Dr. Frederick Kyalo Manthi is is a senior research scientist and head of the paleontology section at the National Museums of Kenya in Nairobi. He has been involved with the Wenner-Gren Foundation since 2006, completing several post-Ph.D. research grants aiding investigation of Pleistocene-era Kenya and running workshops intended to spread human-evolution education in Kenya. He is also one of the very first recipients of WGF’s new Engaged Anthropology grant, which allowed him to bring his research back to the people of his fieldsite, northern Kenya’s Turkana Basin. As per the requirements of the EAG, Manthi has submitted his final report to the Wenner-Gren Blog, so that we can all gain some insight into his experience with this exciting new program.
June is just around the corner and with it comes two great new WGF-sponsored programs; one workshop and one conference. Let’s learn a bit more about them.
June 4-7, 2013
The National Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C. (administered by the George Washington University Department of Anthropology)
This workshop builds on and integrates emerging but distinct literatures on the social, cultural, linguistic, and material aspects of mobile phones. We synthesize these approaches by focusing on three innovative and cross-cutting themes: 1) Inscription – How do mobile phones materialize and fix meanings using acoustic, visual and tactile resources? 2) Intimacy – How do mobile phones enable and challenge the boundaries of privacy, selfhood and personal desire as they connect us to ever wider social networks? 3) Fetishization – How does the materiality of mobile phones mediate and privilege certain aspects of a user’s devotion to their phone? This workshop will invite a collection of established and emerging scholars to Washington, DC in early June of 2013 for three days to present and discuss theoretically informed case studies that examine and challenge these themes. This workshop will not only produce a scholarly volume of essays, but will also provide the theoretical foundation for a planned exhibit on mobile phones at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History.
June 25-28, 2013
University of Liverpool
The 10th Conference on Hunting and Gathering Societies, CHaGS 10, provides a forum for the research results that have since emerged in a field which continues to be one of the few domains in anthropology where research across all four anthropological subdisciplines takes place. The main theme of the conference to be held in Liverpool, UK, is ‘Resilience and Vulnerability’ which is highly relevant to hunter-gatherer research but also more generally in a world struggling with economic, cultural and ecological turmoil. In its 20 panels, CHaGS 10 will seek to show what the world in general and hunter-gatherer research in particular might learn from some of the most resilient but also most vulnerable of societies past and present. The conference will include fresh empirical input on the current state of hunter-gatherer research in the context of resilience and vulnerability, and it will also provide room for discussions concerning methodological innovations for current and future research in this domain that has decreasing opportunities for conventional field research. There is no anthropological association, nor any other conference that would be in the position to fulfil this role and ChaGS 10 will provide the opportunity to create the institutional tools, in terms of an academic organization and in terms of a regular publication outlet, that ensure the continuity of hunter-gatherer research into the future.
To learn more about the Wenner-Gren Foundation and our Conference & Workshop Grant Program, please visit our Programs page. And check back for more upcoming conferences in the summer months!
We would like to again thank Ana Y. Ramos-Zayas of Baruch College, CUNY and Edgar Rivera Colon of Columbia University for speaking at our offices on April 29th, presenting the final New York Academy of Sciences anthropology section lecture of the academic year, Cartography of “Racial Democracy”: Race, Affect, and the Production of Abject Subjects among Brazilians and Puerto Ricans in Newark.
This upcoming Monday is the final meeting of NYAS’ anthropology section at WGF for this season. We will be welcoming Ana Y. Ramos-Zayas of Baruch College, CUNY and Edgar Rivera Colon of Columbia University to discuss Cartography of “Racial Democracy”: Race, Affect, and the Production of Abject Subjects among Brazilians and Puerto Ricans in Newark.
In this presentation I consider the kinds of affective social entanglements and emotive practices required of US-born Latinos and Latin American migrants as they “learn race” in the US By focusing on the experiences of Brazilian and Puerto Ricans in Newark, I examine the impact of US racial projects on transnational individual’s affective worlds and perspectives on the emotional subjectivities of the racialized others they encounter. As demonstrated through ethnographic materials drawn from nearly a decade of fieldwork, Brazilian immigrants and US-born Puerto Ricans in Newark analyze unfamiliar racial situations through quotidian emotional epistemologies that serve as a cartography to navigate otherwise illegible social encounters. Assumptions about affect and its adequate expression guide Brazilian migrants and US Puerto Ricans to developed nuanced interpretations of how one “should feel” when the goal is to create an affective persona that is consistent with Newark’s neoliberal aspirations. Informed by transnational racial ideologies of “racial democracy,” my interlocutors develop complex social practices around performances of Blackness, understandings of socioeconomic hierarchies, and expectations of belonging on multiple scales, like the neighborhood, nation state, and the market. I am particularly attentive to how engaging in this process of “learning race” renders Brazilians and Puerto Ricans “street therapists” dedicated to observing and correcting “defective” (non-marketable) forms of Blackness, developing appropriate feeling rules, and, hesitantly embracing a neoliberal personhood.
