With the Saraguros

With the Saraguros: The Blended Life in a Transnational World

David Syring
Copyright Date: 2014
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7560/760936
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    With the Saraguros
    Book Description:

    Highlighting globalization's effects on humanity through the lens of Ecuador's indigenous Saraguro people, With the Saraguros marks a compelling departure from conventional approaches to ethnography. While documenting and exploring the social patterns among the Saraguro, with an emphasis on the role of women beadworkers, David Syring blends storytelling, dialogue, poetry, and memoir to describe his own realm as a fieldworker in anthropology. As he considers the influence of women's labor in a community in which the artistry of beadwork is richly symbolic, he also considers how the Saraguro view their observers—the anthropologists. Probing the role of researchers in a time when basic humanistic questions now often reflect a critical balance between commerce and sustainability, With the Saraguros asks, "What does it mean to live 'the good life' in different cultural contexts, and how does our work life relate to this pursuit?" For those who have chosen a work life of anthropology, Syring captures the impact of fieldwork—which uproots the researcher from his or her daily routine—and its potential to deliver new levels of consciousness. The result constitutes more than just the first English-language book dedicated to the dynamic creativity of the Saraguro, contextualized by their social and political history; Syring's work, which ranges from the ecological imagination to the metaphors of trade, is also a profound meditation on the ways we experience boundaries now that borders no longer create sharply drawn divides between cultural worlds, and "distant" no longer means "separate."

    eISBN: 978-0-292-76094-3
    Subjects: Anthropology, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Prologue: ADVICE TO A TECHNOPELLI
    (pp. 1-8)

    Field notes, August 15, 2009: We have been sitting for hours, beading. Late in the afternoon, after I have finished the last row of thefresas(strawberries) model necklace I have been working on since Monday when Aleja got me started, Benigno says he wants to take me for a walk to thepucará. He has been working steadily on necklaces, too. He helps Ana Victoria as she scrambles to finish a bunch of pieces for me to take back to the States to sell.

    So we set out for a sweet, final walk for this trip, down the road...

  5. CHAPTER ONE Attuning and the Development of an Approach to Fieldwork
    (pp. 9-18)

    Where are the sounds of the frogs creaking in the puddles and trees around Ana Victoria’s house on a wet night or the roosters crowing at all odd hours? Where are the smells of the eucalyptus trees in the breeze or the plantains and empanadas spattering in the hot grease? Where are the nearly daily glimpses of rainbows and double rainbows manifesting in the dampparamowinds off the mountains? What about the constant company of the news ormusica nacionalfrom the radio that is always on? Or regular bursts of laughter from the beading table on the porch...

  6. Interlude 1. THREE IMAGES OF TECHNOPELLI
    (pp. 19-24)

    Before you read what i want to say about the three photos here, I would like to invite you to take a moment to look at them and form your own ideas about what you see.

    Benigno likes to fish. When I told him I do as well, we set out for an afternoon along the Río Hierba Buena. Benigno carried a small pack with two telescoping fishing poles, two small, empty plastic bags and a larger plastic bag (to be used, respectively, to hold bait and fish), some water, and fruit. I loaded my pack with a sweater (that...

  7. CHAPTER TWO A Necklace, a Metaphor, and the Saraguro Context
    (pp. 25-36)

    Thewallka, orcollar, or necklace, sits on the table. A large circle of beads that took me three weeks to make, thewallkashades from black, through hues of dark green to candy apple green, then from white through shades of pink to dark plum purple, then to black and dark blue through cerulean, back to white again, and from matte yellow through brick red, terminating once again in black. The overall effect resembles lightning bolts of oddly colored rainbows. It was slow going, but now I have a complete example of each of the four-color patterns that my...

  8. CHAPTER THREE La Vida Matizada and Work Life in a Globalizing Society
    (pp. 37-66)

    The first time i stayed with benigno and ana victoria, in December 2005, we walked to Hierba Buena to see Benigno’s farmland. Along the way we talked about the work he does and looked at plants. He provided so much information that I could not keep track of it all without taking frequent notes in the little spiral notebook I always keep in one of my technopelli pockets.

    Hierba Buena is the name of the river and also the name of the area around the river. We walked along the Tio Loma road for a while and then turned onto...

