Los Manitos: A Study of Institutional Values

Los Manitos: A Study of Institutional Values

Los Manitos: A Study of Institutional Values

Los Manitos: A Study of Institutional Values

Excerpt

This is a report on twelve months of anthropological field work in the Rimrock area of rural New Mexico. The research centered on the social structure and values of the Spanish American way of life and their reflections in formal and informal humor. It began on a sunny fall day of 1949 when I climbed out of a jeep in Aspera, rented an empty house for a month's stay, and sauntered over to make the acquaintance of two young men who were discussing the repair of an ailing school bus. It continued throughout the following year in Aspera (three months), La Peña (six months) and San Marti+́n (three months), with anthropological observation and informal interviews.

The account which follows gives the results of the more general aspect of the study; it is a study of values -- the values expressed in the social action and sociocultural forms of the Spanish Americans of New Mexico.

Because of the original stress on humor, the primary field technique was participant observation. I attempted no formal interviewing on special aspects of the culture, but instead tried to sample diverse cultural contexts within the limits imposed by my own loosely ordered role in the community. Initially I was classified as a maestro or profesor (teacher). Informants were told that the object of the study was the collection of traditional folk songs. This story provided a relaxed context of observation in which a natural play of humor as well as other informal social activities could take place. Later, a degree of acceptance modified this initial definition, and I could participate in most situations simply as an amigo. Despite my Anglo name and frankly admitted Anglo-Protestant antecedents, I was most often classified as a sort of cultural half-breed (coyote) rather than as a gringo.

These various definitions facilitated some relationships more than others. I made extensive observations, for example, in homes during mealtimes and afternoon, evening or overnight visits, at sheep camps, sheep drives, cattle . . .

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