One of my landlords -- I feel strangely like the center of attention when I visit their office; they must not have too much work to do, even though there are at least four architects, in addition to a full-time secretary -- asked me how my study was going, and I said well, but that it was all coming to a close very quickly. He asked if I'd found the book Historia de la Baja Alpujarra, which instantly reminded me of where I'd first heard the title (i.e., from him). When I found that book in the Santa María public library, I had a vague sensation of recognition, but nothing more. I didn't remember that he was the one who had told me about it. His take on multiculturalism in this area:

The two coasts -- Almería (or Spain more generally?) and Morocco -- have a long, long history of tension, rivalry and mutual distrust. It wasn't like the Phoenicians, he said, where there were connections through trade and commerce; instead there was the surge northward by the Muslims, then the push southward by the Christians, then ongoing concern over piracy and attacks along the shoreline. 'Have you seen the watchtowers that run along the coast?' he asked. 'They go all the way to Granada, all the way to Malaga, and basically to warn of attacks from North Africa.' "Esa idea en la mente de la gente..." he paused, "está." He said people on both shores feel this way, regard each other with distrust. If you go up to the sierra, he said, on a clear day you can see the snow on the Atlas Mountains. I told him that reminded me of how people in Tangier go to Cafe Hafa and, on a clear day, can spot the Spanish coast on the other side of the sea.

He asked whether I would publish anything from my study, and I said yes, the idea was to publish. "Pero allí, en inglés," he prompted. I said that if I had the chance to publish here in Spanish, I would certainly do so. "Bueno, si lo que escribes no es muy negativo para la gente de aquí, para el Ayuntamiento, podría ser de interés." "Qué no salgan cosas personales de aquí," he joked. I told him that my intention was not to be critical just to be critical, but that I wanted to reflect what the "real" situation was (oh, such unintentional naivety!) and that, in any case, I would send him a copy of what I wrote and that I'd love to hear his opinion.

This brings up interesting and challenging questions about representation and my role as visitor/anthropologist/observer/commentator. On the one hand, being an outsider means that locals have an almost automatic basis upon which to criticize your work and your perceptions -- you're not from here, you don't know, you haven't spent enough time here to know. These are valid responses if it's clear that the person is making claims about things they haven't fully investigated. The question, then, is to investigate as fully as possible, as many dimensions, points of view, experiences, opinions, reports, as possible, and to observe as keenly and openly as possible. (I get tired -- saturated with information -- so I have to remind myself to take a step back and just listen, and watch carefully. I am not unbiased. Far from it. But I want to portray as well as I can the p.o.v.'s of a gamut of people here. How else do you "represent" a semi-urban community?)

An invitation to publish in the language and place of research is an opportunity to complete an ethically-engaged circle of investigation. By this, I mean offering up my work to the scrutiny of those whose lives are the objects of my analysis, turning the tables on my own self as privileged international traveler, outside observer, etc. In this case, many of my research participants/supporters will be able, interested, and willing to comment and critique, which is not the case for all researchers, but then the need for different genres of presentation arises: How do I communicate my "findings" to the youth who are the bulk of my study, the reason for my study? (How about a video?) How do I share my analysis with teachers, administration, and politicians in ways that will be constructively critical, but most of all, useful to them?

These would be the points at which this indulget enterprise becomes something more than itself and turns useful in philosophical and practical ways. To be USEFUL is my wish for the knowledge I generate, and this will require learning and experimenting with new communication and presentation skills.