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Pre-July 2009 Press Archives

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9/27/2007 Bestor to trace half-century research career

McMINNVILLE – Forty-six years of research in Mexican and Portuguese folk communities will be the basis for an upcoming faculty lecture at Linfield College.

William Bestor, associate professor of anthropology in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences on Linfield's Portland Campus, will present "In Search of the Mirror and the Lamp" on Wednesday, Oct. 10, at 7:30 p.m. in 201 Riley Hall at Linfield. It is free and open to the public.

Bestor will discuss various research projects he's undertaken over the last half century, focusing on specific small, integrated and changing folk communities. He will examine an underlying theme of his anthropological career, expressed in the metaphors of the mirror and the lamp. Much of Bestor's career has been based on his quest to research in a humanistic and social scientific way these contrastive metaphors. They are the central issues involving the nature of personal and cultural identity, according to Bestor.

"All along, the problem of the mirror and the lamp has persisted in my own life experience," he said.

Bestor, who came to Linfield in 1983 with some 20 years experience in teaching and research, has pursued the answer of "the mirror and the lamp" in several societies. These experiences include a long-term field study of a small village in central Portugal, a series of visits to Tepoztlan, Morelos, Mexico, and a village in highland Sierra Madre of Totonac Indians in Veracruz, Mexico. His interest was piqued by early cultural exchange missions to the Soviet Union and several years at the Russian Research Center.

Bestor will display photos from more than 10 trips he's made to Aldeia, Portugal, a small peasant farming village in Estremadura, conducting interviews and taking photographs.

"I lived in a white-washed peasant home with people passing by every day," said Bestor, who holds a bachelor's degree from Yale University, and a master's and Ph.D. from Harvard University, all in the field of social relations. "I learned Portuguese to speak with them and collect their life histories, dreams and their responses to various psychological assessment devices."

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