This syllabus is designed to show the crossover in theories of cultural and ecological of conservation. Section one is meant to provide the students with a basis in historical ideas about conservation and ideas about the history of conservation. The background should give them varying ways to think about the material themselves. My aim is to assist the students in having the opportunity to read important social theory as well as showing them that there are many ways to think about the issues at hand.

Section two deals specifically with approaches to material culture in light of the urge to conserve. Since most folklore classes deal primarily with literate or performance variations of conservation (myths, folktales, even folksongs), I hope to add more weight to the side of material culture. This fits with the position I take in my third exam statement concerning the over-emphasis on linguistically-based analysis and subjects of analysis.

The third section brings us into the realm of the environment, an area not often studied by folklorists. This section helps bridge the gap between cultural and environmental conservation.


The Politics of Conservation

Folklore 440

Elizabeth Dougherty

3440 Market Street, #370, 215-898-7352

Office Hours: Mon, Wed 2-4 and by appointment.

Class Materials:

Books may be purchased at House of Our Own: 3624 Walnut Street

• Conserving Culture, ed. Mary Hufford. Urbana: University of Illinois, 1991.

• Entangled Objects: Exchange, Material Culture, and Colonialism in the Pacific. by Nicholas Thomas. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. 1991

• The Storyteller by Mario Llosa Vargas. New York: Penguin Books, 1989.

• Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys. London: Deutsch. 1966.

Bulk Back is at University Copy, 2920 Walnut Street @ $29.50

Class Meets:

Mon/Wed 10-12:30 in Bennet Hall, Rm. 314

Our Subject:

"A central task of the cultural (and environmental) conservationist is to lay bare the presuppositions underlying cultural (and environmental) advocacy and to reveal the interests of served by such presuppositions. The argument that any conservation program should be carried out for generations to come should be mounted with caution, for this is the way hereditary elites and imperialists traditionally have argued." Roger Abrahams

"Conserving" is an activity which immediately and dramatically draws us into the realm of theory and practice. Conserving artifacts, music, stories, land, animals and people has a long history which continues to play out in very real political, economic and social relations of the present. These ideologies and their corresponding practices of conservation will lead us into topics which move across disciplinary boundaries (of folklore, anthropology, history, philosophy, geography and environmental science) as well as through politically constituted geographic boundaries. By beginning with the rational foundations of the Enlightenment, we will work towards an understanding of the philosophical, economic, political and social roots of the practices of conservation. From there we will look into the power dynamics inherent in its development and current practices. Some of the questions we will be asking are "what are the objects of conservation?"; "who makes the decisions and finances the projects?"; "what are the power structures involved?"; "what kind of local, national, global relationships are at play?" Our readings and discussions will cover significant ground and provoke each of us to further our understanding of the political significance of the act of "conserving."





As a subtext to the material of the course, this class should also serve as an opportunity to increase our capacities to think critically and learn. I have suggested a set of keywords for each week's readings. We will briefly discuss the keywords for the next week's readings at the end of the class the week before. At the same time, for each reading I hope that you will seek to:

1. comprehend

2. doubt/question

3. formulate alternate ways to think about the issues and research

4. come up with keywords/concepts of your own.


In order to better accomplish these goals, you are expected to write a short reflection of each weeks readings (please read all the footnotes!) and a list of questions which should total one page. I will not accept weekly assignments with frayed notebook edges, but will accept assignments written/printed on paper on which the other side has already been printed (i.e. - reused/recycled). Active and lively class discussions should be our aim. We should set up an e-mail distribution list so that you can send your papers to one another by the evening before class.

There will be two papers for the course. These are expected to be 12-15 pages each in length, typewritten, double-spaced, with typeface no larger than 12 pitch. The paper topics should be well thought out and then discussed in meetings with me. Please note the due dates for the paper proposals and plan to meet with me accordingly. I will not meet with all of you in the last week before these proposals are due in class so please your appointment before this. If you would like to write two papers which are connected in subject and/or build upon one another, I am highly in favor this approach.

