[excerpts] Strangers in Their Own Land


[excerpts] Strangers in Their Own Land

April 2017

The Deep Story

“A deep story is a feels-as-if story- it’s the story feelings tell, in the language of symbols. Ir removes judgement. It removes fact. It tells us how things feel… The deep story here, that of the Tea Party focuses on relationships between social groups within our national borders. I constructed this deep story to represent- in metaphorical form- the hopes, fears, pride, shame, resentment, and anxiety in the lives of those iI talked with.”

White Identity Politics

“Implicitly Trump promised to make men “great again” too, both fist-pounding, gun-toting guy-guys and high flying entrepreneurs. To white, native-born, heterosexual men, he offered a solution to the dilemma they had long faced as the ‘left-behinds’ of the 1960s and 1970s celebration of other identities. Trump was the identity politics candidate for white men.”

On Structural Amnesia

The Arenos were remembers facing a strange “structural amnesia” as the British anthropologist Sir Edward Evan Evans-Pritchard called it when studying something utterly different. Evans-Pritchard had been researching a pastoral people of the Sudan called the Nuer, who had a remarkable memory for some things and completely forgot about others. Men and women both remembered eleven generations of male ancestors, for example, but largely forgot their female counterparts. There was, the anthropologist sensed, a structure to what they remembered and forgot that was based on the power of the Nuer’s dominant institution- the kin system. Dominant within that system were men. So memory, Evans-Pritchard reasoned, was an indirect expression of power…If the power elite want to forget about pollution, and i they impose structural amnesia on a community, you need an omnipotent mind to remember how things once were….

On the Least Resistant Personality Type

“…I discovered an illuminating report on how industries deal with the fact that people don’t want them to move in next door. It was written by J. Stephen Powell of the LA-based consulting firm Cerrell Associates, Inc.  and was entitled “Political difficulties facing Waste-to-Energy Conversion Plant Siting.” The fifty-seven-page report was proprietary and eventually leaked- by whom, I couldn’t find out. It was produced at a different time 1984 and place Los Angeles, but is as relevant today as it was then. The California Waste Management Board paid Cerrell Associates $500,000 to define communities that would no resists “locally undesirable land use.” (LULU)…

…The plant would reduce property values and provide relatively few jobs…So how can such a company get a community to accept it? The plant manager’s best course of action Powell concluded, would not be to try to change the minds of residents predisposed to resist. It would be to find a citizenry unable unlikely to resist. Based on interviews and questionnaires, Powell drew up a list of characteristics of the “least resistant personality profile”:

-long time residents of small towns in the South or Midwest

-High school educated only


-Uninvolved in social issues, and without a culture of activism

-involved in mining, farming, ranching



-Advocates of the free market”