GRID/GROUP RESEARCH

 

Anthropology professor Douglas Caulkins and Christina Peters, '00, put the finishing touches on an article, "Grid-Group Analysis, Entrepreneurship, and Social Capital among North American Immigrant Groups," that will be published soon in the journal Cross-Cultural Research.. A product of research begun last summer, the article reports on the success of this student-faculty collaboration in developing some applications of the theories of the famous British social anthropologist Mary Douglas. Caulkins and Peters developed ways of measuring "grid and group" the two key variables in Mary Douglas' theory, using data from the Electronic Human Relations Area files, an important resource available in Grinnell's Burling Library. They used these measures to test some hypotheses about the incidents of entrepreneurship (self- employment) among North American immigrant groups that vary in the degree to which they encourage strong in-group boundaries. Self- employment was correlated with lower levels of group boundaries, contrary to the implications of some published studies. Peters presented the preliminary findings earlier this year at the annual conference of the Society for Cross-Cultural Research in New Orleans.

 

Summer, 2000, Anthropology Professor Douglas Caulkins and junior anthropology major Christina Hanson, 01, studied CELTICA, a new heritage and tourist site located in Machynlleth, Wales. A recent addition to the growing heritage industry in Britain, Celtica presents an interpretation of Celtic experience, ancient and modern, and is meant to entertain and educate visitors, using a combination of high technology sounds and images, as well as live animators, local actors who help interpret the life of a Welsh village in 58 AD. Caulkins and his students have been studying the politics of identity in the British Isles over the past few years. Last year he and 7 students spent the summer in Scotland, studying Scottish identity during that crucial year of the opening of a new Scottish parliament for the first time in over 300 years. Wales too, gained its own Welsh Assembly, to deal with national issues. This devolution of two Celtic nations, Scotland and Wales, has focused new attention on national and regional identity. Caulkins and Hanson (pictured here in a blue animator's costume) carried out extensive interviews and participant observation in Celtica, learning how the dedicated staff operates this complex facility and the way that they help to create an engaging experience for visitors, who number around 32,000 each year. The anthropologists will report their findings at a conference on European museums and heritage sites in the fall semester. Several earlier studies on identity in the British Isles by Caulkins and his students are listed in the bibliography.  

 


 Elizabeth Neerland, completed a senior thesis in December 1999 entitled "Diversity in Post-Devolutionary Scottish Identity: A Grid/Group Analysis." She is preparing a paper on "Mapping Cultural Diversity in Post-Devolutionary Scotland" for a panel on "The Politics of Identity in the 'New' Scotland" organized by Douglas Caulkins for the Society for Cross-Cultural Research annual meetings in New Orleans, February 1999.  

 

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by Sondi Burnell