Lowrider car parked in garage. Water damage on the garage walls behind the car. Black and white poster showin Jim Morrison on garage wall, hung sideways. Some spraypainted black tag on the wall. Finger of photographer slightly covering camera lens.

Lowrider

Los Angeles, 2005. (The photo is not from the book referred to in the text to the right.)

Photo: Martin Høyem

 

Lowrider Space

We take a special interest in scientific works on outlaw aesthetics here at American Ethnography Quasimonthly. And we also love us some writing on car customization. Thus, when we heard about Ben Chappell’s Lowrider Space, a new publication from the University of Texas Press, we perked up: any academic hep cat who takes a look at lowriders is cool, calm, and a solid wig as far as we’re concerned.

Lowrider Space draws on Chappell’s participant observation fieldwork among car clubs in Austin, Texas. He describes how the lowrider culture creates a social space for its participants, and he points to the value of this space for a group of people who – because of their social status in the society they live in – are often denied access to other spaces.

It’s a cool piece of research, and we’re stoked to share with you an excerpt from the book. Here’s “Regulating Lowrider Space.”

Hot Rod Kulture Culture

“A good thing about Polaroids,” artist and photographer Jack Butler says, “is that you take the picture and it’s ready right away, so you can use the photo to initiate a conversation with your subjects.”

Evans Schultes on Peyote

As a Harvard undergraduate student, Richard Evans Schultes – who later has been described as “the father of modern ethnobotany” – did fieldwork in Oklahoma, where he took peyote himself and studied how the cactus was eaten in the rituals of native Kiowa and Comanche Indians.

Read his observations in one of his earliest works: The appeal of peyote (Lophophora Williamsii) as a medicine.

The Haitian Vodou tradition

Portraits from a country where “90% of the population is Catholic and 100% of the population is Vodou,” Phyllis Galembo’s book Vodou: Visions and Voices of Haiti reveal what she herself calls “the hidden vitality of the Haitian Vodou tradition.”

Peyote eaters

“The sun was coming out just as if it was before my face, the rays spreading out every way. My heart surely felt good to see it, so good, such a beautiful world!

Read on in Morris Edward Opler’s A description of a Tonkawa peyote meeting held in 1902.

 

The Genetical Theory of Race, and Anthropological Method

“The common definition of ‘race’ is based upon an arbitrary and superficial selection of external characters,” wrote Ashley Montagu in 1942. We have Montagu’s article for your reading pleasure: The genetical theory of race, and anthropological method.

What else?

Have you got some good stuff you think American Eth­no­gra­phy Quasi­monthly should cover? Please send us an email and tell us about it!

Proposal to perfume within your region

“It is my wish to book with you for a group of 10 students coming from Germany, as they are preparing for their contracted proposal to perfume within your region.”

More on our feedback page.

 

California’s long-standing association with odd-ball spirituality is a brilliant topic for a study. And since it is far from automatic that a brilliant topic results in a brilliant book, it’s a delight to see that writer Erik Davis and photographer Michael Rauner have succeeded so well in their undertaking.

What’s all this, then?
Black and white pen drawing of car interior with chain steering wheel.

American Ethnography is a stranger in a 1972 Riviera, sunburst yellow banged up and dirty, raving coffee madness cruising Main Street of the quiet desert town at 15 miles an hour …”

 
Record sleeve art: Miles Davis Kind of Blue

Today we’re digging Kind of Blue by Miles Davis.

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