Guide to the Chris Gjording papers

Summary
Collection ID:
NAA.2008-19
Creators:
Gjording, Chris N., 1943-1993
Dates:
1966-1991
bulk 1977-1991
Languages:
Multiple languages
Many of the materials in the collection are in Spanish.
Physical Description:
6.34 Linear feet
15 document boxes, 1 cassette tape, and 37 computer disks
Repository:
The papers of Chris Gjording primarily document his research and activities in Central America, particularly his research on the Guaymíes and the Cerro Colorado copper mining project in Chiriquí, Panama. Materials pertaining to Panama include Gjording's field notes (portions of which are missing due to severe insect infestation); photographs; reference materials he collected; and his writings, which include his articles, dissertation, and drafts of his dissertation revised for publication. In addition to his work in Panama are his field notes and photographs from his research on campesino communities in Guatemala and El Salvador. Gjording also kept subject files on Latin American countries, focusing on the poor and oppressed and the social and political climate. His writings on those subjects are present in the collection and include a draft of his unpublished paper on peasant uprising in El Salvador and issues of
Informacciónes
, the Spanish-language newsletter that Gjording published and wrote articles for in Honduras. The collection also contains correspondence and notes relating to his visits to the Guatemalan Indian refugee camps in Los Lirios and Maya Balam in Quintana Roo in Mexico. In addition, the collection contains some of his correspondence with his mentor Ricardo Falla, a Guatemalan Jesuit priest and anthropologist, whom he refers to as "RF" in his notes. The collection also contains computer disks with chapters in Spanish from Falla's book on Ixcán, possibly
Masacres de la selva: Ixcán, Guatemala, 1975-1982
(1992).

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The papers of Chris Gjording primarily document his research and activities in Central America, particularly his research on the Guaymíes and the Cerro Colorado copper mining project in Chiriquí, Panama. Materials pertaining to Panama include Gjording's field notes (portions of which are missing due to severe insect infestation); photographs; reference materials he collected; and his writings, which include his articles, dissertation, and drafts of his dissertation revised for publication. In addition to his work in Panama are his field notes and photographs from his research on campesino communities in Guatemala and El Salvador. Gjording also kept subject files on Latin American countries, focusing on the poor and oppressed and the social and political climate. His writings on those subjects are present in the collection and include a draft of his unpublished paper on peasant uprising in El Salvador and issues of Informacciónes, the Spanish-language newsletter that Gjording published and wrote articles for in Honduras. The collection also contains correspondence and notes relating to his visits to the Guatemalan Indian refugee camps in Los Lirios and Maya Balam in Quintana Roo in Mexico. In addition, the collection contains some of his correspondence with his mentor Ricardo Falla, a Guatemalan Jesuit priest and anthropologist, whom he refers to as "RF" in his notes. The collection also contains computer disks with chapters in Spanish from Falla's book on Ixcán, possibly
Masacres de la selva: Ixcán, Guatemala, 1975-1982
(1992).
Additional materials in the collection are copies of Gjording's curriculum vitae; his student papers; and his college and graduate school diplomas. In addition, the collection contains a letter approving Gjording's advancement to the diaconate and priesthood and his decree of dismissal from the Society of Jesus in 1991.

Arrangement
Arrangement
Arranged into 7 series: (1) Correspondence, 1985-91; (2) Panama, 1977-91; (3) Latin America, 1977-90; (4) Journals, 1977-1982, 1988-1989; (5) Personal Files, 1966-1991; (6) Photographs, 1976-89; (7) Computer Disks

