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OSEA Panel at the 2010 Meetings of the Society for Applied Anthropology

Panelists include 2009 Field School participants Sarah, Linsey and Justin will be panelists on a session in the 2010 Meetings of the Society for Applied Anthropology to be held March 24-27 in Mérida, Yucátan, México. They give papers based on their research conducted in the 2009 OSEA Field School. The discussants for the panel are Patricia Fortuny Loret de Mola, social anthropologist at CIESAS-Mérida and OSEA Associate, and Tim Wallace, anthropologist at NCSU and Director of the Ethnographix Field School in Guatemala.

Sarah TAYLOR (SUNY-Albany) is organizer of the panel: "Tradition, Tourism, and Community in  Yucatán, Mexico: Reports from the Ethnographic Field School of the Open School of Ethnography and Anthropology (OSEA)"

Session Abstract: The Yucatán Peninsula of México has undergone extensive tourism development.  Some Indigenous Maya communities, such as Pisté, have experienced a long and sustained history as a tourism destination and have interacted with, hosted, and engaged tourists and travelers from all over the world for decades.  This history contextualizes the ways in which the community maintain and identify with their cultural traditions.  This session explores issues of community politics, local-global interface, family dynamics, social change, and traditional health practices in the contexts of globalization and tourism development.  

Sarah Block  (American University)
Paper Title:
   Living the "Nueva Vida": Recovery from Alcoholism in Piste, Mexico.
Paper Abstract:
   This paper is a product of fieldwork completed in the summer of 2009 the small town of Piste, Yucatan, Mexico. The study focuses on various residents’ recovery from alcoholism, looking specifically at participation in the numerous Alcoholics Anonymous groups in this town. Recovering alcoholics in Piste refer to their current lives as their “nueva vida” or new life, which contrasts with their past active alcoholic behaviors in numerous ways. This paper explores topics of kinship, anonymity, spatiality and spirituality within the dynamic recovery process as discussed by members of local Alcoholics Anonymous groups.

Linsey Cory (Grand Valley State University)
Paper Title:
  Parteras and Choice of Birth Practitioners in a Tourism Community of Yucatán, México.
Paper Abstract:
  Maya Yucatec women have given birth to their children with midwives for many generations. With the introduction of Western medical technology, midwifery has begun to lose prominence in many rural and semi-rural areas of the Yucatán. This paper seeks to explore the various reasons women living in a tourism community of Yucatán choose one set of birth practitioners over the other. Ethnographic research was conducted to analyze questions of safety, quality of care, personal comfort, and available social networks during birth to examine the ways in which women view their decision between birth practitioners in Yucatán, México.

Justin Quinn (New College of Florida)
Paper Title:
  Vacations, Vocations and (No) Vaccinations: Local Talk of Pandemics, Tourism, and Employment in Pisté, Yucatán.
Paper Abstract:   Due to its proximity to the UN World Heritage Site of Chichén Itzá, Pisté, Yucatán serves as a “base camp” for many tourists by providing hotels, restaurants, and other services.  Not surprisingly, many residents of this town derive their income from the tourist industry surrounding them. This paper reports on the way that residents of Pisté talked about the H1N1 influenza during the summer of 2009, focusing on the relationship that residents saw between the “Swine Flu” phenomenon and a contemporaneous economic slump.

WALLACE, Tim (North Carolina State University)

Quetzil Castaneda and Jennifer Mathews, an archaeologist at Trinity University, who works in Quintana Roo, have also organized a panel for the 2010 Applied Anthropology Meetings. Panelists include: Allan Maca, Juan Castillo Cocom, Lisa Breglia, Chip Colwell-Chanthophonh, Dominique Rissolo, Jeffrey B. Glover, and Carmen Varela.

