Why Human Social Science Needs to Be Used to Get "Stakeholders" and "Community" into Water Policy
NM Mercury article about a public meeting on changes in the use of the Gila River Basin
Forward to Torres book, a collection of his Growing Up Spanglish newspaper columns (102.9KB)
Introductory comments based in linguistic anthro to a collection of stories written in Northern New Mexican "Spanglish"
Lecture at School for American Research in Santa Fe 8/17
"A Game of Scientific Clue: It was the Human in the Anthropocene with Water." Talk on role of anthropology in water governance reform.
The Lively Science sample chapter (185.4KB)
A readable book about how an alternative social science that doesn't try to pretend it's a chemistry lab can do a better job. Available in print and e-versions on most internet bookstores
Review of The Lively Science (177.4KB)
Another Review of The Lively Science (129.4KB)
Putting water into aquifers instead of sucking it out
NM Mercury article story of a meeting where I live about water shortage and climate change and what to do about them.
Traditional irrigation in New Mexico
NM Mercury article on museum exhibit about traditional acequia irrigation in Nuevomexicano communities
Article on how the war on drugs corrupted public health epidemiology
Blog invited by Rachelle Annechino for the Ethnography Matters group
A version of translation as basis for ethnography with an AI influence (259.4KB)
Academic article, "Making sense of one for another: Ethnography as translation," for Language and Communication
Human Eddies and Flows, an article in Journal of Water History (1.3MB)
Academic article about a dynamic model that explains a case of water conflict in Albuquerque in the 1950s/60s
How water governance needs some "creative destruction."
NM Mercury article about a panel of experts talked about the need for water policy reform in the state.
Ethnography as essential part of the organizational development mix (180.8KB)
Academic article in Organizational Research Methods
An Outsider's Ethnographic Thoughts About Design (112.7KB)
Academic article in Arts and Humanities based on an interview about ethnography and design
Models for sharing water instead of going to court in times of drought
NM Mercury article about the "Water Dialogue" meeting, many different kinds of water users talking about how to get together and adapt to drought.
The state plans for a new water policy that looks like the one they planned for and never implemented
NM Mercury article about the kickoff meeting for a new water plan to base policy on.
Academic article on early days of ethnography in the drug field (97.0KB)
In press in a special issue of Advances in Criminological Theory on qualitative research in criminology.
The dream of drinking all that deep brackish water under the desert
NM Mercury article about a visit to the national research center on desalination in Alamogordo
Ethnography as a nonlinear dynamic system in process and outcome (104.5KB)
Academic article in Complexity
"Knowledge transfer" has to move in several directions in an organization, not just top down (175.7KB)
Article in Practicing Anthropology with several examples of how power squelches innovation
Chapter 1 of Culture: An Upgrade (575.2KB)
Preprint of article on Ethnographic/organizational research for Org Research Methods 13(2) 2010 (113.0KB)
E:CO article on complexity, narrative and the organization, wonders what ordinary language in a complex organization would look like from the perspective of linguistics (475.2KB)
Agents in Living Color article in JASSS, describes going from ethnography to an agent-based model that describes how narrative drives or brakes an illegal drug epidemic
My Kingdom for a Function article in JASSS, describes ways to convert ethnographic complexity to language a computer can understand
Tuneup on Scotland’s election day
An article in The New Mexico Mercury just came out, a description of a public water policy meeting in Albuquerque to inform decisions about how to use new money and water rights in the Gila River Basin. It highlights the lack of human social science research in the process and the limited view of "stakeholders" and "community" that result. The URL is at the top of the column to the left. Another new bit of writing is a forward for a book in preparation, by Larry Torres, a collection of his popular newspaper columns called "Growing Up Spanglish." Each column tells a story from the perspective of Canutito, a young boy growing up with his grandparents in Northern New Mexico. I've been a fan since the column first appeared in the Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper and was honored to be asked to add a touch of linguistic anthropology at the beginning. It is downloadable from the column to the left.
I’m back from the trip to Ensenada for the joint Mexico/U.S. meeting of applied anthropologists. The city was of course nothing like I remembered it when I was a kid, as I described in the previous homepage, now on the blog page. The conference kept us all pretty busy, but on the Friday night before I left I did play hooky and wandered downtown. Friday night on the weekend of Independence Day maybe wasn’t the best time to savor the city, since at any moment I was surrounded by concentric circles of young people exploding around me like the Big Bang. But, as almost always in my experience in Mexico, an older person is treated well, not like an intruder or figure of fun. In the homepage blurb I wrote before I made this trip, I said it struck me during the 1950s visit that Mexico was more fun to be a kid in. Seems true at this end of the story as well, it’s more fun to be older in Mexico as well.
The conference itself was full of great people with good ideas, though no structure remained at the end to continue the Mexico/U.S. anthropological collaboration along the border. I tweeted that it’s an anthro problem, like “herding cats.” The conference was in the Museo del Vino, maybe a 45 minute drive into the countryside from the hotel we all stayed in. Beautiful building, built to help develop the now famous wine industry in the Valle de Guadalupe. The only disadvantage is, once you’re out there, you’re a conference captive. I’m the type who needs breaks, time alone, especially with the packed schedule on offer, maybe even a nap. That’s why I had to play hooky on Friday, probably insulting the rest of the colleagues. Well, the time I worked in Mexico City for a summer I’d go to events and then go outside for walks now and then. Later a friend said they’d incorporated my strange behavior into the sentence "está filosofeando," which is exactly what I needed to do.
As we headed for the border crossing to get back to San Diego and its airport, I thought about two things. One was the way the border looked at the end of the two days. There were some exceptions, but by and large the end image was the border as human tragedies, period. God knows there were many horrible stories in the presentations, no question. And it’s probably fair to say that anthros are known to seek out the injustices where they work and make them the focus of their conclusions. But is that all there is? Maybe so, but I wanted to hear some balance, something that was working in the border area, human lives that had something positive and valued and moving in a good direction. At the end of the two days it looked pretty grim, maybe even hopeless.
Another thing I thought about was the lack of much discussion of language and communication. There were some good talks on saving indigenous languages in the border area, true enough. But as an old time language and culture type I know there are—from reading and personal experience working in other parts of Mexico—major differences not only in grammar and vocabulary, but also in what we call “pragmatics,” the ways language is used. For example, one senior colleague at the Ensenada conference, a completely bilingual/bicultural native of the U.S./Mexico borderlands, joked at the beginning of his talk that since time was limited he’d speak English (simultaneous interpretation was provided). It would take too long in Spanish, he said. Tell the truth, I was starting to think that a proper “question” in Spanish was actually a new paper from an audience member. I don’t mean that in a mean spirited way, not at all. I found it interesting professionally, just like I had in my Austrian days, where giving and responding to an academic presentation in Austrian German was very different from what I knew from conferences in the U.S. In fact, there was a movement in Austria and Germany to change academic publishing, dominated as it was by English language journals. Their manuscripts were rejected even if written in perfect English grammar because the way they presented their arguments “didn’t make any sense.” I had the same experience with an article co-written with a German student. The German journal said it didn’t make any sense and even made fun of it. The American journal took the English-language version with minimal changes.
Just yesterday I gave a talk at the School for Advanced Research, http://sarweb.org/index.php, a long-standing center for anthropology and indigenous arts in Santa Fe. (The abstract is in the left-hand column). It was similar to the talk I gave in Ensenada, only with New Mexican instead of U.S./Mexico frontier examples. It went over pretty well in both places. Believe me, I’ve bombed plenty of times and know the difference. What I’m doing now with talks makes me think of documentaries I’ve seen, one by Jerry Seinfeld developing new routines in clubs after his TV show closed down, another by Lily Tomlin about taking a performance on the road to try it out. In fact I quoted her at the end of Language Shock when she leaned into the camera after discussing a detail with a co-performer and said, “You thought we just came out here and did this, didn’t you?” After a few years of wandering through the unbelievably complicated world of water, I’m finally seeing a framework to help make sense of the voyage into the anthropocene, a place that we know is taking shape even though we can’t be sure exactly what it’s going to look like. Not there by a long shot, but something is emerging from the fog and it seemed to work, partly, for two different audiences. I’ll write more about the framework here once I digest the talks and start in on another I have to give in the UK in a couple of months.
Life continues to be interesting.