Anita Spring 12-1
CHRONICLER Anita Spring
INTERVIEWER : Meredith (Penny) Rucks
SUBJECT Washoe Ethnographers
TRANSCRIBER Linda Sommer
AUDIT-EDITOR Penny Rucks
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
S: ... could give them.... It would... it's one
perspective. And then, of course, they were supposed to work in
the community. That was....
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
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
S: It would have been impossible. But yet they could go to
those other households and hang out with people during the day.
S: So that's not bad.
S: At night they were there all the time.
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.
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
reason they're interesting is the way they used the wetlands.
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--...
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
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.
S: It's just that they're mostly focused on farming.
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...
R: ... of a morass, of an area.
S: Wetlands area.
R: Now, would you say that your... the students who were
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
S: They could. OK. The methodology was not...isn't... it's
both an applied and...it's an investigative methodology.
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
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
R: Oh, yes.
S: ... solution.
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.
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
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.
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: Now, were they applied anthropologists? OK? You could
argue that on both sides.
S: They certainly hadn't collected the data to be an
S: They had worked with key informants,... [laughter]
S: ... you know,...
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.
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
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,...
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
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?
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
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...
R: ... picture of the human...
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)