Cecilie Vindal Ødegaard, Babb, Florence E.: Women’s Place in the Andes. Engaging Decolonial Feminist Anthropology. Oakland: University of California Press, 2018. 277 pp. ISBN 978-​0-​520-​29817-​0. Price: £ 27.00 in:

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Anthropos, Volume 115 (2020), Issue 1, ISSN: 0257-9774, ISSN online: 0257-9774,

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Bibliographic information
Babb, Florence E.: Women’s Place in the Andes. Engaging Decolonial Feminist Anthropology. Oakland: University of California Press, 2018. 277 pp. ISBN 978- 0-520-29817-0. Price: £ 27.00 Drawing on four decades of anthropological research, Florence Babb dedicates this book to a reexamination of the complex interweaving of gender, race, and indigene‐ ity in Peru and beyond. The book assesses historical as well as current tendencies and shifts in feminist anthro‐ pology of the Andes, and proposes a way forward for feminist scholarship and activism. By bringing her pre‐ vious work into conversation with more recent currents, Babb makes a case for decolonizing scholarship and en‐ gaging more fully with scholars from the South. She hence sets forth a collaborative methodology to rethink gender and race in the Andes, the Americas, and be‐ yond. The book is structured around six of her previously published works illustrating various currents in feminist anthropology. The publications are placed in historical and epistemological perspective by an extensive intro‐ duction, as well as commentary sections that introduce, and provide a framework for, the book’s three different parts; providing a meta-reflection about conceptual, methodological, and epistemological tendencies and shifts. She places her previous publications within the debates of their time, and discusses them in the light of more recent perspectives and debates. As Babb has con‐ tributed to debates on feminist perspectives on Andean anthropology since the beginning, she is in an unusually good place precisely to assess these tendencies and shifts. But the book does more than that. Thanks to Babb’s highly self-reflexive and honest approach, she provides the reader with an unusual insight into the epistemological and political searches of a scholar throughout forty years of research. Part 1 is a testimony to Babb’s first intervention as a feminist researcher; addressing a piece first published in 1976. Based on archival research on the Cornell-Peru Project (known as the Vicos Project initiated in the 1950 s), Babb shows how she as a young scholar with no fieldwork experience, questioned the overwhelming‐ ly positive accounts of the project’s outcome. The Vicos Project in the northcentral Andes was one of the largest experiments in the history of applied anthropology; aiming to assist the indigenous peasant community in purchasing their own land and ending age-old feudal re‐ lations, while promoting and documenting social change. Despite the project’s good intentions, Babb documented how women were often overlooked in the distribution of new opportunities and resources, and how “modern” gender ideologies based on northern concepts of women’s place were introduced in the com‐ munity. She thus criticized the epistemological under‐ pinnings of the project by drawing on feminist critique developing at the time. While most readers will be well aware of the different shortcomings of developmentalist interventions (then and now), this part is nonetheless thought-provoking because she – through her thorough, open, and sometimes personal tone – brings us back to that time to show the effects of an absence of gender perspectives, the insights of which we may now take for granted. Addressing Babb’s research on market women in Huaraz, Peru, part 2 is situated within key debates in an‐ thropology from the 1980 s to 2000. By the 1970 s, fem‐ inism had embraced different theoretical approaches ranging from liberal to radical to Marxist, and by the 1980 s, women’s movements were establishing, and feminist frameworks often applied Western dichotomies like private/public, traditional/modern, informal/formal, and production/reproduction. She shows how her own analysis of women’s productive contribution at the local and national levels during a period of political and eco‐ nomic crisis was shaped by these debates; and later, how her work was increasingly shaped by the recogni‐ tion that cultural dimensions must be included to under‐ stand how relations of gender, ethnicity, and political economy are conditioned. She hence invites the reader along in the