Saturday, March 9, 2019

Jean E. Jackson's "Managing Multiculturalism"

Jean E. Jackson is Professor Emerita of Anthropology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her books include Indigenous Movements, Self-Representation and the State in Latin America (2002), co-edited with Kay B. Warren, and "Camp Pain": Talking with Chronic Pain Patients (2000).

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Managing Multiculturalism: Indigeneity and the Struggle for Rights in Colombia, and reported the following:
With respect to Ford Madox Ford’s statement about page 99 of a book revealing the “quality of the whole,” I have this to say: it depends on the reader. If we know very little about the genre called ethnography, then we will get a pretty good impression of what ethnographic description looks like from page 99 of my book, Managing Multiculturalism: Indigeneity and the Struggle for Rights in Colombia. That page describes the plight of a group of desperate naked women and children, members of a hunter-gatherer culture known as Nukak, who have decided to travel to a frontier town in a particularly lawless plains area of eastern Colombia and throw themselves on the mercies of the townspeople. We learn that various non-indigenous actors—missionaries, anthropologists, state agents—are searching for an effective humanitarian solution. We get a glimpse of my authorial position with the appearance of the word “putative,” and comments about government bureaucrats’ mistakes lead us to guess that the solution chosen will not be successful.

But a reader who knows much more about what good ethnographies do will feel, most likely, quite bereft. The page contains no discussion, theorizing, contextualizing nor history—no real analysis.
Learn more about Managing Multiculturalism at the Stanford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue