Stephanie Kane Research Collection

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    AIDS Alibis: Sex, Drugs, and Crime in the Americas
    (Temple University Press, 1998-06) Kane, Stephanie C.
    AIDS Alibis tackles the cultural landscape upon which AIDS, often accompanied by poverty, drug addiction, and crime, proliferates on a global scale. Stephanie Kane layers stories of individuals and events from Chicago to Belize City, to cyberspace to illustrate the paths of HIV infection and the effects of environment, government intervention, and social mores. Linking ordinary yet kindred lives in communities around the globe, Kane challenges the assumptions underlying the use of police and courts to solve health problems. The stories reveal the dynamics that determine how the policy decisions of white-collar health-care professionals actually play out in real life. By focusing on life-changing social problems, the narratives highlight the contradictions between public health and criminal law. Look at how HIV has transformed our social consciousness, from intimate touch to institutional outreach. But, Kane argues, these changes are dwarfed by the United States' refusal to stop the war on drugs, in effect misdirecting resources and awareness. AIDS Alibis combines empirical and interpretive methods in a path-breaking attempt to recognize the extent to which coercive institutional practices are implicated in HIV transmission patterns. Kane shows how the virus feeds on the politics of inequality and indifference, even as it exploits the human need for intimacy and release.
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    Where Rivers Meet the Sea: the Political Ecology of Water
    (Temple University Press, 2012-07) Kane, Stephanie C.
    Where fresh water appears to be abundant and generally accessible, chronic pollution may be relatively ignored as a public issue. Yet there are those whose lives, livelihoods, and traditions are touched directly by the destructive albeit essential relationship between humans and water. In her passionate and persuasively argued Where Rivers Meet the Sea, Stephanie Kane compares two cities and nations—Salvador, Brazil and Buenos Aires, Argentina—as she tells the stories of those who organize in the streets, petition the courts, and challenge their governments to implement and enforce existing laws designed to protect springs, lakes, harbors, and rivers. Illuminating the complex and distinctive cultural forces in the South Atlantic that shape conflicts and collaborations pertaining to particular waterfront settings, Kane shows the dilemmas, inventiveness, and persistence that provide the foundation for environmental and social justice movements writ large.
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    The Phantom Gringo Boat : Shamanic Discourse and Development in Panama
    (Smithsonian Institution Press, 1994) Kane, Stephanie C.
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    In the Crimino-legal Fuzzy Zone
    (Current Anthropology, 2017-06) Kane, Stephanie C.
    At the turn into the twentieth century, when traditional forms of social solidarity gave way, Durkheim came upon the simple yet powerful sociological insight that criminal acts serve the essential function of helping to trace boundary lines between unruliness and order. In this infinitely repeating social process, crime counterintuitively creates coherence in collectivities. Alas, as the world forges into the currents of the twenty-first century, the boundary lines are dashed at best. From nation-state to neighborhood, globalized forces have destabilized many cherished geo- and sociopolitical assumptions. Governmental and corporate actors in the highest echelons flirt in crimino-legal fuzzy zones while attempting to wall themselves off from the violence that endangers sentient life. This is the terrain of exploration and explanation in The Truth about Crime. In their new book, Jean and John L. Comaroff frame this global predicament as a scalar down-shifting into fragmented battles for sovereignty in which national states are increasingly unreliable and safety seekers increasingly resort to buying private fixes. They use the metaphor of tectonic or seismic shift to emphasize the dramatic unfolding of forces that incite crime and its narrative expression.
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    Unification of Language and Neural Structure in Color Vision
    (Folia Linguistica, 1987) Kane, Stephanie C.; Stoller, Lincoln
    Neurophysiology and linguistics initially pressed different frontiers in the understanding of color and its perception. Advances in both fields have now brought them to a point of overlap with regard to possible physiological structures underlying perception and language (see review by Ratliff (1976)). On one hand, physiological theory traces color perception from initial stimulus in the retina to neural states of the brain, called opponent mechanisms, associated with color recognition. On the other hand, the linguistic theories, concerned with the degree to which color lexicons exhibit cross-cultural variation versus similarity (linguistic unversality), describe color classification with a hierarchical scheme of increasing vocabulary. These theories are based on the observation that all languages share some portion of a set of 11 basic color terms.
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    Reversing the ethnographic gaze: Experiments in cultural criminology
    (Northeastern University Press, 1998) Kane, Stephanie C.
    The first change of mind happened in 1991. I was about to analyze a toast, an African American oral narrative about a pimp and prostitute. The toast was recited to me from memory by Loki, a man I did some AIDS intervention with in 1988 on the South Side of Chicago. He told it to me one cold day when the going was rough. The night before I left town, he let me record it, along with several others from his repertoire. What struck me about the toast was that although it was clearly a fiction, the reality the fiction indexes doesn’t exist in the same way or degree anymore. I thought I’d talk about the changes in the prostitution industry brought about by the drug trade, especially cocaine, and AIDS. Pimping as a way of organizing “the life” has been eclipsed to a large degree by the intensification of the drug trade, and the implications of the pimp and pro (prostitute) relationship have been altered by the risk of HIV infection. Thus, I would use the toast as a sort of myth that I could then demystify by relocating its poetically portrayed gender-role stereotypes within local social history. I thought the toast would make an interesting point of departure for a feminist analysis of prostitution, one that would allow me to give a toast of a different sort to Loki.
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    Environmental Decision Making in the Argentine Delta
    (Oxford University Press, 2013-05) Kane, Stephanie C.
    This analysis focuses on decision making by groups of people (organizations, government) in addressing a particular political issue (failure by the government to enforce water quality regulations in the Paraná Delta of Argentina). A subjective ethnographic approach teases out the subtleties to understand the context in which legal redress is thwarted by a stew of good intentions, suspicions, poor communication, entrenched interests, and institutional dysfunction. The process that ultimately leads to a decision by a judicial arm of government does not readily fit general process models of decision making; instead it evokes a set of concepts that characterize and underscore the situation’s uniqueness. The goals, methods, and interpretations in this study enrich and extend the dimensions of the comparative decision making project by incorporating a humanities perspective. In contrast with the objective behavioral approaches noted in the previous chapters, here the relation between intention and outcome plays a central role. Kane’s analysis focuses on decision making by groups of people (organizations, government) in addressing a particular political issue (failure by the government to enforce water quality regulations in the Paraná Delta of Argentina). She uses a subjective ethnographic approach to tease out the subtleties and to understand the context in which legal redress is thwarted by a stew of good intentions, suspicions, poor communication, entrenched interests, and institutional dysfunction. The process that ultimately leads to a decision by a judicial arm of government does not readily fit general process models of decision making; instead it evokes a set of concepts that characterize and underscore the situation’s uniqueness. The goals, methods, and interpretations in this study enrich and extend the dimensions of the comparative decision-making project by incorporating a humanities perspective. In contrast with the objective behavioral approaches emphasized in most of the book’s chapters, here the relation between intention and outcome plays a central role.
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    Bird Names and Folklore from the Emberá (Chocó) in Darién, Panamá
    (Ethnobiology Letters, 2015) Kane, Stephanie C.
    This paper presents data on names and folklore of birds collected among native speakers of Emberá in the moist tropical forests of Darién, Panamá. The naming data was collected by systematic elicitation of names from pictorial representations of birds. It is organized here to facilitate analysis of various aspects of folk taxonomy in relation to scientific taxonomy. Folklore about birds collected in natural contexts is also included to indicate the role of birds and their names in symbolic processes that exceed the limits of literal reference.
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    Omission in Emberá (Chocó) Mythography
    (Journal of Folklore Research, 1988-12) Kane, Stephanie C.
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    Experience and Myth in a Colombian Chocó Case of Attempted Murder
    (Journal of Folklore Research, 1992-12) Kane, Stephanie C.
    This essay presents a dramatic instance of the push and pull that may occur between discourses of experience lived and experience as prefigured in myth. The structural homologies between this personal history and this myth invite attention to the relation between these discursive forms. The relation is a contestative one. My interest in it stems from a more general concern with how it might come about that patriarchal myth, as a mode of interpreting, representing, and constructing experience, continues to have a certain cachet among men and women in society despite personal histories that contradict mythic illusions. This interest led me to question whether or not folklorists and ethnographers, carrying patriarchal presumptions with them, have perhaps been overemphasizing the importance of patriarchal myths as scripts-for-living in the indigenous societies they study. I label the Emberá Indian myth in question here as patriarchal because it presents only male kin as active agents and women as passive, protected objects of exchange. This is consistent with gender asymmetries that pervade the Emberá mythic corpus, and indeed, the larger corpus of South American myth with which it shares many affinities
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    The Territorial Impulse
    (Journal of Folklore Research, 2004-12) Kane, Stephanie C.
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    A Feminist Perspective on Bioterror: From Anthrax to Critical Art Ensemble
    (Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 2007) Kane, Stephanie C.; Greenhill, Pauline
    In autumn 2001 anthrax was intentionally released through the U.S. mail. With ancestry as ancient as goatskins and dispersal power enhanced by military lab technology, the deadly bacilli puffed through mail‐sorting machines and seeped into the skin and lungs of postal workers sorting congressional mail. Symbolically fused with the intentional crashing of four passenger planes by terrorists wielding box cutters, the deliberate release of weaponized anthrax triggered renewed efforts to fight the so‐called war on terror at home with a special mandate in the area of bioterror. Since then, basic democratic liberties have been traded for untenable and perverse illusions of safety and control in the polymorphous name of protection from terror. Our critical analysis of the interactive fears and responses generated in and by the bioterror debate between 2001 and 2006 in the United States addresses the militarization of public health and the loss of human rights protections. Using a feminist approach that juxtaposes discourses from apparently disparate domains of art, law, and science, we examine the rationales and effects of letting the military and private corporations infiltrate, profit by, and exert power over institutions responsible for the public’s health. We reframe the debate by contrasting the government's response to perceived threats of extrastate terrorism with the historical normalization of domestic sexual terrorism, including anthrax‐laced mail sent to reproductive choice clinics. To understand both the deeply submerged and the extraordinarily apparent gendered and racial logics that structure news, policy, and even scholarly communications in this arena, we examine a federal criminal case against an artist whose work is critical of bioengineering and bioterror industries; racial bias in the government’s response to the risks experienced by postal workers—primarily African American—as a result of the deliberate, criminal release of anthrax from a government lab; and the government’s measured response to the inadvertent importation of anthrax to New York City by an African dancer and drum maker. We conclude with recommendations for how government efforts might reorient toward best practices to promote the public’s health and safety.
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    Animated Architecture: Maria Luiza Mendez Lins and the Colonial Water Taps of Olinda, Brazil
    (Journal of Folklore Research, 2009-12) Kane, Stephanie C.
    An uneasy relation between water contamination and social contamination plays out at the water tap (bica, fonte, chafariz) in Olinda, Brazil. Originally built to provide fresh water for the public and for ships, the taps are set in decoratively carved plaster or stone walls. Architecturally, they are beautiful, even when overgrown, disfigured by road and utility construction, or strewn with waste. Today, bicas are extraneous to centralized water, sewage or drainage infrastructure. Water flows passively from hillside crevices through the simplest of plumbing. Because the water table underlying the city is contaminated, the quality of water emerging from bicas is always subject to question. The politics of bica performance involves partially clad persons drinking and bathing in central areas of public space, where these architectural extensions of dead colonial powers are sometimes dressed illegally in murals and signatures of graffiti artists. Guided by Iza do Amparo, a painter from Olinda, this essay reflects on the connections among water architecture, social marginality, and street art.