Paper Possibilities

This papers are meant first and foremost to be of interest to you. As you see from the topics and readings, there is a huge span of topics and approaches. Your papers can be theoretical, topical, or based in your own field work. Writing two papers which are linked, (the first theoretical, the second a case study, for instance) is a great way to develop a firm basis in a particular area. On the other hand, having the opportunity to work on two separate also has its benefits. I do expect each paper to include primary and secondary source materials. The purpose of this requirement is to make sure that you can read a primary source (say Horkheimer and Adorno), read what others say about this source (say Martin Jay's book on Horkheimer and Adorno) and how you put these ideas together with your own in organized written form.

Grading Breakdown:

Paper 1: 30%

Paper 2: 30%

Weekly Assignments: 20%

Weekly class discussion: 20%

Please note that more than 3 unexcused absences earns you an automatic failure in this class. Class size is limited to 15.

Section I. Ideology/ Hegemony

Week 1. Introduction (The first class will meet for the entire three hours.)

Wide Sargasso Sea.

Week 2. The Enlightenment (or "it's getting a little bright around here")

(keywords: rationality, order, dominance, containment)

• Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno - "The Concept of Enlightenment" from Key Concepts in Critical Theory: Ecology. Carolyn Merchant, ed. 1994, New Jersey: Humanities Press.

• Michel Foucault - "What is Enlightenment?" from The Foucault Reader. Paul Rabinow, ed.1984. New York: Pantheon.

• Roger Abrahams - "Powerful Promises of Regeneration or Living Well With History" in Conserving Culture.

Week 3. Folklore & the Itch to Conserve

(keywords: nation-state, class, authenticity, collecting, local, essentializing, the "Other")

• Alice Walker - "Everyday Use" from In Love and Trouble, 1974. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

• Roger Abrahams - "Phantoms of Romantic Nationalism" from JAF 1993

• Regina Bendix - "Diverging Paths in the Scientific Search for Authenticity" from JAF 1992 29(2): 103-132.

• Mary Hufford - "Introduction" from Conserving Culture. p. 1-14.

Week 4. Marxism and its Discontents

(keywords - alienation, producer, consumer, labor, social relations, power, hegemony, ideology)

• Martin Nicolaus - "Preface" from Grundrisse by Karl Marx. 1973, Baltimore: Penguin Books, p.7-63.

• Susan Buck-Morse - "Materialist Pedagogy" from The Dialectics of Seeing: Walter Benjamin and the Arcades Project . 1991, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, p. 287-330.

• Jean and John Comaroff - "Introduction" from Of Revelation and Revolution: Christianity, Colonialism, and Consciousness in South Africa. 1991, Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p. 1-48.

(Paper Proposals due at the beginning of this fourth class meeting)

Week 5: Globalization and Modernities - Time and Space

(keywords: local, global, movement, meaning)

• Amy Schuman - "Dismantling Local Culture" - from Western Folklore 1993 52:345-364.

• Arjun Appadurai - "Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy" from Public Culture 1990 2(2):1-24.

• Michael Watts - "Capitalisms, Crises and Cultures: Notes towards a Totality of Fragments" and "The Shock of Modernity" from Reworking Modernity: Capitalisms and Symbolic Discontent. by Allan Pred and Michael Watts. 1992, New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press. p. 1-64

• David Harvey - ""Modernity and Modernism" from The Condition of Postmodernity: An Inquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change. 1989, Cambridge, MA: Blackwell Press, p. 10-38.

Section II. Material Culture

Week 6. Commodity Fetishism - Pleasure or Pain?

(keywords: fetishism, desire, distance, representation, naturalize, local, global, movement, meaning)

• Michael Taussig - "in Some Way or Another One Can Protect Oneself From the Spirits by Portraying Them" from Mimesis and Alterity: A Particular History of the Senses. 1993, New York: Routledge. p.1-18. from The Social Life of Things, edited by Arjun Appadurai, 1986, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p 3-63.

Select two readings from the following:

• Patrick Geary - "Sacred Commodities" from The Social Life of Things, edited by Arjun Appadurai. 1986, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p 169-191.

• Igor Kopytoff - "The Cultural Biography of Things: commoditization as Process" from Ibid.

