that was, you know, after the
S: ... that I really got some information that it was
really that way. But anyway....
S: Resubmitted, enhanced the social science part, and
there'd been a suggestion by one of the reviewers....
R: And how did you enhance it, just as a for example? I
S: Well, first of all, the first project proposal had all
the analysis of waterborne pollutants in it, so we just took it
out. Therefore, the... what was left was there, you know. And so
it looked enhanced, let's put it that way.
R: Yes. Yes.
S: Focused on people. And also, they had suggested that we
Anita Spring 11-56
have some workshops to work with people, and they didn't know how
it was going to turn out. But they... just the idea of one of the
reviewers, "Maybe you should have some workshops." So....
R: Which is a really good idea?
S: Which is a good idea. So then the second proposal had,
you know, information about... I mean, or parts... components on
S: ... and budgetary funding for workshops as opposed to
the analysis of waterborne samples. So the budget was all
R: Which all your experience had prepared to organize
S: ... indeed.
S: Yes. But, you know, so the... so it was a completely
different project, you know. Take away the budget for... and the
whole part on waterborne contaminant analyses and add
S: ... so it was, you know, mostly social science,
although there were... there was a budgetary category on aerial
photographs to do analysis of change that the geologist was
supposed to do--you know, the GIS stuff and remote sensing and
all that stuff which I couldn't do. I don't know the techniques.
R: Was there have been... this is a little bit on a
sidetrack, but I just want to ask you, would there have been an
opportunity in that component to do a historic analysis of change
in landscape, or was all...
S: Yes. That was what...but it wasn't from a historian's
point of view.
S: It was from the aerial photographs that were data sets
that were taken at three different times. And it was from a
soc... from a geological... I've forgotten the name of the
technique. Those stereoscopic.... There's a whole methodology,
and I'm sorry I've forgotten the name of it, that she was
supposed to do.
R: Yes. To analyze changes in landscape.
S: Yes. And amounts of forest cover but all from a
scientific point of view, not from eliciting people's history of
R: Right. Right.
S: Completely different methodology. But, yes, in that
sense, chronological and through time. But very scientific and
with measurements. She never did it. But anyway, that's another
The other thing--and this is very funny--in terms of
budgets, they were horrified that we would have in the budget
money for a boat.
S: I mean, not to buy a boat, but to rent some time to be
in a boat. Now, this is project in the wetlands and places...
S: Is that...? Did that click off?
R: No. I'm...
S: ... places that you could not get to... [laughter] by
either walking or driving or by road, so....But they didn't
understand that. The very fact that they funded a project in
Jamaica... because when you say "Jamaica," it's... you know,
Jamaica gets a million tourists a year. And I'm not making that
figure up. That is the published government figure.
S: -It's almost a million. Nine hundred thousand and eighty
five hundred and eighty-seven.... You know, I mean, you know,
it's almost a million tourists per year. And also, it's just
thought of as, you know, glamorous vacation spot. So a project in
a glamorous vacation spot with a boat in it or rental of using a
boat is just too much for... you know, peo... committees...
R: To understand.
S: Yes, academic committees to understand. [laughter]
S: So I put in for generic vehicle rental. And it
R: A vehicle for....
S: ... you know.
S: ... and a little, tiny bit... and I think I said, "Boat
rental, eight hundred.dollars," something. Oh, and the reason we
needed it the first round, she was going to take water samples
from the middle or the sides of the morass of the wetlands.
S: How was she going to collect the samples except by
boat? [laughter] You know. I mean, it was so ludicrous that they
had no understanding of it.
R: Right. Right.
S: Anyway, the second year it got funded. Unfortunately,
her participation was very attenuated, because it was a year
later, and she actually did leave the University of Florida, and
it became, you know, quite problematic not to have her
participation. But she was connected in Jamaica, having grown up
R: Oh, my.
S: She was one of the white Jamaicans of the elite. Now,
elites in Jamaica come in all shades and ethnicity. But she was
connected at the highest levels in Jamaica. Her family had owned
the company that produced Red Stripe, the major Jamaican beer.
S: And they had, you know the brewery, and they didn't...
they no longer owned it, but that's where she came from. And so I
had entree into kind of some very interesting people in the
capital city, Kingston. But my work was in southwest Jamaica in a
ver... in a remote wetlands, village-oriented, non-touristic
S: And, in fact, I never got to Montego Bay or....
