AuthorQuintero, Gilbert A., 1964-
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis dissertation adopts a discourse-centered approach to culture in order to explore the local meanings attached to alcohol and drinking in contemporary Navajo society. Against a backdrop of drastic cultural transformations, Navajo discourse reveals a wide range of accounts in which drinking is situated within the context of individual experiences and histories. Alcohol and drinking are connected to personal memories of important events, emotions, and relationships. Beyond the level of individual stories, these narratives help organize collective accounts of the Navajo as a people by providing comprehensive evaluations and commentaries on drinking. A number of collective meanings are embedded in narratives about alcohol that reference cultural sentiments and prominent moral values and offer a social commentary that defines what is, and is not, Navajo. Further insights are offered by an examination of aging-out, a salient pattern of Navajo drinking. Former problem drinkers who have aged out and no longer experience alcohol related difficulties offer narratives that frame drinking in certain set ways. The discourse on aging-out among the Navajo not only provides detail on a category of drinker that is largely ignored in accounts of Native American drinking but also illustrates some of the values and meanings attached to drinking cessation and personal change. The discourse of alcoholism treatment provides other understandings regarding Navajo conceptions of alcohol, including the character of this substance and the effect it has on people--especially Native Americans. Consideration of this set of discourse reveals insights into the treatment process as well as commentaries and evaluations of treatment effectiveness and other related issues. This study suggests that Navajo narratives of alcohol and drinking provide important idioms for expressing moral and self-identity, individual experience, collective history, and cultural degeneration. The discourse on drinking in Navajo society reveals a social world of polarization, contention, and intergenerational conflict.
Degree ProgramGraduate College