Hosted by: Culture and Agriculture
Of interest to: Practicing and Applied Anthropologists, Students, Those Involved in Mentoring Activities
Over five and a half decades, the late Norman B. Schwartz (1932-2018) was witness to one of world's most dramatic frontier settlement processes in northern Guatemala's forested department of Petén. With the creation of the Maya Biosphere Reserve in 1992, the Petén produced a sudden tropical "boom" in graduate degrees. Regardless of how poorly conceived a prospectus might be, Norman Schwartz mentored dozens of foreign students, but also provided years of selfless mentorship to a new generation of Guatemalan professionals seeking degrees at the local public university. Formally working as an advisor to a nonprofit funded by USAID, Dr. Schwartz also influenced over coffee and cigarettes a multitude of consultants from many donor agencies (GTZ, IDB, World Bank, GEF, and more) in the region. An expert on swidden on par with Hal Conklin, his longitudinal fieldwork on milpa agriculture (spanning 57 years) is an eco-cultural treasure for humanity. For his continuous data on farming, forest management, and Guatemalan history and development politics, he maintained a phenomenal system of coded field notes. In this session, those who had the fortune of working with Dr. Schwartz in Guatemala or University of Delaware will "pay forward" nuggets of his wisdom about the value of slow village fieldwork in an age of transient ethnography; the ethnographic skills, stance, and sense of humor needed for improving applied conservation and development projects; management of large survey projects; success in grant writing; support for human rights; and wise advice for general academic life.