Arizona Anthropologist: Issue #13 (1998)
ABOUT THE COLLECTION
The Arizona Anthropologist is a competitive high-quality annual journal designed, reviewed and published by an editorial board of graduate students in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Arizona. The open access archives are made available as a collaboration between the Arizona Anthropologist and the University of Arizona Libraries.
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Defining Aging and The Aged: Cultural and Social Constructions of Elders in the U.S.(University of Arizona, Department of Anthropology, 1998)This paper presents a critical analysis of the cultural and social constructions of aging and the aged which pervade public discourse around the growing population of elders in the U.S. Elders are socially 'othered' through processes of medicalization and categorization as an "at risk" group. Furthermore, elders are culturally constructed as unproductive and overconsumptive collective resources. As elders become increasingly central in social and political discourse surrounding health care and the division of resources, these culturally and socially constructed stereotypes have a real impact on social identity and policy decisions. The paper concludes with a discussion of the role of anthropology in contributing a critical perspective to the study of elders.
Anthropologist as Anti-Christ: Positioning and Reciprocity in San Miguel Acatán, Guatemala(University of Arizona, Department of Anthropology, 1998)The accusation by some villagers that I was an Anti-Christ provides an opportunity to reflect on the production of anthropological knowledge. The production of knowledge by anthropologists must not only take into account the personal characteristics of the anthropologist but also the ways in which the culture the anthropologist studies classifies that anthropologist, thereby making available to him or her certain ways of knowing. I my case, as an unmarried man with no visible means of economic support, I appeared similar to others, like Earthlords, and priests, who offered villagers Faustian bargains. The deals' dangers lay in the fact that the exchanges occurred outside of the moral and social frameworks which undergird the community. Thus, their accusation of me as antithetical to the community opens an opportunity to consider the nature of that community.
The Fit and the Unfit: The Presentation of "Fitness" in Everyday Life(University of Arizona, Department of Anthropology, 1998)This paper examines the ways in which individuals attempt to present themselves as healthy and fit human beings, according to the principles of dramaturgic self-presentation. Accordingly, Goffman's notions of face work, teamwork, and stigma are used to develop a framework for understanding how self-presentation impacts human interaction. This framework is then applied to a brief examination of the stigma of AIDS. Next, the framework is applied to the presentation of a healthy and fit self. Three issues are considered: what is common to the definition of fitness, what are some of the dimensions that become salient in light of that common definition, and, what strategies for presentation are possible based on the definition and dimensions. Finally, four variables that might affect which presentation strategy is adopted are considered: attractiveness, gender, age, and class. It is suggested that none of these variables operates in isolation and some of the implications for presentation are considered.
Mortuary Variability and Community Reorganization in the Early-To-Late Natufian Transition(University of Arizona, Department of Anthropology, 1998)This paper examines community reorganization in the Late Natufian period with reference to a general ecological model that links changes in resource scarcity with social reorganization. This model explains why community reorganization should occur in times of subsistence stress, and provides a basis for generating multiple competing hypotheses to explain the nature of that transformation. One hypothesis, that Natufian communities responded to subsistence stress by centralizing land tenure, intensifying subsistence production, and redistributing subsistence goods, is not supported. An alternative hypothesis, that an unequal distribution of land within Natufian communities allowed some segments of the population to endure subsistence stress while forcing others to migrate to more marginal areas, explains more variability in the archaeological record, and withstands preliminary testing with multiple lines of archaeological evidence.
Power and Bodily Practice: Applying the Work of Foucault to an Anthropology of the Body(University of Arizona, Department of Anthropology, 1998)In opposition to theories of power which focus on the domination of one group by another, Michel Foucault coined the term "biopower" to refer to the ways in which power manifests itself in the form of daily practices and routines through which individuals engage in self-surveillance and self-discipline, and thereby subjugate themselves. Biopower is a useful concept for medical anthropology because it focuses on the body as the site of subjugation, and because it highlights how individuals are implicated in their own oppression as they participate in habitual daily practices such as the self-regulation of hygiene, health, and sexuality. Yet few medical anthropologists have taken advantage of Foucault's framework to illuminate how both the individual and society are involved in perpetuating such practices. This paper brings together Foucault's theory and three concrete examples of bodily practice in Western culture, demonstrating how behaviors associated with physical fitness, femininity, and obstetrical practices all contribute to the creation of "docile bodies". The article ends by considering why some scholars have found Foucault's conception of power to be problematic.
The Moment of Truth: An Analysis of the Physician/Client Interaction and Interpretation of Test Results(University of Arizona, Department of Anthropology, 1998)The relationships between health, the scientific approach in medicine and concepts of epidemiology underlie theoretical and cultural attitudes of the nature of behavior and health risks. Medical tests that diagnose risk factors are thought to be predictive of disease. Physicians employ these tests to more accurately assess the health of their patients and convince their charges to change their behaviors. Communication of newly described risk factors is challenging for both physicians and patients as each party negotiates modifications of behavior and perceptions of reality.