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The Struggle for Water: Politics, Rationality, and Identity in the American Southwest:The Struggle for Water: Politics, Rationality, and Identity in the American Southwest

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The Struggle for Water: Politics, Rationality, and Identity in the American Southwest:The Struggle for Water: Politics, Rationality, and Identity in the American Southwest
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  upon the foundational work of cultural theoristsranging from the CCCS collective—a group basedat the Center for Contemporary Cultural Studies ofthe University of Birmingham during the 1970s and1980s, whose work played a seminal role in the de-velopment of British cultural studies—to more re-cent work such as that of Paul Gilroy  {There Ain tNo Black in the Union  Jack Hutchinson, 1987) andStuart Hall ( New Ethnicities, in  Race, Culture andDifference,  J. Donald and A. Rattansi, eds., Sage,1992).In chapter 2, Alexander draws upon all threegroups of informants to explore shifting conceptu-alizations of community, nationhood, place, andfamily. In all three situations and networks, Alexan-der finds a dynamic interplay between, on the one hand,  an imagined black community or generalizedidentity that offers the possibility of group solidarity and,  on the other, ambivalent and shifting percep-tions that particularize and complicate this idea ofcommunity. In chapter 3, Alexander turns her atten-tion to the topic of work. While Alexander acknow-ledges that employment prospects remain dismalfor most British black youth, she argues that the na-ture of employment is nonetheless changing. Ac-cordingly, she urges the development of a broaderdefinition of black employment that can encompassthe diverse range of activities currently undertakenby black youth. She attempts to move beyond thestatistics of black youth employment to   considera-tion of the images of and assumptions about thesestatistical facts as these are encountered and negoti-ated by young black people. In chapter 4, Alexan-der focuses on leisure activities. Here she is equallyconcerned with countering two representations: thelong-standing association of black leisure withcriminality and social problems and the repre-sentation of black leisure as a form of political resis-tance. She carefully details a range of leisure  situ- ations enjoyed by her informants, including houseparties, blues dances, and a variety of clubs. In de-scribing these contexts, she emphasizes the hetero-geneity of black youth culture  s  well as the ways inwhich the choices available to her informants varyacross and are variously manipulated by differentsubjects in changing contexts. In chapters 5 and 6,Alexander explores the ways in which black mas-culinity is constructed vis-a-vis male peer groupsand in interaction with women. Alexander  deli- cately traces the ambiguities and contradictions ofthese constructions. For example, she describes apeer group solidarity oriented toward the publicsphere that also exhibits limited intimacy and per-sonal knowledge among its members in the privatesphere. Male youths may express control and own-ership over women while acknowledging women'sprimacy in the domestic sphere. Black youths whoin theory regard white women as legitimate targetsfor exploitation (p. 173) also become frustratedwith the mutual objectification that characterizestheir leisure interactions with white women. In theconclusion, Alexander reiterates her plea for recog-nition of the cultural agency exercised by youngblack men.Throughout this ethnography, the author threadsa dialogue between herself and the cultural theo-rists who have inspired her work. This is a criticalengagement rather than a simple  homage.  Yet, at acertain point, this focus on cultural  studies  becomeslimiting, so thoroughly shaping Alexander's theo-retical agenda that, even when she is critical^sbestill responds to rather than moves beyond this setof theoretical concerns. In focusing on an academicgenre that has not included much ethnography, Al-exander also obviates the full development of acomparative dimension. Nonetheless, this workdoes succeed in making a valuable theoretical aswell as ethnographic contribution while utilizingthe latter to penetrate and counter the excesses ofacademic generalizations about black culture andidentity. The Struggle for  Water Politics, Rationality,and Identity in the American Southwest. WENDY NELSON ESPELAND. Chicago: Uni-versity of Chicago Press, 1998. xvi 28 pp., il-lustrations, references, abbreviations, primarydocuments and printed sources, secondarysources, index. BARBARA ROSE JOHNSTONCenter for Political Ecology This book is a story about a water developmentproject proposed and supported over the years by local,  regional, and national political actors whosaw water as the key to economic transformation ofthe arid Southwest. In 1947, the U.S. Bureau ofReclamation proposed building the Orme Dam atthe confluence of the Salt and Verde Rivers in cen-tral Arizona as part of a plan to bring water to Ari-zona's deserts. The Orme Dam was intended toregulate and store water, generate hydropower, andprotect the city of Phoenix from floods. Once built,the dam would flood the Verde Valley, destroy awildlife habitat, submerge a cemetery and other ar-chaeological sites, and force the Yavapai Indians offtheir ancestral home.  The Struggle for Water  ismore than just another dam story. This is the rarestory in which the construction of a dam does nottake place.Central to this story are the middle manag-ers—hydrologists, geologists, and engineers whomsociologist Wendy Nelson Espeland calls the old guard. Their passions and energies were spent inpursuit of the perfect engineering solutions to Ari-zona's water problems. Also central to the story arethe new guard —the social and natural scientistshired to meet the new government mandates of the1970s and early 1980s. This was a pivotal time infederal and state resource relationships, whenagencies struggled under the constraints of newlyimposed rational decision-making structuresmandated by the National Environmental Protec-tion Act and other laws. The mandate entailed in-volving the public and their concerns in govern-mental decision-making processes. Those whowere hired to fulfill the new mandates used the newrational decision-making strategies to challengeand eventually transform entrenched