The week before Thanksgiving I traveled to New Orleans for the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association. At an academic conference Ph.D’s and grad students meet to share their research and exchange ideas. The most common way to do this is by participating in a panel. Usually this consists of five people each with fifteen minutes to speak. The first four people will read an essay out loud and the fifth person will comment on the papers. Each panel has a theme and at any given moment there may be dozens of panels running simultaneously in different parts of the conference center.
I was invited to join a double-panel (ten people) called “Racial Circuits” and all the anthropologists were doing research on race in the United States. As you might guess most of these papers focused on Blacks and Whites as that is the dominant racial divide in this country, but two people each presented on Latinos. I was the only one discussing American Indians and, as I tried to bring out in this talk, race tends to mean something different for them.
Here’s my presentation. Its only fifteen minutes and it gives you an idea of what I do.
Watch the video and then in the comments section bellow I want you to engage the subject of my talk. You can bring up anything you like that seems relevant. Here are some questions to get you started:
-Why is the category of nation more significant than race for Indians?
-What is special about those certain circumstances when Indians do find race to be temporarily more significant than nation?
-From your point of view do you think that race and nation are basically the same thing, or do you believe that one is more important than the other? Justify your opinion.
-Why do you suppose Indians of some tribes use the word “Red” but those of other tribes do not?
-In this paper I suggest that one of the most important ways that people experience race in their lives is by talking about it. What are some other ways that race can be experienced?
-What are some other forms of “race talking” that you’ve observed from your own life?
-When people make jokes about race, what are they laughing at?
-Why do you think there is a pervasive stereotype that white people can’t dance? Explain this to me.