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11/6/2002 Linfield anthropologist to speak on tradition

McMINNVILLE – A Linfield College anthropology professor will discuss the importance and problematic nature of tradition during a faculty lecture Wednesday, Nov. 13, at 7:30 p.m. in 201 Riley Hall.

Thomas Love, professor of anthropology, will present "The Independent Republic of Arequipa: Failed Nationalism and the Invention of a Folk Tradition, 1890-2002." The lecture is free and open to the public.

After more than a century of ethnographic fieldwork, anthropologists are increasingly raising questions about the nature of tradition. For example, why are only certain social practices elevated to the status of "tradition"? How long does it take for selected practices to become traditional? Who are the primary actors, and whose interests are served in the process? Is violence, symbolic or physical, necessary to the establishment of tradition?

Love will examine this issue using Arequipa, the second city of Peru, as a case study for his talk. According to Love, who lived in Arequipa for two years in the late 1970s carrying out dissertation research on land tenure and rural underdevelopment, the city's strong regionalism rests on a folk tradition invented over a century ago. He will explore how and why the city's identity came to rest on rural, place-bound, masculine and mestizo elements.

"As central parts of the belief and value system of any society, traditions are not simply folklorically quaint or merely reflective of what's really going on in the political or economic arenas," he noted. "Rather, traditions constitute one of the principal arenas for the active working out of class, race and/or other tensions inherent in any complex society."

Love, a professor at Linfield since 1983, has traveled to Peru almost annually since 1976 and has led travel courses to Peru and elsewhere in South America several times. The lecture is drawn from part of Love's forthcoming book by the same title, which deals with the question of how traditions are constructed, then used for various political and economic purposes. He has given many conference papers and published on these topics, as well as related work on the eastern, tropical forest side of Peru.

Love holds a bachelor's from Columbia University, and a master of arts, master of science and doctorate from the University of California, Davis.

The Linfield College faculty lecture series offers one presentation each month by members of the Linfield faculty. For more information, call 503-883-2409.