Trickster on NPR

Eileen Kane was featured on NPR's To the Best of Our Knowledge. Click here for the full programme.

Click here to listen to the Eileen Kane segment.

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Trickster : an anthropological memoir focuses on the impact of classethnicity, race and colonization in two very different places: among the mill workers of Youngstown, Ohio, and among the Numu/Paiutes living on two reservations in Yerington, Nevada.  I didn't plan to study these issues, but they became clearer and clearer as my research progressed. 

"Do the Paiutes form a class, a race, or something else?" I ask in Trickster:   "Had [they] been white, they would be considered working class. But their situation is much more complicated: they are poor, a race, and a colonized people."  As for Youngstown, my home town, I reflect on the idea that Americans resist the notion of class, while still being affected by it. I begin to wonder what I might study if I chose, as an anthropologist,  to study class:

"One fruitful area, class, has been seriously neglected by most anthropologists. We seem to have taken our cue from the American public, most of whom ignore the topic and, if pressed, see themselves as “middle class.” So we have approached the subject obliquely, frequently partnering it with race, ethnicity, and gender.

I might first explore the concept of “working class” itself. I’d draw on my own experiences, in both the historic “capitalist” period (my father’s generation) and the more recent “late capitalist” period (in which my niece, a “part-time” minimum wage employee, on her only day off, takes three buses to attend a mandatory 7:00 a.m. “team-building exercise,” where she learns she’s been written up for forgetting to say “Hello My Name Is Ellen, Welcome to Shoe Heaven, We Have a Special on Leopard-Print Flats Today, How May I Help You?” to each customer)."

This site will be adding more reflections on class--its markers, its meaning, its consequences.