Title

Occupying a Corner of Suburbia: OS and Anthropological Perspectives on Peace Activists in a Suburb of St. Paul, MN

Presenter Information

Karen Sames
Amanda Sames

Start Time

24-10-2008 2:40 PM

End Time

24-10-2008 3:10 PM

Abstract

Political activism can play a very important role in shaping the politics of our country. The constitutional rights to assemble and to speak freely guarantee that as long as people have concerns about the government, they can organize and express those concerns; this activism is a sign of a healthy democracy where people are allowed to speak their minds. Every week in Eagan, MN, a small group of activists holds a roadside peace vigil. Holding peace signs and waving flags, they stand on a busy corner, braving rain, snow and road rage to reach main-stream motorists with their message of peace. The purpose of this paper is to describe what drives people to become activists and what role activism plays in the lives of the participants. This ethnographic paper is based on 8 months of participant-observation research. Field notes were analyzed for categories and themes. Drafts of the paper were shared with the participants and their feedback was incorporated into the final paper. This study shows that engagement in the vigil is a way for participants to affirm closely held values and beliefs and informs a part of their identities as activists, reenergizing them for the many other tasks they engage in as active participants in American democracy. The vigil may or may not be an effective way to influence the thinking of the general populace in Eagan. It may or may not be helping to turn the tide of public opinion against the war in Iraq. But it is having an impact on the lives of all who attend. The vigil is a uniquely beneficial activity for those who participate. It offers them a chance to reaffirm and assert the value of peace and the ideals of the peace movement in their daily lives. Participation in the vigil influences the way group members identify themselves and construct their identities as activists. And it has a surprisingly rejuvenative quality to it.

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Oct 24th, 2:40 PM Oct 24th, 3:10 PM

Occupying a Corner of Suburbia: OS and Anthropological Perspectives on Peace Activists in a Suburb of St. Paul, MN

Political activism can play a very important role in shaping the politics of our country. The constitutional rights to assemble and to speak freely guarantee that as long as people have concerns about the government, they can organize and express those concerns; this activism is a sign of a healthy democracy where people are allowed to speak their minds. Every week in Eagan, MN, a small group of activists holds a roadside peace vigil. Holding peace signs and waving flags, they stand on a busy corner, braving rain, snow and road rage to reach main-stream motorists with their message of peace. The purpose of this paper is to describe what drives people to become activists and what role activism plays in the lives of the participants. This ethnographic paper is based on 8 months of participant-observation research. Field notes were analyzed for categories and themes. Drafts of the paper were shared with the participants and their feedback was incorporated into the final paper. This study shows that engagement in the vigil is a way for participants to affirm closely held values and beliefs and informs a part of their identities as activists, reenergizing them for the many other tasks they engage in as active participants in American democracy. The vigil may or may not be an effective way to influence the thinking of the general populace in Eagan. It may or may not be helping to turn the tide of public opinion against the war in Iraq. But it is having an impact on the lives of all who attend. The vigil is a uniquely beneficial activity for those who participate. It offers them a chance to reaffirm and assert the value of peace and the ideals of the peace movement in their daily lives. Participation in the vigil influences the way group members identify themselves and construct their identities as activists. And it has a surprisingly rejuvenative quality to it.