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Portraits Of “The Whiteman”: Linguistic Play & Cultural Symbols Among The Western Apache

December 29, 2016

portraitswhitemanFor over 50 years, Keith Basso was an award-winning anthropologist, student and scholar of, and friend to the Western Apache peoples of east-central Arizona.

Portraits Of “The Whiteman” is one of his earlier books and seems aimed primarily at demolishing the stereotype of the “stoic Indian”…a stereotype that developed in large part, Basso implies, because the Western Apache and other Indians didn’t trust Anglo-Americans enough to reveal their own senses of humor.

Portraits Of “The Whiteman” is based on 39 jokes Basso collected (12 he personally witnessed; 27 reported by his Apache consultants) over a decade of living and working with the Western Apache.

The lesson here for young scholars and academics is how little data is needed to perform intellectually meaningful work. It might take years to collect that data, but if so, that’s because it’s the pearl of great price for your years of research.  Don’t underestimate its value.


From → Books, Politics

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