Anth 223: Indigenous Peoples, the Environment, & the Global Economy



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ANTH 223: Indigenous Peoples, the Environment, & the Global Economy

Thought Questions



11. On: Brody excerpt from The Other Side of Eden
Discuss two important things that Brody has to say about hunter-gatherers and/or their nemesis, the agriculturalists (farmers) of the world. Were you convinced by Brody’s arguments or critical of them?

2. On: Brody excerpt from The Other Side of Eden





Drawing on chapter 3 (today’s reading), would you accuse Brody of being a romanticist who idealizes the fading culture of hunter-gatherers? If so, support your assertion by discussing examples from the reading. If you believe that Brody speaks the truth, what insight(s) from this chapter do you find most powerful and significant?
3. 1On: ✷Wallace article

✇ “Oil on Ice”


What ecological threats (bad) and what financial incentives (good) would drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge have posed for indigenous peoples? Which indigenous group–the Gwich'in Indians or the Inupiat Eskimos–do you sympathize with and why?
*Note that in 2005 an energy bill that included drilling for oil in ANWR was overturned, meaning that drilling will NOT take place. However, Bush has, in 2008, pressed Congress to reverse the ban so the debate is not over.

4. 1On: Lines in the Water, xi-67

On page 47, Orlove states that “the story of the Lake Titicaca villagers is unusual and important.” What, exactly, is unusual and important about their experience? What aspects of their story so far are most striking to you?

5. 1On: Lines in the Water, 69-115

In chapter 4, Orlove ponders the concept of work, which government agencies and economic institutions consider, rather simplistically, to be a “homogeneous resource” that should be maximized to yield the greatest profit. This facile model does not match with the more complex ideas that Lake Titicaca villagers have of work. Discuss how these people conceive of work.

16. On: Kuper article


What criticism does Kuper have of the term “indigenous peoples” and of social movements aimed to protect “indigenous peoples”? Do you agree or disagree with Kuper’s points?

7. On: 1✷ Redford article

✷Film “Since the Company Came” 1
Have you observed any evidence of Redford’s “ecologically noble savage” or his alter-ego, the ecologically ignoble savage,” in class readings or films? Include in your discussion the film “Since the Company Came” as well as at least one other work.

8. On: Lines in the Water, 117-239


How did governmental and non-governmental agencies intrude upon the production system of the Lake Titicaca fisher-people? Do you agree that there was, indeed, an urgent need to help these villagers to conserve local natural resources? If not, why did these agencies feel it necessary to intervene?
9. 1On: Lines in the Water, 117-239
What insight have you gained into the concept of “development”? Is development a good and necessary thing for the villagers of Lake Titicaca? Is it something they desire?

101. On: Sahlins article

What examples does Sahlins give of the “indigenization of modernity”? Can you think of other examples from readings or films (from this class or other anthropology classes)?

11. 1On: Ariaal Pastoralists of Kenya
Indigenous peoples are often thought to be exemplars of ourselves at an earlier stage of human evolution. In this sense, they are assumed to be “a people without a history,” living the same lifestyle, in the same place, as they have since time immemorial. Fratkin, however, devotes significant space to refuting this assumption. What does he have to say about Ariaal history?

121. On: Ariaal Pastoralists of Kenya


Drawing on the book Ariaal Pastoralists of Kenya, what are some of the more interesting and relevant aspects of their procurement system (the way they survive, materially and how they interact with their environment)? Can you draw comparisons between the Ariaal and others whom we have studied?

13. 1On: ✷Ariaal Pastoralists of Kenya

✷Hardin article
The idea of “the tragedy of the commons” has had a strong influence on development policies focused on pastoralists. What is the “tragedy of the commons and how, specifically, have development agencies (both governmental and NGOs) addressed this through programs directed at Kenyan pastoralists? For the Ariaal, is the “tragedy of the commons” applicable, and is such intervention warranted?

114. On: ✷ Keck and Sikkink article

✷Evans article

✇ “Between Midnight and the Rooster’s Crow”


Why do indigenous peoples increasingly link up with transnational advocacy networks (TANs) or transnational social movements? Explain how TANs function and why they are often successful. Use examples from the film “Between Midnight and the Rooster’s Crow” to illustrate some aspects of TANs.