bureaucraticpower structures. In addition to these groups,Espeland focuses on the Yavapai, the people whoselands were threatened by the Orme Dam, whose 776 american ethnologist  presence was not even acknowledged in early  plan- ning documents, and whose unrelenting oppositionto the dam played a decisive role in the cancelingof its construction.Espeland examines the anatomy of a contentiousdecision-making process by focusing on a history ofevents (political and otherwise) and the perspec-tives and experiences of each group. She also ex-amines interrelationships among groups. As a re-sult, readers learn much more than the history of aresource management conflict. Readers can alsoconsider the opportunities and tensions created bythe imposition of rationalism in the decision-mak-ing process as well as how the process of engage-ment resulted in identity transformations. Readersadditionally gain some sense of the continuum ofexperiences—painful and otherwise—that typifysuch struggles. This ethnographic perspective,which is a strength of the book, is captured in largepart by Espeland's multiple roles in relation to theOrme Dam controversy. Initially hired by the Bu-reau of Reclamation as an external consultant forthe Central Arizona Water Control Study, she firstworked with the Yavapai while conducting surveysand other fieldwork as part of the bureau's socialimpact analysis. She later authored some of the bu-reau's social impact analysis reports. As a graduatestudent, Espeland later returned as an observer con-ducting dissertation fieldwork. No doubt, this  long- term involvement along with varied participant-ob-servation engagements enhanced Espeland's accessto information and opinions from key actors.This book is more than a case-specific ethno-graphic essay of interest and relevance only tothose in the region or  field.  Espeland offers a con-temporary tale of power and colonization. She ex-amines bureaucratic culture and the conflicts re-sulting from democratization efforts as well asprocesses of identity transformation and the emerg-ing power of identity politics. In short, Espelandmakes an important contribution, one that I hopewill stimulate broader efforts to develop an ethnog-raphy of power in bureaucracies. This book is amust-read for scholars, activists, planners, analysts,and anyone seeking to make sense of the chaos thatcharacterizes current federal-state-community re-source policy and relationships. The Cassowary s Revenge: The Life and Deathof Masculinity in a New Guinea Society.  DON-ALD TUZIN. Chicago: University of ChicagoPress, 1997. xiii 256 pp., figures, notes, refer-ences, index. MATTHEW  C.  GUT MANN Brown  University This is an account of the death of   men's cult inthe highland New Guinea village of llahita, whichis located in the Arapesh-speaking region made fa-mous through Margaret Mead's pioneering exami-nation of sexuality, psychology, and adolescence.Donald Tuzin highlights the consequences of out-lawing institutionalized male bonding, includingthe effects on gender relations. Additionally, Tuzinis concerned with his own disturbing, uncanny in-volvement with the ... collapse of the men's cult (p.  x). In harrowing detail, Tuzin describes his  influ- ence as a cultural authority when he returned to lla-hita society after   13-year absence.Although Tuzin first conducted ethnographic re-search in llahita in the early 1970s, he begins withthe mysterious announcement in the mid-1980s ofthe death—by parricide, Tuzin provocativelywrites—of the village's Tambaran men's cult. TheTambaran involved men's periodic ritual seclusionin special houses, secret ceremonies, and generallyprivileged relations with the spirit world. Tuzin thencarefully leads readers through both the history andthe symbolic salience of men and women's lives inllahita. The Tambaran was killed in 1984 during aSunday church service when, by prearrangement,several men confessed publicly to women in thecongregation that the secret men's cult. .. was a lie (p. 1). He depicts the contest between emergentChristian evangelism and the more traditional Tam-baran cult of masculinity as developing parallel tonumerous economic and political changes in NewGuinea's recent history. (Importantly, the authornotes, the recorded history of the Tambaran israther short, tracing back only to the late 1800s.)The death of the Tambaran was not, however, aninevitable result of Christian evangelism, tndeed, asTuzin demonstrates, Christianity and the spirits as-sociated with the men's cult lived in remarkableharmony for many years. Instead, it was not untilllahita became tied to larger economic and politicalforces that certain forms of Christian revivalismwere able to take hold among significant numbersof inhabitants in the village and thus challenge themen's cult. With the overthrow of the Tambaran,decades of beliefs and practices about how toachieve and maintain masculinity were rejected,and with their loss far broader systems of ritual andrule came loose in llahita. These changes left vastareas of human interactions at village and house-hold levels open to confusion and challenge.Rarely has the anthropologist been less a fly onthe wall than in Tuzin's chagrined account of theimpact brought about through his return to llahita.News of Tuzin's return to llahita, in part, sparkedthe crisis that led to the death of the Tambaran,while his actual arrival was seen by some as the un-mistakable fulfillment of   millenarian prophecy.Tuzin dedicates three chapters to describing ori-gin myths centering on the figure of the cosmic Cas-sowary-Mother Nambweapa'w. With these chap-ters, Tuzin lays the basis for exploring women'seventual revenge on men through the death of theTambaran men's cult. The myth consists of a wildcreature, the large flightless bird known in the rainforests of New Guinea as the cassowary, turninginto a lovely maiden after being tricked by a man. When,  years later, she discovers the deception, shetakes revenge on the man and kills him. Tuzin'sown return to llahita is presaged in the story when,through a series of events linked to treachery andrage, one of Nambweapa'w's children gets sweptaway by a sudden flood to America, only to returnat a future date. In this part of the ethnography,Tuzin offers a finely detailed neocliffusionist historyof living myth and prophecy while describingchanging interpretations of myth in llahita which reviews 777
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