[laughter] I never wanted to go there, which is really terrible,
but you know, I did go to Ocho Rios, which is one of the main
tourist spots. I was there for about an hour and a half, and I
just had to leave. I couldn't take it. Compared to my part of
Jamaica, where people treated you like a person, not as a tourist
S: I couldn't stand it. And nor was I about to go these
large, you know, sheltered, confined, on-the-beach, you know,
beach-scene-out-there kinds of hotels, which is what the northern
part of the country is lined with.
R: Yes. And it's really like, "Only look here."
S: Yes. And then the local people that... whom they come
in contact with are either trying to sell them something that...
you know. And they see foreigners and white people, although
there... as I said, there are some white Jamaicans.
S: But they see people in those areas as their targets and
as someone to sell their products, whether it's aloe lotion or a
massage or, you know, these concoctions, or a craft product.
S: And I just couldn't stand being categorized, nor could
I stand watching the scene. Had my project been on tourism, it
would have been fascinating, but it wasn't. And so I did... I
try... I avoided that whole part of Jamaica.
S: So when people... you know, here I had five trips to
Jamaica, [laughter] ranging from two weeks to two months in
length, and this was a project that was done over a two-year
period, 1994 to 1995. And I managed to only know both the rural
area and the capital city, which people say all kinds of very bad
things about Kingston, some of which are deserved.
S: And having missed all the touristic aspects... I did
get to Negril, which wasn't too bad, and actually found the
beaches very, very beautiful. But, you know, and having gone to
some of the very most remote areas of the country and having
worked there, it's a very different experience and perspective
from most people who, you know, just travel to Jamaica, and most
of these movies.... There's a new movie on this subject and what
Jamaica is like and how people interact.... It's completely
different. So I have a completely different perspective on the
country and on the people.
And so I was based in the town of Black River. I had a
Jamaican counterpart; I had linkages to the University of the
West Indies campus. That was important for the North-South Center
to see that there were these institutional linkages. And I was
hoping I would get these people as participants, because I was,
of course, going to do another rapid appraisal to find out what
S: And, of course, I worked in Jamaica with great
trepidation, because you recall the example I told you of the FAO
story of the wonderful coordinating projects being turned into
jellies and jams, with the intermediate position of drumsticks as
a possibility. [laughter] That didn't materialize, either. So it
had gone from the highest to the lowest level in that episode.
S: And the fact that I knew that there was a... there were
a large... there was a large number of Jamaican professionals
who... and women professionals and who did not want to be told
what to do by people from the north, you know, from outside
people and from Americans and so forth. So, you know, I had great
trepidation. I'd never been to Jamaica, and, of course, it's a
common experience--especially people from Florida--to fly down to
S: I'd never even been there. When I wrote the project
proposal and got there for the first time, yes, I'd never even
seen the country before.
S: Had a lot of trepidation about that. Nevertheless, the
rural area of the town of Black River and the lower Black River
morass and all the communities in the area became very familiar
to me. And I drove every street and road and mapped it out
photographically and worked with teams of local people, the local
R: Other than the changes in the technology of cameras and
everything, had your methodology for mapping changed that much
from what you'd actually figured out in Dresslerville and learned
at San Francisco State? I mean, in talking about the camera as a
S: Well, actually using maps,[laughter].
S: You know, I had this methodology of laminating,
painting these maps with this solution, and laminating it and
then giving copies of that to everybody on the team and whole
series of maps and blowing them up and then working with these
maps, writing on them, and looking at microecology. So in a
sense, it wasn't just a static, "Let's photograph it," but,
"Let's analyze the landscape."
S: So it was landscape analysis.
R: Yes. Yes.
S: So in that sense it was really very different.
S: But obviously, building upon that very standard
methodology, but taking it one step further and looking at the
[tape off, then on]
S: OK. So I had this training course, and this time it
lasted several days. And I had some people who even came from the
University of the West Indies, because they wanted to learn the
methodology, and a local environmental person, some.... And in
this project I had five students, four of whom were from the
University of Florida, two doctoral students and two master's
students, and I had one master's student from the University of
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the West Indies, who were part of this project. Now, the fact
that a project is in Jamaica from Florida is... makes this all
possible, because the airfare is something like $375 to $400,...
S: ... and students could afford it. Now, I had positions
on the project for two students, the West Indian student-the
Jamaican student, and one.American student. But the other three
students at any one time, they weren't all there for all parts of
S: And I was able to fund, I think, one other to come on
one or two trips. But they were able to pay the amount of the
airfare and it wasn't so terrible. And the living arrangement
that I was able to get for people was... I found this house after
very careful scouting. It took a long time. I found this kind of
pensione-type place that had six bedrooms and six bathrooms...