  9. Interlude 2. A HOUSE IN THREE DIFFERENT TIMES
    (pp. 67-72)

    To arrive in almost any community in highland Ecuador is to encounter a landscape in transition. Many buildings seem perpetually under construction, as evidenced by sections of rebar jutting from cement second-floor concrete pillars to await the day when available capital and labor make possible an addition, even if that day is five years, ten years, or a lifetime in the future. In Tuncarta the community center is in use but unfinished; the school has been under construction since before I began visiting in 2005. Half-finished houses of various styles and techniques dot the landscape, many stalled in construction as...

  10. CHAPTER FOUR Weaving la Vida Matizada: BEADWORK AND COOPERATIVES IN SARAGURO WOMEN’S LIVES
    (pp. 73-96)

    In december 2005, i began learning saraguro beading. The anthropologist Linda Belote arranged for me to stay with Ana Victoria, an excellent artist who had previously taught U.S. beadworkers at a workshop organized by Linda and the bead artist Ann Severine. Ana Victoria showed me the beginnings of theflorespattern using some of the beads I brought. When she tried to sew some of her own beads into the petals, the technique didn’t work because the beads I had brought were smaller than the ones she buys in town. Many times over the next month we talked about the...

  11. Interlude 3. LOS CARACOLES: TRAVELS AND TRANSFORMATIONS OF AESTHETIC IDEAS
    (pp. 97-106)

    In 2003 the anthropologist Linda Belote (2003) introduced readers of the U.S.-based craft magazineBead and Buttonto the distinctive necklaces made and worn by the women of Saraguro. These necklaces have been part of the traditional dress of the Saraguros since about the 1950s. As their work has been increasingly appreciated by nonindigenous Ecuadorians and people from other countries, the artists of the community have experimented with new designs to expand their repertoire. It is still possible to see the basicde colorespattern, but as with any traditional art, changing tastes and styles, a desire for new and...

  12. CHAPTER FIVE Sweet Water and Exotic Fish: ECOLOGICAL IMAGINATIONS IN A WORLD OF TRAVELING CREATURES
    (pp. 107-126)

    When Benigno begins a tale, he first makes sure to say whether it is a story (cuento) or it is both a story and a legend (leyenda). The distinction is important to him. If the events of the tale involve only animals, it is acuento; if humans are the major characters, the tale is aleyenda. Benigno is a patient storyteller. He pauses to rethink how to relate the events of the stories whenever I am unsure about his meaning. We spend many nights trading funnycuentosabout how Rabbit tricks Fox and Bear.

    One night, however, we moved...

  13. Interlude 4. EMPTY DOORWAYS AND SHADOWY FIGURES: ANTHROPOLOGIST AS ACCIDENTAL BUSINESS CONSULTANT
    (pp. 127-134)

    “We live very humbly; we don’t have much,” said Rosa Medina Sarango when I first visited her home. “We cannot even afford enough doors for our house.”

    Rosa and her husband, José, have three children ranging in ages from four to thirteen. They live in a multifloored, but unfinished, house that they are completing as they secure resources to pay for materials. It is a slow process.

    As a member of Las Calcutas women’s cooperative, and an accomplished beadworker, Rosa contributes to her family’s economic resources through artisanal work, as well as through agricultural labor. When I got to Rosa’s...

  14. CHAPTER SIX On the Development and Value of an Anthropological Consciousness
    (pp. 135-148)

    Once, a man entering the middle years of his life—meaning that he began to realize that even if all went well with his health and his luck, he was closer to the passage we call death than to the passage we call birth—traveled to a mountainous country far from his home. As he understood it, he traveled to this country to carry out part of the work he was assigned in life. The actual arrival was accomplished with a not very perilous journey that took him from his frozen home in the far north to the mountains located...

  15. Epilogue: A STORY FOR A TECHNOPELLI’S LAST HOUR IN TOWN
    (pp. 149-150)

    “Let’s go see one more place,” benigno says. “I have one more story for David’s last hour in Tuncarta for now.”

    I thought the walk with Benigno, which I describe in the prologue of this book, was the end of my research trip in the summer of 2009, but, as suggested in the thoughts at the end of our conversation during that walk, the learning never seems to end. On my final morning, after we ate breakfast we had about an hour left before it was time to catch the bus in Saraguro.

    We walk up the road, passing his...

  16. References
    (pp. 151-158)
  17. Index
    (pp. 159-161)