Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Being and Becoming an Action Anthropologist

From the Prologue to my publication “Cheyenne Action Archeology”:

What Linda Davis-Stephens gives me credit for I essentially learned from Sol Tax at the University of Chicago, one of the great men of American anthropology, who was my adviser and major professor there. One of the things that made him great was his willingness all his life to learn from people of cultures different from ours, and that he worked for using this knowledge for them and for all of us. I passed this conviction and attitude he had named action anthropology on to those students who listened with open minds and were not afraid to step away a little from the trodden paths of what was applauded as the anthropology of the day. Linda was one of these students.

         This short text of hers is full of insight, experience, and ideas, reflecting the very best of the original anthropological tradition, now oftentimes lost in the computer clatter of quantification and statistics. It is a straightforward and precise text that tells whence she came, how she became, what she learned, what she is learning, and what can be done with what is learned. The text is a journey to which readers are invited to participate in. At the conclusion the reader will find where he/she stands, and where he/she could be going.

         The text is correct in its descriptions of events, historical and recent, and clean in its scientific underpinnings. It is also sensitive and poetic, always truthful. It shows an anthropology that is thoroughly alive.

Karl H. Schlesier, Professor Emeritus
Corrales, New Mexico

Find link to full content of “Cheyenne Action Archeology”  
as .doc under the Heading:
El Cuartelejo Webliography and Sources

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

a creative spark


Action anthropology—a creative spark of social science

My university studies of action anthropology began as a student of Dr. Karl Schlesier. He hired me as work/study research assistant, also for Dr. Dorothy Billings.

In fieldwork, I recorded an interview with Edward Red Hat, Keeper of the Cheyenne Sacred Arrows. I asked what message he would give students. The transcript of his response “Message from the Tsistsistas-Cheyenne Arrow Keeper, Edward Red Hat, I, To All students” is on the wikidot link:

My first thesis Notes from the Tipi compiled literary and theoretical background of action anthropology. My graduate thesis showed the application and results of action anthropology with the Southern Cheyenne up to 1980. This I learned by doing—theory and practice, what has become essentially Service Learning the history of a bioregion.

1976          Linda E. Davis, Notes from the Tipi. Honors Thesis. Wichita State University

1980          Linda E. Davis, The Southern Cheyenne Research and Human Development Association, Incorporated, 1972-1980, MA Thesis, Wichita State University

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Action Anthropology


“Action Anthropology—the Art of Social Science”

Cultural anthropologists are generally tremendous observers of how people learn and behave, especially of how people transfer their traditions, ethnic identities, and lessons in life from one generation to another.

Action anthropologists engage in the cultural world of the host population. This role expands the fieldwork notion of participant observation with the goal to help the people of the host population help themselves with needs of their own communities.

The action anthropologist is a social scientist, and as such, must apply the discipline and what it has to offer with utmost professional discretion among the decision makers of the host.

Karl Schlesier said his hosts saw him as a person first, then as an anthropologist who taught them a new meaning of the discipline he represented. He was a teacher and in the “Cheyenne culture teaching is the most honorable profession of all…”

What began as the science of man has become the search for the knowledge of being and becoming human once more.

In these observations of the human condition, action anthropology represents a degree of artistry.
(excerpt from video script)