• Shelly Errington - ""Fragile Traditions and Contested Meanings" from Public Culture 1989 1(2):49-59.

• William Pietz - "The Problem of the Fetish, I" from 1985 RES 9:5-17.

Week 7. Gift/Exchange (No Strings Attached)

(keywords: value, exchange, reciprocity, gift, commodity, class distinctions)

• Nicholas Thomas - "Introduction" from Entangled Objects: Exchange, Material Culture and Colonialism in the Pacific 1991, Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Read 1-124.

(Mid-term Papers are Due at the beginning of the class meeting on Week 7. I won't ask you to hand it in early, if you don't ask me to hand it in late!)

Week 8. Gift/Exchange (No Strings Attached)

(keywords: value, exchange, reciprocity, gift, commodity, class distinctions)

• Nicholas Thomas - "Introduction" from Entangled Objects: Exchange, Material Culture and Colonialism in the Pacific. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1991. Read 124-256.

Week 9. Museums, Tourism and other forms of Prayer

(keywords: commemoration, display, access, representation, voice, acculturation, cooptation)

• Regina Bendix - "Tourism and Cultural Displays: Inventing Traditions for Whom?" from JAF 1989,102:131-146,

• Susan Buck-Morss - "Envisioning Capital: Political Economy on Display" from Critical Inquiry 1995, 21(2): 434-467.

• Martha Norkunas - "Introduction" from The Politics of Public Memory: Tourism, History and Ethnicity in Monterey, CA. 1993, Albany: SUNY Press, p. 1-42.

• Robert Cantwell - "Conjuring Culture: Ideology and Magic in the Festival of American Folklife" from JAF 1991, 104:148-163.

(Final Paper proposals are due at the beginning of the class meeting.)

Section III. Environmental Conservation (or "can you say 'neo-colonialism'?")

Week 10. The Bretton Woods Institutions (or "Can't see the forest for the trees")

(Keywords: development, underdevelopment, discourse, power, hegemony, global economics)

• Arturo Escobar - " Introduction: Development and the Anthropology of Modernity" and "Economics and the Space of Development: Tales of Growth and Capital" from Encountering Development: the Making and Unmaking of the Third World. 1995, Princeton: Princeton University Press, p. 3-20, 55-101.

Fifty Years is Enough: the Case Against the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. edited by Kevin Danaher, 1994, Boston: South End Press.

• Richard Peet and Michael Watts - "Development Theory and Environment in an Age of Market Triumphalism" from Economic Geography 1993, 69(3): 227-253.

Guest Speaker - Steve Hellinger from "The Development Gap" - He will lead the discussion on these issues as opposed to lecturing, so please do the readings.

Week 11. Indigenous People Issues (get those people some clothes, for god's sake)

(keywords: preservation, stasis, change, violence, voice, evolution)

• Mario Vargas Llosa - The Storyteller . 1989, New York: Penguin Books

• View "Mr. Johnson" - On hold at Video Library @ 41st and Spruce.

Week 12. Indigenous People's Issues

(keywords: preservation, stasis, change, violence, voice, evolution)

• E.N. Chidumayo - "Realities for Aspiring Young African Conservationists" from Voices from Africa: Local Perspectives on Conservation. 1993, Washington, D.C.: World Wildlife Fund. p. 49-55.

• Garth Owen-Smith - "The Zambian Way to Africanize Culture." Ibid.

Week 13. Ecotourism (Do I have to get off the bus to see it?)

(keywords - sustainable development, pristine,)

• Johanna Schloss - "Beach Tours and Safari Visions: Relations of Production and the Production of "Culture" in Malindi, Kenya" -

unpublished doctoral dissertation.

• Stewart A. Marks - "Managerial Ecology and Lineage Husbandry: Environmental Dilemmas in Zambia's Luangwa Valley" from Conserving Culture.

• Benita J. Howell - "Linking Cultural and National Conservation Park Service Policies and Programs" in Conserving Culture.

Week 14. Final Discussion.

No doubt we will have a few things we have gotten behind on and this will be our week to catch-up.

(Final Papers are due at the beginning of the class meeting on Week 14. )