Title: Washoe ethnographer Anita Spring transcription of taped interview
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00086724/00012
 Material Information
Title: Washoe ethnographer Anita Spring transcription of taped interview
Physical Description: Archival
Creator: Spring, Anita
Publisher: Spring, Anita
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Bibliographic ID: UF00086724
Volume ID: VID00012
Source Institution: University of Florida
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Full Text

Anita Spring 12-1


INTERVIEWER : Meredith (Penny) Rucks

DATE 1/18/99


SUBJECT Washoe Ethnographers



Meredith (Penny) Rucks: There you are.

Anita Spring: OK. So I placed them with... I actually

knocked on the door to these houses and said... introduced myself

(they sometimes... they may have... might have seen me

previously) and said--and the students were there--and I said,

would they consider for, you know, a month or two allowing the

student to live there? Did they have an extra room? Because the

two-room houses... you know, sometimes you might have had ten

people in the two rooms. So I needed a big house with maybe...

and they would have a room, water, electricity. And I thought it

would be a good, cheery ambience, also, to have, you know, people

who knew the.... Obviously, the upright citizens of the


Anita Spring

R: Well....

S: ... could give them.... It would... it's one

perspective. And then, of course, they were supposed to work in

the community. That was....

R: Right.

S: You know, they were supposed to every day go out and

find the other households.

R: And here you've integrated these disparate parts of the

community, too, through the students.

S: Yes. So... and believe it or not, they agreed! I had

several... you know, these people--the ones I picked--we just

knocked on the door. You know, they didn't know us from anywhere.

And they actually agreed. We told them that the students would


R: Yes.

S: And also, I wanted to make sure, you know, if it was an

affluent household, they would... could get their meals. I

mean... you know, we had to create the conditions where they

could both... where they could do their work. I mean, you know,

anthropologists who think they've got to, you know, wear the

desert boots all the time and rough it, they couldn't.... Had

they been in one of those other households, they couldn't have


Anita Spring


R: Right.

S: It would have been impossible. But yet they could go to

those other households and hang out with people during the day.

R: Right.

S: So that's not bad.

R: Yes.

S: At night they were there all the time.

R: Yes.

S: [laughter]

R: Yes.

S: So that worked out very, very nicely. And, of course,

that then became a clue that there were different types of

households, high- and low-resource households; and there were

different types of livelihood strategies. And, in fact, there're

different types of household systems, and the report had five...

I'm sorry, nine different household systems in the entire area.

R: Yes.

S: And also, people in household system one didn't know

what people in household system two or seven or whatever were...

excuse me, were doing, because they were completely different

livelihood strategies. And these were all mapped out. And the


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reason they're interesting is the way they used the wetlands.

R: Yes.

S: Each different system made use of wetland products. And

when I say "wetland products," I mean, things like fish and the

whole faunal complex--birds, fowl, the American crocodile was

there, and so forth--and the floral materials--the plants and the

trees, whether they logged them out, whether they cut them down


R: Right. Right.

S: ... whether they picked.... And all the products for

making crafts and these baskets: were they stripping, denuding

the morass of craft materials? So, you know, all of... whether

they were subsistence farmers, was the runoff from... were they

using fertilizers and agrochemicals--was that all just running

off into the morass? Were the craft people taking all the craft

products? Were the charcoal makers, you know, chopping down the

trees? Were the loggers just--and they were--...

R: Yes.

S: ... you know, just decimating these gorgeous hardwoods?

Were the fisher folk conscious of what they were taking out in

terms of the amount of fish and in small mammals that were in the



Anita Spring

R: Yes.

S: So it was really important to look at all the different

systems, and, what I called, what they were putting into the

morass and what they were taking out. The "morass" is the

euphemism there for the wetlands.

R: Now, the model for this kind of system analysis was

definitely right out of your agricultural systems....

S: Right. This is... and it's standard for farming

systems. So really good farming systems work by anybody on the

planet uses this kind of stuff.

R: Yes.

S: It's just that they're mostly focused on farming.

R: Right.

S: I was looking at the household and all its different


R: ... multiple uses...

S: ... and multiple uses.

R: ... of a watershed... I mean, of a...

S: Yes.

R: ... of a morass, of an area.

S: Wetlands area.

R: Now, would you say that your... the students who were


Anita Spring

working on this, who were doing... were collecting the data,

would you say that they were really... if they were... had all

gotten their degrees based on this and if future students were

to, would they be applied anthropologists, or does it matter to

you what label...? I mean, I....

S: Well, they would not necessarily be applied


R: Right.

S: They could. OK. The methodology was not...isn't... it's

both an applied and...it's an investigative methodology.

R: Yes.

S: It's what you do with it that determines.... If you use

it in an intervention or to influence policy, I would then define

it as applied. Now, my definition of applied may be radically

different, because some people may define applied as the subject


R: Right.

