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Life After the Ranch
Bill Cooke Lisa Cooke Vienna Cooke Lacey Cooke Hannah Cooke Maura Finkelstein Rob Wright Shaun Terhune Anders Heintz Johnny Ferguson Jared Ficklin Robby Cabezuela
Q&A with Maura Finkelstein
Maura Finkelstein
Q: What did you do after leaving the ranch?

A: I left Texas and moved to California. I just finished the first quarter of my first year as a doctoral student at Stanford so I'm right back in a very different, but very similar student life in a very different place.

Q: How did it feel returning to the modern world?

A: Being really self-sufficient, living closer to my labor changed the way that I live. I don't have a television. I don't have a microwave. There are things that I just sort of lost interest in having, and I think that I learned a lot from not having electricity, not having running water. One thing that I realized is that I don't mind being alienated from labor. I don't want to milk a cow if I want milk and I don't want to necessarily soak my beans for an hour and then cook them for three hours if I want to eat lunch. Every once in a while I have this shock where, you know, I heat something up on the stove really quickly and I think, wow, I didn't have to start a fire.

Q: What did you learn about gender roles?

A: Continuously throughout the summer I was very frustrated by the fact that I was being told that I was greatly limited because I was a woman. The only thing that I felt people felt comfortable honoring was the gender hierarchy, and so it was infuriating for me because I was only willing to take the package as a whole. I was not willing to have other people decide for me which hierarchy stayed and which hierarchies were left behind and so that was scary in the sense that it seemed to me that race, religion, ethnicity, class are things that we feel very uncomfortable talking about or dealing with, but gender is still something that can have a division. That can have inequality, and that was very offensive for me.

Q: How will you use the experience in your anthropological research?

A: The summer gave me a really unique perspective in that what I'm trying to do is study other people and translate other people. I don't know that many people who have the opportunity to feel what it's like to be the object of study. I was being watched and recorded, and I allowed people to take that power over me and decide how I would be represented, how I would be translated. I have that in my mind as I think about how I want to be an anthropologist and how I want to represent a voice that's not necessarily mine.

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