15. On: ✷ Little article

Some members of oppressed, marginalized, “traditional” ethnic groups do not self-identify as “indigenous” or attempt to affiliate with indigenous social movements. Discuss why the Mayan handicraft vendors studied by Walter Little have decided to remain “Outside of Social Movements.”

116. On: ✷ Conklin article

✇ “The Kayapo: Out of the Forest”

✇ “Amazon Journal”

“Strategic essentialism” is defined as “the intentional manipulation, projection, and homogenization by indigenous peoples of their cultural identities to accord with Western stereotypes.” Drawing on the films and article listed above, discuss how and why indigenous peoples engage in strategic essentialism to further their causes. What issues about strategic essentialism do you find the most intriguing and/or disturbing? Illustrate your discussion with examples.
17. On: ✷ Oakdale article
We have already discussed how strategic essentialism can be important for indigenous peoples as they engage with nonlocal audiences. Oakdale looks at how local people themselves reflect on their performances of indigenous culture. How do Kayabi political leaders speak about their efforts to stage Kayabi culture for other Brazilians and for Westerners?
18. On: ✷ Brosius article

✷ Little article (of last week)


Brosius, like Little, probes the question of why some “indigenous people” opt out of engaging with transnational social movements. Why did some Penan communities not get involved in the well-publicized efforts to oppose logging while other Penan did? What are the similarities and differences between Brosius’s and Little’s arguments?

19. On: ✷ Bevis article

✷film “Blowpipes and Bulldozers”
1Discuss Bruno Manser, the Swiss man who lived and worked with Penan hunter-gatherers. In your opinion, is he a misguided romantic or a savvy activist? Would you critique or celebrate his interventions with the Penan? Make sure to support your discussion with concrete information and observations from the article and film. Feel free to draw on other material we have used in this class.
20. On: ✷ Bending article

✷ Conklin article (of last week)

How do the different parties involved in the logging and anti-logging movements in Sarawak, Malaysia represent the Penan protest movement? How do Bending’s points parallel or contrast with points made by Conklin?

211. On: ✷ Roy article

✷ Kingsnorth article

✇ Film: “Drowned Out: We Can’t Wish Them Away”

In reading her article “The Greater Common Good” and in hearing her comments in the film “Drowned Out,” do you think that Arundhati Roy has achieved her aim of becoming a public intellectual who can communicate the scandal of the Narmada Dam to the world in a clear and intelligible way? In other words, is her style of writing and her mode of representing indigenous peoples unique and/or powerful in any way (give specific examples in your discussion)? Can her writing skills help her to elicit the sympathies of a wider public and gain support for indigenous peoples’ struggles against government dams?
221. On: ✷ Honey article

✷Brysk excerpt


Ecocapitalism is often touted as a way for in which indigenous peoples and environmentalists can merge their interests (important, since their interests can potentially come into conflict). Ecotourism is one of the most lucrative and widely practiced types of ecocapitalism, yet what does Honey say about it? Does her article, and that of Brysk, lead you to any conclusions, positive or negative, about the overall advantages of ecotourism?

231. On: ✷ Tilley article

What message does the Tilley article make about ecotourism, the staging of culture, and the meaning of cultural performances for indigenous peoples? What do you think about Tilley’s arguments?

241. On: ✷ Abbink article


What new insight does Abbink give on the issue of ecotourism? How can his article be compared or contrasted to any other items that we have read or viewed in this class?

25-36. On: the assigned section of the book for each day

Following the example of the thought questions that I have already posed, come up with an analytically rigorous, intellectually compelling thought question that the class can discuss. Then answer the question yourself. 1In the first paragraph you should pose the question, and in the remainder of the paper you should develop a tentative answer to the question. The question posed should pertain directly to the reading assigned for the day, and should help the class to probe the reading by a) elucidating a key theme, idea, argument, or concept from the reading; or b) connecting the reading to class lectures, films, or other readings. 1/3 of the grade will be based on the quality of the question and 1/3 will be based on the quality of the answer.

28. On: West, ch. 4 & 5


Through the historical documents that they produce and through their contemporary “imaginations” (to use West’s term), white expatriates working for the conservation agency construct a certain vision of Gimi peoples. Describe this vision and discuss whether you feel that their views of the Gimi are fair, accurate, and/or consistent with anthropological conventions for representing indigenous peoples.