The 7:00 PM lecture will be held at the WGF office on Park Avenue and will be preceded by a reception at 6:00 PM. Refreshments will be provided. It is free to attend this and all other events in this series, but registration is required in advance; please visit the NYAS website or call 212-298-8600.
Earlier this month, we hosted the penultimate installment of the New York Academy of Sciences Anthropology section’s 2012-2013 monthly meeting and lecture series. In what has proven to be a fantastic procession of fascinating subjects, we welcomed a panel of New York City-area scholars to discuss “The Problem with Fundamentalism (And Other Liberal Myths About Religion)”. Now the recording of the panel discussion and the following Q&A session are available for download. Enjoy, and tell us what you think!
Last month, a group of anthropologists gathered at Tivoli Palácio de Seteais in Sintra, Portugal to convene the latest Wenner-Gren Foundation symposium, “The Anthropology of Christianity: Unity, Diversity, New Directions”. Since the 1950′s, the foundation has convened more than 140 of these meetings between small groups of invited scholars to foster intensive discussion and debate around key sites of contention within the field, using a rigorous format first developed at the Foundation’s original retreats in Austria. Beginning in 2010, symposia have resulted in special gold-colored supplementary editions of Current Anthropology, with 100% of content freely available as open access scholarship.
While the special issue for this particular symposium will be forthcoming, organizer Joel Robbins of the University of California – San Diego has prepared a statement to capture the thrust of the symposium and offer a glimpse of what to expect when the special issue rolls off the presses.
And in the meantime, listen to an interview with Dr. Robbins conducted by our president Leslie C. Aiello as part of the Annette B. Weiner lecture series at New York University.
The April issue of Current Anthropology is out now. Here’s a press-release preview of The University of Kent’s Dimitrios Theodossopoulos’ ethnographic study of Greek citizens during the financial crisis of 2011 explores the causes and consequences of the rhetoric of discontent.
The austerity measures introduced as a response to the financial crisis in Greece have inspired a wave of discontent among Greeks. A new Current Anthropology paper explores Greek “indignation” with economic austerity in the general context of the financial crisis.
In 2011, a protest movement was born that was pointedly critical of politicians’ handling of the economy. The protesters were not alone in their indignation: an overwhelming majority of Greek citizens at the time, regardless of political affiliation, claimed they were angry, outraged, infuriated, and exasperated with the way the situation had been handled by those in power, as well as the general conditions of austerity.
While much of the coverage in the international media has been concerned with the public manifestations of the protest, this article is primarily interested in the perceptions and interpretative trajectories of ordinary Greek citizens, and their views about accountability for the country’s economic woes. Paying close attention to local conversations in Greece during the anti-austerity protest, Theodossopoulos argues that the interpretive tactics of local citizens do not merely represent an attempt to evade culpability, but also demonstrate a desire to reinterpret and renegotiate responsibility and blame.
Theodossopoulos found that local commentary often centered on the causes of indignation. In some cases, responsibility was traced to external causal factors, such as inefficiencies in the political system, as well as inequalities in the global financial system. While on the surface these blame tactics may seem self-serving, the author contends that they represent a persistent attempt to explain a massive crisis in locally meaningful terms. In everyday life, where social obligations matter, character evaluations provide more persuasive explanations than abstract economic concepts. Seen from this point of view, engaging in conversations about the crisis and the austerity measures can be seen as an empowering act—even allowing protesters to dare to imagine alternative solutions to current economic and political problems. In this respect, indignation with the causes of the crisis may lead to explanations that question established political and economic theories.
Theodossopoulos’s ethnography provides a fascinating look into the ways Greeks view themselves and others in the shadow of the crisis, and shows what an anthropological approach to contemporary economic issues can add to the international discussion by highlighting the complexity and meaningfulness of local responses to the crisis.
Current Anthropology, published by The University of Chicago Press on behalf of the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, is a transnational journal devoted to research on humankind, encompassing the full range of anthropological scholarship on human cultures and on the human and other primate species. Communicating across the subfields, the journal features papers in a wide variety of areas, including social, cultural, and physical anthropology as well as ethnology and ethnohistory, archaeology and prehistory, folklore, and linguistics.
