Oral Presentation Session
Reviewed by: Society for Urban, National and Transnational/Global Anthropology
Of interest to: Practicing and Applied Anthropologists, Teachers of Anthropology in Community Colleges, Students, Those Involved in Mentoring Activities
Primary Theme: Inequality
Secondary Theme: Resilience
How individuals and groups relate to the places they live, work, shop, play, and pray are fundamental relationships anthropologists seek to understand. Researchers have examined these relationships intersecting accelerating globalization, neoliberalism and the rise of privatization and spread of informality, and most recently, the rise and decline of urban and state infrastructure, and catastrophic natural disasters. At each of these intersections, anthropologists have created concepts to conceptualize “the encounter”—how individuals, groups, and forces of change play themselves out. Resistance, resilience, and adaptation are concepts that are currently used to characterize individual and group’s responses. But they are also concepts that have been critiqued for naturalizing and reproducing the broader socio-spatial relations that produce inequalities associated with such encounters (Barrios 2016). The papers on this panel dig deeper into space and place moments of encounter to assess the concepts that are currently available for characterizing power and its deployment and processes of transformation that, at times, reinforce cultural values and social ties. What do resistance, resilience, and adaptation reveal or mask about these moments of encounters? With these questions in mind, papers on this panel will examine encounters in the context of space and place problems through a variety of subdisciplinary perspectives including that of archaeology, ethnography, expressive culture, and visual anthropology. The panel begins with Alexis Francois’ paper which adopts an archaeological lens to examine the emergence and decline of Allensworth, the first African American settlement in California, and to evaluate notions of resilience in relationship to drought, environmental degradation, and political and economic change. Two papers focus on resiliency in the aftermath of nature disasters. In the first of these, Jayne Howell turns an ethnographic lens on the ways that Isthmus Zapotecs’ commitment to their families and community, and their enduring identity as Istmeños, were reinforced following 2017 earthquakes that devastated this region of southern Mexico. Focusing on cultural expression, Eryn Talevich examines changes and illustrations of endurance produced by artists and art-followers following fires in Ojai, California, which has been defined by its aura of spirituality. Visual anthropologist Scott Wilson’s paper employs VR technology to examine the ways that Yao elders reflect upon their perspectives and experiences amid the changes that tourism has brought to their village in southern China. Returning to the historical dimensions of space and place, Suzanne Scheld’s ethnographic research explores through the lens of affect theory the intersection of emotions, locals’ sense of privilege, and individuals’ sense of belonging following the transformation of a 19th century New York train trestle into the world’s longest footbridge, Walkway-Over-The-Hudson.