Biographical Note
Biographical Note
Chris Gjording was an anthropologist and Jesuit priest, best known for his research on the Guaymí people of Panama and how they were affected by a transnational copper mining project on their land.
Gjording was born on January 12, 1943 in Los Angeles, California. In 1960 he entered a Jesuit seminary in Sheridan, Oregon and obtained his A.B. in philosophy from Spring Hill College in 1966. After earning his M.A. in philosophy from Tulane University (1967) and his M.Div. in theology from the Toronto School of Theology (1973), he was ordained as a Jesuit priest in Spokane, Washington. He taught philosophy and liberation theology at Gonzaga University (1973-75) before continuing his education at the New School for Social Research, where he received his M.A. (1978) and Ph.D. (1985) in social and cultural anthropology.
As both a priest and anthropologist, he felt that "field research essentially involves interpersonal relationships; and [he had] no category for engaging in such relationships with nothing in view as a potential benefit for the other." (Gjording's journal, January 11, 1978) Influenced by liberation theology, Gjording consequently focused his research on the rural poor of Central America during a period of social and political turmoil.
As a graduate student in 1977, Gjording spent the summer conducting ethnographic fieldwork among campesino communities in Chinacá, Guatemala and in Chirilagua, San Miguel, El Salvador. He returned to Central America the following year to work in Chiriquí, Panama with Centro de Estudios y Acción Social (CEASPA), a Jesuit-sponsored organization, as the anthropologist on an interdisciplinary team studying the Cerro Colorado copper mining project and its impact on Panama. Gjording's research focused on the Guaymí people, who lived on the land where the mining project was to occur. His research became the subject of his dissertation, "The Cerro Colorado Copper Project: Panama, Multinational Corporations and the Guaymi Indians." A revised version of the dissertation was published by the Smithsonian Institution Press in 1991 as
Conditions Not of Their Choosing: The Guaymí Indians and Mining Multinationals in Panama
.
Gjording left Panama in 1982 but returned to Central America after completing his dissertation in 1985 to serve as codirector of Equipo de Reflexión, Investigación y Comunicación (E.R.I.C.), a Jesuit organization in El Progreso, Yoro, Honduras. As part of his responsibilities, he published and wrote many of the articles for
Informaciones
, a bimonthly newsletter in Spanish on the social, political, and economic situation in Honduras. In addition, he wrote articles for the Panamanian magazine
Diálogo Social
; due to the political climate in Panama, he wrote some of the articles under the pseudonym "Enrique Lobo," a name he chose in honor of the anthropologist Eric Wolf. From 1987 to 1989, he made several trips to the Guatemalan refugee camps in Quintana Roo, Mexico. He conducted informal research on the background and situation of the refugees and taught workshops that provided them guidance on whether to return to Guatemala or stay in Mexico.
Gjording returned to the United States in 1989 on a sabbatical from Central America. He left the priesthood in 1991 and obtained a position teaching anthropology and peace studies at Guilford College in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Gjording died of lung cancer on July 5, 1993 at the age of 50.
Sources Consulted
Gjording, Chris. 1978. [Daily Journal]. Chris Gjording Papers. National Anthropological Archives.
Roseberry, William. 1993. Chris N. Gjording. Anthropology Newsletter. 34(7): 44.
Chronology
1943
Born January 12 in Los Angeles, California
1966
Earns A.B. from Spring Hill College in Philosophy
1967
Earns M.A. from Tulane University in Philosophy
1973
Earns M.Div. from Toronto School of Theology
Becomes an ordained Jesuit priest
1977
Spends summer in Central America conducting fieldwork in campesino communities in Guatemala and El Salvador
1978
Earns M.A. from the New School for Social Research in Anthropology
1978-1980
Conducts fieldwork in Chiriquí, Panama on the Guaymíes and the Cerro Colorado copper mining project
1985
Earns Ph.D. from the New School for Social Research in Anthropology
1985-1988
Codirector of E.R.I.C. (Equipo de Reflexión, Investigación y Comunicación), El Progreso, Yoro, Honduras
1989
Returns to United States
1991
Leaves priesthood
Teaches Anthropology and Peace Studies at Guilford College in Greensboro, North Carolina
1993
Dies on July 5 at the age of 50
Selected Bibliography
1979
Gjording, Chris N. "Nicaragua's Unfinished Revolution,"
America
141 (October 6, 1979): 166-171.
1980
Lobo, Enrique. "La Nueva Política Indigenista (o bien: Acabemos con el Indio),"
Diálogo Social
123 (May 1980): 15- 18.
Lobo, Enrique. "El Pueblo Guaymí y el Gobierno Panameño (o bien: Acabemos con el Guaymí),"
Diálogo Social
125 (July 1980): 22-25.
1981
Gjording, Chris N.
The Cerro Colorado Copper Project and the Guaymí Indians of Panama
. Occasional Paper No. 3. Cambridge: Cultural Survival, 1981.
1983
Gjording, Chris N. "The Guaymí People and Cerro Colorado." In
Panama in Transition: Local Reactions to Development Policies
. Monographs in Anthropology 6, edited by John Bort and Mary Helms, 19-52. Columbia: Museum of Anthropology, University of Missouri, 1983.
1987
Gjording, Chris N. "25 Años de Reforma Agraria . . . ¿Y Que?."
Informaciones
8 (May-July 1987): 9-21.
1991
Gjording, Chris N.
Conditions Not of Their Choosing: The Guaymí Indians and Mining Multinationals in Panama
. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1991.

Administration
Processing Information
The papers of Chris Gjording were received partially organized. The processing archivist kept existing groupings and arrangement and organized the collection into seven series. Original folder titles were retained with titles assigned by the archivist placed within square brackets.
Due to insect infestation that the collection suffered prior to its transfer to the National Anthropological Archives, a large amount of the Panamanian field notes were eaten through and stained with insect droppings (frass). Most of these materials were photocopied and the originals discarded. Pages with minor damage and minimal amounts of insect droppings were not photocopied and were retained as is. Those who are allergic to frass should be aware that folders containing materials stained with insect droppings have been marked "[insect damage]" in the finding aid and on the folders.
Processed by Lorain Wang, April 2009
Encoded by Jocelyn Baltz, July 2012
Author
Lorain Wang
Immediate Source of Acquisition
These papers were donated to the National Anthropological Archives by Karin Gjording.

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Use
Contact repository for terms of use.
Conditions Governing Access
Computer disks in the collection are restricted due to preservation concerns.
Preferred Citation
Chris Gjording papers, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Panama Place Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Guaymi Indians Culture Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Copper mining Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
El Salvador Place Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Guatemala Place Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Refugees -- Guatemala -- Ixcán Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Honduras Place Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Mexico Place Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Nicaragua. Place Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Peru Place Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Mining -- Peru Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Venezuela Place Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Anthropology Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Anthropologists Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Jesuits Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
National Anthropological Archives
Museum Support Center
4210 Silver Hill Road
Suitland 20746
naa@si.edu
http://www.anthropology.si.edu/naa/