Oral Presentation Session
Reviewed by: General Anthropology Division
Of interest to: Practicing and Applied Anthropologists, Students
Primary Theme: Resilience
Secondary Theme: Resistance
Anthropological research methods make us attuned to how people use space, and how social groups organize public and private activities. Applying such methods to historical contexts can be difficult because information about private lives is often hidden from public, historical records. Nevertheless, researchers have been able to apply analytical methods from anthropology when reading ethnohistorical sources to understand people’s conceptions of public and private spaces, activities, discourse, and social interactions. The papers in this panel span geographic areas to present recent ethnohistorical research that leads us to rethink the public/private dichotomy. The papers bring together diverse methods from archaeology and cultural anthropology, enabling us to glean rare information on private lives from the historical record. We explore both the dichotomies that reinforce public and private, as well as resistance to these dichotomies through links between private and public realms. We discuss how the use of different sources—e.g. public records, films, personal journals, material culture, letters, public performances, etc.—can reveal different types of information about past cultural contexts, as well as private sentiments about official culture and society. Through an exploration of sites as varied as homes, factories, airports, markets, and tourism attractions we address the public significance of private sentiments, the resilience of bodies, and gendered interactions in colonial settings. In doing so this panel highlights linkages between private lives and public settings that have allowed people to continue to exist within, adapt to, and/or resist dominant cultural narratives.