R: Yes. Perfect.
S: ... and was right on the sea, right on the ocean. The
Caribbean Sea is what it really was. And I negotiated a price for
the whole thing, and so it, you know, was really, really cheap,
like fifty dollars a week or something like that. And actually,
since it was so cheap, I just covered the whole thing under the
project. So I could offer free room, and all they had to do was
pay their airfare and pay for their food. And I could offer free
transportation in the country, because I had in the budget car
rentals. So I... you know, they could get around; they had the
leadership of the project, and they could... the ones who were
not funded totally by the project. So I could entice them that
way. And they were... you know, several students who were just,
you know, dying to get their fieldwork experience in, and so
forth. And we got one master's thesis from it. I had hoped to
have gotten one... a doctorate from one of the students. He would
have had to have come back, but he had some medical problems and
never completed his degree. But the master's student was
S: And then the other doctoral student decided that was
not the country for her, and she went off and worked in another
place and is in the process of writing her dissertation.
R: But not
R: employing these kinds of techniques, though?
S: Well, I don't know. I mean, but she you know, she
did... she understood some of them. She missed the first
training. She kind of joined it late, so she didn't get the full
immersion in the rapid appraisal methodology.
S: Now, this rapid appraisal methodology in Jamaica was so
very nicely developed because of having the input of Jamaicans
very much integrated in the process from the very beginning. So
my Jamaican geologist colleague, another Jamaican who originally
was on the progra... the project, who later kind of dropped out;
the couple of people from the University of the West Indies; the
West Indian student who was with the project the entire time;...
S: ... and myself and at the first round... let's see,
it'd be the three American students; the fourth one didn't come
until the second phase. And, you know, we went out--we were
nine... I think nine people in total--in three teams and then
every night would meet and go over the data. And it was total
immersion in the culture. There was nothing else... there's no
other place to go; there's nothing to do.
S: You know, it was really wonderful. At this point we
were staying in a hotel, but the... it was... it's a very laid-
back place, and there was very little tourism. And, you know, we
had the run of the outside gazebo, and we had part of the dining
room, and we really had the run of the place.
S: And we could stretch out and have our flip charts and
poster boards and.... And we also had the local guy who was the
environmental officer in the area. It was just absolutely
S: And we would argue long and hard about... People were
really into this, and they were not annoyed by having to work
after five o'clock, which was marvelous.
S: Oh, I know--the hotel gave us a whole room where we
could leave our stuff for a week.
R: Yes. Yes. That's wonderful. Yes.
S: So the logistics were, you know, all sorted out, and
the meals were there, and I could order tea breaks, because I had
money from the project to pay for this--you know, with sandwiches
and stuff. It was great. And so I had everybody's full attention.
R: Yes. Yes.
S: And I don't think people realize how important that is.
In, you know, a lot of this project work, you know, they won't
pay for those kinds of things. And then everybody scatters, and
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to try to reconvene them... you know, the day is completely
wasted. But we were there; everything was brought in; we had a
place we could leave our stuff. Perfect.
S: And I had the money to pay for it in the project. So
that was marvelous. We had the transportation that was paid for.
So the car rental... part of the budget. So we could go off and
collect the data, and then we argued long and hard about how to
analyze what we had collected, and what were the actual systems,
and who were the stakeholders? And here, again, this stakeholder
analysis became very important. Most people would have just
looked at the people in the morass. But as we started even to
look at the people in the morass, we realized there were fisher
folk, and there were people who did morass fishing and people who
did deep sea fishing.
S: There were the shrimp sellers; these were... or
"higglers," as they're called, h-i-g-g-l-e-r-s, in the Caribbean,
and these were women. There were farmers, and farmers were in
all, literally, sizes and shapes. There were subsistence farmers;
there were small-scale farmers; there were commercial farmers;
there were people who grew crops or people who raised livestock,
I mean, and all combinations thereof.
S: There were people who were craftspersons, who made
baskets. And the women were the basketmakers for the most part,
although some men. And woodcarvers were mostly men. There were
men, predominantly, who were the charcoal makers and loggers. So
all of those people, as far as I was concerned, impacted on a
study of the use of the landscape, the use of the environment,
the potential contributors to pollution or problems in the
wetlands. And most people would have stopped there. But then we
realized that the... there were some... a little bit of
ecotourism there for people who really got sick of hype in the
northern part of the country. And some very few people by
comparison to the one million tourists, you know, point, zero,
zero, something [.00-something] percent, would come on a day tour
of Black River as part of seeing the country and would go on one
of these boat tours, which were increasing exponentially in terms
of... actually in terms of the number of people.