process through which she was increasingly influenced by the cultural turn in feminist thinking, which led her to question work – including her own – that relied heavily on economic analysis and the gender division of labor without sufficiently dealing with cul‐ tural meanings and identities. Babb, herself, was an ear‐ ly critic of the dualist nature of many of these concepts, and was inspired by the emerging attention to the inter‐ sections of gender with race and ethnicity, as well as to gender as a social relation rather than as fixed category, and she shows how she continually reassessed and rede‐ veloped her own perspectives. By inviting us along on this epistemological journey, she discusses how her own work, and that of others during this period, was begin‐ ning to employ insights from postcolonial scholarship that destabilized conventional categories of analysis, questioned their own positionality, and deepened our understanding of gender, race, and class relations. Of particular interest here is also Babb’s outline of debates over women’s place in the Andes; between those who embraced the notion of Andean gender complementarity as fundamentally different, and more egalitarian, than Western gender ideology, and those who argued for the importance of acknowledging gender inequalities in An‐ dean communities, and how she herself was criticized for idealizing gender relations in Andean Peru. In ad‐ dressing these tensions, Babb suggests that we recog‐ nize the ambivalence of women’s work as traders and the valuation of this work; to account for the degree of empowerment it may represent on the one hand, while entailing typically precarious work conditions on the other. In part 3 Babb moves toward a decolonial feminist reworking of the entanglements of gender and race by asking to what extent being female and indigenous has acquired cultural capital in the marketplace of tourism, and how we can assess women’s participation in economies when so much depends on the suppleness of interpretations. The first work is an article from 1990 196 Book Reviews Anthropos 115.2020 that made a case for bringing gender analysis to theory and research in economic anthropology, a subfield that proved particularly resistant to feminist insights. The later work, an article from 2012, offers a comparative study of gender, race, and cultural tourism in Peru and Mexico. Both these pieces consider women’s work and the salience of gender analysis, but also embrace a con‐ sideration of indigenous identity and cultural represen‐ tation. Of particular interest is the discussion of how these works were received at the time; i. e., as some scholars feared that her argument about Andean women, who work in the tourist industry to their own advantage, was not critical enough of the fraught power balances characterizing Latin America. Of importance here is also Babb’s discussion of the tensions between intersec‐ tional analysis problematizing the notion of women as a unified category on the one hand, and decolonial femi‐ nists’ challenging of the concept of gender as a colonial construction on the other; as well as the attempt by Babb and others of bringing these critical perspectives together. In the concluding chapter, Babb summons the threads to argue for a decolonial feminist anthropology that can generate continuing debate and engaged prac‐ tice vis-à-vis Andean women. While Babb occasionally may seem to take too lightly on the multi-layered and structural restraints for a decolonial feminist endeavor (i. e., related to the political economy of research fund‐ ing and credit reward systems, as well as the epistemo‐ logical and methodological divides that underlie the call for a decolonial feminist anthropology in the first place), she uses the conclusion to address some such re‐ straints, for instance, by addressing the relative silence from urban feminists after Fujimori’s forced steriliza‐ tion campaign among indigenous women in the 1990 s. While hence importantly addressing some epistemic di‐ vides and challenges, the book does not fully address the status of gender perspectives in current mainstream anthropology, which was well-established by the 1990 s, but appearing more scattered today and especially in re‐ lation to the “turn to ontology” in anthropology. This surely does not reduce the value of Babb’s argument, as her intention is precisely to set the stage for continued debate and engagements. Indeed, the book offers impor‐ tant insights by providing a meta-reflection about con‐ ceptual, epistemological, and methodological