#10 QofR: Irwin Klein and the New Settlers: Photographs of Counterculture in New Mexico (An example of Ethnographic Research)

A bit of background – Counterculture of the 1960’s

From researching about the creative responses to Gerard Winstanley’s Diggers I came across the ‘Counterculture’ of the 1960’s. A movement that held it’s roots with the early socialist principals of the Diggers: taking back ownership of common land, living a self subversive lifestyle (living without relying on money, Consumerism, Capitalism), growing their own food, making their own clothes…and building a community based on all of these things living on the fringes of ‘normal’ society. At a time of great change the creativity of a group thrives in order to nurture, strengthen and solidify a political standpoint, philosophy, morals, ethics, ideas and theories underlying the culture. Music and art becomes a means of communication and a sign of solidarity.

The Encyclopedia entry below uses a quote by Mario Savio, leader of the Free Speech Movement.

“There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part;…and you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it…that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all.”

This is an inspiring quote, encouraging those that are fed up of how the machine is operating to not simply run away from it but to attempt to change it in order to improve the conditions. Therefore the Counterculture movement of the 1960’s sought to undermine this machine by forming a new ‘arm’, a ‘reformed society’ because they believed that ‘you’re either part of the problem, or part of the solution.’


Hill, R. A. (2016). Counterculture of the 1960s. Salem Press Encyclopedia

Irwin Klein, a photographer from

irwinA perfect example of ethnographic research!

Irwin Klein and the New Settlers

Book Description: Dropouts, renegades, utopians. Children of the urban middle class and old beatniks living alone, as couples, in families, or as groups in the small Nuevomexicano towns. When photographer Irwin Klein began visiting northern New Mexico in the mid-1960s, he found these self-proclaimed New Settlers-and many others-in the back country between Santa Fe and Taos. His black-and-white photographs captured the life of the counterculture’s transition to a social movement. His documentation of these counterculture communities has become well known and sought after for both its sheer beauty and as a primary source about a largely undocumented group. By blending Klein’s unpublished work with essays by modern scholars, Benjamin Klein (Irwin’s nephew) creates an important contribution to the literature of the counterculture and especially the 1960s. Supporting essays emphasize the importance of a visual record for interpreting this lifestyle in the American Southwest.Irwin Klein and the New Settlersreinforces the photographer’s reputation as an astute observer of back-to-the-land, modern-day Emersonians whose communes represented contemporary Waldens.

KLEIN, B. (2016). Irwin Klein and the new settlers: Photographs of counterculture in new Mexico. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt1d4tzz7?

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2 responses to “#10 QofR: Irwin Klein and the New Settlers: Photographs of Counterculture in New Mexico (An example of Ethnographic Research)”

  1. Ben Klein says:

    Thanks for the post.
    ReThinking History is going to publish an essay that might interest you:
    “Memories of the Counterculture through the Lens of Irwin Klein.”
    Best wishes,

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