S: I'm defining it as using research knowledge and data

and information in the service of interventions.

R: So an anthropologist, generic anthropologist, just for

clarification sake, is... could... can take anthropological data

and apply it to... for intervention or solving a problem or


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contributing to...

R: Oh, yes.

S: ... solution.

R: Yes.

S: And that's the applied part of their field.

R: To me, that is the distinction.

S: So on your vita, when you call your area of expertise

as an applied anthropologist, what you're really saying is that

you're an expert and have experience in taking anthropological,

ethnographic data and applying it to policy, programmatic

changes, solving a program,...

S: Or for finite program programs. Yes.

R: ... issues, and identifying those issues.

S: And identifying. And actually....

R: Particularly identifying,...

S: Yes. Actually doing something with the data,...

in addition to collecting and analyzing it.

R: Yes.

S: Or... and/or taking the analysis of the data and the

data themselves and using them in a way to inform and'suggest

what procedures or programmatic efforts or plans might be

relevant, and hopefully inform those categories of documentation


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and implementation with the real data about real people.

R: And, also, that the solutions... that it would lead

people to a range of alternative solutions that would work....

S: Hopefully. Well, in a way. Let's go back to the

American Indians just for a minute.

R: Yes.

S: I mean, a lot of the anthropologists who worked with

the Washoe were then asked by the Washoe (I don't know whether it

was consciously asked or it happened; I don't know) to testify or

to make commentary or to provide data in land allocations and


R: Oh. A wonderful example.

S: Yes.

R: Yes.

S: Now, were they applied anthropologists? OK? You could

argue that on both sides.

R: Yes.

S: They certainly hadn't collected the data to be an

applied anthropologist.

R: Right.

S: They had worked with key informants,... [laughter]

R: Right.


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S: ... you know,...

R: Right.

S: ... and they had collected, to the best of their

knowledge, without any kind of change or, you know, any

motivation, the ethnography of the range of the Indian tribe.

R: Yes.

S: OK. Then all they did was they gave that ethnography;

they allowed it...

R: In court.

S: ... in court, yes. Or they allowed it to be used.

R: Yes. Yes.

S: OK? Some of them probably got in an advocacy position.

R: Yes. And actually worked with the... with tribal


S: Worked with tribal members and worked with BIA or

worked with the, you know, the state of Nevada's land whatever or

sector, or office, whatever it's called. So in that sense it was

applied. OK. But they weren't consciously doing it in that way to

begin with. And I'm not sure that that matters...

R: Right. Right.

S: ... in the definition. But it was....

R: But it helps to clarify what... where you draw the


Anita Spring 2-10u

lines, and that it is somewhat of a muddy....

S: Right. See, but here's the difference, and this is

really important to me and to my colleagues, for example, at the

University Florida. South Florida... University of South Florida

has a degree in applied anthropology, Ph.D. But I don't believe

it has... it does some of the other stuff. And, I mean, it

targets applied, whereas we don't. We think that you got to know


R: Right.

S: OK. So in the sense, the people who worked with the

American Indians and then either had their materials used,

testified on the behalf of, or became advocates for, and were

interactive both with the tribe and with the land offices or the

legal structures of the states,...

R: Yes.

S: ... whatever. They sort of became applied

anthropologists, but their data were sounded grounded in

traditional anthropology. And so I believe in that. I mean, I...

people cannot believe that in my courses on development I teach


R: Yes. Yes.

S: Because I think that they need to know how to collect


Anita Spring 12-11

genealogy; what... how... people's networks and relationships are

real important to whether they will become participants or

whether they will actually be involved in interventions, and

things will follow through over the years. And....

R: Well, there's fundamental understanding of the


S: And the same thing with the bureaucrats who are...

those are people who are all connected by kinship and networks

all over.

R: Absolutely.

S: Yes. And if the students don't understand the place of

social organization and, excuse me, the ethnography involved in

writing about social organization and kinship or writing about

this... the gender division of labor or, you know, the political

economy of the society, then planning all these programs and

being, you know, applied this and applied that--you know, what

are they applying?

R: Yes.

S: So to me, applied anthropology is applying all the

anthropological principles, methods, and theories, which you are

collecting in the same... with the same rigor as someone who's

not an applied anthropologist, but then taking it one step

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further. And that's really my definition of applied.

R: And perhaps with the same awareness of the importance

of the four fields and the whole...

S: Absolutely.

R: ... picture of the human...

S: Absolutely.

R: ... connection.

S: And that really is. And then I think I was influenced

by Saul and Kimball [sp?] with his notion that applied really had

to be linked up with policy, because otherwise, intervention for

whom, for what? How... you know, how does that link up in the

service of informing policy? So I kind of added that component in

my thinking, as well.

R: Well, this has been a rich interview. Thank you very



End of Tape 12

(No Side 2)



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