tendencies and shifts. It will be a valuable source of inspiration and debate for experienced scholars and activists as well as novices for decades to come. Cecilie Vindal Ødegaard ( Bachmann-Geiser, Brigitte: Geschichte der Schwei‐ zer Volksmusik. Basel: Schwabe Verlag, 2019, 399 pp. ISBN 978-3-7965-3853-7. Preis: € 64,00 Mit der “Geschichte der Schweizer Volksmusik” legt die Schweizer Volkskundlerin Brigitte Bachmann-Gei‐ ser ihre umfangreichste Arbeit vor, die gleichzeitig eine Gesamtschau ihrer über rund 45 Jahre betriebenen For‐ schungen zur Schweizer Volkskultur, insbesondere zu Musikinstrumenten, darstellt. Wie im Vorwort selbst er‐ wähnt, ist die Monografie keine “Geschichte” im chro‐ nologischen Sinne, sondern eine Abfolge von vierzehn in sich geschlossenen, thematischen Kapiteln. Diese umspannen verschiedene Volksmusikinstrumente (zum Beispiel Alphorn, Hausorgel, Zither, Hackbrett), Musik‐ praktiken (etwa Betruf, Jodeln, Volkslied, Blasmusik‐ wesen) sowie Ausführungen zur “Erneuerung der Volksmusik” und “Musik im Kalenderbrauch”. Ebenda zeigt sich der weit gefasste Volksmusikbegriff, unter dem Viehschellen, Kirchenglocken, aber auch Kinderund Substitutinstrumente miteinbezogen werden. Bei Letzteren handelt es sich um Haushaltsgegenstände und Handwerksutensilien, die zu musikalischen Zwecken umfunktioniert werden. Historisch greift die Dokumen‐ tation der Quellen sowohl vor die Gründung der Schweiz als auch vor die Entstehung des Begriffs Volks‐ musik zurück, so werden archäologische Funde von Rasseln (1.000 v. Chr.) sowie Schellen und Panflöten aus der römischen Periode auf dem Gebiet der heutigen Schweiz beschrieben und bebildert. Die 400-seitige Monografie ist mit 187 Abbildungen reich illustriert. Auf zwei CDs ermöglichen 97 Tonbei‐ spiele die klangliche Erfahrung der dokumentierten In‐ halte. Die reichhaltige Fülle an Materialien zeichnet ein lebendiges und zugleich komplexes Bild der Schweizer Volksmusik und erleichtert dank der audiovisuellen Ver‐ mittlung den Zugang zur Thematik. Die Diversität der Themen und Materialien widerspiegelt die Forschungs‐ biografie der Autorin, deren Schwerpunkte sich auf die Gewichtung der Kapitel auswirken. So werden einzelne Instrumente, insbesondere das Alphorn, die Zither und die Viehschelle, umfangreich auf zehn bis zwanzig Sei‐ ten dargestellt, während etwa die Ländlermusik nur am Rande beschrieben und der Büchel lediglich in einzel‐ nen Sätzen erwähnt wird. Diese Gewichtung, welche der Leserschaft arbiträr erscheinen mag, wurde bereits vom Musikethnologen Dieter Ringli in einer Rezension (“Beeindruckende Materialsammlung” Schweizerische Musikzeitung [26.06.2019]) kritisiert, zusammen mit dem Umstand, dass der Forschungsstand weitgehend dem des ausgehenden 20. Jh.s entspricht und neuere Strömungen und Forschungsergebnisse nur sporadisch einfließen. Die “Geschichte der Schweizer Volksmusik” ist aus volkskundlicher Sicht insbesondere dadurch interessant, dass die Musikpraktiken in Zusammenhang mit dem Brauchtum und in einigen Fällen auch mit wirtschaftli‐ chen beziehungsweise touristischen Interessen darge‐ stellt werden. Dies äußert sich insbesondere in den Ka‐ piteln über den Kuhreihen, die Viehschellen, die Kir‐ chenglocken und die Musik im Rahmen der Kalender‐ bräuche, wobei in letzterem die Ausführungen über “Fasnachtsbräuche” hervorgehoben werden kön‐ nen. Aufgrund des weiten Felds, das innerhalb der Mono‐ grafie abgesteckt wird, bleiben die einzelnen Praktiken notwendigerweise auf zusammenfassende Informatio‐ nen und ausgewählte Details beschränkt, allerdings Book Reviews 197 Anthropos 115.2020

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Anthropos is the international journal of anthropology and linguistics, founded in 1906 by Wilhelm Schmidt, missonary and member of the Society of the Divine Word (SVD). Its main purpose is the study of human societies in their cultural dimension. In honor of Wilhelm Schmidt‘s legacy, the cultivation of anthropology, ethnology, linguistics, and religious studies remain an essential component oft he Anthropos Institute – the organizational carrier of the journal.


Anthropos - internationale Zeitschrift für Völkerkunde wird vom Anthropos Institut St. Augustin seit 1906 zweimal jährlich herausgegeben. Ursprünglich als Sprachrohr für katholische Missionarsarbeit geplant, gilt sie heute als wichtige Fachzeitschrift der allgemeinen Ethnologie. Sie behandelt sowohl kulturelle als auch sprachliche Themen in mehreren Sprachen, mit Schwerpunkt auf den Völkern des gesamtamerikanischen und afrikanischen Kontinents.