Alternative: You are free to formulate your own thought question. Following the example of the thought questions that I have already posed, come up with an analytically rigorous, intellectually compelling thought question that the class can discuss. Then answer the question yourself. 1In the first paragraph you should pose the question, and in the remainder of the paper you should develop a tentative answer to the question. The question posed should pertain directly to the reading assigned for the day, and should help the class to probe the reading by a) elucidating a key theme, idea, argument, or concept from the reading; or b) connecting the reading to class lectures, films, or other readings. 1/3 of the grade will be based on the quality of the question and 1/3 will be based on the quality of the answer.

29. On: West, ch. 6


Eco-capitalism or conservation-as-development is predicated on the idea that by helping indigenous peoples to market products and experiences derived from nature, these indigenous peoples will be more inclined to preserve nature. However, West points out that the commodification of items that were formely not sold in a free market may change the social relations that revolve around these items. Examine instances in which items and/or experiences have been turned into marketable commodities and the ways that Gimi social relations have been transformed.

Alternative: You are free to formulate your own thought question. Following the example of the thought questions that I have already posed, come up with an analytically rigorous, intellectually compelling thought question that the class can discuss. Then answer the question yourself. 1In the first paragraph you should pose the question, and in the remainder of the paper you should develop a tentative answer to the question. The question posed should pertain directly to the reading assigned for the day, and should help the class to probe the reading by a) elucidating a key theme, idea, argument, or concept from the reading; or b) connecting the reading to class lectures, films, or other readings. 1/3 of the grade will be based on the quality of the question and 1/3 will be based on the quality of the answer.

30. On: West, ch. 7
In the end, what do you think of West’s (and the Gimi’s) critique of conservation-as-development? Discuss some insight and examples from this chapter that inform your views.

Alternative: You are free to formulate your own thought question. Following the example of the thought questions that I have already posed, come up with an analytically rigorous, intellectually compelling thought question that the class can discuss. Then answer the question yourself. 1In the first paragraph you should pose the question, and in the remainder of the paper you should develop a tentative answer to the question. The question posed should pertain directly to the reading assigned for the day, and should help the class to probe the reading by a) elucidating a key theme, idea, argument, or concept from the reading; or b) connecting the reading to class lectures, films, or other readings. 1/3 of the grade will be based on the quality of the question and 1/3 will be based on the quality of the answer.

31. On: Manz Intro & ch. 1


In explaining the “structural violence” (p. 49) and ensuing terror and genocide that Mayan peasants faced from the 1960s to the 1980s, Manz places the blame squarely on the military, which was under the control of the national elite. Yet she also builds into her account a description of additional of forces and processes that played into it. Review Manz’s account of why Mayan peasants experienced this structural violence and genocide. Have you ever heard of or studied this case before?

Alternative: You are free to formulate your own thought question. Following the example of the thought questions that I have already posed, come up with an analytically rigorous, intellectually compelling thought question that the class can discuss. Then answer the question yourself. 1In the first paragraph you should pose the question, and in the remainder of the paper you should develop a tentative answer to the question. The question posed should pertain directly to the reading assigned for the day, and should help the class to probe the reading by a) elucidating a key theme, idea, argument, or concept from the reading; or b) connecting the reading to class lectures, films, or other readings. 1/3 of the grade will be based on the quality of the question and 1/3 will be based on the quality of the answer.

32. On: Manz ch.2

Describe the founding of the village Santa María Tzejá, and discuss how the growth of the new village intersected with another historical process: the mobilization of guerilla (rebel) activity in the Ixcán rainforest (activity by the EGP, or Guerilla Army of the Poor).


Alternative: You are free to formulate your own thought question. Following the example of the thought questions that I have already posed, come up with an analytically rigorous, intellectually compelling thought question that the class can discuss. Then answer the question yourself. 1In the first paragraph you should pose the question, and in the remainder of the paper you should develop a tentative answer to the question. The question posed should pertain directly to the reading assigned for the day, and should help the class to probe the reading by a) elucidating a key theme, idea, argument, or concept from the reading; or b) connecting the reading to class lectures, films, or other readings. 1/3 of the grade will be based on the quality of the question and 1/3 will be based on the quality of the answer.

33. On: Rohter e-reserve

Film “When Mountains Tremble”
In the film, the activist Rigobera Menchú is featured. Reflect on her role as an icon of Mayan indigenous peoples and a winner of the Nobel Prize. Consider, specifically, the controversy surrounding her book as discussed by Rohter (note that Manz also discusses this controversy on pages 9-11). What parts of the film were most memorable and likely to stir the sympathies of Western viewers? Should Menchú be forgiven for fabricating aspects of her story given the plight of the Mayan people?