S: But they were mostly not staying in the area.
S: They were just being brought to these boat tours up the
river, the wetlands, because the wildlife was extraordinary--the
fauna and the flora--extremely beautiful, extremely beautiful. So
the boat tour owners and the workers connected with that industry
became part of the people to interview. The business people and
shopkeepers and local vendors became part of that. The local
environmental group in the town became a real interesting part.
Some of those were business owners and shopkeepers. But in....
R: Was there an expatriate community?
S: No. Zero.
R: All right.
S: Zero. It was really, you know, all Jamaicans and no
tourists, except for these ones who were bused in for the most
part to see... to take the river tours. And there are some very
beautiful falls there, and they... that would be... you know,
that was another tour or part of the same tour.
S: Yes. Then... but what was there was Appleton rum. Now,
you've heard of Appleton rum products: they go around the globe,
and they had been in the area for 225 years, massively polluting
S: And, of course, when I first got there, I attempted to
include them as one of the stakeholders, big-time stakeholders,
in the area and went up to the factory and, you know, took the
tour and tried to talk to people, and they wouldn't talk to me.
Nevertheless, I did some scouting around and while I was there,
and we have all kinds of incredible photographs, which I used in
the workshops to prove my point that they were polluting the
wetlands and morass. I mean, I had under, which is the byproduct
of rum production, which was just being excreted from the factory
and just dumped into the wetlands and the waterways and the...
you know. I... my first clue of this was talking to local people,
the fisher folk. And the fishermen would say how at times of the
year, if their skin touched the water--they tried to wash--they
would get these incredible rashes. And then the fish would float
up, and they would have all this dead fish. And it's a very dry
area, except for the waterways, and if you couldn't use the water
to wash with, you couldn't wash it off!
S: So, I mean, they had some really interesting things to
say, and they attributed it to the factory dumping pollutants.
And so that seemed to be a real important feature.
S: Well, Appleton, of course, wouldn't talk to me at the
beginning. And at the final workshop, they sent five people and
were put on the spot, but that's another part of the story. And
then afterwards they were calling me up--could they participate,
da-da, da-da, da. But this was like a year and a half later. But
anyway, so there was the Appleton.
There was a whole series in Jamaica of environmental groups,
from local to national, to the international, the Green Peace
and.... I mean, it's like a big thing.
S: Many of it... many of the participants are white,
middle-aged women--Jamaicans--and Af... and black, upper-
class.... But all of them are kind of middle- to upper-class,...
R: Yes. Yes.
S: ... black and white professionals. Many of them are
women, not all, and, of course, more men in senior positions than
women. Very standard kind of thing. And people from outside the
country, like the Nature Conservancy, monitoring, you know, the
situation there. And then discussions at the national level. You
know, the women in Kingston... or the groups in Kingston, I
should say, were always rabid environmentalists. I mean, I stayed
at one woman's house, and she had no paper products, for example,
in her kitchen. We always used cloth napkins. She made a very big
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deal... you know, no plastic silverware.... You know, we had to
go on a picnic; I'm trying to figure out how to do that. No paper
plates, on and on. She had a full-time maid who washed and ironed
and washed the dishes, and, you know, it's just a very strange
contradiction, as far as I was concerned. Trees are renewable
resource; you can plant them... [laughter] you know, if you
really think about. But that idea. And then, of course, they're
trying to decide whether they should protest that ship that
carried plutonium... do you remember that a few years ago?
R: Yes. Yes.
S: ... through the Caribbean.
S: And, of course, I'm saying, "Let's look at Appleton,
and let's look at what's happening in terms of really polluting
your waterways in your country."
