Why We Are:
Undergraduate Endeavors in Anthropological Research.

Why We Are: Undergraduate Endeavors in Anthropological Research, is a collection of undergraduate anthropological research papers that Billy Esra, Shelly Tarkinton and I are currently in the process of editing. The idea for this book grew out of our experience presenting papers at the annual meeting of the Southern Anthropological Society, where we met several of the contributors for this volume. The papers that we have gathered, from students in Georgia and Virginia, cover a wide range of topics (from Appalachia to Belize, and from education to religion), and represent authors from varying fields (Anthropology, Women's Studies, Education). However, the one common thread that all of the papers share, is that they are all based on original anthropological research conducted by undergraduate students. The tentative publication date is Summer 2001. The book will be available in hardback w/o a dust jacket, and will be between 75-100 pages in length. We will only being publishing a limited number of books (based on demand), so if you are interested in possibly obtaining a copy, or have any questions, please email me at jwweaver@ufl.edu. We have no profit-making motives or intentions behind this book. I will try to get a FREE COPY of this book in some form (possibly less-expensive spiral bound copies, or copies on disc) to anyone who requests it. I am also considering the possibility of putting it on the internet for free download.

A Few Abstracts:

Manufacturing Citizens: National Language Policy in Belize
Shelly Tarkinton
Valdosta State University

This paper investigates the relationship between language and nation building. The ethnographic setting is Belize, a multi-ethnic and multi-lingual society where Creole, Mayan, Spanish, Garifuna, and other languages are spoken alongside English, the national language. The paper investigates the cultural and political implications of this policy, as well as changing demographics due to in- and out-migration, which threaten to raise ethnicity as an issue, thus undermining the national agenda.

The Sacred in the Land: Making a Living or Making a Life in Off-the-Grid Appalachia
Melissa E. Lamb
Radford University

This paper explores the practice of stewardship of the land in a Southwestern Virginia Organic farming family. Part of a larger "alternative" community sharing a concern for the future sustainablility of the surrounding ecosystem, these Organic farmers have sought to tie strongly sacred beliefs to all everyday secular life activities. Ethnographic research begun in the fall of 1998 at Radford University utilized an inductive approach to discover themes relevant to community members. What emerged from this and continuing research is an understanding of the place of sacred beliefs in all daily activities. For themes farming families, belief is not separated from action. Both the sacred and the secular become intertwined in a complex web that allows members to seek to not only make a living, but create a livelihood. This ideological structure is reflected in the subsistence activities, community relationships, and material culture of these Organic Farmers in Appalachia.

Perceptions of Pets and Pet Death in Carroll County, Georgia.
Jonna Hausser
State University of West Georgia

This paper examines the perceptions of different categories of pet owners: normal, negligent or excessive. Attention will be paid to how these categories are reflected in the ways that remains of the animal are treated after it has passed: cremation or burial in a human-like cemetery, burying the pet on the owner's property, or leaving the pet at the veterinarian's office. This paper also examines how the practice of having a pet buried or cremated like a human being is currently found primarily in urban areas, but is becoming much more widely accepted and desired in more suburban and rural areas, such as Carroll County, Georgia.

The Socialization of Youth Subcultures: Skaters versus Preps
Debra Dart
Valdosta State University

Youth subcultures are often threatening in the field of education. Difference is not a prized trait, but rather a threat to authority and learning. This paper, based on original ethnographic research, observes that this difference is often exasperated by teachers and administrators, rather than by the youths themselves. In particular it looks at how Skaters often become victims of self-fulfilling prophecy unfairly assigned them by elements of the socially biased education system. As a result, many young people are doomed to a life of low self-worth which often leads to a cycle of failure and hopelessness. The Skater subculture, therefore, emerged as a collective means to deal with seemingly unattainable social expectations.

The Baptist Student Union at Valdosta State University: An Ethnographic View
James Weaver
Valdosta State University

In the past few years, the Southern Baptist Convention has created a furor with its condemnation of homosexuality, boycott of the Walt Disney Corporation, and its campaign to convert Jews to Christianity. This ethnographic study examines one specific section of the Southern Baptist faith, the Baptist Student Union (BSU) at Valdosta State University. The BSU actively recruits incoming freshmen and transfer students through programs such as “Survival Daze” and the “Smile Staff.” These students generally do not know many people, and do not yet have a since of belonging. The BSU embraces these students and provides them with a sense of direction, and a “second family.” Group importance is stressed above individual importance, and the BSU works hard to keep in touch its members. At BSU meetings, and in the literature distributed there, emphasis is placed on the importance of marriage, family, obedience to God, and loyalty to the BSU. Indebtedness to the BSU is the major topic of testimonies and sermons given at BSU meetings. The BSU constructs boundaries between what is “wrong” and “right” through moral ideology, and through the use of labeling terms such as “cult.” The BSU also socially constructs gender roles for both males and females through their speech, and through patterns of dress.

© Copyright 2000 James Weaver.