Session Title: Ethnographic Archaeology: Emergent Collaborations between Archaeologists and Ethnographers.
Session Abstract:This symposium brings together archaeologists and ethnographers to examine the various ways in which archaeology is using and doing ethnography.  In today’s postcolonial, globalized world, archaeologists are increasingly turning to ethnography as a means by which to reframe how archaeology is conducted, not only in terms of how projects engage with communities, publics and stakeholders, but also in terms of the way research problems are formulated.  The panel addresses questions that emerge when archaeologists seek to incorporate ethnography into archaeologically-focused research. Although the panelists are focused on the Maya region, presenters working in other regions contribute a comparative approach.
Key words: archaeological ethnography, public archaeology, participatory archaeology

1. Jennifer P. Mathews (Trinity University), Dominique Rissolo (Waitt Foundation), and Jeffrey B. Glover (Georgia State) Challenges, Obstacles and Benefits of Ethnographic Archaeology in the Maya Area. Archaeologists that live and work in indigenous communities confront a number of challenges in their research, not faced by those who choose to limit their interactions with local populations or work in remote archaeological sites. This paper will examine some of the costs and benefits of incorporating ethnographic research into an archaeological project and working with communities, as well as the obstacles that have resulted in the majority of archaeologists avoiding the issue all together. The paper will also suggest several ideas for encouraging a more cross- disciplinary approach in archaeological and ethnographic fieldwork that could benefit both fields.

2. Carmen Varela Torrecilla Applying Precolumbian Ceramic Archaeology with contemporary Maya potters in Yucatán: Aplicando la Arqueología Prehispanica con los Alfareres Mayas de Yucatán. In the course of over 20 years of research on pre-Columbian ceramics of Yucatán, I initiated ethnographic research with contemporary potters.  Initially, I used interviewing and observation to investigate contemporary sources and technologies to better understand the pre-Columbian ceramics.  Now I am doing “applied archaeology” by sharing my knowledge with pottery makers in different communities in the region as a way to help them recuperate and reinvent their artistic tradition and cultural heritage. This paper presents aspects of this collaboration with Maya ceramicists and research, especially focusing on issues of trans-disciplinary research in an applied or “action research” context.

3. Allan Maca (Colgate University) and Gregorio Perez Martinez (PAPAC, Copán)   Copán at the Crossroads: Ethnographic Urgency and the Archaeology of Globalization.   This paper addresses two current realities of living in and doing archaeology at Copán, Honduras: 1) changes to public health as a result of archaeotourism; 2) destruction of archaeological sites due to looting and urban expansion. The Copán Urban Planning Archaeological Project (PAPAC) addresses these realities with a pilot ethnographic study that:  1) examines community health trends and local and national care options, and 2) collaborates with an indigenous sub-community to understand their health issues as well as their attitudes regarding the protection of surrounding ruins and the role of the ruins in ongoing struggles for group identity. 

4. Quetzil E. Castañeda (OSEA and Indiana University)   Constructing the Past, Making History:  Notes on the Lived Historical Value of Archaeology and the Significance of Autoethnographic Documentation of Archaeological Projects   This paper discusses how archaeological research projects have an experiential meaning and historical value for the persons and communities involved in archaeology.  In other words, archaeology “makes history” in the present in and through the relationships it creates with communities. Recognition of this fact creates the scientific imperative that archaeologists figure out ways to start conducting ongoing ethnographic documentation of the social contexts of their research projects.  This paper presents concrete ways that archaeologists might actualize such autoethnography or "self"-ethnographic and historical documentation.

5. Chip Colwell-Chanthophonh (Denver Museum of Nature and Science)  From Archaeology to the Anthropology of Place: Lessons from Traditional CulturalProperties Research  Ethnographic research is a vital methodology in the identification and documentation of traditional cultural properties as part of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. Drawing from applied research with the Hopi Tribe, I argue that this approach to historic properties provides a robust model for all archaeologists, expanding the discipline’s domains of historical knowledge and shifting its ethical grounding. At the core, this approach considers ancient places anthropologically, illuminating how the cultural practices and beliefs of living communities root their histories and identities in sites of memory.

6.  Discussant:   Lisa Breglia

7.   Discussant:   Juan Castillo Cocom