Tag Archives: San Francisco

Q&A with ‘Indian Blood’ author Andrew J. Jolivette

In his new book Indian Blood: HIV & Colonial Trauma in San Francisco’s Two-Spirit Community, Andrew J. Jolivette examines the correlation between mixed-race identity and HIV/AIDS among Native American gay men and transgendered people, and provides an analysis of the emerging and often contested LGBTQ “two-spirit” identification as it relates to public health and mixed-race identity.

Prior to contact with European settlers, most Native American tribes held their two-spirit members in high esteem, even considering them spiritually advanced. However, after contact—and religious conversion—attitudes changed and social and cultural support networks were ruptured. This discrimination led to a breakdown in traditional values, beliefs, and practices, which in turn pushed many two-spirit members to participate in high-risk behaviors. The result is a disproportionate number of two-spirit members who currently test positive for HIV.

Using surveys, focus groups, and community discussions to examine the experiences of HIV-positive members of San Francisco’s two-spirit community, Indian Blood provides an innovative approach to understanding how colonization continues to affect American Indian communities and opens a series of crucial dialogues in the fields of Native American studies, public health, queer studies, and critical mixed-race studies.

We spoke with Jolivette about his book, published this spring.

What inspired you to get into your field?

Andrew J. Jolivette: American Indian studies is in my blood. I felt I had a commitment and a responsibility to give back to my community and I also felt that it was important that more Native perspectives be centered and not just represented or driven by outsiders.

What is the biggest misunderstanding people have about Native American studies and what you do?

AJJ: I think the biggest misunderstanding about the field of Native American studies is that it limits students from working in any field or area that they want and I would also have to say the general sentiment that Native peoples don’t exist in great numbers. What about the millions of people we call Latino or African American or European American—many of them are also Native and this book is also about recognizing how Indigenous peoples of mixed descent are missed in areas like public health because of invisibility and colonial trauma.

Continue reading

Exploring San Francisco’s Rooftop Parks and Gardens with William Wyckoff

In today’s guest post William Wyckoff, author of  How to Read the American West: A Field Guide, takes us on a tour of the rooftop gardens of San Francisco. A geographer and an accomplished photographer, he provides a fresh perspective on the natural and cultural landscapes of the American West. In his book and in this guest post, Wyckoff encourages us to see the  places where we live, work, and visit in a new light and to reconsider commonly held stereotypes about the American West.

One of the joys of assembling How to Read the American West was simply visiting different kinds of places with my camera and a good pair of walking shoes. A recent trip to a conference in San Francisco gave me another chance to explore. In the book, I describe various downtown landscapes in western cities, especially so-called “Mega Civic Landscapes” (Feature 72) and “Mega Consumer Landscapes” (Feature 73), and a free afternoon at the conference allowed me to see how a growing number of rooftop parks and gardens are adding a high-rise dimension to these urban spaces.

Photo 1

Photo 1

San Francisco’s rooftop greenery is part of a growing national phenomenon. Visit the top of Chicago’s City Hall or New York City’s new High Line Park (an abandoned elevated railway corridor replanted in gardens and walkways) and you will see similar central-city landscapes taking shape. Some of these spots are specifically maintained as public places, but many are so-called POPOS (privately owned public open spaces) where access is often little advertised, gained through quiet stairways or high-rise elevators. Downtown San Francisco’s Financial District offers a particularly rich mix of these verdant little getaways. Continue reading