Where are the Pueblo Clowns?

Dedicated to my colleague and comrade, John Stanton, and to myself. “Isn’t it rich? Are we a pair?”

This comes from David H. Price, “Anthropologists as Spies,” The Nation, November 2, 2000:

Archeologist Joe Watkins, chairman of the ethics committee, believes that if an anthropologist were caught spying today,

“the AAA would not do anything to investigate the activity or to reprimand the individual, even if the individual had not been candid [about the true purpose of the research]. I’m not sure that there is anything the association would do as an association, but perhaps public awareness would work to keep such practitioners in line, like the Pueblo clowns’ work to control the societal miscreants.”

Watkins is referring to Pueblo cultures’ use of clowns to ridicule miscreants. Although it is debatable whether anthropologist intelligence operatives would fear sanctions imposed by the AAA, it is incongruous to argue that they would fear public ridicule more. Enforcing a ban on covert research would be difficult, but to give up on even the possibility of investigating such wrongdoing sends the wrong message to the world and to the intelligence agencies bent on recruiting anthropologists.

More on the Pueblo clowns comes from a synthesis of Elsie Clews Parsons, Ralph Beals, and Conrad Hyers, via Google Books and Wikipedia:

often their behavior is comic, lewd, scatological, eccentric and alarming. Among the Zuni, to enter the Ne’wekwe order, one is initiated “by a ritual of filth-eating”; “mud and excrement are smeared on the body for the clown performance, and parts of the performance may consist of sporting with excreta, smearing and daubing it, or drinking urine and pouring it [on] one another.”

Consider the value of “sporting with excreta” — especially in the absence of a professional association that, if one reads Price above, did so much to collaborate with the CIA and to help create the situation of political and ethical turpitude that made room for multiple McFates. This was without penalty or injunction, except in the case of Franz Boas, for declaring himself against anthropology as espionage — so many ironies there, given his paramount role in leading American anthropology, and the fact that he was right and yet continued to be censured until 2005. Shameful.

“Don’t you love farce?
My fault, I fear.
I thought you’d want what I want…
Sorry, my dear.”

John Stanton was quite correct when he wrote in a recent comment:

“Mrs. McFate-Sapone has broadcast herself around the world via the Net telling us all about her personal life.

She is the senior social scientist on a program that is central to COIN as defined by Obama/Petraeus. Fondacaro recently stated that HTS is right in line with the President’s objectives in Afghanistan, etc. She has a measure of responsibility for the personnel deployed.

She has also been the subject of many positive stories and some negative. For example:

She qualifies as a public figure.”

Indeed, but to be more clear, she qualifies as a public figure who has misrepresented the rest of us, who has realigned the public image of anthropology with American imperialism, and who has done so without any censure. Shameful. What is not shameful is the work of a few dedicated clowns who made sport of a societal miscreant’s excreta.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

“But where are the clowns?
There ought to be clowns…
Well, maybe next year.”

11 thoughts on “Where are the Pueblo Clowns?

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Where are the Pueblo Clowns? « ZERO ANTHROPOLOGY -- Topsy.com

  2. Jules

    Hey Max! Just popped in to say hello after reading your latest post. Do you suppose that this anthropologist is familiar with Heyoka?


    Thunderbirds are not only flyers in the Air Force, and one would think that an anthropologist would have more respect for another culture than that!

    Boy, is she ever in for some surprises! *rofl*

    By the way… have you seen this?


    There’s some Curtis footage in the following video…

    I missed the show the first time around, but hoping to catch it when it tours again.

    Take care and have a Happy New Year!


    1. Maximilian Forte

      I show the original Curtis film in my visual anthropology class, and some other versions/remixes of it. I have not seen any of the above before however, interesting to watch. Many thanks.

  3. Jules

    ⠠⠊ ⠚⠥⠎⠞ ⠎⠁⠺ ⠽⠕⠥⠗ ⠞⠺⠊⠞⠞⠑⠗ ⠉⠕⠍⠍⠑⠝⠞⠎… ⠞⠕⠕ ⠋⠥⠝⠝⠽! *⠇⠕⠇*

    1. Maximilian Forte

      Hi Jules, great to see you again…my fault for being out of touch these past weeks.

      Incidentally…it might just be my computer, but the text above reads as a series of boxes with tiny numbers in them…I gather these are characters not recognized by the browser perhaps?

      1. Jules

        Interesting. I was making a reference to the style of some of your twitter comments. Can you cut and paste what you see on your screen so that I can see it as you do? I’ll tell you what that is, but would first like to know how it’s appearing to you.

        That Ethneogen #3 is called Heyoka Dance. Here’s a couple of others that will enable others to better understand…

        Great seeing you again too!

  4. Paul Foord

    Jules first post is in the font ‘Segoe UI Symbol’ (identified through copy/paste into MS Word) and looks like braille to me

  5. frenchguy

    I liked that post quite a lot.

    Further, I wish you a Happy New Year, with many more funny and indispensable clown tricks.

    Let the villains be ashamed ! Hooray to the clowns ! Happy New Year !

    1. Maximilian Forte

      Thanks very much! I am wishing you a very happy new year too, and I wanted to also say how much I am grateful for your many visits and comments on this blog over the past year, and our correspondence.

      Don’t worry, even before this blog closes (which will probably be a little later than expected, by the end of January…too much other work)…we will have the opportunity to shame the villains much more!

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