S: You know, so it was... it's sort of difficult. I mean,
they were interested and everything, but they thought Black River
was really far away. And I... it was about four hours from the
capital. And I would, you know, take a plane from Gainesville,
get to Jamaica, rent the car, and drive to my field site. That
took about twelve hours total, even though the flight from Miami
is an hour and twenty minutes. But getting to Miami from
Gainesville, getting through customs, getting the vehicle,
getting... running to the supermarket to buy some supplies,
because there's almost nothing in Black River, and then driving
out there, four, five hours. And people would just be horrified,
number one, that I was driving by myself or with another person
or that we were driving at night on these windy roads--they're
fairly treacherous, and the number of automobile accidents in
Jamaica... really astounding, and the drivers, it's an island,
are terrible. I mean, you know, island drivers tend to be about
S: Anyway, so they were all horrified that we could
actually handle these kinds of things and that we knew the rural
area so well, and, you know, they call it the "country," you
know, like the countryside. So these were the environmentalists
at the national level. And they were always... they were
difficult... difficult group.
And then the researchers.... University of the West Indies
has one of its three campuses at Mona[?] in Kingston--it's a
suburb. And it's the... you know, the biggest, the oldest, the
lar... you know, the most faculty. It has a combine sociology-
anthropology department as a for instance. I was linked up to
that. I was linked up to the women's studies program. But getting
the people out to my area... like, the director of women's
studies remarked that she'd once been to Black River. She'd gone
out of the hotel to get something and was so bitten up that she
ran back to her room and has never been there since, and, no, she
would not come. And she was a brilliant person, you know. I would
have loved to have had her participation.
R: Yes. Yes.
S: But that view that that was the hinterland, and the
urbanites, of course, these very sophisticated professionals,
were not going to do that. I don't know how... you know, they had
R: Well, this is a common phenomenon.
S: Very common phenomenon.
S: So there are those and, of course, international
researchers. A lot of people have worked in Jamaica.
And then the next category of stakeholders had to do with
S: So there was the local... there were the local
politicians. So I had to deal, you know, like with the mayor or
the city council... oh, rather, parish council, the parties. The
national governing bodies were important, because there was a
whole ministry of environment and natural resources. And I wanted
to meet with people there, of course. I wanted to meet with the
upper echelon. But when I first got there, who was I? What was
this project? So I had real low-level people who were willing to
talk to me.
R: Right. Right.
S: At the end, the ministers were calling me on the
S: You know. Can they come to the workshop? Or can they...
you know, it just... it was just really amazing. And then another
one were the... another stakeholder were the bilateral and
multilateral donors, like USAID and the World Bank. And there was
another USAID project there that I think really capitalized on my
findings without giving me credit, called DEMO[?].... I have to
think of what that stands for. But anyway, the woman who was head
of the project kept taking copies of everything I wrote and asked
for a debriefing session at USAID. And I think she just took
everything, because I think they were fairly bankrupt in terms of
rural data. I really think they were.
S: So this whole idea of stakeholder analysis.... And then
I realized that because there were... in the local area itself,
there were such diversity, so people who were, for example,
farmers were in a completely different microecology than people
who were involved in fishing. And people who were making charcoal
or crafts were completely different from those other two
S: And so if you asked one about the other, they had no
idea. It's outside their experience.
S: They neither knew... I mean, they might know these
people as neighbors, because people lived in communities, but it
was a very mixed residential kind of situation. You could have
rich people live next to poor people in terms of housing. You
could have people who were farming next to people who were
R: Well, it's just that... I mean, in Carson City you
could not ask a store person... you would not interview a store
person, in spite of the fact they were in the same economic
class, about ranching.
S: Exactly. Exactly.
S: And yet there's this tendency in developing countries
to think that everybody in an area either knows everything or
has... you know, or is, you know, alike.
R: That is true.
S: And so it became very clear to me. The first clue was
this very mixed housing kind of situation. And, I mean, the
photographs are very clear. You can have a beautiful house with a
nice roof, gla... you know, like, it looks like a ranch house in
suburbia. And a gate and the car parked. And next to it is a one-
room, wooden structure with the porch falling off and a big yard
(everything is defined as "yards" in the Caribbean and in
Jamaica), with, you know, an old, abandoned something-or-other
and tires and... and not that there was a vehicle, and a... some
animals grazing there.... I mean, it was just, you know,...
S: ... night and day. And, in fact, it was really
interesting. I wanted places for my students to stay,'and I
wanted them to stay in the community. So after driving up and
down and knowing the community, I picked out the best houses in
the community, because I had the idea that as graduate students,
they needed electricity to write up their notes; they needed
running water, because they weren't going to haul water. And
wanted them also to be safe...
S: ... in the water supply. They needed access to a
telephone in case they needed to call home or had an emergency or
needed to call me. And that they needed... I mean, even though it
would give them a skewed view of the community to live with the
richest.., in the richest household, one of the richer
End of Tape 11