Alternative: You are free to formulate your own thought question. Following the example of the thought questions that I have already posed, come up with an analytically rigorous, intellectually compelling thought question that the class can discuss. Then answer the question yourself. 1In the first paragraph you should pose the question, and in the remainder of the paper you should develop a tentative answer to the question. The question posed should pertain directly to the reading assigned for the day, and should help the class to probe the reading by a) elucidating a key theme, idea, argument, or concept from the reading; or b) connecting the reading to class lectures, films, or other readings. 1/3 of the grade will be based on the quality of the question and 1/3 will be based on the quality of the answer.

34. On: Manz ch.3

Discuss the extent and nature of villagers’ involvement in the insurgent movement (the EGP). What motivated peasants to join the EGP and how would you characterize their relationship with the EGP?

Alternative: You are free to formulate your own thought question. Following the example of the thought questions that I have already posed, come up with an analytically rigorous, intellectually compelling thought question that the class can discuss. Then answer the question yourself. 1In the first paragraph you should pose the question, and in the remainder of the paper you should develop a tentative answer to the question. The question posed should pertain directly to the reading assigned for the day, and should help the class to probe the reading by a) elucidating a key theme, idea, argument, or concept from the reading; or b) connecting the reading to class lectures, films, or other readings. 1/3 of the grade will be based on the quality of the question and 1/3 will be based on the quality of the answer.

35. On: Manz chs.4 & 5


Discuss the split trajectories of the peasants from Santa María Tzejá (those who fled and those who stayed). What changes did each group experience during this interim period before reunification?

Alternative: You are free to formulate your own thought question. Following the example of the thought questions that I have already posed, come up with an analytically rigorous, intellectually compelling thought question that the class can discuss. Then answer the question yourself. 1In the first paragraph you should pose the question, and in the remainder of the paper you should develop a tentative answer to the question. The question posed should pertain directly to the reading assigned for the day, and should help the class to probe the reading by a) elucidating a key theme, idea, argument, or concept from the reading; or b) connecting the reading to class lectures, films, or other readings. 1/3 of the grade will be based on the quality of the question and 1/3 will be based on the quality of the answer.

36. On: Manz ch.6

In Manz’s account of the reunification of Santa María Tzejá, what do you find to be most compelling and interesting? Were you surprised that such a reunification could take place given the tensions between the two groups?

Alternative: You are free to formulate your own thought question. Following the example of the thought questions that I have already posed, come up with an analytically rigorous, intellectually compelling thought question that the class can discuss. Then answer the question yourself. 1In the first paragraph you should pose the question, and in the remainder of the paper you should develop a tentative answer to the question. The question posed should pertain directly to the reading assigned for the day, and should help the class to probe the reading by a) elucidating a key theme, idea, argument, or concept from the reading; or b) connecting the reading to class lectures, films, or other readings. 1/3 of the grade will be based on the quality of the question and 1/3 will be based on the quality of the answer.

37. On: Manz ch.7


Comment on the writing style that Manz adopted in the crafting of this book. Focus on one or both of the following questions:


  • Manz has an obvious bias in favor of the guerillas and their supporters. As an anthropologist and social scientists, is Manz justified in adopting such a non-objective, judgmental approach?
  • Most American students are regularly exposed to graphic violence through television, film, and newcasts. Does Manz’s written account succeed in penetrating the numbed American mind to leave a lasting impact on the reader? In other words, has Manz succeeded in creating an evocative account that readers will remember in the future, and how is such a written account fundamentally different than a visual documentary or film about genocide and human rights abuses?



Alternative: You are free to formulate your own thought question. Following the example of the thought questions that I have already posed, come up with an analytically rigorous, intellectually compelling thought question that the class can discuss. Then answer the question yourself. 1In the first paragraph you should pose the question, and in the remainder of the paper you should develop a tentative answer to the question. The question posed should pertain directly to the reading assigned for the day, and should help the class to probe the reading by a) elucidating a key theme, idea, argument, or concept from the reading; or b) connecting the reading to class lectures, films, or other readings. 1/3 of the grade will be based on the quality of the question and 1/3 will be based on the quality of the answer.



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