The 2013 Anthropology Section Lecture Series continues this upcoming Wednesday, April 3rd, for a special panel discussion featuring Omri Elisha of Queens College, Sophie Bjork-James of CUNY Graduate Center, Ayala Fader of Fordham University, and Rudolf Gaudio of SUNY Purchase College.
This panel seeks to generate a conversation on how scholarly and popular discourses about nonliberal religious movements shape and constrain scholarly projects. To write about religious mobilizations in the current moment is to enter a discursive terrain already shaping the types of questions possible to ask and imagine. How are scholars responding to this discursive terrain in their work?
The 7:00 PM talk will be preceded by refreshments at 6:00 PM. It is free to attend the event, but registration is required.
As many of you are aware, our newest grant program is the Engaged Anthropology Grant, a special initiative we began to help anthropologists bring their research “home” to the communities that hosted them during their time in the field. Scholars who have previously been awarded either the Dissertation Fieldwork Grant or the Post-PhD Grant are eligible, with awardees receiving up to $5,000 to return to their fieldsite and share the results of their Wenner-Gren funded project in a productive way with the local community.
The first completed Engaged Anthropology Grant belongs to Post-PhD grantee Dr. Liubov Golovanova of St. Petersburg’s Labratory of Prehistory, who received funding in 2009 to aid research on ““The Study of Settlement Dynamics in the Middle/Upper Paleolithic in Northwestern Caucasus”. Below is the report prepared by Dr. Golovanova, as per the requirements of the Engaged Anthropology Grant.
Congratulations to the department of social anthropology at Addis Ababa University of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the latest recipient of the Wenner-Gren Foundation’s Institutional Development Grant program. This renewable grant — providing $25,000 per year for up to five years — will support the continued development of an undergraduate and graduate program in anthropology. To learn more about AAU, anthropology in Ethiopia, and the award, we spoke to Dr. Adugna Tufa Fekadu.
First can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you came to be interested in anthropology? Who have been the anthropologists that have most influential in your own personal formation and why?
I graduated in History in 1999. Soon I joined the Department of History at Dilla University, in Southern Ethiopia, to teach History. It was that time that I read Asmarom Legesse’s book: Gada: Three Approaches to the Study of African Society. This book, which changed the direction of my future academic life from History to Social Anthropology, analyzes three anthropological schools by using age and generational system among the Oromo of Ethiopia. The next year I had to abandon my job at the Department of History and joined a private college in Addis Ababa, the capital city, where the only Department of Sociology and Anthropology was found. In 2001 I registered to study Masters Degree in Social Anthropology and upon successful completion of the master’s program I joined the Max-Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Germany for a PhD. Numerous anthropologists from Addis Ababa University to Max-Planck Institute for Social Anthropology have contributed in moulding my academic career.
Can you tell us a little about anthropology in Ethiopia? What are the pressing questions and concerns for the discipline there?
Anthropology was started as an academic program in Ethiopia in 1990 when the then Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology at Addis Ababa University in cooperation with Christian Michelsen Institute of Norway opened Masters program in Social Anthropology. In the last decade, more than ten universities started anthropology at Undergraduate and Master’s levels, which indicates the demand. The central focus of anthropology in Ethiopia is describing, analyzing and documenting multiple socio-cultural dynamisms in the country. The key concern for anthropology in particular and for social sciences in general is how to emerge as a strong discipline that produce competent scholars in the political environment that visibly favours natural sciences and technology.
Is anthropology a subject that attracts students in Ethiopia?
In Ethiopia, anthropology has fairly a great demand. As I mentioned above, in the last decade more than ten public universities opened a Department of Anthropology. In fact, entrance to our PhD program, which is the only program in a country of eighty three million people, is very competitive.
Can you tell us about your department, its specialities and how the award will help your department as it moves forward?
The Department of Social Anthropology at Addis Ababa University has three programs: Undergraduate, MA and PhD. In all the three programs currently the department has 350 students, and sixteen instructors (ten PhD, including expatriates, and six MA). Of the four sub-disciplines of anthropology, our department concentrates on Social Anthropology. Research interests of the faculty members and students emphasize on ethnohistory, development anthropology, medical anthropology, ecological anthropology, urban anthropology etc.
We are very much grateful to Wenner-Gren Foundation for this Institutional Development Grant. This grant will enable us to improve the theoretical and methodological training of Ph.D students; intensify international exposure and exchange; improve the quality of anthropological training by bringing in experienced senior professors from Europe and America; upgrade the current curriculum in consultation with partner institutions; provide modest support for student field research; and build up library and electronic resources.